Early Signs Of A New Society with Sarah van Gelder

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A dear friend posed a question to Sarah van Gelder that launched her on her quest to understand what is animating the grassroots these days. Her friend asked, “If the universe could deploy the one small person that is you, what would it have you do?” This led Sarah to launch a 12,000 mile trip across America in order to explore the many dynamic movements taking root around the country. For example, she learned from the ranchers and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe members about a place in Southeast Montana called Otter Creek Valley, which was scheduled to be the largest coal strip mine in the state of Montana. She states that the local ranchers and Native American tribal members learned from one another, “[B]ut I think, in a way, they learned from the land itself, and from the water itself. There’s something so sacred about [their determination] that they were willing to do the hard work of reading those environmental statements, and going to testify, and traveling hundreds of miles to the state capital, and then thousands of miles to the U.S. Capital, and keeping at it month after month and year after year because they knew that was their one shot at keeping that land intact.” This is but one story of many that she’s collected through her travels that give her, and us, hope for our future. There is a fierce urgency confronting us to act on the many opportunities to reimagine a world that works for all. Will a movement to improve the health of our communities and our planet happen in one gigantic tide of awakening, or will it be sourced on the local level, grassroots, level? Van Gelder suggests that the kind of sustainable systems change that is required in these threshold times is now being modeled on local levels across the country.  (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Sarah van Gelder is cofounder and editor-at-large of the award-winning YES!Magazine. She writes and speaks internationally on environmental, social, and economic alternatives and on community-based change.

Sarah van Gelder is the editor of:

She is the author of:

To learn more about the work of Sarah van Gelder go to www.revolutionwhereyoulive.org.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How she was informed by a picnic with her family in India when she was seven years old
  • What the Lummi tribe of Southeast Montana did to battle a large coal export terminal proposed for their traditional lands
  • What she observed at the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota
  • What is the power of being deeply connected with one another as part of a community
  • What are the differences between extractive economies, sharing economies, and ownership economies
  • What are the benefits of growing food together
  • What is the effect of the farmers markets that are popping up everywhere
  • How was creativity employed between the penitentiary system and the citizens of eastern Kentucky
  • How people are hosting refugee families, and the story of Dallas Texans standing up against racism
  • What is van Gelder’s view of what is taking place across the U.S. on a grassroots level
  • Van Gelder gives specific ways in which we can join in this movement in our own community

Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 3/11/2017        Program Number: 3606

Music Playlist

From Album: Prairie Runner
Artist: Jeff Ball
2002 Red Feather Music #RFP 7007-2 

Opening Essay: Track 01 Prairie Runner
Music Break 1: Track 03 Red & Blue
Music Break 2: Track 04 Eye of the Storm
Music Break 3: Track 09 The Journey