Climate Crisis Solutions: Tools for Transition

September 25-27, 2015 Yellow Springs, Ohio


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Friday Night

The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus)Living a Meaningful Life with Less

Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can focus on life's most important things—which actually aren't things at all. By avoiding that which is superfluous—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter—we are able to live an intentional life in which we consume less.

When we consume less, we produce less waste. But we also make room for so much more: more creativity, more passion, more growth, more contribution, more happiness—and better health and better relationships. 

People are searching for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the unsustainable American Dream. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, known to their 4 million readers as "The Minimalists," believe minimalism is a solution to our mass-consumption problem. During this keynote address, Joshua & Ryan will talk about living a meaningful life with less stuff, and they'll discuss what minimalism means for our environment and our communities.

Saturday Morning

Ma’ikwe LudwigSustainable is Possible! Living a low carbon, high quality life in the belly of the beast

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is a successful, mature sustainable living demonstration project, showing how it is possible to live well on a fraction of the resources of your average American, and in alignment with the kind of consumption and emissions levels climate scientists are saying we need to get down to in order to slow climate change to a survivable level. This talk details Dancing Rabbit's success as a "10% Consumption Community" and explores the aspects of cooperative culture that make it possible and can be adopted in a variety of contexts, both in community and out. The Executive Director of the community nonprofit, Ma'ikwe Ludwig, also looks at the many other productive options we have for responding to climate disruption.

Sunday Afternoon

Stephanie MillsArthur Morgan and Other Elders

In her talk, Stephanie Mills will offer an appreciation of Arthur Morgan and what he stood for:  The cultivation, in communities of just proportion, of the finest human qualities.  These qualities are the essential tools for transition. Morgan, renowned in his time, was a learned man and possessed definite expertise. Yet he examples the great generalist, and moralist of an ilk little seen or valued today. Mills will draw on Morgan’s inspiring writings and pedagogy to help frame, historically, the good cause we here take up.


Ma’ikwe Ludwig and Carolyn BakerEncountering Climate Change, (Friday, 1-5:30pm)

Climate Disruption is the most urgent challenge of our time, and yet many of us are struggling with overwhelm, paralysis and a deep desire to simply check out in the face of it all. How do we even respond to something so big and fundamental, and with such huge unknowns? How do we work through the fear, anger, sadness and even guilt that come up for many of us when we try to think about the coming changes?

This workshop is an invitation to steer directly into the emotional and spiritual morass that is climate change, and then step pro-actively into action.

This weekend workshop features the following exercises and explorations:

  • Joanna Macy-inspired witnessing and moving through emotional blockage
  • Resting in compassion for the world and self
  • Reconnecting with nature and understanding what is at stake
  • Acting on behalf of what we love, and listening for what needs to happen
  • Personal choices in the face of climate change
  • How we relate to political and economic actions
  • Holding space for others

Nancy DerenCrafting the Stewardship Economy, (Friday, 1-5pm)

Our current money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed natural resources and human community, and necessitated endless growth. We find ourselves at a point where these trends have reached their extreme, and are living in an age of anxiety, where many of us have an increasing sense that “normal” isn’t coming back.

A New Economy movement is emerging across the country, inspiring opportunities to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being that builds true wealth and respects living within our planetary means. Slow Money, Sacred Economics, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, the New Economy Coalition and many others are examples of a new generation of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors who are showing the way from Making A Killing to Making a Living. We will explore some of the many forms of investing and lifestyle strategies that are currently available, and craft some ideas of what could work well for us here.

 Dr. Allen Hunt, Climate Change Tour of The Glen, (Friday, 1-3pm)

Join Dr. Allen Hunt, professor of mathematics & physics at Write State University, for an informative tour of Glen Helen. See and hear how he expects climate change to impact the area where we live.

General impacts of climate change include: warming, increased humidity, fewer freezing temperatures in winter, and expansion of the impacts of invasive species, including insects and animals, with their pathogens, and displacing plants. Also, to lowest order, wet places get wetter, and drier places get drier.

Local impacts are best evaluated in regional climate models. These reveal that, under the slower warming scenarios, our future climate (by 2050) will be more like southern Kentucky or northern Tennessee. In the faster warming scenarios, we expect a climate more like Oklahoma or Arkansas.

