Living Well on an Altered Planet

"Transformation Without Apocalypse" inspires new narratives on climate change
Kris Paul of the climate action group helped participants envision the consequences of steps toward a more sustainable future.

Kris Paul of the climate action group helped participants envision the consequences of steps toward a more sustainable future.

With reports of climate doomsday on the horizon, many people seek a brighter outlook on the future but aren’t sure where to turn. In February 2014, the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word at Oregon State University hosted a two-day symposium to highlight strategies for coping — and even thriving — in a world confronted by these global-scale challenges.

“I think when people really engage with issues of climate change, environmental degradation, social problems….it’s scary,” says Charles Goodrich, director of the Spring Creek Project. “Often times people withdraw, and the biggest challenge is not to feel alone.

The need for an antidote to isolation inspired Goodrich and his team of writers and philosophers to organize the symposium on a theme of Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet.

With more than 1,000 people in attendance, the free public conference featured speakers, workshops and a “radical reimagining fair” to showcase innovations and organizations dedicated to sustainability. Participants explored a variety of environmental, social and economic solutions, such as water conservation, abolishing war, food co-ops, fossil fuel divestment and personal reflection on grief.

“We hope that with all these organizations and the many, many, many great ideas, there should be something for everyone,” Goodrich adds.

During the event, a small crew of Terra reporters set out to capture attendees’ perspectives on some of these ideas. Here is a collection of their responses.

“We want people to go home feeling less alone,” Goodrich says.  “I’m still scared. I’m still angry. But now I know what to do, and I know who to do it with, so I’m not going to sit at home and sulk.”

Keynote speakers at the event included environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, “Yes! Magazine” editor Sarah Van Gelder and OSU Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Kathleen Dean Moore. The weekend culminated with readings by creative visionaries and authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson.

Visit the Spring Creek Project to see videos of all the keynote presenters, and to learn more about the symposium’s Eco-Art Sculpture, soon to be installed on the Oregon State campus.




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