COL: Happiness is a community resilience conference

Dave Seabrook
Posted 10/10/17

There is unease across America; many of us sense trouble on the horizon. Record-high inequality of wealth, political processes dominated by globalized capitalism, and national leaders who seem …

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COL: Happiness is a community resilience conference


There is unease across America; many of us sense trouble on the horizon. Record-high inequality of wealth, political processes dominated by globalized capitalism, and national leaders who seem unresponsive to the needs of the majority.

Biologists tell us we are in the midst of a mass extinction of species, even as the human population continues to grow exponentially. We have an agricultural system largely of monoculture and dependent on fossil fuel fertilizers, which depletes our topsoil and pollutes our waters.

And then there is climate change. The deluge in Houston, the grim situation in Puerto Rico, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, wildfires, droughts and floods all indicate that we are on an unsustainable path.

Quite simply, the existing paradigm of perpetual economic growth cannot work on a planet with finite resources. So many challenges boggle the mind and may provoke a sense of hopelessness.

Still, we have a moral obligation to seek solutions for future generations and for the entire ecosystem within which the human species exists. Fortunately, there are things we can do at a local level to face these daunting challenges.

The upcoming Economics of Happiness Conference, scheduled for Oct. 27-29 at Fort Worden, will review the challenges we face and will emphasize practical solutions within our grasp. (Full disclosure: I am a volunteer for the conference.)

The underlying themes will be localization and building community resilience. A number of internationally known speakers will be in town to help us challenge the existing systems and paradigms that present obstacles to solutions.

One of the conference’s keynote speakers is Helena Norberg-Hodge, producer of the documentary “Economics of Happiness.” She is a pioneer of the new economy movement and challenges the paradigms of consumer culture and globalized trade. She and others promote local finance and banking, and the rewards of rediscovering the value of community.

Other notable speakers include Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute, famous for his “Think Resilience” course and a critical thinker regarding the role of technology in our lives. In addition, we will hear from David Korten and Sarah Van Gelder of Yes! Magazine, Judy Wicks, John de Graaf, Rachel Maxwell, John Lupinacci, and a host of local and regional innovators with new ways of thinking about our economy, sustainability, education, food systems, permaculture, urban design and affordable housing.

Port Townsend and Jefferson County are already recognized for our progressive ideas and innovative thinkers.

Local 20/20 members believe that our community can be a model for how we transition away from fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy; build a stronger, more resilient local food system; and prepare for the challenges of an uncertain future through maximizing our local potential.

We expect that this conference will stimulate community discussion and innovation. We encourage everyone to take up the challenge, get involved, be part of the solution and join in the fun! You can learn more about the upcoming Economics of Happiness Conference at

Dave Seabrook volunteers with Local 20/20 as the editor for its weekly announcements newsletter as well as with other local community resiliency efforts. He lives with his wife, Karen, in Chimacum. This column from Local 20/20 runs monthly in The Leader.


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