In addition to such generalizations, the Glen provides an opportunity to visualize some of the climate changes expected. South-facing slopes provide microhabitats and water availabilities that may become more common in the future. Effects on other microhabitats will be explored.

Green Building Tour, (Friday, 1-3pm)

Take a tour of local, sustainable living and building practices by visiting a straw bale house, a Passive House and a tiny house. Meet the builders and/or occupants.

Reggie StrattonAntioch Sustainability Tour, (Friday, 3:30-5:30pm)

Upon its re-opening in 2011, Antioch College has strived to reduce the impact of its campus operations on the environment by establishing sustainable policies, programs and practices that ensure it is conducting operations in an environmentally sound manner, consistent with Antioch's vision of providing a place where new and better ways of living are discovered as a result of meaningful engagement with the world through intentional linkages between classroom and experiential education.  

During this tour, participants will learn about our LEED Gold Certified North Hall dormitory and how it became a model for our subsequent renovation projects and informed us on how our energy and carbon footprint can be dramatically reduced through sustainable design and utilizing solar and geothermal energy to power our campus and to heat and cool our buildings.  You will see our beautifully restored Wellness Center, which features a pool and spa heated by geothermal and whose chemical treatment is minimized by the use of UV light and CO2.  We will then visit the newly renovated Arts & Science building, featuring ventless, filtered Lab Hoods that help reduce energy use by minimizing HVAC requirements for the building.  From there will be visit the Central Geothermal plant, expected to reduce our heating and cooling energy requirements by 30% once fully implemented.  Finally, we will visit the college's 1 megawatt solar array, which feeds directly into our Central Plant and offsets power consumption on campus by 31%.

Local Garden/CSA Tours, (Friday, 3:30-5:30pm)

Visit three local gardens or sites of community supported agriculture to see how people are growing sustainable, nutritious & delicious foods and then feeding it back into the mouths of their grateful communities.


Carolyn Baker, Global Crisis as Spiritual Practice

As institutions crumble and the world as we have known it becomes increasingly unfamiliar and uncertain, how do we align with the deeper story that we came here to live? What fibers of our being must we strengthen in order to navigate the collapse of the old paradigm and co-create the one waiting to emerge? Who we truly want to be in the face of this great unraveling and what it may be calling us to do?

It is possible to forsake our denial and face what is so if we are inspired by a host of ancestors and deep wisdom from the past which offer us options for navigating monumental changes in current time. In this workshop, we will draw upon timeless truths using song, story, poetry, group interaction, and embodied, supportive community building in order to reclaim our truth and power amid chaos. This workshop is an opportunity to begin together the journey of emotional and spiritual preparation for collapse, Transition, the Great Turning and the next culture beyond industrial civilization.

Sarah Byrnes and Megan BachmanThe New Economy and You: How to Build an Economy that’s Fair and Sustainable

What is the "new economy," and how can you help build it in your community? Join this workshop to learn more about the many ways local communities are working to create small but scalable models of economic justice and sustainability in their own backyards. You’ll hear about local currencies, time banks, and new forms of ownership--as well as the underlying principles behind the new economy: justice, sustainability, and deep democracy. Economic inequality, climate change and much more make it clear that the “old” economy isn’t working. To create the systemic shift that is needed, we need everyone to play a part in building something new. Join us to get inspired and think about your role in building the new economy.

Sarah Conley-BallewRoger Wilkens, and Duard HeadleyUpdate Athens, the Georgetown Energy Challenge, and the Yellow Springs Resilience Network

This workshop will discuss different models for local climate action and building resilience to the impacts of climate change. In Athens County, a new energy economy is emerging that uses community choice aggregation as a vehicle for increased energy efficiency and local generation of renewable energy. Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) is leading the way by designing a collaborative, community-driven strategy that promotes viable solutions to a carbon-based energy economy. UpGrade Athens County, a special project of SOPEC, connects people with local resources to reduce energy use and to access renewable energy solutions, paving the way for a sustainable energy transition in Southeast Ohio. Climate action in Yellow Springs is an organic and horizontal movement.  Action is occurring at all levels: the individual citizen, local organizations, local business and the local government.  The Yellow Springs Resilience Network is working to interconnect these efforts to take action on some of the more difficult issues and build local resilience. 

