By: Taya Nabuurs
An impressive number of people gathered at the Murphy Community Centre in Charlottetown last Tuesday night at a presentation aimed at discussing the possibility of more sustainable alternative economies for Prince Edward Island. Former Managing Director of Fair Trade Canada and executive member of the People’s Social Forum, Bob Thomson, was the primary guest speaker at the presentation. He began by discussing the concept of degrowth and what it means for Prince Edward Island.
Degrowth can be described as a concept or movement in which the objective is to explore alternative economic systems and initiatives that are ecologically conscious. This means that they are designed to function within the capacity of the ecosystems upon which we are dependent. At its core, the concept of degrowth is based upon living within your means and the means of the community. It is aimed at finding an alternative to our current highly industrialized socioeconomic system and reducing overconsumption.
After Bob Thomson’s brief introduction of the subject, audience members were asked to join together in discussion with members at their table to answer a series of pre-meditated questions about success and what success would look like for Prince Edward Island. The main goals of the evening were to engage with new ideas and learn about alternative community development, and so audience members were asked to work with other members at their table to discuss the focus questions with the ultimate goal being to develop community-lead plans that would lead to real change and real action plans for Prince Edward Island. People were first asked to discuss the concept of “success”; how the word is defined, what the indicators are, and what success would look like on PEI.
Audience members also participated in discussions about the available resources for building stronger economies and what skills and resources are needed to establish dignified employment, quality of life, and environmental health. Some interesting discussions and ideas were inspired by these questions; all of them very community-oriented and proactive. Upon speaking with those in attendance on Tuesday evening, most left feeling inspired and optimistic. Faith in the tight-knit community of eco-conscious Islanders was renewed with even more confidence and hope for the future.