A rainy evening (Friday, Sept. 28) didn’t deter hundreds of people from coming to hear environmentalist Bill McKibben address the kick-off event of a celebration of the Conway School’s 40th anniversary. Calling himself a professional “bummer-outer,” McKibben laid out a picture of a planet not so much on the brink of major problems, but more in the midst of them, with even more dire possibilities ahead if action isn’t taken.
[Before the event began, a series of historic and contemporary photos was shown on a loop. You can see those slides here.]
McKibben was introduced by Conway School Director Paul Cawood Hellmund, who said issues of climate change were the “context in time and space” for all the work Conway alums do, and for everyone’s lives. He said that was why McKibben was such a logical choice to speak to this audience, a mixture of graduates and friends of the Conway School and members of the general public.
Four special guests helped introduce the evening and congratulated Conway on its forty years: Jocelyn Forbush, Western Regional Director of The Trustees of Reservations; Annie Cheatham, President of the New England Farmers Union; Cayte McDonough, stepping in at the last minute for Debbi Edelstein, Executive Director of New England Wild Flower Society; and Madeline Cantwell, Managing Director of Orion Magazine.
On behalf of Conway’s Board of Trustees, its Vice-Chair, Al Rossiter presented McKibben with an honorary degree. The inscription on the degree included these words:
“For more than two decades, you have worked tirelessly to educate and motivate people around the globe to take action in the face of climate change, the central issue of our time. Not intimidated by the scope of the challenge nor the denial of others, you have used your skills as author, educator, and advocate to inspire communities to engage in the rebuilding of a resilient and humane world.”
The gathering was held in the spacious new wing of Greenfield Community College.