Nancy DerenBreaking Up is Hard To Do: Moving our Money from Making a Killing to Making a Living

The ranks of the “walking worried” are swelling as it becomes increasingly evident we are living in increasingly volatile and uncertain times, where injustice and inequality are rampant, and that efforts to return to “normal” are not working. The calming platitudes of financial experts fail to ease our fears as we watch the financial markets drop by billions of dollars in a few hours, then watch them climb to stratospheric heights, yet somehow, our personal finances seem to be ever more of a struggle. 

We can begin to step away from the existing financial system, and build a new one that is based on living well, while living within our planetary means, even when this one is so pervasive and deeply embedded in how we keep a roof over our heads, pay our bills, care for our families, and deal with life events from accidents to aging. 

From where and how you bank, to how you spend, save and invest, let us learn and share what we each can do to change our relationship with this money system as expressed in this section of Slow Money Principle #3

 “ . …The 21st Century will be the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place, diversity and nonviolence. “

Glenn GallRestoring Hydrology -- High Impact Eco-Restoration for the Climate

In 1958, in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, Dr. Charles Keeling began measuring CO2 levels in the atmosphere.  It was then soon apparent that CO2 levels were rising steadily, which lead to warnings of the dangers of the greenhouse effect.  Keeling's work has been highly influential and has resulted in the perception of CO2 as "the" driver of climate change.  The heightened awareness of the effects of fossil emissions has also accompanied reduced awareness of the rest of the carbon cycle, of other regulators of the climate, and, indeed, of other human caused destruction of earth's ecosystems.  
Ecosystem restoration can go a long way toward healing many of earth's problems such as desertification and loss of biodiversity.  Climate stability can be achieved by some of the same means. 

Ecosystem processes abundantly contribute to the functioning of the carbon cycle, and also to the the hydrological cycle responsible for nearly all climate regulation.  Water is involved in evapotranspiration, which accounts for about half of the heat from incoming radiation absorbed on the earth's surface.  Water vapor and water and cloud droplets govern the reflection, capture, and release of much of the heat due to their dynamics, in large part the result of biological processes in the terrasphere and oceans.  

We need to restore balance to earth's systems, and this will require a balance in their understanding.  CO2 emissions are only a part of the climate problem, but the one most studied, and the one with the smoking gun.  Yet to ignore the loss of forest and rangeland services and their contribution to carbon and moisture cycling is to miss what is likely the most important piece of the climate system, and indeed, of all that is necessary to restore a healthy and livable planet.  Rapid and massive restoration to create large carbon pools, but also tp form cooler microclimates, moisture cycling of forest systems, and the like, is critical to recovery.  It's not just emissions, but an entire system gone awry, and restoration of that system is paramount to the recovery of a functioning planet.

Erik Lindberg (Transition Milwaukee) and Clark TibbetsThe Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si

The Pope's recent encyclical letter, which more or less pushes a Plan C curtailment and radical simplicity agenda, may have the potential for being a watershed moment for sustainability. At the least, it raises many interesting questions about the role of religion in our society and may offer an avenue for uniting progressives in the church with non-religious
We would like this workshop to be an open discussion of that watershed potential: 

1) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the encyclical as a change agent? 

2) What would it take for the encyclical message become a lifestyle movement that significantly affects both climate change and world poverty? 

3) What can we each do to help make that happen?

Ma’ikwe Ludwig, Social Skills for Cooperative Culture

Living with others is hard. In fact, trying to cooperate with people at all is hard. This workshop looks at the basic skills toolbox that can make cooperative endeavors more powerful, easier, and fulfilling for everyone involved. Cooperative social skills affect conflict resolution, decision-making, and the general harmony of any group. Come ready to stretch, laugh, and learn new skills.

Key skills that we focus on include:

  • developing compassion 
  • self-awareness
  • speaking and listening to be understood
  • distinguishing between being heard and being agreed with
  • finding the agreement in hard conversations

Ma’ikwe will also introduce multiple conflict resolution models and principles.

