Sunday, October 30, 2011

(re)Connecting for Change 2011

For the third year running, I decided to head down to New Bedford, MA for the last day of the Marion Institute's Connecting for Change event, a Bioneers by the Bay conference described as:
...an internationally acclaimed annual gathering of environmental, industry, and social justice innovators who have demonstrated visionary and practical models for restoring the Earth and its inhabitants.
I enjoyed my visits to the event over the past few years, and was curious about what would be different (if anything) from what I'd experienced in the past considering the Occupy protests underway nationally and internationally.  Given some of the comments I saw written in the community sign-making area, it appeared that a few people were aligned with the Occupy protesters.

My visit focused on the speakers and performers gracing the stage of the Zeiterion Theatre, an historic space in downtown New Bedford standing as symbol to New Bedford's once (and future?) status in the nation's and regional economy.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the drive time to New Bedford (badly) and missed William Foote of Root Capital.  I've heard of the organization, and would have liked to have heard first hand about their mission to make finance for small-scale farmers in the developing world work.

I caught the end of Mercy Bell's performance (a nice way to arrive) and settled into the crowd to take in the rest of the morning's speakers and performers.  John Francis - Planetwalker's mixture of serious thoughts with one-liner levity made his message of taking responsibility for our individual impact on future generations easier to swallow.  His "A-ha!" moment came in 1971; he decided to forgo motorized transportation, after he and his wife drove down from their house to the San Francisco Bay to view an oil spill resulting from a tanker collision.  He realized that his actions were part of the problem, and he could do something about it.  Then, on his 27th birthday, he gave everyone a "gift"; he did not talk for the day.  Quickly, he realized that when he did not talk, he listened - intensely - and learned things that he missed when he was thinking about what he was going to say.

Chachi Carvalho took the stage for a powerful rap performance.  I find Bioneers by the Bay interesting because they integrate arts into their programming about solutions-based sustainability and social justice.  These performances provided a brief respite for my mind to process what I just heard and exposed me to things I would otherwise not experience.

John Perkins was next, sharing thoughts about native cultures' prophesies associated with 2012.  We're not talking about the movie versions of 2012 but the mythological versions of multiple native cultures.  His scheduled partner, Llyn Roberts was unable to make it and unfortunately I did not get the name of her replacement (I believe her first name was Liza).  The story of the Eagle and the Condor helps illustrate the multiple versions of this story.  The Eagle represents the society of the intellect and mind an the Condor represents the society of the heart and spirit.  We're at the time where these two societies have the chance to combine and  the next phase of humanity's growth....combining the best of both.  What else might we combine?
  • left & right
  • for & non-profit
  • industry & environment
  • oil & water 
My restless nature revealed itself toward the end of the morning as I fell in and out of the auditorium.  Kari Fulton climate justice and new media activist of checktheweather.tv and Laurie David writer of The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect... joined us.  The key take-a-way from Kari was that "future justice" happens now - the decisions we make today will affect those coming after us - we have a moral responsibility to think in the long-term.  Laurie made the point that everything we need to address as a society - economic, social, educational, environmental (and more) issues - crosses the family dinner table.

Remember that awkward holiday dinner moment when someone brought up a politically charged topic?  It may have been awkward, and those moments are necessary as we process our social challenges.

Here's the full program of the weekend's events.

I appreciated the people people tweeting from the event.  I was not there Friday or Saturday so searching by the event organizer's pre-determined twitter hashtag #cfc2011 provided some small bits of insight into what was happening.  Depending upon the type of event and the content people share, I find this immensely valuable.

I am sure there is much more to say about Bioneers, Connecting for Change, and the Marion Institute...thoughts?

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