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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Slow Living summit: beyond agriculture

BRATTLEBORO—Organizers say that the second annual Strolling of the Heifers Slow Living Summit, which begins on May 30, builds upon last year’s successful gathering by broadening the term “slow living.”

Slow living is seen as a fresher version of the term “sustainable,” according to Martin Langeveld, the conference spokesperson.

“The conference goes beyond just agriculture and climate change,” he said. “It’s finding new models for how humans deal with each other and become more mindful of how we connect with the land, our communities, and people.”

Langeveld said the conference is organized into into three major themes —Slow Economics, Slow Communities, and Slow Policies — with a goal of finding cross-sector solutions to issues such as food production, energy use, money, health care, and relationships.

Among the many high-profile speakers who will address the Summit are U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Sanders will discuss how we can address two simultaneous crises — global warming and the unemployment and income inequality brought about by continuing sluggish economic conditions — by developing economic models that emphasize local and sustainable production.

Shumlin, recipient in 2011 of the “greenest governor” award, will speak about Vermont’s environmental initiatives.

Other featured participants include James Howard Kunstler, author of “The Long Emergency”; David Orr, an environmental professor at Oberlin College and the architect of the Obama administration’s policy on global warming; Woody Tasch, founder of the organization Slow Money; Charles Eisenstein, author of “Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition”; and economist Chris Martenson, author of “The Crash Course.”

Because 2012 is the United Nations-designated Year of the Co-op, Langeveld said the summit will have a special focus on cooperative organizations, including participation by John Restakis, executive director of the British Columbia Cooperative Association and author of “Humanizing the Economy.”

“Last year, we did a little about new ownership models for business, but with the Year of the Co-op and the upcoming grand opening of the new Brattleboro Food Co-op building, it was natural that we focus on co-ops and show how they can be an alternative to standard corporate ownership,” Langeveld said.

Restakis, Tasch, and Eisenstein will deliver the opening talk on Wednesday, May 30, at the main theater at the Latchis from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The conference picks up speed on Thursday, May 31, with a full day of sessions alternating between the Latchis and the nearby Marlboro College Graduate Center on Vernon Street. New this year, Langveld said, are sessions that focus on spirituality, community media, and building a participatory culture in communities.

The summit wraps up on Friday, June 1, with Shumlin, Sanders, and Kunstler topping the bill before giving way to Gallery Walk and the kickoff to the Strolling of the Heifers weekend.

More information, including a complete schedule and registration information, is available at www.slowlivingsummit.org.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #153 (Wednesday, May 23, 2012).

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