A Deeper Focus


National Environmental Leaders Converge on SLO

Phillips 66 Nipomo Mesa Refinery in San Luis Obispo County, at the center of "oil by rail" controversy regarding transporting Bakken shale and Alberta tar sands oil to west coast for refining.

Phillips 66 Nipomo Mesa Refinery in San Luis Obispo County, at the center of “oil by rail” controversy regarding transporting Bakken shale and Alberta tar sands oil to west coast for refining.

If you are concerned about the health of Earth’s biosphere and the threats to biodiversity, and want to take action to move things in a better direction, consider attending a 3-day environmental conference sponsored by Ecologistics, Inc.: The Deep Ecology Collaboratory. Some of the greatest voices in the conservation movement will be on hand to address the most intractable threats to biodiversity on Earth: Climate Change, Extinction, Habitat Loss, Human Population Overshoot, and Globalization. The event is scheduled for October 21-23 2016 at Rancho El Chorro Nature School, a 250-acre natural preserve in the hills above San Luis Obispo.

We know that a fundamental shift of consciousness is essential in confronting our environmental woes, and this knowledge is implicit in our yearning for a radical redefinition of values required to turn our ubiquitous, market-centered, earth-pillaging corporate exploitation model, on its head. Fortunately, we have better models that reverence the Earth and all her creatures. George Sessions, former Philosophy professor at Sierra College, points to one such philosophic shift that has been growing for some time within the environmental community, “The Long-range Deep Ecology movement emerged more or less spontaneously and informally as a philosophical and scientific social/political movement during the so-called Ecological Revolution of the 1960s. Its main concern has been to bring about a major paradigm shift- a shift in perception, values, and lifestyles- as a basis for redirecting the ecologically destructive path of modern industrial growth societies. Since the 1960s, the long-range Deep Ecology movement has been characterized philosophically by a move from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism, and by environmental activism.”

It is education, action, and creating an atmosphere of conviviality that is the main inspiration for this gathering; all three are equally important. So, plan on enjoying organic meals, micro-brews, and live music between the talks and strategizing workshops. Our program begins Friday afternoon, Oct. 21 with Kelly Sorenson from the Ventana Wildlife Society talking about conserving California Condors and their habitat. Dave Foreman, a leading figure in the conservation movement, Earth First co-founder, and Director of the Rewilding Institute will give a “fireside” talk on Friday evening.

Saturday, Oct. 22 will be a full day of talks, workshops, and music. The program begins with William Ryerson and Joe Bish from The Population Media Center discussing the impact of our global human population overshoot (see also Dave Foreman’s recent book, Man Swarm, on this subject.) Eileen Crist, noted writer (Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics) and professor at Virginia Tech. will speak on ‘Freedom, Entitlement, and the Fate of the Nonhuman World. Stephanie Mills, a longtime bioregionalist and NeoLuddite, contributor to scores of publications like Orion, Whole Earth Catalogue, and Resurgence, will speak on Bioregionalism: Keeping Faith with Nature and Place. Sat. afternoon events start with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, speaking (via video) on ‘What Winning the Climate Change Battle Looks Like’ (see workshop following with a discussion of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby strategy to pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax and dividend and a report on local actions by SLO350.org) A live performance by the winner of the Protest Songwriter contest will be the cap to Saturday’s activities.

The last day of the conference, Sunday, Oct. 23 will start with a 9am walk through the Pennington Creek Biological Preserve led by noted writer and Cal Poly professor, Matt Ritter. Next, Jerry Mander, Founder and Director of the International Forum on Globalization and noted author, will speak on how Capitalist economics and the negative role of (most) technological innovation continues to contribute to our environmental woes. Derrick Jensen, radical environmentalist, noted author, and host of Resistance Radio, will speak on themes from his recent book The Myth of Human Supremacy. The final segment of the Deep Ecology Collaboratory will feature Robert Gifford, editor of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, who will address the social and psychological barriers that prevent effective citizen engagement in our most pressing environmental challenges . We plan to use Loomio, an easy to use online tool (a technological spinoff from the Occupy movement) to connect the conference with groups not able to attend, and involve them in the decision-making process in the creation of the Deep Ecology Manifesto.

This gathering offers a unique opportunity for community activists, state and local officials, students, and anyone seeking to empower themselves to find new ways to take action to heal the planet, have fun, and make some new friends. For ticketing information and volunteer opportunities, please visit the Deep Ecology Collaboratory webpage to learn more. We look forward to meeting you in October.

“I come to realize that mind is no
Other than mountains and rivers
And the great wide earth, the
Sun and the moon and the stars.”

This article also appeared in the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter newspaper Santa Lucian.

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