BRATTLEBORO—The fifth annual Slow Living Summit will take place in Brattleboro on June 3-5 and will be focused on farms, food, and food systems.
The summit is presented by Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based food advocacy organization that works to connect people with local food and to support innovation and entrepreneurship at farms and food businesses.
Subtitled “Food, Mindfully,” the summit will explore “the journey of food,” with topics including nourishment and wellness, food entrepreneurship, food systems, food justice, and food policy.
Shanta L. Evans-Crowley, the conference coordinator, said “the summit aims to bring together experts, policymakers, entrepreneurs, educators, students, farmers, artists and concerned citizens, in order to foster cross-sector conversations and collaborations.”
Evans-Crowley said support from sponsors and foundations again makes it possible for the summit to offer subsidized registrations for people not able to afford the full registration rates.
“We encourage everyone to visit the website and explore the program, and if you want to come but can’t afford the full fee, please check out the stipended registration option, which is open to summiteers with lower incomes, as well as for seniors, farmers, and artists.” There is also a discounted student rate.
The summit offers five major plenary sessions along with more than 25 breakout sessions, including question-and-answer follow-up sessions with plenary speakers. Continuing a practice initiated in 2014, Evans-Crowley is pairing each of the plenary speakers with artists who will present concurrent artistic interpretations of the speaker’s message.
Major summit speakers include:
• Alisa Gravitz, the CEO of Green America (formerly Co-op America), which develops marketplace solutions to social and environmental problems with a focus on tackling climate change, building fair trading systems, stopping corporate abuse, and growing the green economy. Gravitz will speak on “Growing the Green Economy;”
• Dr. Michael Finkelstein, the “Slow Medicine Doctor” — featured in media including The New York Times and CNN; a health blogger for The Huffington Post; presenter at venues ranging from GE Corporation and Omega Institute; and author of Slow Medicine. Finkelstein’s topic is “Food for Mind, Body and Soul;”
• Laura Lengnick, of the Local Food Research Center at the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project in Ashville N.C. Lengnick, a researcher, policy-maker, educator, and farmer, is the lead author of the USDA report “Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation.” She will speak on “Resilient Agriculture;”
• Vicki Robin, social innovator, writer, and speaker, coauthor of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence. Her new book is, Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-Mile Diet. She was called by The New York Times the “prophet of consumption downsizers;”
• Allison Hooper, co-founder and CEO, Vermont Creamery. At the helm of the artisan cheese movement in Vermont and as president of the American Cheese Society from 2005 to 2008, Hooper has been a voice for and mentor to U.S. cheesemakers. Author of In a Cheesemaker’s Kitchen. She will speak on “Land and Legacy;”
• Judith D. Schwartz is a journalist and author whose work looks at soil as a hub for multiple environmental, economic and social challenges—and for solutions. Author of Cows Save the Planet. Her Summit topic is “How Changing the Way We Grow Food Can Restore Ecosystems and Reverse Global Warming;”
• Alex Wilson is the founder of Building Green and the Resilient Design Institute, both based in Brattleboro. RDI works to advance the many facets of resilience at personal, community and regional scales. Wilson will speak on “Resilient Food Systems.”
Plenary sessions take place at the Latchis Theatre. Most breakout sessions are taking place at Marlboro College Graduate Center, and other events are slated for the River Garden.
“What makes this conference different,” Evans-Crowley said, “is that it doesn’t happen in a sterile conference center environment. Instead, Main Street, Brattleboro is what connects all the sessions, so summiteers get fresh air, and they get to experience Brattleboro.”
Rather than serving a buffet lunch, summit organizers this year encourage attendees to lunch at downtown eateries, many of which serve locally-sourced foods.
Besides the plenaries and breakouts, the summit offers a number of cooking demonstrations by local chefs; a Wednesday evening “story slam” called “What’s Eating You” in which attendees are invited to share funny and lighthearted tales about their food experiences; and a Thursday evening open-mic musical evening.
The full summit schedule, biographies of speakers and artists, and registration information can be found at www.slowlivingsummit.org.