“Carbondale has pledged to be a compassionate city. Let’s pull together to make it happen.”
Margaret Nesbit, Concerned Citizens of Carbondale
The city of Carbondale is dying. People are leaving, businesses are closing, and the spirit that once made this place unique is harder to feel. Unless drastic changes are made, things are only going to get worse. The challenges we face occur on multiple fronts – social, economic, ecological – and cannot be addressed with superficial attempts to attract investment or “re-brand” the city without significant alteration in the real substance of how we live, interact, and make decisions together.
But it’s hard to think much about Carbondale’s demise in the face of another, more far-reaching set of threats: according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) most recent report, urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to adapt to the transformation expected in the climate. In 2018, we were given a deadline of 12 years to fundamentally transform the global economy before unavoidable, catastrophic climate change occurs. In the face of such an overwhelming challenge, its easy to wonder: why devote ourselves to a dying city, when its just one part of a dying world?
We believe the key to saving the world can come through transforming the city.
We believe the key to saving the world can come through transforming the city. The challenge posed by the ecological crisis demands the proliferation of small scale experimentation, the transformation of life from its dependence on globalized, fossil-fueled networks of commodity and capital flows, into local forms of production and consumption sensitive to the ecological systems on which our lives depend. If it is to be saved at all, the earth will be saved by actions at the scale of the living. Communities that want to have a chance in the future have to make drastic changes both to mitigate the worst effects and to adapt to those changes that are already unavoidable.
Let’s be honest: we are not prepared for what is coming.
Let’s be honest: we are not prepared for what is coming. What currently passes for political discourse in this town is not taking the challenges we face seriously. Most of us know this, and so we ignore local politics because it doesn’t seem changeable.
At the same time, a remarkably consistent vision of what Carbondale could be has attained the status of a public secret – something that huge numbers of us share, but don’t speak about. We want gardens everywhere! We want worker co-ops! We want a “compassionate city,” but we recognize that these are empty words considering how poor and suffering people are treated by the current institutions. We want clean energy, but we don’t want it to be built and owned by companies profiting from the legacy of environmental racism in our town. Even beneath the surface of many intense political divides, one can often find a remarkably similar vision of a future that would be worth living in together.
Carbondale Spring: A New Direction for Carbondale outlines not just a vision, but an actual plan – one that is both desirable and affordable (here is a downloadable PDF). This plan will transform Carbondale into one of the most exciting and beautiful places in the world, and make it a destination for those around the globe who are frustrated with inaction on the social and environmental problems we face as a species; it will draw students and researchers from the University into the city; it will make Carbondale a place people want to come and a place people want to stay. It will create, not just “jobs,” but good jobs, and it will retain many of those jobs which are currently hanging by a thread.
We ask that you read our proposal with an open mind. Discuss it with your friends, neighbors, and community groups. If you decide you agree that this is the direction you want to go, please contact us to officially endorse the Carbondale Spring.
With hope in the slim possibility of a better future,
Carbondale Solidarity Network