Stephanie MillsWhere We At?

A workshop on bioregionalism featuring precepts, exercises, and stories from an early exponent of this holistic, visionary and practical branch of the ecology movement.

Tish O’Dell and John Morgan, The Community Environmental Defense Fund and Fracking the Commons

“Building sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.”

We believe that we are in the midst of an escalating ecological crisis, and that the crisis is the result of decisions made by a relatively few people who run corporations and government. We believe that sustainability will never be achieved by leaving those decisions in the hands of a few – both because of their belief in limitless economic production and because their decisions are made at a distance from the communities experiencing the impact of those decisions. Therefore, we believe that to attain sustainability, a right to local self-government must be asserted that places decisions affecting communities in the hands of those closest to the impacts. That right to local self-government must enable communities to reject unsustainable economic and environmental policies set by state and federal governments, and must enable communities to construct legal frameworks for charting a future towards sustainable energy production, sustainable land development, and sustainable water use, among others. In doing so, communities must challenge and overturn legal doctrines that have been concocted to eliminate their right to self-government, including the doctrines of corporate constitutional rights, preemption, and limitations on local legislative authority. Inseparable from the right to local self government - and its sole limitation - are the rights of human and natural communities; they are the implicit and enumerated premises on which local self government must be built.

Laird Schaub, How Intentional Communities are Pioneering Economic Sustainability

If you think of sustainability as a three-legged stool—ecological, social, and economic—then the economic leg is the short, wobbly one. In this workshop we’ll explore the ways that intentional communities are getting economic leverage in a future characterized by increasing uncertainty about access to decent jobs and the solvency of retirement funds. The key concepts are redefining quality of life in terms of access instead of ownership, and redefining security in terms of relationships instead of bank accounts or insurance policies.

Laird SchaubWhat You and Your Group Can Learn from Intentional Communities—Even if You Don’t Want to Live in One

The first thing—which is huge--is how to live cooperatively instead of competitively. It’s one thing to object to the mainstream culture; it’s something else knowing how to create a viable alternative. In addition, communities are R&D centers for learning how to maintain high quality of life on a lower budget and smaller carbon footprint than you may have thought possible. We’ll give you a peek behind the curtain.

Laird Schaub, Facilitation & Cooperative Leadership

Community is about creating and maintaining a vibrant cooperative culture. Unfortunately, knowing it’s a good idea and knowing how to do it are not the same thing. Having skilled facilitation and leadership—people who understand cooperative culture and can guide the group sure-handedly in the heat of the moment—can make a huge difference in the group experiencing gain rather than pain. We'll look at the basic qualities needed to become a full-service facilitator and an effective leader, the process agreements needed to spread your wings, and how to recognize those magic moments when passion can be harnessed to transform binding into bonding. 


Resilient Gardening

Our gardening panelists will address topics such as the Victory Garden Initiative, pollinator pathways, and developing successful organic CSAs as an alternative to industrial agriculture. The panel will be chaired by Tim Honchel, who will be discussing community permaculture.

Changing Things Where you are

What spurs people to make changes in their own lives, in their professions, and in their communities?  Chaired by Kirk Rowe.

Student Leadership in an Era of Transition

The focus of the student panel will be on how education needs to be transformed to help students to become sustainable leaders in the face of an uncertain future. Our speakers are current high school and college students and recent graduates committed to sustainable leadership in both their curricular and extracurricular activities. The panel will be chaired by Community Solutions Miller Fellow, Rose Hardesty.

Transformative Classrooms

  • Nick Boutis, Antioch Sustainability Committee 
  • Kim Landsbergen, Antioch Faculty, on their Energy Dashboard program
  • Bob Brecha, University of Dayton Sustainability Center
  • Nancy Lee Wood, Center for Sustainability and Post Carbon Education, Bristol Community College


Stephanie Rearick (Dane County Wisconsin Time Exchange) and Kat Walter (Yellow Springs), Building a True Sharing Economy: Time Banks and Mutual Aid

Linda Wigington, Walking the Talk: On the Path to Deep Energy Reductions

Jifunza Wright CarterBlack Oaks Sustainability Center

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