Seizing an Alternative:
Toward an Ecological Civilization

The Ideas behind the Conference:  “Seizing an Alternative”

June 4-7, 2015 Claremont, CA

“Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization” focused on the big ideas for a thriving ecosphere and featured hundreds of presenters over 80 areas of specialty.

Plenary speakers included Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Sheri Liao, Wes Jackson, Herman Daly, and John B. Cobb, Jr.  The late, legendary singer/songwriter Pete Seeger opened the conference through a pre-recorded video presentation.  

The conference was organized around the idea that there is an alternative to modern industrial life, and that in order to avoid catastrophic conditions we must seize an alternative way of thinking and living. That “alternative” is an ecological worldview.

For many years, pockets of activity have organized to reduce climate change, save endangered species, limit ocean acidification, curb poverty, cap the influence of financial markets, bring about democratic accountability, reduce militarism, and so on.

What is missing is a new paradigm that integrates these various concerns and activities and sets them in the context of a broader vision. Such was the work of philosophers up until the 20th century.

 

Today, many have given up the task of thinking holistically about the world, or proposing anything like new foundations for a civilization that takes us in a different direction. And few attempt to integrate thought with action.

Some philosophically-minded thinkers, however, including those involved with Pando Populus, have long believed that a new, more ecological way of living in the world is needed, and the time for action is now.

Of course, to be interested in establishing an ecological civilization does not mean adhering to a single way of thinking. We welcome all who want to replace destructive ideas with new ones that support a healthy relationship with the Earth.

We believe the “Seizing an Alternative” conference specifically, and Pando Populus more broadly, will become an important vehicle for shifting public conversation and behavior in the direction of an ecologically balanced life and culture. It is what we mean by bringing “big ideas down to Earth.”

Seizing an Alternative” united the 10th International Whitehead Conference and the 9th International Conference on Ecological Civilization.  Pando Populus chose to make it its inaugural event.

“At this point, we either re-think everything or give up hope. So we’re re-thinking.”

— John B. Cobb, Jr.

Conference Organizer

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