On Thursday I set off in the morning as usual for Dublin, but instead of going to work I took the train to the North Dublin neighbourhood of Drumcondra, and walked to the green and secluded grounds of All Hallows College and the site of the New Emergency Conference.
The conference was hosted by FEASTA, the admirable Irish organisation of Richard Douthwaite, Corrina Byrne, Davie Phillip, Emer O’Siorchru, David Korowicz and others. These people and many others created FEASTA in 1998 to research what would be needed for a genuinely sustainable society, and to develop systems for creating it. Its research papers, pamphlets, talks and podcasts have spread the ideas of zero-growth societies, carbon trading, reformed tax systems and new uses of land.
They named their organisation FEASTA, Irish for “in the future,” after a line in an Celtic song Cill Chai:
“Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? Ta deireadh no gcoillte ar lar.”
“What shall we do in the future for wood? The last of the forests have gone.”
This conference brought together people from across Ireland and from many other parts of the world: Julian Darley, late of Global Public Media and the Post-Carbon Institute; Oil Drum editor Chris Vernon; “Reinventing Collapse” author Dmitri Orlov, Davie Phillip of FEASTA and the Dublin non-profit Cultivate; and many others.
I could take no more than one day off work and attend one of the conference’s three days, but I immensely enjoyed talking to the people gathered there – elderly scientists looking to the future, young activists eager to take what they learned to their own communities, people who are trying living off guinea pigs or building room-sized bio-digesters. I took notes through all the talks, and will be posting an appropriate couple of them in the next day or two.
The current crisis gets us all down sometimes, but days like this give me hope. Days like this are how it begins.