23rd Headwaters Conference
September 21-23 2012
When we are smart enough to separate our interests from our political positions, then we have the flexibility to experiment, to innovate, to make mid-course corrections, to take on partners we never thought we'd be working with. ~William de Buys
Arizona rancher William McDonald calls it the "radical center." Driven towards a resilient future for all who shaped a region into a place, the "radical center" refers to the collaborative space that surfaces when citizens "break from traditional stereotypical positions," transcend diverging political stances, and discover shared solutions in the face of a common crisis. Such unexpected partnerships defy the 'both sides' framework of American politics. But what makes this center "radical" is that it reaches beyond compromising core values for political gain. The unexpected partnerships that form and are born from the radical center advance, rather than compromise, the diverse and vital interests that define the culture, environment, and economy of a place. McDonald's term came from the unlikely partnerships he helped form between ranchers and environmentalists in southeastern Arizona. This year's Headwaters keynote speaker, Courtney White, has advanced this concept of the radical center through his Quivira Coalition, arguing that such unlikely partnerships are necessary "to make ourselves worthy of the land we all love."
What unlikely partnerships have emerged in the Headwaters region? What are the opportunities and limitations, the uses and abuses, of those partnerships in building sustainable Headwaters communities? To what extent does this region, to what extent could this region, provide a model for the state and the nation of a third space for community-based problem solving? Is a space 'beyond both sides' forming in the Headwaters?
The 23rd Headwaters Conference at Western State Colorado University will celebrate, question, and (perhaps) enhance unexpected partnerships in our region. To lead us in this conversation, we have gathered a diverse array of influential writers, community leaders, scientists, scholars, poets, musicians, farmers, builders, cooks, activists, ranchers, teachers, students, and citizens. In addition to Courtney White's Friday night keynote address, expert panels and Gunnison Valley tours will explore unexpected partnerships in the areas of wildlife, water, energy, food, and politics.
We hope you can join us!