Friday we had several presentations. They were…. not so great. A ton of doom and gloom – peak oil, population issues, how incredibly fucked we all are even if we were to turn things around right this minute. :/
I don’t much like that sort of thing. It’s depressing. It makes me want to give up. I got the impression that a lot of us don’t even believe in peak oil any more, anyways. One of the presentations was just a half-hour parade of graphs. *yawn* Good thing I had a book. ;)
Oh, but there was also an impromptu presentation by Village Vancouver – they’ve been building sustainable communities right here, and they seem to be running a lot of workshops. Neat. Maybe I’ll go to one of those sometime. :)
Afterwards, we split into discussion groups, and that was great. I ended up in the politics circle, whose topic actually wandered all over the place. we talked about apathy, about how few protests there are in north america these days, and how little they accomplish… about how we might get power back into the hands of the people. Someone reminded us that municipal governments are actually fairly open, and we can go to those meetings – but what they really need from us is metrics, numbers to back up what we’re saying so that they can justify their decisions. I got another history lesson: back in the 60’s, most people could actually afford a house and an education. In many ways, their standard of living was better than what we have now – despite, or because of, their economy being stagnant. We talked about the need to build community and connect with nature, about local currencies, privatization, how participatory government does and doesn’t scale… I’m going to have to sort through my notes later and find out what conclusions we actually arrived at, because this just scratches the surface. :)
The discussions went late, and then smaller discussions went even later. :) Someone told us about how the little redneck town she grew up in has become the local-food capital of the world – change *can* happen. :) We need more success stories like that, more examples of solutions, of what we can really do.
Today there’s another lineup of speakers – hopefully they’ll be a bit more optimistic than yesterday ;) But really, these conferences, it’s about the *people*, the discussions, meeting and connecting and finding out what other people have been doing and that you’re not alone. It’s not about those few people giving talks, it’s about everyone coming together to make things happen. :)