Update from the June Regional Convergence

On June 11 2016, over 110 people came together at the Resilience, Resistance, and Regional Equity Convergence in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The gathering was convened by the New England Resilience & Transition (NERT) network, a network of grassroots groups working to build resilience, sustainability and equity in their communities and the region as a whole. NERT members were joined by groups and individuals fighting new fossil fuel infrastructure in New England. The crowd was highly engaged throughout the day, connecting around a variety of topics such as renewable energy, group dynamics, food justice, and equity.

Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute kicked us off with a keynote address, sharing thoughts from his new book, Our Renewable Future. (To read more about Richard’s book, see this summary on YES! Magazine.) Richard reviewed the basic contours of the world’s situation, pointing out that our entire globalized economy has only been possible because of the use of fossil fuels. One slide depicted a man trying to push a car down a highway. “It would take you 6 to 8 weeks to go 30 miles if you were using human muscle alone,” Richard pointed out. With gasoline, we can do that in about 30 minutes.

Richard’s talk helped participants gain a clearer picture of what it will take to transition to a fully renewable economy. He and his co-author, David Fridley, identified three categories of changes from the “easy” to “really hard.” It would be fairly easy, for example, to switch the sources of our electric power to renewables such as wind and solar. However, electricity only represents about 25% of our energy use. In the “very hard” category were things like the production of concrete and steel, which form the basis of our built environment. In a “it may not be possible” category (my language, not Richard’s) were the continued widespread use of aviation and some forms of telecommunications. Some of these things simply may not be possible.

Richard also pointed out that the energy transition must “pay close attention to equity issues.” It will take significant investment now in renewables if people want to use them in the future, potentially leaving poor countries with little or no sources of energy in a renewable future.

In sum, the renewable future will have to use less total energy, and that energy will be less controllable and predictable. Our lives will be less mobile and much more localized. This won’t be a “plug and play” transition, simply switching out solar and wind for fossil fuels—if it were that easy, we might have done it already. Rather, we are looking at a full “civilization reboot.”

The good news is that a civilization reboot provides the perfect opportunity to correct the ills that are prevalent in our current society—everything from racial injustice to ongoing wars to social isolation and the loss of community. This re-visioning of society is what drives and motivates our movement for a new economy, resilience, sustainability and equity.

Richard’s talk was followed by two respondents from the NERT network, Marla Marcum of Resist the Pipeline and Karen Spiller of Food Solutions New England. Marla powerfully encouraged people to notice the emotions kicked up by the facts that Richard touched on in his talk. “When we talk to new people about this work,” she reminded us, “we need to come from a place of emotions and values. Facts alone will never convince people to join us.”

In Q&A, Marla gave a rousing appeal to become involved with the upcoming 10 days of action against the Spectra gas pipeline currently being built in the Boston neighborhood of West Roxbury (read more here). Marla also gave a workshop later in the day on the crucial relationship of resilience and resistance (read more in this blog post by Sarah Byrnes & Chuck Collins). One participant chimed in, “I am really grateful to meet more folks aligned with both resistance and resilience, and that these two frames are being unified and highlighted within a network orientation in our region.”

After Marla’s response to Richard’s talk, Karen Spiller underscored and elaborated upon Richard’s point about equity. In Q&A, she encouraged the group to reach out and make human connections with everyone, everywhere. “People of color are everywhere,” she pointed out. “And we can do a better job of bringing them into our work by paying close attention to our language, when we hold our events, and how we reach out. The human touch is essential.” (Stay tuned for a video of the morning session at http://nertnetwork.org.)

The morning talk was followed by lunch (big thanks to Onsite Organics!) and a full group networking session where Ben Roberts of the Conversation Collaborative helped folks connect with each other in pairs. “I felt really connected to the group and enjoyed hearing from folks from around the region,” said one participant about the session.

Next, folks were treated to an array of workshop options. Topics included renewable energy, food justice, the new economy, biodiversity, equity in Transition and resilience organizing, the intersection of resilience and resistance, group dynamics, and the use of story.

