Imagine Our Common Future organizers speak out

  • Published in MyView


Organizers of next month's "Imagine Our Common Future" event were asked to explain why they were helping as members of the steering committee organizing the event. The event takes place on May 12 at the Big Picture Theater.

Q: Why are you helping to organize a May 12 day called "Mad River Valley: Imagining Our Common Future"?

Jo-Ann Billings --

"While widely ignored for years by public officials and administrators, we are now at a crossroads where if a change in attitude and action is not made there will be little for our children's children to inherit. While we in the Mad River Valley are affected by seeing our pristine landscape compromised, in other parts of our world the situation is much more dire. My hope is that we in the MRV can 'commit to action' to ensure our Valley stays beautiful and ultimately becomes an example of conservation and sustainability that spreads beyond the borders of our state."

Rob Williams -

"The Mad River Valley is a unique and remarkable place, one defined by neighborliness, a sense of community, and stunning natural beauty. Most everyone I know who lives here acknowledges this and is also concerned about our future. In a 21st-century world shaped by climate change and global peak oil realities, how can all of us who live and work here, who have raised or are raising families here, work together to ensure that the Mad River Valley can feed, power and sustain itself for decades to come? This is our collective challenge -- and we are hoping that the May 12 event will be one moment where we can come together and imagine our common future."

Kate Stephenson -

"I am helping to organize this event because I want to help preserve and enhance the 'commons' of the Mad River Valley as a place where we live, work and play. Imagining Our Common Future will bring us together as a community to think about critical issues such as where our food comes from and how we will power our homes and businesses using local resources. I am looking forward to a lively conversation, some heated debate, and the chance to work collaboratively with neighbors and colleagues to brainstorm a vision for the future."

Susan Roy --
"The Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce is seeking collaborative partnerships as it begins formulating a GeoTourism initiative. We are exploring working more closely with local government and organizations to find the balance between economy and ecology. We want to support and enhance our cultural, recreational, historic and natural resources. Making tourism more sustainable doesn't mean controlling or managing negative influences and impacts. Rather, it is about raising awareness, educating, and influencing support for stewardship of our natural resources and historic and cultural assets. This event, along with others being planned by various community organizations, works toward that objective."

Tara Hamilton -

 "While I am as in love with limes and avocados and coffee as anyone, I am also compelled by the urgency of the challenge facing us given the planet's current circumstances. I believe it is incumbent upon us -- you and me right now in 2007 -- to ensure that we do not muck up the land and waters on which we all depend so they can continue to contribute to a healthy, functioning ecosystem that can, in fact, provide sustainable sources of food and fuel. I am participating in the Commons Day because I think we need to continue to talk about the viability of leaving ample productive land left undeveloped -- so that it can be successfully farmed, now and in the future. We also need to brainstorm about future fuel needs and what our undeveloped woods may provide for us in addition to habitat, watershed protection, and places to recreate; and what kind of energy we can get from our ridgelines and streams and who knows what else. Fostering these discussions is critical to sustaining our collective economic, community, and ecological health.
"It would be fascinating to look at maps and discuss numbers that might enlighten us to whether there actually is enough prime agricultural land left in The Valley to grow crops and meat to sustain all who live here. How many acres of woodland might we need to produce enough firewood and/or biomass to heat our homes if gas and oil are no longer affordable and solar, wind and micro-hydro turn out not to be viable options? How many trees do we need to leave to offset the amount of carbon we all contribute to the atmosphere? These are all really important questions."  

Helen Whybrow -

"I'm a strong supporter of this event because it gives us a rare opportunity. All too often we are caught up in the present race of daily lives, and though we might be planning our futures we are rarely planning, visioning and imagining collectively. It feels like we have entered a time of the collective, and the commons, whether we like it or not. We can no longer think so short-term and so individually. All evidence shows that we are at a time when community will play a critically important role in our long-term health and happiness, and quite possibly even our survival. The Mad River Valley has a long history of people working together, feeding one another, drawing power from the river and resources from the hills. This day will be a first step - and an exciting one - in re-inventing community resilience in the context of modern technology and the modern crises we face."

Dennis Derryberry --

"I'd like to live in the Mad River Valley forever; my children too, if that's what they want. At the Mad River Sustainability Group, we believe that in order to survive and prosper here we must undertake a sea change in the way we provide for our basic needs. We must "relocalize" and strive to meet our requirements right here where we live: local food to feed us all and local power generation from distributed renewable sources. By providing for ourselves in these ways we can build a buffer against uncertainty and volatility in the food supply chains and energy markets -- which are both so deeply entrenched in the rampant consumption of cheap fossil fuels. We can strengthen our local economy while doing our part to stop global warming. Faced with the converging forces of climate change, peak oil and international instabilities, we can look to each other and our common resources as the best way to secure our common future."

Robin McDermott -

"As awareness grows about the importance of getting more of our food from closer to home, one can't help but ask, "What if everyone wanted to get all of their food from close to home? Could we feed ourselves?" The Mad River Valley Localvore Project is organizing the morning activities of this conference to start a dialogue about our ability to feed ourselves right here in The Valley. As we started to assemble a panel of experts who could help us (the participants) think through this question, we realized just how complex the answer can be. I am looking forward to hearing our panelists who will provide some fascinating information on how much food we would actually need to produce, what land we have available to grow and raise our food, and what type of food could we grow and what would we have to give up on a 100 percent local diet. I also look forward to the Action Cafe (a fancy name for small discussion groups) after the panel presentation to talk about what we gleaned from the panelists and to learn what other folks in the Mad River Valley think about the idea of growing more of our food closer to home."

Alex Maclay -

"Fostering community has always been a focus for me, and I see nothing more important now than asking ourselves these questions, how we can create a community that will sustain itself and thrive, all with its own systems and power?
"I am helping to get the word out so that everyone knows of this amazing opportunity coordinated by so many, an opportunity to come out and listen, learn and share how we can, indeed, must, design our common future for the Mad River Valley."