By TALIA WIENER
wiener@montclairlocal.news

Speakers at the 7th annual Acting Locally for a More Sustainable World Conference will reflect on this year’s theme — “community action for a just and sustainable society” — hoping to inspire attendees to get involved in local environmental projects. 

Hosted by the Northeast Earth Coalition, the conference will take place virtually on Feb. 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with speakers from local and national organizations, question and answer periods, virtual tabling opportunities and video presentations. The conference aims to bring people together to network and exchange ideas about their community work experiences, NEEC founder Jose German-Gomez said.

“All of the presenters, whether local or not, will present ideas that are applicable in Montclair,” German-Gomez said. “We hope to inspire Montclairions and others to get involved in work in their communities to address issues ranging from global heating to sustainable business practices to environmental justice.”

The conference’s keynote speaker, political economist and author Gar Alperovitz, will speak at 10 a.m. about how the efforts in communities today are the pioneering work of a sustainable economic new age, German-Gomez said.

Alperovitz is co-founder of community development think tank The Democracy Collaborative and co-chair of The Next System Project, one the Democracy Collaborative’s initiatives focused on addressing systemic challenges in the U.S. The Next System Project is one of the conference’s co-sponsors. 

Alperovitz’s presentation, “The Coming Transformation of the American Political Economic System,” will discuss how community-based work is laying the foundations of a new economic system, according to conference information on the NEEC website. Alperovitz’s presentation is closely aligned with the work of the NEEC, German-Gomez said.

“We believe Montclair and surrounding communities could be examples where, according to Gar’s vision, we support local businesses, land trusts and new public forms of enterprise,” German-Gomez said. “In his words, ‘the great work going on in communities is the pioneering work of the sustainable economic new age.’”

Other conference speakers include Executive Director of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance Melissa Miles, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant Jose Aguto and Director of the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies Amy Tuininga.

Attendees at the 5th annual Acting Locally for a More Sustainable World Conference in 2020 gathered in The Church of Immaculate Conception’s Madonna Hall. (COURTESY JOSE GERMAN-GOMEZ)
Attendees at the 5th annual Acting Locally for a More Sustainable World Conference in 2020 gathered in The Church of Immaculate Conception’s Madonna Hall. (COURTESY JOSE GERMAN-GOMEZ)
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With six different virtual tabling time slots throughout the day, NEEC wants people to get a chance to directly interact with organization’s active at the community level, German-Gomez said. Local organizations scheduled to table include Montclair Community Farms, the Montclair Environmental Commission and the Montclair Area Solidarity Network. 

“The issues we’re concerned about are global in scale, but what we do locally has a global impact, and actions we take in Montclair can serve as models for action across the region,” German-Gomez said. “The conference will give Montclair residents an opportunity to see how they connect.”

To register for the conference, visit the Eventbrite page, linked from neearth.org. Student tickets are free, senior admission is $10 and general admission is $20

German-Gomez is also the author of “Gardening for Life,” a column that appears regularly in Montclair Local.

Correction: An earlier version of this post listed Montclair Mutual Aid instead of Montclair Area Solidarity Network.