There was also a workshop designed to continue the conversations begun in the full group networking session. People were able to offer support and ideas to each other about their community work. One woman came away with some new ideas for helping her university become more sustainable, and the full group coalesced around an idea to identify an interested person in every New England community and connect them to each other in order to create new systems for food, energy, economy, and more. This “big idea” inspired people to think about how NERT can become that network.

Elsewhere, Samantha Wechsler of Wildwise helped workshop participants explore building beneficial relationships using a permaculture framework. In the food justice workshop, Karen Spiller of Food Solutions New England (FNSE) shared the FSNE vision and plan for a sustainable New England food system that provides 50% of the region’s food by 2060. Orion Kriegman illustrated what the Boston Food Forest Coalition was doing that helps contribute toward the development of such a system. Participants in the workshop shared what food projects they were or hoped to work on in their communities. Karen closed by suggesting that we find a way to keep the lines of communication open between FSNE and our grassroots efforts, and invited five NERT members to the MA Food Summit debrief.

In summary, the day was a “a really good mix of everything,” according to one participant. “Conversation, collaboration, informative presentations, action steps and lovely everything.”

NERT was thrilled to offer this opportunity to local and regional activists, and is excited to keep working with participants and others in our common quest to build a resilient, sustainable and equitable region.

To stay involved or jump in, join an Online Discussion on Wednesday, June 22, from 12pm – 1:30. We will use an Open Space format (on the Zoom platform) where participants will suggest break out topics and join small groups on topics that interest them. Read more here. We hope you’ll join us!

For more information, visit http://nertnetwork.org.

Regional Convergence: Logistical Information

Saturday June 11, 10am – 5pm
First Church Unitarian in Jamaica Plain, 6 Eliot Street
Boston, MA

> Registration and breakfast will begin at 9am. Please plan to arrive by 9:30 at the latest to register. Please enter through the Eliot Street side of the church. We will wrap up at 5pm.

> We need Easels! If you have an easel you can bring with you, please email Sarah@LocalCircles.org. Thank you, thank you!

> Address & Parking: The gathering will be held at First Church Unitarian Universalist. The address is 6 Eliot Street, Jamaica Plain, 02130. The church does not have a parking lot, but there is on-street parking on surrounding streets. A municipal (City of Boston) parking lot is one block away, behind the buildings on the 700 block of Centre Street (odd-numbered side), and accessible from Burroughs Street or Thomas Street. The church is also a 15-minute walk from the Green Street T Stop on the Orange Line. Click here for more info: http://www.firstchurchjp.org/#!map-and-parking-info-/c2ca.

> Friday Evening: If you will be arriving on Friday evening June 10, email Sarah@LocalCircles.org for info about an informal gathering.

> Lodging: To request in-home hospitality, email Sarah@LocalCircles.org.

> Lunch: Lunch and light breakfast are provided. There will be plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. If you have other dietary restrictions, email Sarah@LocalCircles.org.

> Volunteer at the Convergence! As you know it takes many people working together to make a successful event and we appreciate your willingness to help out with things like registration, set up, or clean up. Click here to volunteer.

NERT Open Space Calls: June 14 and June 22

Are you looking for a way to connect with the NERT network and other grassroots groups? Join one of NERT’s upcoming online discussions for a chance to continue conversations on topics such as energy, food, new economy, group dynamics, equity, and more. These “Open Space” calls will also give us a chance to discuss NERT’s next steps as a network, our group norms, and communications structures. Whether or not you are attending the Convergence, this is a great chance to learn from others and share your thoughts.

Drop in for part of one of the calls, or stay for the whole time.

  • Tuesday, June 14, 7pm – 8:30pm
  • Wednesday, June 22, 12pm – 1:30pm

Add your name, email, and date(s) you will participate below. We will send you the login details. Thanks!

Resilience + Resistance: A Recipe for Justice and Sustainability

By Sarah Byrnes & Chuck Collins

This piece originally appeared on Resilience.org

 

Demonstration and arrests to stop Spectra Lateral Gas Pipeline on Washington Street West Roxbury MA 11.12.15

Demonstration and arrests to stop Spectra Lateral Gas Pipeline on Washington Street West Roxbury MA 11.12.15

This morning in Boston, seven people sat down in front of construction equipment, blocking construction of a fracked gas pipeline coming into the heart of the city. This evening, the Jamaica Plain Time Exchange hosted a spring seed and plant exchange. What do these two things have in common?

In the face of climate change, we have the dual challenge of both resisting new fossil fuel infrastructure projects and building a resilient, sustainable and equitable economy in the shell of the old.

Both resistance and resilience-building are necessary. Resistance requires a bold assertion of community rights and individual voices to interrupt, block, and prevent encroachment by a politically powerful fossil fuel industry. Resilience requires creativity, resourcefulness and reskilling – along with focus on the long haul and building institutions.

Demonstration and arrests to stop Spectra Lateral Gas Pipeline on Washington Street West Roxbury MA 11.12.15

Demonstration and arrests to stop Spectra Lateral Gas Pipeline on Washington Street West Roxbury MA 11.12.15

Mahatma Gandhi believed that Indian independence from Britain required both direct action – think the Salt March – and the constructive program of village economics. Both were aimed at interrupting and non-cooperating with British colonial rule. The constructive program included spinning cloth and building an alternative local economy outside of the empire.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because echoes of this approach are all around us. Greg Sankey, a Transition activist in Rhode Island, articulates the interdependence of these two approaches well: “Without resistance, we simply can’t become resilient,” he says. “Our economic and political structures are working tirelessly to undermine our goals – they oppose basic ecological and community principles. That’s why resistance is as essential to the survival of our species as growing food and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Tim Stevenson, author of Resilience and Resistance: Building Sustainable Communities for a Post Oil Age, has also worked to build bridges between approaches, despite what he often sees as splintering of these two movements. “The people who are forming affinity groups to take direct action against pipelines now have the challenge of working in their neighborhoods to ground this work,” he says. “We have to prepare our communities for the disruption that climate change is bringing, including weird weather, food disruption, spread of disease, climate refugees.”

People are usually drawn to one approach or the other, sometimes as matter of temperament. One might be considered radical and political and the other pragmatic and practical. But both strategies are now required – and we must tell the story of their interconnection.

Values, Skills, and Community

Most obviously, activists of both stripes understand the urgent threat of climate change and want to reduce carbon emissions. In order to do this, there are things we must say ‘no’ to, and things we must say ‘yes’ to: yes to biking and public transit, no to new pipelines. Activists take on different pieces of this dialectic, both advancing sustainability in different ways.

For many, social justice is also a core value. The fossil fuel industry must be resisted not only because of carbon emissions, but also because it represents an unjust, corrupt concentration of wealth. To say ‘no’ to this industry, we must also say ‘yes’ to a system of decentralized, locally-owned and renewable energy sources.

In addition, both movements are helping individuals find agency in a mainstream culture that does everything it can to keep folks silent and unengaged. “We are working against a really individualistic culture,” says Amy Antonucci, an activist in New Hampshire with the Seacoast Permaculture Group. “To get anything done—from fighting a pipeline to growing more food, we have to work together,” she says. “This is the true challenge of our time. Can we get along with each other in a respectful way to get things done?”

A Community Example: JP NET

BFFC Action Shot 2Since 2011, the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition (JP NET) has sparked a wide range of activities to strengthen community resilience in food systems, energy, and livelihoods. Inspired by the global Transition movement –and its concern about climate change and changing energy realities — we formed JP NET and projects such as Jamaica Plain Time Exchange, a bartering network, and the “Cancer Free Economy” effort to help businesses find alternatives to toxic chemicals. We’ve convened and spun off the Boston Food Forest Coalition, the JP Local First business association and the Egleston Farmers Market. We’ve convened forums, educational events and work days –and brought people together across differences in race, class, language and sub-neighborhood.

