We Can Reimagine And Reinvent Our Society In 2018

Let’s say goodbye to top-down revolutions and embrace grassroots action.


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Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

I’ve been writing a year-end column for YES! for years. Previously, my aim was to find the strands of hope from the past year that can be woven into new possibilities in the next year.

But as I sat down to write this column, on one of the darkest days of the year, I realized that this year will be different. This column will not be a list of hopeful trends. It’s too late to think we can make incremental tweaks to our current systems and be OK. Corporations and the ultra-wealthy will not share their wealth, and if we continue current practices of extraction and pollution, all life will be threatened.

The 2016 election showcased two destructive political directions: white supremacist nostalgia on the Trump side and coziness with corporate capitalism on the Clinton side. The Trump presidency combines both, and it’s a disaster that we can’t recover from—at least not with a few fixes around the edges.

Instead, it’s time to build something new.

Today, 41 million Americans live in poverty in the wealthiest country in the world. “The persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said in a report of his December tour through the United States. “With political will, it could readily be eliminated.” Instead, the Republicans push through a tax bill that will make it far worse.

Climate research published in the journal Nature shows that the worst case global-warming scenarios are likely the most accurate. And we’re already seeing the effect. Most recently, fires—whipped up by fierce Santa Ana winds—drove thousands from their homes in Southern California, and many found only ashes when they returned. Earlier in the season, it was Northern California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and British Columbia feeling the impacts of fires. In Houston, historic flooding after Hurricane Harvey mixed with the toxic products of our petrochemical economy to turn neighborhoods into poisonous stews. In Puerto Rico, the one-two punch of dual hurricanes, coupled with years of federal neglect, left much of the island devastated—now, the vulture investors are circling, while people on the ground are trying to just get the lights back on.

There are so many more signs of moral and political bankruptcy—among the more recent, the FCC dismantled net neutrality, creating yet one more instance of a common good being degraded by profit-motivated manipulation.

Yes, this is a dark place I find myself in as the garish orange street light outside my window and the flashing Christmas lights shine through the icy fog of a Northwest morning.

There is an awakening, though. Elections held in 2017 showed a widespread repudiation of the ultra-right agenda. It showed that people can organize and win, as they did in Alabama, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsyvania.

The rejection of Trump-style politics does not mean an embrace of Clinton-style corporate-friendly policies, though. 

Even under President Obama’s more rational, but still pro-corporate, leadership, inequality was rising; our world was spinning toward climate disaster; Black men and women were being killed by police; immigrants were rounded up and deported; civilians were sacrificed in drone strikes; and our education, health care system, prisons, and public services were subjected to brutal private profit extraction.

So even under an intelligent and benign president, we were rushing toward disaster.

Authentic hope comes when we reject this system built on white supremacy, extractive corporate capitalism, and big money control of government. Leaving behind the illusion that we can fix a broken system frees us to work for genuine change.

There is no guarantee that we can pull off the deep transformation that’s needed. But our chances improve when we are clear-eyed about what we’re up against and what can actually work.

I believe that means we begin where we live—building more equitable economies that are rooted locally, and new relationships of reciprocity with the Earth and of equity and respect with each other.

My travels around the United States that resulted in the book The Revolution Where You Live, and then the book tour that followed, convinced me of the power of place-based communities.

It’s in our local communities that we can challenge the culture and institutions of racism and exclusion, and make sure everyone—of all races, generations, political beliefs, and religions—has a place at the table.

It’s by getting to know our bioregion that we can learn to protect the water, food systems, forests, and grasslands that we all depend upon so that all of us can survive climate change and other ecological traumas.

Only together can we reimagine and reinvent our society. None of us alone has a blueprint. Top-down revolutions become corrupt and authoritarian. But together, from the grassroots, we can create diverse and democratic economies and widely distributed power. We can build new norms that can sustain our communities as the old ways fail.

When outside forces threaten our natural and human community, we can be prepared and organized for nonviolent resistance, whether the source of the threat is a new Trump administration policy or a private fracking venture.

Getting grounded in local community also supports emotional and spiritual resilience, which is especially important during times of transition and for those struggling with isolation, stress, and poverty. Where we live, we can offer each other support and, over time, build local solutions.

We need to be in touch. Isolated and afraid, we’re easy to defeat. In each other’s company, we rediscover the joy and strength that can energize us as we create new systems and ways of life.

The place where we live is where we can find our power. Archimedes once said, give me a place to stand and a long lever, and I can move the Earth. We create that place to stand when we begin with the communities where we live.

Sarah van Gelder wrote this article for YES! MagazineSarah is a co-founder and columnist at YES!, founder of PeoplesHub, and author of “The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America.” Read more about her work here, and follow her on Twitter @sarahvangelder.

This article was republished from YES! Magazine.

See also:
Utilizing Indigenous Thought To Cope In The Age Of Trump
Van Jones’ “Messy Truth”: We’re All A Little Right, And We’re All A Little Wrong

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Daily Astrology

April 24, 2018

Word from a long ago love, friend or acquaintance could arrive this morning. Venus is on the move, transition from the last degree of Taurus into charming Gemini during the noon hour. Don’t be surprised by an encounter that makes your heart sing…
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Calendar

April 2018

Usui Holy Fire II Reiki I Prerequisite: a desire to learn Reiki Study includes the history of Reiki, the Reiki principles, the hand positions used to give Reiki to yourself and to others,...

