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Community Solutions’ 63rd conference — A focus on climate solutions

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When we look at the issues related to catastrophic changes in climate, and the crisis state we face, it’s natural to “move from denial to despair,” said Susan Jennings, the executive director of the locally based Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions.

The 76-year-old nonprofit has focused on various aspects of the climate crisis in recent years during its fall conference, inviting academics, change-makers, scientists, engineers and activists to come together to share information and strategies for addressing widely held concerns.

Focusing on the “solutions” part of its name, Community Solutions has worked in recent conferences to provide tools and ideas for communities and individuals in a time when the climate situation can feel overwhelming. Last year’s conference was titled “Climate Crisis Solutions: Tools for Transition.” This year, the group’s 63rd conference since its founding in 1940 is “Climate Crisis Solutions: Charting a New Course.” The event dates are Friday–Sunday, Oct. 21–23, and all activities will take place or begin at McGregor Hall on the Antioch College campus.

“It feels presumptive” to suggest that the current crisis can be solved with a conference, Jennings said. What the conference will offer is “mitigating and adaptive strategies for community-based groups and individuals,” she said. “We don’t have to wait around for government and big businesses to come in.”

While denial and despair may be natural responses, “that won’t get us anywhere,” Jennings said.

Through talks, panel discussion and field trips, the conference will “highlight people and communities that are taking practical steps” to alleviate the crisis, Jennings said. Particular focus will be given to the topics of land use, energy, economics, resilient communities and “being the change,” which will look at personal and spiritual acts.

Seventeen local, national and international experts will speak on such topics as carbon farming, reducing the supply chain, the usefulness of weeds, spiritual ecotherapy and how personal finances will be affected by energy futures, among others. Keynote addresses will be presented by Nicole Foss (Friday evening) and Jim Merkel (Saturday evening).

Foss, senior editor of The Automatic Earth website, will speak on “Limits of Growth.” Based in New Zealand, she is an international speaker on energy and global finance. Since January 2008, she and her writing partner “have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going global credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament,” according to her biography,

Merkel, the author of “Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth,”  has joined forces with Community Solutions to create the documentary film “The One-Hundred-Year Plan.” His presentation Saturday evening is titled “100 Year Plan & Reflections on Cuba, Hungary and -Slovenia.”

Attendees can register for a single keynote, a one-day pass or the entire weekend. The conference is exciting for organizers in part because “we invite people we want to hear from,” Jennings said.

The lineup includes a range of backgrounds.

Peter Bane, author of “The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country,” and David Brandt, a no-till farmer from Ohio’s Fairfield County, will share how holistic agricultural practices reverse the trend of global warming.

Former Dayton Mayor Clay Dixon and Michael Gaines, the executive director of Central State University’s Dayton campus, will examine tools and tactics of successful community organizing. Relatedly, filmmaker Sellus Wilder will offer a hands-on workshop on “Storytelling as Activism.” And the Rev. Ann Fox will teach how to sow seeds of peace.

Matt Stannard, a past presenter who has spoken and written on worker-owned cooperatives, basic income, public banks and the intersection of economic oppression and interpersonal violence, will speak on the concept of “Commonomics.”

Jennings said the conference has another goal as well: “putting a spotlight on Yellow Springs” and the things that are happening here on a local level. Some opening activities Friday include tours of Yellow Springs businesses, homes and gardens. “We see Yellow Springs as a model for other communities.” The local effort to launch a farm-to-table commercial kitchen is one example, she said.

The conference draws people from all walks of life, Jennings said. She said last year’s gathering also brought in “a lot of young people,” which pleased organizers.

“We want to learn from people about what they’re doing. “

Ticket prices are on a sliding-scale, Jennings said. The cost for students with ID and people on a limited income is $50. Early-bird tickets are $200 for Community Solutions members and $250 for nonmembers until Monday, Oct. 10. After the 10th, cost is $250 for members, $300 for nonmembers. Scholarships are also available. Meal and lodging costs are not included, and meal reservations should be made by Friday, Oct. 14.

For more information or to register, go online to Call 937-767-2161 with questions.

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