In the last five years, social movements have dealt a hard blow to the status quo. From the movement for Black lives to the fight for climate justice, upwellings of discontent have changed our notions of what justice looks like in the 21st century. In 2016, the tremors these uprising have created even registered in the race for this country’s highest office. While a rising and xenophobic far-right sits on one side of this equation, on the other are progressive voices demanding a new kind of politics, even revolution. What’s clear now is that the old order is bursting at its seams. Less obvious, for many, is what comes next.
It’s that question which is bringing over 800 people to upstate New York this weekend. CommonBound — being planned by the New Economy Coalition (a network of organizations interested in uprooting legacies of harm in our economy and politics) and the Buffalo-based Crossroads Collective (an alliance of activists, creators, growers, grassroots educators and more) — is bringing together people already hard at work at answering it.
For those not able to make the trip, Truthout is hosting this weekend-long livestream (see above), which will feature conference keynotes, selected workshops and one-on-one interviews with organizers and participants.
For decades and even centuries, the communities worst hit by capitalism’s failing have been forced to build alternatives. Depression-era self-help cooperatives developed by farmers in the deep South and the Black Panthers’ network of clinics and free breakfast programs are just two examples of how solutions have always sprouted through the cracks of our deeply unequal system. And though they have historical roots, this work continues today around the country — no less so than in Buffalo itself. Like much of the rust belt, the Nickel City has gotten a sore deal from globalization and reckless free-market dogma. Yet organizations like OPEN Buffalo, the Massachusetts Avenue Project, PUSH Buffalo and others within the Crossroads Collective provide models for fighting back against privatization and austerity, while creating alternatives to the current order.
“As a member organization of the New Economy Coalition (NEC) and anchor partner of the Crossroads Collective, we are proud to welcome North America’s leading voices for a New Economy to the City of Good Neighbors,” says Aaron Bartley, executive director of PUSH Buffalo. “Here in Buffalo we have come to understand that we cannot survive in our current paradigm of endless consumption and ever more extreme wealth disparities. That’s why we’ve become a leader in the movement for a more just and equitable economy fueled by the innovation and self-determination of diverse communities and the underlying assumption that our planet is our most valuable resource.”
CommonBound is a convergence point for those in Buffalo, the US and worldwide who’ve been hard at work “building the new” for decades, and those grappling with how to translate these time-tested practices into policy, and adapt them to a new age.
The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Demos, BYP100, The Highlander Research and Education Center and The Next System Project are just a few of the many organizations that have helped create CommonBound’s programming from day one. Sixteen workshop tracks, featuring over 100 sessions, and a slate of plenary sessions that have been crafted of, by and for the New Economy movement will introduce newcomers to the basics of things like worker ownership and energy democracy, as well as push forward the conversations needed to drive this work forward: How can taking political power scale-up local efforts? How can demands for economic democracy help ensure that Black Lives Matter, in city budgets and union contracts? Can apps and other online platforms be the tools to build our own digital commons?
Through the weekend, the livestream above — being run by the Extraenvironmentalist team — is functioning like a TV channel dedicated to CommonBound, with round-the-clock footage and exclusive content for online viewers, plus chat rooms and live Q&A sessions. For a full schedule of events, check out cb16.sched.org and commonbound.org.
Note: This stream will show interviews and sessions from CommonBound 2014 through 7 PM ET, when this year’s keynote session, “Achieving Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Our Communities,” begins, featuring Malachi Garza, Chrystel Cornelius and Elandria Williams.