The grassroots economy celebrated with a free festival Sept. 26th, 2009 in Oakland, CA. The audio from this festival is now available on JASecon. Videos will be available shortly with interviews and the last panel.
Here is a summary of what took place:
An all day, free to the public, festival in celebration of an emerging bottom-up economy for people and the planet took place in Oakland, CA. Approximately 450 people and 50 organizations participated, bring together worker-cooperatives, urban gardeners developing food security measures, advocates of human powered transportation, gray water activists and complimentary currency promoters.
Folks involved with the Transition Towns and the Fair Trade Cities movements and alternative community energy programs joined in to network and begin to develop strategies for future collaboration. Publishers, authors, a theater group and many other participants had a festive time. A youth Hip-Hop performance occurred at lunch time (Arizmendi pizza for all) and the day ended with a dinner for participants in the evening.
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The venue offered the opportunity for tabling inside a large hall and for demonstration projects in the adjacent tree-shaded yard. Bike parking was also available and four well-attended panels met in a sunny patio.
Panels discussed how to start a worker cooperative, explained financial and other support resources for the grassroots economy, and a third outlined urban food security issues and projects. The final panel analyzed how to build an alternative by creating synergies between the different areas of the grassroots economy and with environmental and social justice organizations.
The festival was a bottom-up trade fair that tried to show what people working together could do to help each other meet real needs. This was the first time an event like this took place in the SF Bay Area and the responses were uniformly positive.
The working group of co-op members, non-profit participants and social justice activists, called JASecon, for a just, alternative and sustainable economy, are planning a short documentary to post online and background materials to aid other communities replicate a similar festival. Bringing folks together who work and volunteer in various, essentially economic activities, generates enthusiasm for collaboration and, we hope, can lead to “stepping up” all projects.