Nuclear plant failure. Oil disruption in the Middle East. The highest global food prices in decades, political gridlock relative to education and the economy, climate change, economic dependence on cheap foreign labor, growing reliance on power for internet and other technologies, water issues, the fluctuating status of the dollar — the world turns more terrifying, dissonant, fractured with every newsflash cascading across your smart phone’s screen. What can one person do to rage against the ever-encroaching machine, to help promote global and local stability and viability?
A good place to start is at SynergyFest 2011 in Las Vegas. The annual event opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 30, and offers a six-hour Fiesta of Sustainability under the cooling trees lining New Mexico Highland University’s Melody Park.
Synergy comes from the Greek word synergia, meaning joint work and cooperative action. When synergy happens, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. Compared to the problems all around us — which are so huge — SynergyFest may seem small, but the ideas it holds are big: what happens between you and your neighbors and town and the land cradling you can impact the world.
It may be hard to believe that a day-long event featuring local bands, craftspeople, speakers, and vendors can affect world change, but featured lecturer, Daniel Jencka, believes that the ideas and practices we all adopt can work together to make our lives healthier and cleaner, and the world around us more nurturing and beautiful.
Jencka, the manager of Green Energy Works, a division of GEW Mechanical in Albuquerque which offers not only solar options and geothermal energy systems, but services like low energy cooling, LED lighting, and energy management, has been an organizer and speaker for SynergyFest over the past few years.
“This is a choice between what really works and what just seems to work,” he explains. “There is an order of energy options one should consider in terms of return and payback to the user and even to society as a whole. What does one do first with limited resources? You can’t do it all at one time. This year I am speaking about renewable and energy saving apples, oranges, and grapefruits, and will put them in order as they should be picked for homeowners and businesses and towns and countries and the world.”
Jencka is noted for speaking on controversial topics, including peak oil, peak food, peak population, peak water, and peak humans and the earth at large. Does that peak your interest?
“Most of us are living in a delusion. We are going 100 mph toward a wall upon which the writing is a mile high. Because of what we’ve been told by government, marketing, culture, and religion - in fact by nearly every institution on the planet - we think the wall is moveable, and that the writing can be easily erased. But it really is like physics or biology. It’s a matter of facts, and we need to deal with facts starting at the local level, in the way that people are expressing at SynergyFest. Though everything is local in a sense, we have to have global sustainability, otherwise the global will wreck the local, and most of the world will wonder what happened, when the writing was on the wall for generations.”
Lee Einer, board member of Sustainable Las Vegas and a local permaculturist and community activist, has been informally involved in SynergyFest for several years and has tabled the Green Party as well as Sustainable Las Vegas. Einer has presented on the use of mulch basins and curb cuts for urban water harvesting, and will be touching on the bathtub model of local economy, the multiplier factor, various business models and their impacts on communities such as Las Vegas.
“And as a delighted participant,” he laughs. “Even when I’m not participating, its just a gas to walk around and see all the great projects that people are involved in. This year, what we’re doing is more timely than ever. There is a public perception that green is an added luxury, maybe a hobby of liberals and hippies. But the truth is how we will have to live in the future. Circumstances are bringing it to our attention in a very pointed fashion.
Go to the gas pump and what do you find? The age of cheap oil is coming to an end and we can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not or we’ll be going the way of the dodo and the passenger pigeon.”
The hard talk is balanced by live bands, arts and crafts vendors, activities for children, and displays on local agriculture and food, energy, and social justice concerns. Andrew Feldman Ph.D., representing the Las Vegas Community Water Board, will be giving a short presentation on “Our Water Future” that applies globally and to Las Vegas in particular. “Climate change will affect our future water supply, but there are things we can do in the short term to solve water problems,” Feldman says.
“We should all be deeply concerned over what the future holds and that concern should drive us into action – from personal choices to influencing local, state and federal policy decisions.”
If that ain’t synergy, I don’t know what is!
For more information, visit synergyfest.com.