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Connecting the Dots: a common walk to talk about what’s common (and uncommon) among us

    Connecting the Dots:

    a common walk to talk about what’s common (and uncommon) among us

    May – November 2019

    These walks brought together groups and individuals who live and work in the Central Coast and Salinas Valley to identify our varying concerns and how we might work together for social and climate justice, human and environmental health, and mutual aid. 

    The historic Salinas River is a vital lifeline in central California, linking food systems, ecosystems, histories and communities across places and differences. Often dry, sometimes diving underground, the Salinas River gives much of its water to agricultural lands along its banks and in the Salinas Valley, while it receives runoff from fertilizers and pesticides. As it threads through the San Ardo oil fields and through lands previously occupied by Indigenous people, the River draws a physical connection between the effects of privatized oil industry, big agriculture, and histories of colonization on shared land, water, and air, and on human, and more-than-human, lives. 

    From May through November we held a series of walks along sections of the Salinas River to talk about “common-ness”: what it might mean, how to negotiate uncommon concerns (what we don’t share but can recognize in and for each other), and how we might work together to counter the forces of individualism and privatization that are destroying those vital aspects of life that we might agree we all need and want to achieve access to for all. 

    The Salinas River situated our conversations in local terrain and helped us to remain focused on local issues. Participants with relevant insights, experience, and acute observations provided tools for thinking and sensing as we walked.

    The idea of a “common” is not that far away from many people’s desires and understandings of what matters. With thoughtful elaboration of what this could mean and how it might function more actively in public life from the perspectives of a diverse range of participants, the series of walks aimed to contribute to a fundamental shift in thinking and acting in order to imagine and work together towards a shared, rather than privatized, future.