Time For a New Direction
Mood of possibility defines E F Schumacher centenary festival.
You can buy a DVD with 4 hours of the best presentations from the Schumacher Centenary Festival here for £10 including postage.
Audience and speakers excited that conditions may finally be right for the ideas of the green economist to become reality.
…that was the headline for an article by the Guardian’s environmental correspondent, Jonathan Watts, writing on the Tuesday after our incredible weekend, when some 800 people had experienced an inspiring and energized two days of talks, workshops, poetry, films and a world-music concert.
Jonathan, btw, had phoned one day last month to book a ticket, and left his number which turned out to be in Beijing. That’s when I knew our global outreach was succeeding Here’s a bit more of his article, in which I think he captured the essence rather well:
“The most exciting time to be alive” is not a phrase that trips off the tongue of many politicians currently grappling with a global debt crisis and the threat of recession, but it was almost a mantra at the centenary festival for the economist and “soul of the green movement”, E F Schumacher.
The great and the good of the movement, including activists, academics and even a few bankers, turned up at the weekend event in Bristol to pay homage to the author of Small is Beautiful, the landmark 1973 environmental text that questioned the drive for relentless GDP expansion.
With many economies now flat or in decline, the financial system in crisis and the climate increasingly erratic, the crowds that gathered in Colston Hall had come not just to celebrate the life of Schumacher but to bask in the possibility that conditions may finally be ripe for his ideas to be implemented.
“The current economic model is broken and no one is clear about how to fix it. I think that makes Schumacher’s ideas more resonant,” said Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green party. “It’s time to shift towards an economy that isn’t based on an accumulation of stuff.” (see the full article here:)
What was extraordinary about the day was the atmosphere, the energy. Every speaker rose to the occasion, and it seemed to last right through the weekend. To me it’s indicative of the times we’re now in, the urgency that people are feeling to find a new way forward beyond the tired old capitalism.
One of the galvanizing moments on the Saturday morning was listening to the founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, talking to us on video because unexpectedly he’d had to return to Washington where he’s campaigning to stop the ‘tar sands pipeline’. It was a measure of both Bill’s passion and our audience’s engagement that the video still worked so effectively. And it’s the first video that we’re able to put up here on our website. Do have a look! In the coming weeks, I hope we’ll be putting up many more video clips from the weekend – and later on we’ll have a DVD with all of the Saturday keynotes.
Something else to look forward to on the website will be the amazing poem that Matt Harvey created during the course of Saturday, and which he read at the very end. We’ll email everyone once it’s here!
Meanwhile, if you were with us last weekend, do let us know your thoughts – how it was and where it’s taking you, so to speak. And if you’ve any comments for any of the speakers, workshop leaders or film-makers you came across, do add them (below) and we can forward them to the relevant folks.
So endeth the (first) lesson