—"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, wedding science & spirit, 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 will tell 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 Will Do
We Will Tell a New Story: 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 Our regional economy has been dominated by an outdated story that claims that economic and community renewal can only be achieved through massive, top-down strategies that extend huge tax incentives to large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. The Amazon deal is just the most recent example. 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 intends to be part of systems change by 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 will be telling 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 Will Create Connections: Our narrative will be intentionally crafted to illuminate how and where the new flow networks of our regional economy are operating. Our stories will also 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 will track the number of new connections our stories create and document the initiatives that grow out of them.
We Will 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 will be identifying them and authoring case studies of their best practices.
We Will Advocate for Regenerative Policymaking: We will 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 will illuminate them as a force to be reckoned with. We will cultivate relationships with them, share our regenerative narrative with them, and let them know what regenerative economy practitioners are telling us about the policy roadblocks they encounter.
We Will Share our Story: Hudson River Flows' primary community will be the local practitioners of the regenerative economy. However, through a deliberate strategy of outreach to and partnership with local, regional, and national media we will communicate our story to a broader audience hungry for alternative solutions.
The Science and Spirit of Hudson River Flows
The Hudson River Flows narrative will be 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 brings together an intergenerational, transdisciplinary collaborative of writers, thinkers, visual creatives, practitioners, and network entrepreneurs from all walks of life who are united in their passion to support the emergence of the regenerative economy where they live and through their 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.
OUR NEW HUDSON VALLEY STORY
We look forward to weaving the new narrative of the Hudson River Estuary bioregional economy. We will 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.