Swap Kids & MaryJP NET also nurtured a political-direct action program, recognizing that we needed to address the larger energy policy issues that contribute to climate change. We convened dozens of educational programs and teach-ins to understand the math and science of climate change and the urgency of reducing carbon and methane emissions to hopefully prevent catastrophic climate change. We staffed the creation of our Boston node of Mass 350.org to engage in a wide range of activities and recruited hundreds of people to attend the People’s Climate March in September 2014.

In the fall of 2014, we learned that a gas pipeline was planned to bring fracked gas from the Marcellus fault in Pennsylvania to Massachusetts –and that a spur was being built into our community. We understood that folly of building 50-year fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when we should urgently be transitioning to conservation and renewable energy. We organized two teach-ins about the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. We learned how the Texas-based Spectra Energy was rapidly pushing the project, primarily fueled by an urgent need to get gas to export markets to Europe. Before the community woke up to the reality, the project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a five-member agency that rubber-stamps most gas infrastructure projects. Against the objection of our city and state elected officials, Spectra sued to take Boston streets by eminent domain.

We co-founded Resist the Pipeline to mobilize protests against the pipeline and prepare people for nonviolent direct action against its construction. When construction began in September 2015, we were ready with vigils, rallies and blockades, with hundreds of people lining up to risk arrest by nonviolently blocking construction. The work continues: this coming weekend, hundreds of “Mothers Out Front” will be protesting at the site.

Sustainability and Justice

At JP NET and beyond, there is some overlap between the people involved in both resistance and resilience strategies. But for the most part, they are different groups of people. And let’s be clear: both resilience-building and resistance can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. We’re not saying that pipeline fighters should add on resilience work, or vice versa. Folks should continue to do what calls to them.

In some cases, stronger institutional connections are needed: the pipeline protesters add an essential perspective to the institution-building of JP NET. And people who are involved in JP NET can show up and support the pipeline protests at key moments.

What will certainly help all of our work, however, is the knowledge that it is part of a larger, interconnected whole. Our openness to seeing each other as allies expands our sense of the movement, grounding us in the knowledge that this is bigger than one community, one pipeline, or one person. Together, we can say ‘no’ to corruption and carbon pollution, while saying ‘yes’ to sustainability and justice.

Join this ongoing conversation going at the Resilience, Resistance & Regional Equity Convergence on June 11 in Boston. Register here.

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Sarah Byrnes is co-founder of Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition and coordinator of the New England Resilience and Transition Network, which convened the June 11, 2016 gathering on Resilience, Resistance and Regional Equity.

Chuck Collins is senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-editor of Inequality.org and co-founder of Resist the Pipeline. He is author of the forthcoming book, Born on Third Base.

Why Resilience + Resistance? Join the Online Discussion

Why is the NERT network hosting a convergence for resilience-builders and resisters? What is the kinship between these two movements and schools of thought?

Join Sarah, Ben, and other ROCkers and NERT members for an online discussion about this topic. Read this blog post in advance.

Why Resilience + Resistance?
Online Discussion
Wednesday, May 25, 12-1pm

Join NERT on Slack to watch video from this conversation and add your thoughts!

Regional Convergence: Agenda and Workshop Descriptions

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Register here!

Friday, June 10: Informal Gathering

If you’re in town for the evening, email Sarah@LocalCircles.org about an informal gathering.

Saturday, June 11: Resilience, Resistance & Regional Equity Convergence

First Church UU JP, 6 Eliot Street, Jamaica Plain
Please enter on the Eliot Street side of the building by 9:30 to register

Agenda

9:00 Breakfast & Registration
10:00 – 12:00: Keynote Address with Richard Heinberg, Responses & Q&A
12:00 – 12:45: Lunch
12:45 – 1:40: Say Hello to NERT and Each Other
1:45 – 3:00: Workshops
3:10 – 4:25: Workshops
4:30 – 5:00: Farewell Fiesta and Sending Forth

Morning Session

The morning will include a keynote address from Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow-in-Residence of the Post Carbon Institute. Richard is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost educators on peak oil, energy policy and community resilience. He will explore the opportunities and challenges in the transition to a fossil fuel free future. Several energy analysts and environmental organizations have formulated plans for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. Richard Heinberg and David Fridley, staff scientist of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have gathered and assessed those plans, and in his talk Richard will discuss the future of clean energy and how the characteristics of ~100% renewable energy will shape our lives and economy. Richard’s new book, Our Renewable Future, will be available for purchase. Check out a short summary of Our Renewable Future on YES! magazine.

