If there is any doubt that ordinary, non-credentialed people are prepared to step up to the daunting challenges of climate change and Peak Oil, I’m pleased to report that the good people of Kingston, New York, gave a resoundingly positive answer this past weekend.
More than 230 people (1% of the city’s population!) showed up at a bold convening called “Surviving the Future: Connection and Community in Unstable Times.” The event invited the public to explore some of the big questions facing humanity right now, with a local twist: “What do we need to navigate these tumultuous times an create the systems and ways of being together that best serve us?” “What’s already going on in and around Kingston?” “What more do we think is possible?”
This event was the brainchild of six community groups seeking to pull together activist-minded doers. It was an experiment in trying to catalyze a new level of emergence in the Hudson Valley and discover if artists, tenants, racial justice advocates, sustainable farmers, alt-transportation experts, relocalization enthusiasts, and many others, could come together and start to develop a shared vision for change.
The event began with three talks on Friday evening to frame the challenges. People heard an inspiring talk from Kali Akuno of the famed Cooperation Jackson project that is using cooperatives to empower the people of Jackson, Mississippi, to take charge of their lives. Ariel Brooks of the New Economics Coalition explained what is meant by a “Just Transition” ("transition is inevitable; justice is not"). And I introduced the commons as a valuable tool in this quest and noted the “pluriverse of noncapitalist alternatives” already emerging. (Micah Blumenthal and Evelyn Wright were excellent facilitators throughout!)