I was asked to be a speaker at one of the workshops leading up to the Tucson, AZ version of the People's Climate March in NYC. Here are my prepared remarks.
People's Climate March -- Tucson Solidarity Events
September 20, 2014
Coalitions of Mutual Endeavor Workshop
Moving from Protest to Action
My name is Dave Ewoldt. I'm a systems scientist and a practitioner and researcher in applied ecopsychology, specifically its application to systemic change based on natural systems principles for the transition to a sustainable future. These principles are both necessary and effective for health and well-being at the personal and social levels, as well as with our relationships to and need for the natural world--which includes our own inner wilderness as well as our communities.
It must be understood that sustainability has an ecologically sound and legally defensible definition, and that sustainability is more of a social movement than it is an environmental movement, although it is impossible to disentangle those two concepts. It must also be understood that the core emergent attributes of sustainability are ecological integrity, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. The guiding axiom for Coalitions of Mutual Endeavor is that true justice is not possible without sustainability, and without justice peace will always remain nothing more than a dream. One thing about having a guiding framework is that it helps you prioritize.
Natural systems principles--mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity--provide an alternative to the dominator hierarchies and disconnection that lead to empire, exploitation, and destruction; to the toxicity that effects all the relationships necessary to support life and provide meaning, progress and fulfillment of potential. This alternative uses self-organizing networks of mutuality that share leadership. This is inherently non-hierarchical and provides the basis for reconnecting and relocalizing. This is the framework that multi-issue coalitions that can create the critical mass necessary for systemic, life-affirming change fit into.
How that relates to today
Our entire universe, from sub-atomic particles to molecules to weather systems, is based on attraction relationships. Brian Swimme calls them allurements. Ervin Laszlo refers to the subtle field, or 5th force in unified field physics. Today's quantum physicists talk about the Higgs Boson. But without interconnectedness nothing more interesting than hydrogen and helium atoms could ever arise. And what are multi-issue coalitions if not networks of mutual support? What these networks require to be successful are a common goal, a set of shared values, and a systemic framework their individual work can fit within as it contributes to the common goal.
So here's the basic premise of my talk today, and the springboard for a much longer and deeper conversation.
We're spinning our wheels with protests and marches.
Now, these are both perfectly valid methods to raise awareness about injustices, destructive behaviors, and what needs to happen in their stead. However, it's long past time to move beyond that. Reputable polls show the majority--a simple majority in some cases, a supermajority in others, and damn near consensus in a few--are already in agreement. The numbers are even higher outside of the U.S. People support taking action against global warming; they're willing to pay more for their electricity if it comes from clean, renewable sources; to stop pollution and make polluters pay; to get money out of politics and end the myth of corporate personhood; and are twice as likely to support a congressional or presidential candidate who strongly supports action to reduce global warming. We don't see these majorities at the voting booth because there is a decided scarcity of candidates running on these issues--or any other issue that might upset the status quo.
Our greatest commonality is that we come from the Earth, which supports life, thus a sustainable future is in everyone's best interests. At its core, sustainability is a community movement, and we all live in community. Further, the attributes of sustainability do not exist in isolation--the importance, indeed the essence, of their interrelationships cannot be ignored and must be developed. When you realize that life works by self-organizing networks of mutual support that maintain and enhance the web of life, a logical conclusion is that we will become much more successful as individuals and as a species if we embrace and model this basic process. In fact, when you truly understand interconnectedness, you become more afraid of hating than of dying. As a side benefit, it would also require an order of magnitude, at least, less energy than we're lead to believe that we need.
One example of multi-issue coalition building is the Global Climate Convergence (GCC) made up of unions and advocates for peace, food security, economic rights, civil rights, housing, the environment, renewable energy and those committed to ending corporate power. The GCC organized ten days of action from Earth Day to May Day this year to show that all of our issues are connected and that the climate crisis is the ticking clock that brings urgency to our work.