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Other Voices: Community Congress aims for brighter future

Only a few short months ago, on a cold February afternoon, a group of Nevada City citizens came together and, with the odds against them, began the creation of a wonderful, local farmers market.

An event that usually takes a full year to organize, came together in just four short months. It was during this process that I, personally, was astounded by the power of the collective. From our collaborative efforts sprung 18 weeks of fresh local offerings, and a wholesome community gathering ” the Nevada City Farmers Market.

What stemmed from this collective effort was far more powerful and effective than what could have come from any of us individually. Inspired by this experience, my organization, PowerUp-NC (the product of a collective vision for change) has planned a proactive event, called the Community Congress.

This remarkable gathering, set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City, will embody the type of visioning and dedication that came from the the volunteers of the Nevada City Farmers Market and is exactly what our present economic circumstances call for.

There is no denying that our world is rapidly changing and that change rarely comes easily, especially if it threatens the everyday comforts that we have become so accustomed to. However, as we see our economy struggle, our national debt rise, and retirement investments and jobs disappear, we must ask ourselves: Where do we go from here?

We must also admit to ourselves that if we don’t create the future that we wish to see, then the era we are entering, one largely based upon corporate rule and welfare, will ultimately reap lofty benefits for the very few. The tug of war over the $700 billion bailout is clear evidence of the current direction of our country.

There has been much discussion about tapping into the past by opening a local gold mine. However, by living in the past, it can be easy to overlook this community’s largest asset; the remarkable amount of brilliant and creative minds in a very small geographic area.

Before we resign ourselves to picking up where we left off, with a controversial gold mining industry, perhaps we should take a different approach ” one yet to be imagined. This is where our collective power comes into play.

There are many successful “sustainable” models around the world as well as a plethora of resources, such as Web sites, promoting paradigm shifting models, but what generally lacks is the tangible mechanism that inspires and enables an entire community to say “today is the day we go this way.”

In order to move in a deliberate direction, we must create a vehicle that can serve as

a “spark plug” for our community’s collective vision. There is grave danger in expecting the magic “silver bullet” to come from one agency, business, government entity or, for that matter, from a president elect. Change must come from each individual community, each sector of a community, and each individual community member.

It is upon clearly identifying global and local risks and opportunities that a path can be forged by Nevada City and for the future of Nevada City. The first gathering of the Nevada City Community Congress aims to create a launching pad from which we can all begin to take action.

Professional facilitator, Marilyn Snyder, will bring her remarkable skills to Nevada City residents and stakeholders and help to create this unprecedented day-long event. The Community Congress will provide a unique forum in which to share our ideas and develop a clear roadmap for our energy future.

The end result for Nevada City will be a clear, four-year quantifiable vision that will establish a series of goals. The over arching theme is energy reduction, but as you can well imagine, this has many facets; local food production, local job production, local venture capital investment mechanisms, energy efficient upgrades. The

opportunities are endless.

Once our collective goals have been established, PowerUp will maintain accountability and public transparency through monthly online updates utilizing local Web sites such as Yubanet, The Union, KVMR, and KNCO.

An important part of seeing that the vision developed at the first Community Congress is brought to fruition will be to hold bi-annual follow-up meetings. This will allow us to share our progress, reassess our goals, and celebrate our victories. We feel this type of diligent accountability will be vital to our success.

PowerUp will also continue to support this community vision through newsletter updates, workshops, seminars, and by helping to provide the continuous energy and inspiration it takes to launch and maintain a grassroots, community vision.

One simple tool we will use is the “Low Carbon Diet: A Program to Lose 5,000 lbs.,” This simple how-to book is for those who think they have already done everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint as well as for those who have always wanted to reduce their impact, but don’t know where to start. Through The Union and Yubanet columns, drawn from the “Low Carbon Diet” book, as well as our newsletter, we will guide our community through the process of “walking an effective talk.”

By creating an action plan to reduce our energy consumption in every corner of our lives, we will ultimately create a sustainable future; decrease our planetary impact; improve our local economy; inspire our community; create a buffer to global instabilities; and become a leading model for other communities to follow.

Reinette Senum is vice mayor of Nevada City and president of PowerUp-NC.

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 1

Where: Miners Foundry in Nevada City

Information: Call 470-8642

or visit http://www.powerup-nc.org

Note: Seating is limited. Pre-registration required. If you can only make a portion of this event, we welcome you to “audit” this process.

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