Portal to the Future

For the past several years the festival has featured a Portal to the Future area at the north end of the site that highlighted some of the ways that art, food, small-scale farming, renewable energy, smart transportation, care for the land, and hand skills all contribute to community-building and local resilience.  Watch Janice Kurkoski talk about her role as an Organizer at the Festival and how the Portal to the Future has evolved.  Watch the full Portal to the Future playlist.

This year we are taking a cue from several socially-conscious authors who have given us some words and thoughts to consider in the midst of this pandemic.

This is an excerpt of an essay called “Pandemic Is a Portal,” a selection from author Arundhati Roy’s forthcoming book Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction

“What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus.  Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to ‘normality,’ trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.”

“Historically pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It’s a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world, and ready to fight for it.”

Nafeez Ahmed has also employed the portal metaphor in this excerpt from The Light at the End, from Yes Magazine.org, Summer 2020:

“This is an evolutionary moment – for each of us.  You and I are now faced with a pivotal life choice for what comes next, what we devote ourselves to, where our alignments lie, what our real commitments are.  This choice will make history.  Only the choice that considers all and not a few will get us across the threshold, into the crucible, and through the portal to the other side.  Many of us are already taking that leap.  We are stronger when we take it together…”

More briefly, Angela Davis has said:  “We should seek out all the doors which still remain ajar, however slight the opening might be.”

And Leonard Cohen:  “There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”

Close to home young folks from local chapters of the  Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion MA are engaged in creative visioning for how good life could be, with no one left behind.  Sunrise is a nationwide youth-led climate movement fighting to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.  Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a strictly non-violent movement, whose overall ambition is an international rebellion that helps humanity to turn quickly onto a course that is compatible with life on earth, and to build resilient communities in the face of ecological and societal crisis.  Founded by Rising Up! in the UK, Extinction Rebellion took its first acts of civil disobedience in November 2018, as 6,000 rebels shut down five London bridges.  Immediately after this, the movement grew rapidly to become an international uprising which now spans over 200 chapters worldwide.

The 350MA Better Future Project is also inspirational.  For them a Green New Deal in Massachusetts must include three primary components:

  1. A rapid de-carbonization of our economy
  2. Massive government investment in green jobs and climate resilience infrastructure
  3. Address longstanding racial, economic, environmental, and other social inequities.

Patricia Hynes of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice made this timely video about the relationship between the US Military and the Climate Crisis.

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and the local group North Quabbin Energy recently hosted a talk titled “Thinking Like a Watershed” by Connor Stedman.  He is an ecological designer, farm planner, and educator who promotes climate mitigation solutions that work with our natural ecosystems.

North Quabbin Energy encourages folks to make clean and green changes in their own homes, neighborhoods, and towns, including creating pollinator-friendly plantings.  The Center for Ecological Technology has innovative programs and services for homes and businesses throughout the state. 

For yet more inspiration take a look at the Renewable Energy and Local Living Booths and the Renewable Energy and Local Living Talks  — the future is ours to create!  The full playlist is here.

Watch a slide presentation from activities at the Portal to the Future from past years.

This Chevy Volt powered the Renewable Energy tent in2019.

E-Bikes and full size Electric cars, such as this Chevy Volt, are becoming common.  Battery technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and Massachusetts still has great incentives for owning or leasing a variety of makes and models of brand new EVs.  You can find an electric vehicle discount program that makes going electric easier for you.