Two members of the New England Resilience & Transition network will offer responses to Richard’s talk.

Workshops

Renewable Energy in New England

With Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute and Lynn Benander, Co-op Power

Join this workshop to discuss the New England energy scene in more detail, including possibilities for community owned, renewable energy. Richard Heinberg, our keynote speaker, will give more details on the opportunities and challenges in the transition to renewables. Lynn Benander is the CEO and President of Co-Op Power, a consumer-owned sustainable energy cooperative that operates within a regional network of Community Energy Cooperatives. Lynn has worked for many years to support the development of consumer, producer, worker-owned and other locally-owned businesses that meet basic needs for energy, food, and shelter. She will speak about the network of consumer-owned energy co-ops around New England, as well as possibilities for our region’s renewable future.

Food Justice and Security in New England

With Karen Spiller, Food Solutions New England and Orion Kriegman, Boston Food Forest Coalition

How can we achieve food justice and food security for all of New England, especially given climate change and environmental degradation? Food Solutions New England has a vision for a sustainable New England food system that produces 50% of our food within the region by 2060. Join this workshop to learn about their vision and the essential role grassroots groups and community-based agriculture play in achieving it. This is a great chance to consider how our efforts can combine for a greater, region-wide impact.

Resilience & Resistance in New England: Building a Holistic Movement for Justice & Sustainability

With Chuck Collins, moderator, Institute for Policy Studies and JP New Economy Transition; Tim Stevenson, Founding Director at Post Oil Solutions and author of Resilience and Resistance: Building Sustainable Communities for a Post Oil Age; and Marla Marcum, Climate Disobedience Center

“Resilience” and “resistance” are essential complements in a holistic struggle to build an equitable and sustainable society. This workshop will discuss how all our work can benefit when we situate ourselves in this larger framework. The workshop will also include a discussion of the status of the movement to resist pipelines here in New England.

Building Resilience Together: Get Support for your Current Work, and Think Together about Collaborative Possibilities

With Ben Roberts, Conversation Collaborative and Sarah Byrnes, New England Resilience & Transition Network

Join with other community initiatives to receive support for your community work and think together about how we can be “more than the sum of our parts.” You’ll present a challenge you are experiencing, and receive input and support from your peers. You will also be able to offer input and support to others. We’ll also move into a conversation about what we can do together to enhance resilience, sustainability, and equity. Where are the potential collaborations among us?

The New Economy Movement

With Anand Jahi, Program Director at the New Economy Coalition and Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Vermonters for a New Economy

What is the new economy? Join this workshop to find out! You’ll hear about a vibrant and growing movement from two leading practitioners in the field. Anand Jahi, Program Director at the New Economy Coalition, will offer framing remarks on the state of this international movement that is building a sustainable and equitable economy at many scales, from local to global. Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Director of Vermonters for a New Economy, will give a picture of how the new economy is taking shape in the great state of Vermont — from local currencies, public banking, and genuine progress indicators to a new field of study that brings it together called Permanomics. Together, we’ll consider how to build the new economy in our communities and the New England region as a whole.

The Power of Story for Building Resilience

With Marianne Connor, screenwriter and producer

In times of big change, the stories we tell about where we are headed and why it is worth the journey are critical to building community resilience, creativity and commitment. These stories can compel collective, conscious action or paralyze us in fear and powerlessness. Come learn the key elements for developing your community or organization’s transformation story.

Marianne Connor is a screenwriter/producer and evolutionary activist who uses the power of story to support communities to step into big change by conscious design in partnership with nature. 

