“Can we change the ways we live and work so as to establish a preserving harmony between the made and the given worlds?” ~ Wendell Berry
The New Confluence Project brings together thinkers and cultural workers from various perspectives and traditions to develop and advance a holistic critique of global industrial culture and to envision and foster more ecologically appropriate ways of living together.
Beginning in 2013 and over the following five years, The New Confluence Project will organize ten gatherings. Each gathering, convened in various parts of the country, will engage different groups of 15-18 people from various perspectives and traditions for 2-3 days of deep conversations about the crises created by global industrial culture and about how more ecologically appropriate ways of living together can be envisioned and fostered.
These gatherings will generate reflective essays that will be shared online and eventually edited into a book. In addition, these gatherings will produce tools and resources that will help communities live through the changes that will be required as we seek to create ways to live and work that establish a preserving harmony between the made and the given worlds.
Global industrial culture is now dominating the planet, destroying local ecosystems, increasing social and economic injustice, eroding local communities and cultures, and invading and damaging people’s inner lives. This is not new, but cheap oil and modern technology have extended its reach and made it nearly ubiquitous.
There has been a long tradition of opposition to and critique of global industrial culture. We see those critiques falling into three major “streams” of thought.
The first stream examines the foundational stories we weave as a people. These critics are searching for a new ecologically appropriate story – one that asserts the inherent worth of all living beings regardless of their instrumental value and incorporates parts of very old stories that global industrial culture has marginalized.
A second stream of people is working to support diverse ways of living that are locally adapted to their particular places. This stream includes bioregionalists, locavores, conservationists, and other environmentalists organizing at the grassroots level.
A third stream offers historical and cultural critiques of global industrial culture’s encroaching monopoly on practical knowledge and basic human activities. They advocate for and practice convivial alternatives to development, globalization, and homogenization.
However, these streams often flow along separately, in isolation from each other. When streams flow together, the force of the water is stronger. Creating confluences of the three streams will deepen each one and strengthen alternatives to the debilitating and destructive culture that has become the dominant way of living.
The inertial force of global industrial culture may have reached a point where the inevitable result will be collapse. Still, resisting the damage and injustice it causes is good in and of itself. And we believe New Confluence Project gatherings and publications will contribute to a growing flood of resistance that could mitigate the collapse, substituting conviviality, appropriateness, and balance for unsustainable practices.
We believe in the power of conviviality, the necessity of conservation, and the inherent worth of all living beings regardless of their instrumental utility. We believe that the confluence of these ideas is a basis for how we envision our present and future in locally adapted communities on this green earth.