Alliance for Sustainable Communities-Lehigh Valley, Inc
Tuesday — July 12, 2011 — 7pm
Morning Star Center, 1966 Creek Rd, Bethlehem PA 18015
Steering Committee members: Martin Boksenbaum, Suzie Hall, Joris Rosse, Chiharu Tokura.
Others: Gabriel Arroyo, Aaron Berger, Alex Brands, Janet Goloub, Rebecca Kennedy, Adrienne Rayna, Barry Shook, Nadia Tornieporth.
7:15 – 7:25pm: Welcome & Introductions
Martin welcomed people to the Annual Meeting. We then went around the circle with people introducing themselves.
7:25 – 7:40pm: Brief reports on some of our work this past year.
1. Our efforts in 2010 were guided by our interest in bringing cooperative efforts amongst organizations in the Greater Lehigh Valley to new levels and in working more effectively for change.
2. The Road Forward series of Community Dialogues and our involvement in the planning of the Sustainability Summit and in the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Network formed from it were/are successful expressions of our work in building greater cooperation. Some of us are currently on committees of the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Network, a network formed to provide enabling infrastructure for cooperation amongst organizations and businesses working toward sustainability.
3. Working Groups and Projects active during 2010 were/are instrumental in our working more effectively for change.
> Our Directory was recognized for its contribution to environmental sustainability in the area of “Education And Awareness” by the Allentown Environmental Advisory Council at its 4/16/11 Sustain-a-Ball. The directory also includes thought-provoking essays from diverse perspectives related to sustainability, as well as artwork and quotes. Recognizing the significance of the essays, we named the 2011 print edition Sustainable Lehigh Valley, a publication containing both the 2011 Directory and the Essays.
> Our Transitions efforts, both our Friday morning working group and the six month series of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, were/are focused on using the strategies and approaches of the Transition Movement, which we think provides a key to working effectively for change.
> Our Community Rights and Democracy School work provides another key to working effectively for change. Working with others, a Lehigh Valley Community Rights Network has been formed. We hope these efforts can be tied in to Transition work.
> We worked on re-designing our Website, which in the last couple of days has gone live. We think it can be used effectively for catalyzing change.
> Some of our working groups/projects were quiescent in 2010, but are available: Community-Food Connections, Energy, Working Group on the Economy.
> A new group is forming (Suzie & Adrienne) to deal with cooperative living, sharing of interests and passions, visits to homesites to see and discuss permaculture, home retrofits, sustainable lifestyles.
4. Organizational Matters
> Planning resource: Berit Lakey, et al, Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership: A Guide for Organizations in Changing Times – we’ve been working through it as a way of developing our strategic plans. Currently we’re working out the movement contexts in which the Alliance is carrying out its activities.
> Participation: our important internship program is ongoing; we have been sponsoring/working with other organizations; we need to be much more effective in building a base of participants.
> Finances and Funding: we have a minimal budget. Most of our funds come from personal contributions, grants (generally awarded to the Alliance for work being carried out by other organizations, e.g. the Collective Memory Project, for which the Alliance is co-sponsor), Directory ads, [and Conference attendees (2010 SEED Conference, Democracy School)].
7:40 – 8:50pm: The coming year
1. To be guided by our interest in having the Greater Lehigh Valley transition to what needs to be done.
2. The Year of Transition. We discussed at length (7:40-8:30) our proposal that we work on intertwining Transition Movement efforts with ongoing community sustainability efforts during the next 10 months flowing toward Earth Day 2012 as a community rite of passage, a portal to building sustainable community self-realization, possibly to be followed up by Transition Initiative ”Unleashings”.
Several matters raised involve alternatives that may or may not be compatible and which require further discussion:
> Approaches?: telling people what to do to be leading a more sustainable lifestyle vs? [showing people how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle (Transition “reskillings”)] vs? providing the settings which can unleash each person’s creativity, insights, and passions.
> Levels of impact?: importance of personal one-on-one relationships in which it’s okay to point out obvious things that are being missed but once noticed can change behavior vs? political clout via large scale actions vs? political clout via identification of the right politicians and working with them.
> Legitimizing actions?: going into detailed discussion of the dangers (e.g., climate change) we face and the inadequacy of science to prove just how dangerous things are vs? the excitement, enjoyment, and utility of planning and carrying out the actions we need to take in our communities to back away from the dangers.
Joris proposed a series of “Councils of All Being” as an organizing modality. Also, Hopkins’ Transition Handbook talks about Open Space Techniques and other organizing approaches.
Key to the Year of Transition will be outreach: going to other organizations and to communities. [Inviting them to: provide a “transition flavor” to their public/community events during the coming year; help in shaping Earth Day 2012 to be a transformational experience; participate in Earth Day 2012 itself; and perhaps to be involved in post-Earth Day 2012 developments, like Great Unleashings in various communities in the Lehigh Valley.]
3. We talked briefly about other ways to increase participation in Alliance work.
> Outreach to other organizations & communities, in addition to Year of Transition work, needs to involve listening to what other organizations and communities have to say about their work and their interests
> The new website as an opportunity for inviting and building involvement. We will be asking organizations and communities to moderate different pages on the website according to their interests. And to host their own blogs.
> The internship program, coordinated by Peter Crownfield, is a very important means for involving students and colleges in sustainability efforts (e.g., air quality and health, food and health).
4. Organizational Matters:
> Joris Rosse was re-elected to the Steering Committee for another two-year term. Joris pointed out that there were additional openings on the Steering Committee and that we would welcome expressions of interest.
> We got input from some of the new people on when to hold Steering Committee (monthly) and Organizational meetings (weekly) to maximize attendance (we’d like more people to participate): Nadia was only available evenings; Alex was available all evenings during the summer, but would only be available Friday evenings once college was in session.
8:50 – 9:10pm: Some of the non-Steering Committee members talked about their interests:
> Adrienne: wants to use her limited time for taking action re: permaculture, gardening, working on cooperative living and ways to exchange goods and service.> Alex: his interest is in gardening (permaculture – he has created a small forest garden at his place).
> Aaron: his interest is in waste management, cutting down on the waste stream, recycling.
> Nadia: her interest is in health related matters, specifically toxicology related to toxic and safe household products, as well as in sustainable infrastructure management of health care facilities.
— Notes submitted by Martin Boksenbaum