On a Thursday in late October, Oakland’s first annual Living the New Economy Convergence kicked off in downtown Oakland, aimed at inspiring conference-goers to “co-create a new economic reality in the Bay Area and beyond.”

Hosted at the California Endowment Conference Center in downtown Oakland, the conference space was relatively indistinguishable from any other well-appointed, modern office building outfitted in muted tones and florescent lighting. The morning registration for the first day of the convergence felt similar to the registration procedure for any small business conference: the crowd milled about, slung their name tag lanyards about their necks and enjoyed the complimentary coffee and bagels while they waited for the speakers to start.

Shortly after 8 a.m., however, it became clear this was to be a different kind of conference altogether. Soon after assembling in the main meeting room, the conference-goers were led through an icebreaker challenge of sorts, collectively singing a pared down version of “Bring Me A Little Water Silvie” – a folk song from the American South – in the round.

Organized in collaboration by two Bay Area organizations – Bay Bucks and Uptima Business Bootcamp – the Living the New Economy (LNE) Convergence was inspired by a similar event that first took place in Victoria, British Columbia. Now spreading around the world, the LNE events are designed to be part conference, part hackathon and part networking event, centered on the effort to build “an economy in service of people and the planet.”

The four-day conference, with two days of speaking sessions followed by a two-day long hackathon, collected an impressive roster of 82 speakers which read as a veritable who’s-who of local and international progressive talent, like Konda Mason, co-director and CEO of Impact Hub Oakland, and Zachary Norris, executive director of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, among many others.

According to the LNE convergence’s website, “the New Economy movement is an invitation into a new worldview – one where more for me is more for you, too.” The event’s organizers and speakers pointed to current crises in the environment, the economy and to general social inequality to stress a general idea that “something new is required.” The event served as a gathering of initiatives and innovators that have been doing work all over the country, and in the Bay Area specifically. During breakout sections on alternative money and finance, new justice systems, new business models, and others, speakers highlighted efforts in building that “something new” – the New Economy.

Some of the sessions were live-streamed and gathered on BitCoinMagazine.com, and in a series of subsequent articles, Oakland Local will be looking deeper into alternative money, new business models and local manufacturing, to see what work is already being done in Oakland to live in the “new economy.”

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