No Impact Man speaks in New York

NYC - East Village: St Marks Church

On Sunday afternoon I attended a volunteer organized event titled “Evolver Town Hall”. Gathering in the St. Mark’s Church on the Bowery in New York City, the event spilled out into the adjoining courtyards with workshops, panel discussions, art and food. The St. Marks Church is known for hosting unique and sometimes outrageous events and the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre makes its home in the Church attic.

The event attracted an eclectic mix of individuals and on the balmy day music from an ad-hoc gathering of bands could be heard from the Church garden.  The Evolver Town Hall was aimed not only at exposing current issues, but also to giving people the ideas, information, connections, and contacts they need for getting involved within their community. Nonprofits, government organizations, local businesses and active individuals all gathered to address the environmental and economic issues that are affecting New York City, and by extension, the world at large.

No Impact Man

The Keynote speaker of the day was Colin Beaven, aka The No Impact Man. In 2006 Colin Beaven launched a year-long project in which he, his wife Michelle and their then two-year-old daughter Isabella, experimented with living with as little environmental impact as possible. Colin Beaven began the project because he grew tired of complaining about public policy and feeling disempowered in the face of government. When the United States went to war with Iraq, Colin Beaven, instead of criticizing events in public protest, decided to see how much change he can affect by focusing on himself and his own family:

“And so, at first,” writes Beaven in his blog, “when the politicians said that they were executing the Iraq War to protect the American way of life—my way of life—I was offended and angry. But then I realized how many resources I use in my life, including oil. I used so much that a war might actually be necessary to protect that way of life, to make sure there was enough to supply my endless consumption. If I expect to be allowed to use so many of the world’s resources, aren’t I partly to blame if my government fights to secure those resources?”

The result became a year-long adventure in minimizing waste, going off the power grid and eating locally. The many trials and errors of his project were documented daily on his blog, “No Impact Man,” and provided a narrative vehicle for engaging the public on issues of food system sustainability, water scarcity, climate change and energy and material resource depletion.

The series of panels hosted at the Evolver Town Hall included talks on “Taking Back the Commons”, “Collective Consciousness” and “Real Food and Water”, among many others. The organizations that were present include: Sierra Club NYC, Regenerative Culture, Vertical Farms, Rooftop Food, Eco Eatery, Just Food, Trust for Public Land and Green Edge Collaborative, among many others. Some of the prominent writers that were present include Daniel Pinchbeck, who is also the co-founder of Evolver, and Douglas Rushkoff.

To find out more about the Evolver Town Hall, and various ways to get involved see here.

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