—"The Hudson River Valley: A Bioregion Story," from Thomas Berry’s The Dream of the Earth
"Tell me a story, a story that will be my story as well as the story of everyone and everything about me, the story that brings us together in a valley community, a story that brings together the human community with every living being in the valley."
A collaborative of writers, thinkers, practitioners, visual creatives, and network entrepreneurs writing a new narrative in support of a truly regenerative economic redevelopment of our bioregion.
The River that Flows Two Ways
The Hudson River—America's First River—originates at Tear of Clouds Lake on Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in New York State in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, and runs a 315-mile course. However, the stretch of the river we will be exploring is its lower153 miles, descending from Troy, New York, to New York Harbor. The indigenous Lenapes named it Mahicannituck translated sometimes as "waters that are never still" or "river that flows two ways.” Here river waters experience rhythmic, tidal pulses, as seawater flows upstream from New York Harbor and recedes back, mixing the zest of brine with the purity of fresh inland waters.
Habitats surrounding estuaries are by nature richly complex and so are the human networks that spring up around them. So it is no surprise that the Hudson River Estuary Bioregion has been a landscape where the complexities and contradictions of our culture, economy, and spirit have been playing out, for better and for worse, over many centuries.
Today, it is exciting to witness the ebbing and flowing of human activity as our urban regenerative innovators meet and collaborate with their counterparts along the suburban and rural rivertowns and villages. If we look closely we see the impacts on our once-degraded landscapes and hollowed-out communities, as these new, more nimble forces for change begin to operate under the radar, displacing the old economic order.
Hudson River Flows tells stories that create connections and catalyze change. We will build a unifying narrative around the growing network of mostly small-scale regenerative practitioners across all economic sectors who are fueling the Hudson Valley renaissance.
What We Do
We Tell a New Story of Collaboration not Competition: Donella Meadows said that if you want to change the system you have to change the story. Our regional economy has been dominated by an outdated story that claims that economic and community renewal can only be achieved through massive, top-down strategies that extend huge tax incentives to large corporate players, spiked with infusions of speculative financial capital. Although this “trickle down” approach has failed time and again to deliver long-term economic vitality to all members of our regional community, it continues to be the redevelopment strategy of choice across the political spectrum.
Until now, critics of this narrative have tended to offer reactive responses rather than positive, alternative stories. Hudson River Flows is a collaborator in systems change, constructing a new, clarifying narrative— grounded in science and wisdom traditions—illuminating how we can catalyze sustainable economic vitality for all by nurturing the “vital flows” generated when small enterprises band together to share innovative practices, skills, and resources.
We tell the story of a new kind of economy of scale that grows, not through corporate consolidations, buyouts and cut-throat competition, but out of many small, cross-pollinating collaborations that operate in right relationship with the land we inhabit and that build a web of mutual benefit and support, breaking down silos within and across economic sectors and cultures.
We Create Connections: Our narrative is intentionally crafted to illuminate how and where the new flow networks of our regional economy are operating. Our stories sleuth out the missing links and create new bridges, encouraging and facilitating informal, in-person gatherings and meet-ups where knowledge-, experience- and resource-sharing takes place and new alliances are forged.
We Follow the Financial Flows: Who are the new regenerative finance engineers of our bioregion—working inside CDFI funds, credit unions, and banks—inventing new, flexible, and more equitable ways to finance the enterprises of the regenerative economy, including alternative ownership models like worker cooperatives? We identify them and document their best practices.
We Advocate for Regenerative Policymaking: We identify the network of enlightened government leaders from the federal to the local level who are also creating the scaffolding around the emerging regenerative economy, as they formulate policies and legislation in support of it.
We Share our Story with Peer Practitioners: Hudson River Flows' primary community is the local practitioners of the regenerative economy.
The Science and Spirit of Hudson River Flows
The Hudson River Flows narrative is framed in what we are learning from both the spirit of our bioregion's wisdom traditions and the science of energy flow networks about how healthy communities behave. What the science and these traditions reveal is that, like all natural systems, regenerative human communities thrive through continuous circulation of resources, knowledge, and learning. Under the right conditions and given the chance, they are surprisingly self-organizing and self-sustaining. Ultimately, and most critically, they are grounded in relationship, mutualism, collaborative learning, and reciprocity.
The Power of Place-Based Storytelling
Place-based storytellers are in close relationship with their landscapes and know how to find the stories hidden in them. They shine a light on the activity happening where they live that might otherwise go unheralded, because the people who are doing the good work are often just too busy to document it.
Place-based stories illuminate the challenges a community and the regenerative practitioners working in their midst face. But they also enable community members to truly see and value their collective assets, often hidden in plain sight. Stories show who is on to the solutions and where new approaches need to be tried and more resources brought to bear. They provide a blueprint for action.
For all these reasons, place-based storytelling has a central role to play in activating transformative change. Beyond observers and chroniclers, storytellers grounded in place are catalytic agents helping to shape how the stories of their communities unfold. They are patient listeners, trust builders, and connectors.
Hudson River Flows is an intergenerational collaborative of writers, thinkers, visual creatives, practitioners, and network entrepreneurs united in our passion to support the emergence of the regenerative economy where we live and through our work.
HUDSON VALLEY STORIES FROM
CAPITAL INSTITUTE'S FIELD GUIDE TO A REGENERATIVE ECONOMY
The river that flows both ways
A visit to Hawthorne Valley Farm in Columbia County and the Inwood Farmer's Market in Manhattan illuminates the link between rural and urban Hudson Valley. Selected for the Columbia County Farm Film Fest 2020
OUR NEW HUDSON VALLEY STORY
Growing out of eight years of Field Guide regenerative economy storytelling at Capital Institute, Hudson River Flows weaves the new narrative of the Hudson River Estuary bioregional economy. We follow the connective threads and flows where they lead, as we reveal and support the self-organizing collaborators and activators shaping a new, regenerative economy in the Hudson Valley.