Friday, October 8, 2010

Conferencing and the new eco-reality

We said before, during and after the 2010 ALECC conference in Sydney the same things that we said before, during and after the 2009 ASLE conference in Victoria: in the artistic, activist, and academic literature/environment community, it really has to matter that we're together. It's not enough to sit in a series of quiet rooms and listen to a series of papers being read aloud. If we're going to go to the trouble of getting together, there need to be real intellectual, material, and/or ecological benefits to doing so.

That said, I can see a few different approaches we might take to helping this come to pass:
  • First, we can follow the lead of the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE), that other Canadian-based eco/culture group, and embrace the use of technology to sustain conversations across long distances.
  • Second, we can travel shorter distances, intensifying the more local conversations and eco-communities through such means as colloquia, discussion circles, and workshops.
  • Third, we can make something special out of our big conference. (It's being planned for 2012. Drop us a note if you might be interested in hosting!).
I suspect that we'll be doing all these things, but in the short term, ALECC will be exploring the first two options in some detail, and working toward doing something pretty great with the 2012 conference. To that end, there are two things worth announcing at this point:
  1. Some of ALECC's executive will be participating in a webinar through the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, later in October, and others will be holding a somewhat informal online colloquium in November. Our hope is that these experiences will help the executive plan out how we might start using the available technologies for our benefit, so we'd appreciate any feedback you'd want to give us about that (either in the comments or by email).
  2. Individual ALECC members will be hosting small, local colloquia and other events this year, partially sponsored by ALECC. For example, I'm planning to hold one at UVic in late January that will place the research from separate disciplines beside each other, to talk about how we each approach the relationship between environment and culture. Details are still to be worked out for these sponsorships, but do contact us if you're interested in organizing such an event with an ALECC badge on it.
Happy autumn, all!

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