It was a small conference with big ideas and a deep sense of urgency. "We need to do it all," said one attendee. "We just simply need to do it all."
Julia Conley, Jake Johnson, and Jon Queally
Attendees of The Sanders Institute Gathering that took place from November 29 thru December 1, 2018 in Burlington, Vermont. (Photo: © Will Allen 2018 / @willallenexplore)
It was a small and relatively intimate event—this small conference described as a "gathering of minds to envision the world we want"—that took place over three days as last month ended and December began in Burlington, Vermont.
No, it wasn't a "hootenanny." The serious topics discussed in detail and with passion were poverty, inequality, human rights, the climate crisis, racism, war, peace, refugees, workers, healthcare, housing, civil rights, independent media, corporate power, criminal justice reform, international solidarity, civil rights, voting rights, the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, immigration, democracy, economics, politics, organizing, and ultimately about how all of these issues can never be adequately understood or addressed in isolation.
"What do we need to do to improve the quality of life of our citizens of the world?" 
—Jane Sanders, The Sanders Institute
"I think it's important that we realize the intersectionality of the issues," explained Jane Sanders, who along with executive director David Driscoll founded The Sanders Institute and organized the Gathering. "I mean environmental sanity has to do with income inequality and so many things. And that's why we intentionally do things more comprehensively because we don't want to say, 'We're having an environmental conference,' or 'We're having a housing conference.'"
The conference, she said in an interview with Common Dreams, was one that wanted to ask: "What do we need to do to improve the quality of life of our citizens of the world?"