Over 400 scholars, activists and entrepreneurs gathered in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont this past week to openly discuss all aspects of sustainable living.
The third annual Slow Living Summit is a three day conference of workshops, plenary sessions and networking, hosted by Brattleboro's Strolling of the Heifers- a play on Pamplona Spain's Running of the Bulls- which kicks off National Dairy Month with a parade of cows and farmers alike to heighten awareness of local agriculture and the importance of family-owned farms.
The Slow Living Summit, (“slow” being used as a synonym for sustainable,) provides an open forum to discuss and view impending environmental and societal changes through multiple lenses; the expertise of panelists included economics, spirituality, business management, food & agriculture, media and urban planning-as well as plans to counteract these changes.
Ten workshops took place simultaneously three times a day, both in Flat Street's historic Latchis Theatre and Marlboro College's Graduate Research Center, led by some of the nation's pioneers in sustainable living, such as environmental sciences professor David Orr, former Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets for the state of Vermont Roger Allbee, author of The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein and over 100 more.
Attendants broke during the day for a farm fresh lunch catered by Summit sponsors Drew's and Crop Organic Vodka in downtown's Robert H. Gibson's River Garden.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Governor Peter Shumlin and David Orr closed the Slow Living Summit in an open session held in the main Latchis theatre. Shumlin emphasized the progress made by the state of Vermont to partner government and farmers in keeping with the state's movement away from big business and toward worker cooperatives. Orr and Sanders focused the political aspects of climate change and what needs to be done in the way of food and wealth distribution.
The conference ended on a high note, lasting until the Strolling of the Heifers block party broke out on main street complete with hula hooping, local vendors and silly string.
“If we keep doing what we're doing, this conference won't be an aberration but a way of life,” said Shumlin.