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People discuss ways to resist the systemic destruction of the environment at event focusing on radical sustainability

April 26, 2012

About 70 community members gathered in Grand Rapids at Trinity United Methodist church on Saturday to address critical issues surrounding climate change in an event dubbed “A People’s Assembly for Radical Sustainability”. During the assembly, attendees split into three work groups focusing on food, energy, and transportation. Once in the groups, community members discussed possible solutions to the climate crisis, with the stated objective of reducing carbon emission by 80% before 2050 (which is the deadline set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The group putting on the event, Mutual Aid GR, laid out their “Points of Unity” before discussions got started, which included “Against False Solutions and Against Green Capitalism.” With this guideline in place (based on a zine they produced), all discussions dealt with solutions that fell outside of (or directly opposed to) industrial capitalism. While Mutual Aid plans to release a comprehensive list of all the solutions proposed at the assembly within the next week, some of those discussed include:

* A moratorium on all new fast food restaurants in Grand Rapids

* Converting residents’ lawns into gardens of native plants in a “Food Not Lawns” campaign

* Amending local ordinances and Michigan’s state constitution to permanently ban the removal of fossil fuels from the ground

* Create a media campaign to educate Grand Rapids residents on energy companies and alternatives

While the assembly was planned without any future installments in mind, many attendees suggested regular meetings where community members can come back together and “check in” with one another and continue the sharing of ideas.

Jamie Zimmerman, who attended the assembly, had this to say, “Awesome meeting today. Well organized and inspiring. I left loving Grand Rapids. There are some big issues to tackle, but the reminder that none of are doing it alone is encouraging, and necessary sometimes.”

Mutual Aid has also launched a “barter board” for Grand Rapids residents to share skills and items with one another on a barter and trade system. The website states that it’s purpose is to “stop hyper-consumption and utilize people’s talents” and “create more economic freedom and autonomy for people to collective resist capitalism.” Users can go to mutualaidgr.org and list their talents, abilities, and items they are willing to barter with.

In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, Joshua Sadowski is a member of Mutual Aid GR and helped organize a People’s Assembly for Radical Sustainability.

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