Skills for Building Equity: Race and Class in Transition and Resilience Organizing

With Charis Boke, cultural anthropologist, community organizer, and Program Leader with the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice

Equity is intrinsic to resilience, and no one is truly resilient until we all are. Resilience and care are deeply connected, and we can’t heal our planet’s challenges without caring attention to people as well as ecologies. It is essential that we address and heal from historical and ongoing injustices in order to build a world where we can all thrive, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or anything else. In this workshop, we will explore how we can learn to care for one another as a key part of building resilience. We will consider how our identities impact our community work, and learn approaches for working across difference in order to build multi-racial and cross-class initiatives and work toward an equitable region.

Culture Shift: A Social Permaculture Framework for Creating & Cultivating Powerful, Joyful, & Effective Groups

With Samantha Wechsler, Wildwise

Innovative and promising initiatives often fall far short of their transformative potential—or are stopped dead in their tracks—not because of a shortcoming inherent to the initiatives or the ideas behind them, but because of conflict within and between groups of people. Even when everyone agrees to a shared vision and believes that they are coming to the table bolstered by the highest of ideals, collaborative efforts often come apart at the seams, leaving people feeling discouraged and betrayed.

In this workshop, we will explore key principles of “social permaculture”, learn skills and tools for creating and contributing to functional and effective groups, and develop a deeper understanding of the role of meaningful cooperation in bringing about a just and equitable transition. Participants, regardless of their level of previous group experience, will come away feeling energized, inspired, and better equipped to (re)commit to collaborative efforts.

Samantha Wechsler is the owner of Wildwise, a coaching and consulting business that is dedicated to individual and collective transformation. Samantha provides life and leadership coaching for women executives, entrepreneurs, and changemakers who yearn to make a deeper impact in their personal lives, their work, their communities, or beyond. She also works with organizational teams to increase their effectiveness while building a healthier, more life-affirming culture.

Restoring Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Nature’s Plan for Resilience and Transition

With Adam Sacks, Sharon McGregor, Jim Laurie, and Paula Phipps

Healthy, biodiverse ecosystems provide clean water, abundant healthy food, solid community economics, climate resilience and massive capture of atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis and long-lived complex biomolecules. There are many viable and sustainable approaches for a range of ecosystems; they are inexpensive, low-tech, powerful and just about anyone can participate. In this interactive workshop we’ll discuss a variety of practices from around the world, and focus on the possibilities in urban, suburban and rural environments in New England.

The Resilience, Resistance & Regional Equity Convergence

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With keynote address by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute
Convened by the New England Resilience & Transition network

Saturday June 11, 10am – 5pm
First Church Unitarian in Jamaica Plain, 6 Eliot Street
Boston, MA
REGISTER!

Across New England, a new world is being built. Grassroots activists motivated by their love for community and the planet are building resilient local communities, resisting fossil fuel projects, and making sure that all people can thrive now and into the future, regardless of race, class, income and more. On June 11 join a convergence of regional and local actors building this new world. You’ll connect with great people, hear stories and lessons to strengthen your work, help build the New England Resilience & Transition network, and get inspired!

The morning will include a keynote address and responses from members of the New England Resilience & Transition Network. In the afternoon we will have lunch, workshops and network-building sessions. Click here for the Agenda and Workshop Descriptions.

– Light breakfast and lunch included
– Suggested Donation: $15 — But no one turned away due to lack of funds
– In-home hospitality available on a first-come, first-served basis (Email Sarah@LocalCircles.org)

Click here to Volunteer at the Convergence and Attend for Free

Share on Facebook | Download the Flyer

About Richard Heinberg

heinberg-thumbRichard Heinberg is Senior Fellow-in-Residence of the Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators. He has authored scores of essays and articles and twelve books. Since 2002, Richard has delivered over five hundred lectures to a wide variety of audiences in 14 countries—from insurance executives to peace activists, from local officials to members of the European Parliament. He has been quoted and interviewed countless times for print, television, and radio. Richard has appeared in many film and television documentaries, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour, is a recipient of the M. King Hubbert Award for Excellence in Energy Education, and in 2012 was appointed to His Majesty the King of Bhutan’s International Expert Working Group for the New Development Paradigm initiative. Richard’s animations Don’t Worry, Drive On, Who Killed Economic Growth? and 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Minutes (winner of a YouTubes’s DoGooder Video of the Year Award) have been viewed by more than 1.5 million people.

