Envisioning a Fair and Sustainable Economy

To be truly sustainable, a community needs to foster a sense of belonging among all its members. There needs to be a shared sense that we’re all in this together, that we care about and can count on each other. Yet the rise of extreme inequality in our society acts directly against this sense of community.

Over the next few weeks, we will have several opportunities to come together to talk about the social and environmental effects of an exploitative economy and how we might address this issue in our community. St. James Episcopal Church is presenting a live webcast of a symposium, Creating Common Good: A Practical Conference for Economic Equality, next week, with a community discussion on Saturday the 24th. And Sustainable Woodstock sponsors a 3-week film series on sustainable economics starting January 28.

The St. James program brings to Woodstock the Trinity Institute, a thought provoking event being held at Trinity Episcopal Church in New York. It includes presentations by social thinkers and theologians including Cornel West, Barbara Ehrenreich, Juliet Schor, Robert Reich and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, among others. They will explore how the ideal of a “common good” challenges an increasingly callous economic system.

The common good, according to Rev. Welby, “starts with the intrinsic value of each human being and looks at policies that will maximize the opportunity for each human being, with his or her limitations or advantages, in relationship with other human beings, to flourish.”

Rev. Norman MacLeod of St. James adds that “the world that God would have us live in is a world where everyone has the opportunity to use the gifts she or he has been given to the fullest. Gross income inequality makes such a vision almost impossible to achieve.”

Rev. MacLeod suggests that “these speakers will inform, challenge, and perhaps even make people angry, but their voices are essential to the conversation we all need to participate in.” The webcast at St. James begins at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 22 and continues all day Friday through Saturday afternoon. On that Saturday at 11:30 a.m., the program includes a community discussion on income inequality and what we can do about it. Several members of our community who have been active in addressing this issue will briefly speak about their experience and help facilitate the conversation.

Rev. MacLeod stresses that while the program is being offered in a religious context, it is open to everyone in the community and he hopes many will attend. There is a modest fee for participating, which will be waived for those with limited resources. Attendees may come to any individual sessions they choose.

A full description of the program is at trinitywallstreet.org/trinity-institute/2015/home. To register at St. James, contact Parish Administrator Sari White at swhite@stjameswoodstock.org or call 457-1727. You may register at the events as well.

On the following three Wednesday evenings, Sustainable Woodstock will show exceptional documentary films that explore various aspects of a sustainable economy. On January 28, we will screen “The Suzuki Diaries: Sustainability in Action,” featuring renowned environmentalist David Suzuki; on February 4 we will show “What’s the Economy For, Anyway?” which reveals the downside of growth at all costs; on Feb. 11 the film will be “The Economics of Happiness,” explaining an approach, according to ecophilosopher Joanna Macy, “that brings community and meaning to our lives.”

The film series will be held at Norman Williams Public Library at 7 p.m. each week. Admission is free. See a more complete description under the Programs tab above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *