This winter and spring, the Conway School presented Smaller Cities | Greener Futures, a series of four public lectures in communities around the region. Each lecture focused on issues relevant to small, post-industrial cities, because of the significant social and infrastructure resources these communities have and their potential contributions to a more sustainable future. We took the series “on the road” to present three of the talks in nearby communities where the topics are especially relevant.
On Monday, June 1, we traveled to Springfield, Massachusetts, for an inspiring evening focused on food security with Greg Watson and Liz Wills-O’Gilvie. “Greg Watson and Liz Wills- O’Gilvie gave such an energetic and motivating talk on Monday night for the Springfield community and the The Conway School,” said one of the students in attendance, “linking together food systems and environmental justice, institutional racism, and economic empowerment. They covered so much ground, including a look at [a current] threat to Cuba’s robust local organic farming system. There is so much more work to do in this world!”
Following the talk, Greg commented, “It was a great evening thanks to the ‘intellectual generosity’ of the audience. The opportunity to interact with Springfield community activists and Conway students strengthens my belief that a sustainable and just future is achievable.”
Conway board member Janet Curtis ’00, who has had occasion to work with Greg Watson over the years, awarded Greg with an honorary degree from the school. It read, in part, “Your whole systems worldview has had far-reaching impact in many communities and across many scales, in areas such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and community planning. Your commitment to the health of the planet inspires us to look beyond conventional ways of thinking, and see the intertwining threads of social values, economy, and ecology.”
Greg Watson is Director of Policy & Systems Design at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, where he is a public voice for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, new monetary systems, equitable land tenure arrangements, neighborhood planning through democratic processes, government policies that support human-scale development, cooperative structure, import replacement through citizen financing of new enterprises, and more.
Liz Wills-O’Gilvie is chair of the board of Gardening the Community, a a food justice organization in Springfield engaged in youth development, urban agriculture and sustainable living to build healthy and equitable communities.
Other speakers in the series were:
- Catherine Tumber, author of Small, Gritty, and Green, with Marcos Marrero, Director of Planning & Economic Development, City of Holyoke, in Holyoke
Topic: Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s smaller industrial cities in a low-carbon world
- Joel Russell, Executive Director of the Form-Based Codes Institute, with local leader Lee Pouliot, Acting City Planner, City of Chicopee, in Chicopee
Topic: Seeing Chicopee Through New Eyes: A presentation sharing the results of a day-long workshop
- Stephen Mulkey, climate change activist and President of Unity College, in Conway
Topic: Creating a Knowledge Economy to Address Climate Change