The conference consists of a combination of panels, keynote speakers, workshops, exhibitions, and excursions. Past topics addressed during the conference include: environmental literacy, food sustainability issues, religion and the environment, product innovation, and biomimicry. Over the past decade the conference has brought such luminaries as Shigeru Ban, Sim Van der Ryn, Lola Sheppard, Sean Ahlquist, Neri Oxman, Carlo Ratti, Steve Badanes, Francois Roche, David Orr, John Schaeffer, Stephen Kellert, and Clare Cooper Marcus to the University of Oregon campus.
Today’s world is deeply polarized. The rifts between people, societies and environments seem insurmountable. Although technological advancements have rendered geographic distance obsolete, the networks between people, ecosystems and movements have withered. Individuals feel powerless to the magnitude of climate change as it batters deteriorated infrastructure, severed ecosystems, and weakened social bonds. As we face a rapidly changing, increasingly disrupted social and climate future, HOPES  asks, what links us? What are our roots?
A call to one’s roots is a call to remember, to unite, and to find strength in multiplicity. Roots are foundational and symbiotic, representing dense networks of connectivity. In human systems, roots provide the basis for communities and essential connections to our origins. Meaningful, systemic change requires the establishment of a resilient network, without which the potential revolution cannot sustain itself and crumbles. Just as in a forest where underground networks of nutrients encourage communication and symbiotic exchange, ecological equity starts at the local, connecting allies to gain foundational strength to make global change.
HOPES  calls upon our common past to encourage a shared future that relishes in connection, defies the apathy fomented by division, and has the courage to develop strong social, ecological, and personal networks that transcend time and place. By making a pledge to our roots we celebrate hidden systems that strengthen the whole, we defy complacency by making the global, local, and we call upon a vast network of agents for change to unite, support, and spread.