Results of the first Beyond Cleveland meeting

Principal author:
John L. Clark


The first meeting of the Beyond Cleveland sustainability group was not very well attended, although we who did attend did have a meaningful conversation. I reflect on the implications of this meeting in this article.

On Saturday (July 10, 2010), we held the first meeting of the Beyond Cleveland sustainability group. Only four other people showed up, including my brother and two close friends, which highlights the challenge of getting the word out and motivating others to learn more about sustainability. We had a very active and meaningful conversation, although because all five of us already had an aggressive interest in sustainability, that conversation went far beyond the topics that I would have emphasized with people who didn't have that background.

The conversation covered a lot of ground. We quickly agreed that a dependency on unchecked growth is the main destabilizing factor, which was a good start. Some intense discussion led to the awareness that sustainable advocacy must recognize the dangers of overconsumption of all resources, and not just fossil fuels, including land, soil, game stocks such as fish, water, minerals, metals, and, of course, people. Thinking about people as a resource that has too often been exploited, there was also interesting discussion of how the work of various social movements can be tied back to sustainability because of the importance of oppression to growth-based economies, and one participant highlighted exemplary resistance movements such as the Zapatistas. Even with three hours, though, we only managed to watch half of Arithmetic, Population, and Energy; my brother and I did manage to finish it later, after the meeting had adjourned, and after finishing it he agreed that the second half also contains some very important insights. One of my friends and my brother took detailed notes on the conversation as we were talking, so I hope they will post those notes to the mailing list soon.

I'm not sure how to proceed with the campaign of educating people about sustainability. I have emphasized some key resources, and tried to set up forums (both online and now in person) where we can help each other digest these resources and have an open discussion about work that needs to be done, but it remains difficult to convey the pressing urgency even to friends. This is not really surprising, although that does not stop it from being frustrating.

I strongly desire to try to gather people again, but I may need some initial show of interest before I set up another formal meeting like this. One of my friends suggested setting up a Meetup group, and I have now set up the Beyond Civilization Meetup group. (That Meetup group is quite raw, so feel free to offer suggestions, both substantive and otherwise.) Please get in touch, either through the mailing list, that Meetup group, or directly, if you have any interest in or ideas about sustainability education and advocacy. I welcome any suggestions you may have!

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