Cost: $175 (pre-registration required)

Where:
The Studio at One Earth
191 Emery Mills Road
Shapleigh, ME  04076
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Sponsor: The Studio at One Earth
Telephone: 207-636-2500
Contact Name: The Studio at One Earth
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Sunday yoga is back! Hatha Yoga with meditation to get you ready to tackle your spring intentions. Sign up for series or drop in. 

Cost: $75/5 classes; drop in $17.00

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd
Devens, MA
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Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-227-8297
Contact Name: Anita Perry
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Have you done yoga before but feel a little rusty? Haven't been on your mat in a while? Yoga Basics is a great place to begin again. Do you feel you need motivation to jump-start your...

Cost: $60

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
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Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-969-8968
Contact Name: Brian Serven
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This workshop is part of the At the Heart of the Matter: a series of workshops about all things HEART. How do we connect with our hearts? And what keeps us from staying connected? In this...

Cost: $35

Where:
Newtonville, MA


Telephone: 617-913-0683
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Feel the bliss of opening your spine, while being totally supported and meticulously aligned. Great for sciatica and low back pain! Classes also held Saturday mornings.

Cost: $18 drop in

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
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Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
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As springtime rolls around, many of us get out our trash bags, buckets, and boxes in order to clean out and tidy up our homes and offices. Physically cleaning our spaces is great and all, but did...

Cost: Free

Where:
WeWork
31 St. James Ave
Boston, MA  02116
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Sponsor: The Kabbalah Center
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Ayurvedic practitioner. Presenting a 28-day program designed to initiate and maximize detoxification and nourishment of your body, mind and soul, inspiring results that can last a lifetime. For...

Where:
Concord, MA


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This workshop is part of the At the Heart of the Matter: a series of workshops about all things HEART. What does it mean to be deeply touched inside? To feel something deeply? To be connected?...

Cost: $35

Where:
Newtonville, MA


Telephone: 617-913-0683
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Join Mediums Laura Wooster and Andrew Dee for an evening of mediumship! In addition to sharing how you also can become more aware of your connection to passed loved ones, Laura and Andrew will...

Cost: $40

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01835
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Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
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YogaLife studio would like to offer this opportunity to slow it down, step back, notice your breath and sit quietly in community. Join us Thursdays from 5:40-6:30 PM. No Yoga...

Cost: Free

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut Street
Suite A
Exeter, MA  03833
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Telephone: 603-969-8968
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Ann Barker will be seeing clients on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at Balance Bethlehem. Call to book your appointment today! This non-invasive screening utilizes a thermal...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
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Sponsor: Ann Barker
Telephone: 603-897-9645
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Friday, April 27 - Sunday, April 29, 2018 April Ropes and Ritu Kapur Sohum’s 3rd Annual Retreat will be offered in Beautiful Berkshires, The Spirit Fire Meditative Retreat Center in...

Cost: $385

Where:
Spirit Fire Retreat Center
407 W. Leyden Road
Leyden, MA  01337
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Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
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April 27 - 29, 2018 What if there were 5 love languages in the bedroom…and you had a secret decoder ring? Imagine the erotic satisfaction you could unlock…for yourself and for...

Cost: $1097*/couple; Early bird $997* by Feb 14, 2018

Where:
Angel’s Rest Retreat Center
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01301
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Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Telephone: 415-244-1652
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
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Ann Barker will be seeing clients on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at Balance Bethlehem. Call to book your appointment today! This non-invasive screening utilizes a thermal...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
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Sponsor: Ann Barker
Telephone: 603-897-9645
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India Discovery Center is pleased to announce the next seminar in the “Let us explore the Cultural History of India.” The fourth event entitled “Seminar on the Golden Period,...

Cost: $20

Where:
Bemis Hall
15 Bedford Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
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Sponsor: India Discovery Center
Telephone: 781-259-0029
Contact Name: Bijoy Misra
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World Qigong Taichi Day is celebrated globally, and at Eastover, it is a day of free presentations, demonstrations and mini-classes offered by nationally recognized leaders in Taichi, Qigong,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
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Sponsor: Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
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April 28 - 29, 2018 Led by Marconics Teacher Practitioners:  Josh Brotherton and Nadine Muhammad To register:  From US:  Tel: 774-987-9449 Email: yourhealinglight@gmail.com...

Cost: $450

Where:
Suffield Massage Therapy and Wellness Center
230 Mountain Rd
Suffield, CT  06078
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Sponsor: Marconics
Telephone: 774-987-9449
Contact Name: Josh Brotherton
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With award winning author Nancy Smith. Starts April 28th, 7-month certification program about Akashic records. One Saturday a month, 10am - 4pm. womenofwisdominc.com

Cost: $860

Where:
Women of Wisdom
North Easton, MA


Telephone: 508-230-3860
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Be a part of healing history! The last saturday of April each year in hundreds of cities, spanning over 80 nations, people come together…to breath together and provide a healing vision...

Cost: Free

Where:
Elm Park
Russell St
Worcester, MA  01609
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Sponsor: Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy of New England
Telephone: (774) 321-6611
Contact Name: Sifu Gary
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2018 Eclectic-Fest! Our fourth event that is building community, celebrating all spiritual beliefs and practice. Free parking and free admission. Featuring aura photography by the...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Taunton V.F.W.
82 Ingell Street
Taunton, MA  02780


Sponsor: The Enchanted Forest Taunton
Telephone: 774-208-6195
Contact Name: Brother Granite
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