We could hold “town hall” meetings where people meet and talk face to face—well not in covid times! And town hall meetings, in my experience, end up being about the voice of a few and leave little room for actual discussion between people.
Yikes I remember meetings called to talk about the possibility of the NDP and Green Party at least cooperating during an election to ensure that a split progressive vote did not permit the election of those who are not committed to social and environmental well being. Wow, those were not discussions. People weren’t talking with each other –they were mostly social media styled events where a few dominate the meetings with angry, uncompromising agendas.
So if not social media and not town hall meetings, then where are people ( I am concerned with progressives here) going to meet and get to know each other well enough to openly and respectfully talk with each other about how we can create a just, sustaining and sustainable world? How can we begin to understand and respect differences while building our common good?
Well the answer is not as far away as it might seem. For over twenty years a small group of people in the Comox Valley managed a list serve (A Sustainable Comox Valley—ascv)that promoted respectful conversations about all aspects of sustaining healthy people on a healthy planet. Unfortunately that listserve came to an end when Yahoo Groups decided that list serves are simply not profitable and dropped the service.
Ascv was not perfect. It had bumps and blemishes and sometimes skirmishes but over time subscribers to the list learned to share ideas and points of view respectfully. A few (very few)names were dropped from the list when they could not conform to the requirement for respectful communication. The topics ranged from local sustainability efforts to politics to personal and public responses to climate change.
Almost all the people on the list knew each other ( or at least of each other) off the web so there were no bots, trolls, microtargeting, cookies or fake news. It was just local people talking with local people about what really matters to them.
I miss it. Especially in covid times when we aren’t out meeting physically with friends/fellow community members. Ascv served as a link to others that could not be manipulated by huge corporations or financial/political interests and it allowed local participants to meet and talk without fear of spreading the virus.
I miss it greatly because as Martin Luther King observed:”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Well, for those who share my feelings about ascv, I have some good news: there is a new Comox Valley listserve–Sustainable Comox Valley(scv) facilitated by a site that promotes conversations about social justice/environmental well being.
The listserve focus is on Comox Valley but, obviously, an issue like climate change does not begin nor end at the boundaries to the Comox Valley. Local activist and jack of all trades Ross Hunt has put in the effort to get this new listserve up and ready to roll. If you want to get on the listserve you can write directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can email me, email@example.com and I will add you to the list. If you don’t see much traffic on the listserve, don’t be discouraged. It is just getting started. It will take some time for the site to flesh out into a thorough community conversation.
The purpose of this list serve is to communicate about community issues and events aimed at creating a healthy, sustainable, caring and just world with emphasis on the Comox Valley Community/ though sustainability is obviously much larger than the Comox Valley. There is a small governing body to adjudicate respectful communication and bring understanding–if not resolution–when conflicts arise.
My personal commitment to scv is to regularly post reviews of the books I am reading. I tend to read about two books a month and I often find myself longing to talk with others about the contents whether I agree with it or not. I just finished The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich before the dramatic events in the US capitol and would have greatly enjoyed finding someone to talk with about the parallels between the rise of the Nazis and the nascent rise of fascism in the United States today.