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Barlow speaks at ‘Seeds of Change’ conference in Rhinebeck, New York

Photo by Keri Pickett

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke at the Omega Institute’s ‘Seeds of Change: Cultivating the Commons’ conference in Rhinebeck, New York yesterday.

In the morning she gave a keynote address on water and then joined a panel discussion with Robert ‘Skip’ Backus, the chief executive officer of the Omega Institute, and author John Todd. Then in the evening Barlow participated in a panel at the Institute’s ‘Living In A Time of Transition’ public forum with environmental activist Vandana Shiva, political activist Ralph Nader and Ojibwe activist Winona LaDuke that was moderated by Backus.

Photo by Aresh JavadiPhoto by Helmi Elisa Hunin

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports, “For the past several years, the center’s conferences and programming have ‘pushed the envelope by exploring solutions to the most pressing environmental issues of the day, bringing together change agents from near and far to increase vital collaboration in the Hudson Valley and beyond’… Omega invites participants ‘to be part of a growing community coming together to protect and care for the commons, including the pivotal right to save and share seeds, the necessity of stewarding water resources, as well as transparency in labeling and access to healthy food.'”

Photo by Mat McDermott

Photo by Michelle Horton

Backus has commented, “It’s time to step into a conversation about our relationship with water, food, and the commons. Locally and globally we’re facing a variety of environmental issues, each one important on its own but greater in magnitude when seen as interconnected. The right to clean drinking water and adequate healthy food versus corporate privatization of water and control of seeds are aspects of our relationship with these shared, commonly held resources. Climate change — essentially the privatization of the atmosphere — is an issue of the commons, too. As our climate continues to shift, the effect on water availability and the amount and type of food we can grow is a further threat to the commons.”

For more on the conference, please click here.

Photos by Helmi Elisa Hunin, Mat McDermott, Aresh Javadi, Keri Pickett and Michelle Horton.