Conference on Cooperation, Community, Complexity at COA

Posted April 10, 2013, at 1:29 p.m.
Last modified April 10, 2013, at 2:57 p.m.
Keynote speaker is John Abrams of South Mountain Co.
Keynote speaker is John Abrams of South Mountain Co.

Saturday, April 20 to Sunday, April 21, 2013; 11:19 a.m. to 1:19 p.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - Gates Community Center, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

Contact: Kyle Shank; 207-288-5015


BAR HARBOR, Maine —Employee-owned businesses, community-owned groceries, growth that is sustainable for the environment as well as the economy—these ideas will become common terms on the campus of College of the Atlantic during Earth Day Weekend. COA is hosting the conference “Cooperation, Community, and Complexity: Imagining a New Economy for the 21st Century” April 20 and 21, beginning at 11 a.m. Focused on presenting ideas for fostering an economy that would better serve people, the conference is free, with funding provided by the New Economics Institute. Following the conference on Sunday will be COA’s Earth Day Celebration.

Keynote speaker John Abrams opens the weekend event in COA’s Gates Community Center with the talk, “Sharing Ownership of the Future,” on new visions of the economy. Abrams will speak about an economy based on ideas of “enough” rather than constantly on “more.” He is the founder and CEO of South Mountain Company, a 37-year-old employee-owned architecture, building, and renewable energy company committed to responsible business practices based on Martha’s Vineyard. Abrams is also the author of “Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place.”

Also speaking is Dartmouth’s Richard Howarth, environmental studies professor and editor-in-chief of the journal “Ecological Economics.” His talk is titled “The Problem of Economic Growth.” Says Howarth, “The tradeoffs between growth, the environment, and community may be less inherently severe than either growth enthusiasts or no-growth critics suggest.”

The conference is organized by COA third-year student Kyle Shank. “Students, academics, and civic activists all around the world are beginning to join forces and give rise to a global community of forward-thinking individuals ready to tackle the hardest issues of our times,” he says, naming climate change, international inequity and inequality, and the fragile global economy. “The weekend will focus on both the potentials for radical change in the formal study of economics and the more informal, yet practical sorts of activism that can help foster the growth of a new set of ideas that we can use to build a strong foundation for our future,” Shank adds.

Additional speakers include Davis Taylor, COA faculty member in economics, who will talk on “The Ties that Bind: The Challenges and Promise of Worker Ownership,” and former COA student Rob Brown, founder and executive director of Opportunity Maine, and a housing program organizer of the Cooperative Development Institute. Brown is responsible for Maine’s ambitious college affordability program, providing full annual loan forgiveness for those remaining in Maine after earning a degree here. He will talk on “Building the Cooperative Economy.”

Also speaking are Vaishali Mamgain an associate professor of economics at the University of Southern Maine; Paddy Quick, an economics professor at St. Francis College, a member of the International Association for Feminist Economics and of the Union for Radical Political Economics; Christopher Sutherland, musician and USM student on “Making Rural Maine Work: How the Latino Community in Milbridge has Transformed a Declining Economy into a New Trans-American Community”; Mick Womersley, a professor of human ecology at Unity College, on “Climate Change: Which Economics Will Actually Work?” and Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation.

Based in Cambridge, MA, the New Economics Institute is geared to building a new economy that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet.

For more information on the “Cooperation, Community, and Complexity: Imagining a New Economy for the 21st Century” conference from 11 a.m. Saturday, April 21 to about 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, in time to join COA’s Earth Day Celebration—contact Kyle Shank at, visit or call 207-288-5015.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit