The Connexions Annual:
By Ulli Diemer
A coal miner who took part in the wave of strikes which shook the
former Soviet Union summed up the problems facing his local strike
committee as follows: “We have to answer two simple questions:
‘How are we going to live?’ and ‘What do we do now?’”
Those are questions we all have to answer. We live in a world in
crisis. Governments, corporations, and institutions assure us they
have everything under control, and that better times are just around
the corner, but all around us we see poverty, violence, injustice,
environmental disasters, and wars.
For more than a decade, they have imposed a new-right agenda on
our societies, telling us we have no choice but to adapt to a ‘new
world order’ based on ‘free markets’ and privatization. Instead
of experiencing the promised benefits, however, most of us find
ourselves worse off, economically, socially, and spiritually.
Most of us are not living the lives we would choose to live, but
the existing order insists there are no alternatives to itself,
and most of us are sufficiently convinced or pre-occupied or discouraged
to keep society from coming unglued. Many, many people wish there
were alternatives, or think there ought to be, but are resigned
to the conclusion that it is utopian to entertain any hopes for
real change. The ‘system’ is too big, too powerful, and we are too
weak and too few in numbers.
‘What do we do now?’ ‘How do we live?’ All too often, we mind our
own problems and don’t think about the rest.
Yet despite the pervasive feeling that ‘nothing can be done’, people
do join together to act in common when they feel threatened or wronged,
or when they have a goal in sight which they desire passionately
enough. Sometimes they organize quietly and gradually. At other
times a mass movement explodes into being, seemingly out of nothing,
despite the risks and the odds.
This Annual is dedicated to the idea that change is both necessary
and possible. Its main intent is practical: to provide information
about groups across Canada who are working at society’s grassroots
to create positive solutions to social, environmental, economic,
and international problems.
We hope that by providing this information we will be making it
easier for those already active to find out about and contact each
other and to do their work more effectively and co-operatively.
We hope that those individuals who are thinking about or looking
for ways to become active will be able to use the information to
find like-minded people to work with.
We hope, too, that this book will help to get out the message that
there are viable alternatives to destructive and exploitative institutions
and structures, and that there are people organizing to build those
It is also a goal of this Annual to stimulate thinking about how
we can work more effectively together toward our mutual goals, and
how we can reach out to broaden our movements. If we can learn to
do this well enough, we have the potential to create a much more
powerful social movement, not only national but international in
its scope, one that goes beyond single-issue organizing to work
toward an integrated vision of a more just and caring world.
This does not necessarily mean that individual groups should be
dissolving themselves into a large movement. But often the best
thing we can do to help ourselves is to help someone else. By offering
and extending solidarity to others, we establish bonds between us
that give us strength too. Feelings and actions of solidarity can
be a fruitful source of understanding, trust, and power, and that
power is something that we too can draw on too.
Empowerment is a critical dimension of the process of change. We
are seeking the power to create alternatives, and simultaneously
we are seeking to dissolve the power structures that prevent us
from doing so. We hope that this Annual will help to empower those
working to create the alternatives.
Aussi disponible en français:
de l'Annuaire Connexions.
También disponible en español:
al Directorio de Conexiones
Other Overview Articles from the Connexions Annual:
to the Arts, Media, Culture section of the Connexions Annual
to the Community, Urban, Housing section of the Connexions Annual
to the Development, International section of the Connexions Annual
to the Economy, Poverty, Work section of the Connexions Annual
to the Education, Children section of the Connexions Annual
to the Environment, Land Use, Rural section of the Connexions Annual
to the Health section of the Connexions Annual
to the Human Rights, Civil Liberties section of the Connexions Annual
to the Lesbians, Gays section of the Connexions Annual
to the Native Peoples section of the Connexions Annual
to the Peace section of the Connexions Annual
to the Women section of the Connexions Annual
and Reading List from the Connexions Annual