Co-Convening Organizations

Transition US, Post Carbon Institute, New Economy Coalition, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Co-op Power, Better Future Project, 350MA, Climate Disobedience Center, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Conversation Collaborative, Vermonters for a New Economy, Global Community Initiatives, Headwaters Garden and Learning Center, Transition Montpelier, Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, Jamaica Plain Time Exchange, Transition Newburyport, Building A Local Economy, Boston Food Forest Coalition, Transition Town Charlotte, Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.), Sustainable Woodstock, Post Oil Solutions, Revive the Roots, Coginchaug Area Transition, Center for an Ecology Based Economy, New Haven Bioregional Group, Resist the Pipeline

NERT Action Planning – November 16, 2015 Update

NERT Nov 16 People!Last week thirteen members of the New England Resilience & Transition Network gathered for an Action Planning meeting in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Folks came from Montpelier, Vermont to Portland, Maine to New Haven, Connecticut, and many places in between. It was wonderful to have representation from near and far.

In the morning we focused on the NERT network itself. NERT now has 44 members across all six New England states! We discussed network engagement, support and inter-connection, in keeping with NERT Goals #1 and #2. We also discussed plans to convene a NERT Advisory Committee to help us stay connected with other networks and glean more information from around the region.

In the afternoon, we focused on NERT Goals #3 and #4: Articulate a Common Story that conveys our vision for a positive future, despite threats of climate change, resource shortages, inequities, and more; and Create a sense of “Network Self-Awareness” among resilience, Transition, and other grassroots groups in New England.

As we navigated this conversation, it became clear that more work needs to be done to clarify the NERT vision for the future, as well as our values. We also dug into the idea of producing a 5-minute video for the network to convey the Story of New England and consider what kind of future we want to build together. We agreed that the video should serve as a conversation starter about the future of our common region.

NERT Nov 16 AgendaWe had a rich conversation, asking ourselves: How does New England’s history position us well for a thriving, resilient future? We noted that there are many examples of inter-connection, resilience, and resistance to oppression in the history of the region that can shape our future in a positive way.

And we also asked ourselves how our region might heal and atone for the grievous sins of the past, including the genocide of the native inhabitants of this land. We noted that without a process of healing, our future will be shaped by these sins, but this time we will be living in a context of declining economic stability, climate change, and resource depletion. Not a pretty picture.

This conversation is far from over; in fact, it’s just beginning. We hope you’ll continue to be involved. To help produce the video, or get more involved with NERT in any way, just email Sarah at sarah@localcircles.org.

Click here to see the full notes from the day.

1/20/16 Update: Follow-up conversations have made it clear that the ROCkers are not ready to pursue the video idea, for now.

The New England New Economy Fund

Onion River Exchange enhances local economy through respect and equality ORE continues to grow as Vermont's largest time bank Read more

Onion River Exchange enhances local economy through respect and equality
ORE continues to grow as Vermont’s largest time bank
Read more

Watch the Webinar about the New England New Economy Fund!

The New England New Economy Fund was founded to support the needs of the local movement for a new economy in New England by: a) fueling the activity of local groups with direct grant funding to support community-based projects, programs and leaders; b) ensuring the sustainability of local efforts by providing skills-building opportunities and technical assistance; and c) building the capacity of local groups by supporting an emerging learning community of local groups through gatherings and network-building activities.

The Fund is a collaboration of New England Grassroots Environment Fund and the New England New Economy Transition (NET) program of Institute for Policy Studies, on behalf of the local, state and regional initiatives working to build a new economy.

Action is needed now in New England and beyond to ensure that residents have continued access to livelihoods, food, health care, transportation, energy, and other basic needs. Action is also needed to adapt to the “new normal”; that is, a world characterized by more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, higher costs of energy, resource shortages, and financial instability.

Small Maine town's non-profit gives aid where banks won't Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative provides low-interest loans to help make community stronger. Read more

Small Maine town’s non-profit gives aid where banks won’t
Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative provides low-interest loans to help make community stronger.
Read more

Across the region, hundreds of local initiatives are taking on the task of building community resilience and shaping a new economy that works for their community. As a web of networked, locally-rooted economies grows, support for the grassroots groups creating these building blocks is essential. Whether it is crafting an community education series, keeping a big box store off their main street, starting a time bank, creating mutual aid networks, starting up a cooperative business, or circulating a local currency, community groups are finding myriad ways to come together in the face of economic uncertainty created by an unjust global economy. They are resisting the forces of globalization and building viable economic alternatives that are based in renewed relationships with each other and the earth.

Fueled by volunteer time, collaboration, and a shared vision, these groups are deeply motivated and committed to building the next economy that benefits all neighbors, not just those with privilege. These groups are finding ways to bridge divides of race, class, and language in their communities, and many are inspired by the insight that equity is intrinsic to true resilience.

Partners: The NENE Fund collaborates with its Partners and other organizations to advance the new economy movement. Our partners resonate with the thinking behind the Fund and commit to engaging in outreach on its behalf. Current formal Partners include:

  • Center for Economic Democracy
  • Co-Op Power
  • Transition US

Interested in supporting the New Economy Fund? Interested in support for your New Economy project?

Visit the NEGEF site to donate or apply!

Bridging Race & Class

BetsyDoes your community group want to engage people from diverse class backgrounds? Do you want to increase turnout at your events, and effectively engage the public to enhance resilience in your area?

Check out the slides from our webinar with Betsy Leondar-Wright of Class Action for tips on creating a cross-class community initiative. (Due to technical glitches with the GoToWebinar software, a recording of the webinar is not available.)

Download the Slides (PPT)

Also check out Betsy’s groundbreaking new book, Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures.

Here is a short list of resources to consider for further reading, discussion and training:

1) NEGEF and Class Action are teaming up to host a training April 11th, 2015, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This will be right up our alley, linking class and intersectional awareness with climate stuff! Facebook link here, and website here.
2) Training for Change runs several kinds of wonderful trainings, including the Whites Confronting Racism training, several times a year. They will travel to groups who want to have them there, also–it may be interesting for NERT to consider running one of these trainings in our network.
3) The movement resource “Organizing for Power” has a lot of great documents and guidelines on its page–check it out here.
4) One specific document that you might like is an overview of anti-oppression work (FYI, consider using the term “dismantling oppression” in your own work…)
5) For those who want to be able to make the link more explicit between the challenges of climate change and the matter of social justice and “collective liberation,” Peaceful Uprising has written a nice, clear statement that can help support you in explaining to folks why environmental justice must be social justice. This can help you build your own understanding of the link. (For those that aren’t familiar with Peaceful Uprising, it’s the group started while Tim DeChristopher was in prison for fake-bidding on an illegal auction of public lands about 5 years ago.)
6) There’s a great book called Beautiful Trouble out there, co-written by a couple of folks, several of who are key organizers for 350.org (Joshua Kahn Russell, for instance, and several others). Here’s the link to the book’s anti-oppression definition. The book has exercises, definitions, suggestions for tactics and strategies for doing stuff…it’s great, so check out the whole thing.
7) For some good links to discussions about and background information on environmental justice and race issues, check out this website.
8) The book Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability,” edited by Alison Alkyon and Julian Agyeman, is a collection of articles that are focused on how food systems in the US/internationally are systematically discriminatory at all levels on the basis of race, class, and more. There are lots of good articles in here, and if you use Google Scholar to search for the article title as in the table of contents of the book, you might even find a free PDF somewhere! I highly recommend it as a good jumping off point for a reading group or a discussion that is trying to better understand the linkages between these issues.