Breakout Sessions, Resources, and Networking

Breakout Sessions

Perhaps the most engaging part of these two days will be open-space-modeled “Breakout Sessions.” Detailed list to be posted shortly. The spirit of these Breakout sessions is mobility on the part of attendees. While most folks will stay with the topic they’re interested in, you are welcome to get up and move from table to table. These breakout session times are also an opportunity for you to take a breather from the schedule; perhaps taking advantage of some of the special options available (which can be found on the "program" page, under "special options and down time").

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Saturday:    11:00-11:55 AM

Click on Title to jump to description:

  1. The Leading Edge: Our Statewide Mutual Credit System as a Co-op
  2. How Regional Scale Organizing Supports Localization
  3. Changing the World One System at a Time
  4. Transformational Action
  5. We CAN cool the planet NOW (A/V)
  6. Tiny Houses In Cooperative Community (OUTSIDE)
  7. Resilience: How Do We Assess it in Communities, Businesses, and Academic Institutions?
  8. Together We Can: A Four-Town Community Vision of Resilience and Vitality
  9. Community Energy: Opportunities and Challenges (A/V)
  10. A Fork in the Trail
  11. Pine Island Community Farm (A/V)

Saturday:    3:20-4:15 PM

  1. Community Radio: Setting Free the Airwaves
  2. Grassroots Social Organizing: Using Abolitionist John Brown as a Model for Direct Action
  3. Personalized Learning in a Radical Democratic Future
  4. Mobilizing Local Communities
  5. Without a Vision the People Will Perish (A/V)
  6. Community Energy that is Locally-Owned, Clean and Resilient: How Can We do It?
  7. How To Help Organizations Transform Society
  8. Co-activating Your Projects!
  9. We CAN cool the planet NOW. Part 2; dialogue
  10. Vibrant Community Engagement: A How-To for Local Democracy
  11. An Equitable Exit: Selling a Business to the Employees Through a Worker Co-op
  12. Tiny Houses In Cooperative Community (OUTSIDE)

Sunday:    10:05-11:00 AM

  1. The Complex Intersections of Race, Class and Gender
  2. Strategies for Building Neighborhood Climate Resilience (A/V)
  3. Measuring What Matters: Tales from the 2017 Vermont Happiness and Wellbeing Study
  4. Message from Rob Hopkins--Founder of the Transition Movement (A/V)
  5. Localizing and Regenerating This Particular Place (OUTSIDE)
  6. Revaluing Social Belonging and Community
  7. Effectiveness, Transparency, Equivalence: Sociocracy Approach to Meaningful Self-Governance
  8. Soil Health and Public Health: Whole Systems Approach to Improving Community and Climate Resilience

Sunday:    2:25-3:20 PM

  1. Localizing Through an Investment Club: WRIC - A Case Study
  2. Intersectionality and Political Action
  3. The Revolution Begins with Food
  4. Local Autumnal Herb Walk (OUTSIDE)
  5. Listen and Take Action
  6. Localizing Entertainment
  7. Supporting Localization through the New England Resilience and Transition Network
  8. Beyond Separation: Practicing Embodiment for Social Transformation
  9. Lessons from the Groundswell Tour

 

 

Saturday:    11:00-11:55 AM

THE LEADING EDGE: OUR STATEWIDE MUTUAL CREDIT SYSTEM AS A CO-OP  

Vermont has a growing b2b mutual credit system, the Marketplace, with leading partner Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and now including the farms and restaurants of our newest Partner, Vermont Fresh Network. Growing the Marketplace into a cooperative is the next exciting step in building out our local economy. If you're interested in thinking big, thinking bold, and being a part of the leading edge in local monetary theory and practice, join us.

Presenter: Amy Kirschner is an award wining social entrepreneur focused on creating and implementing new currencies and projects to build resilient, regional economies. She has developed an open source mutual credit platform to be the next generation of local currency innovation. She is a public speaker on the topics of decentralization, monetary theory, and community asset mapping and is published widely on those subjects. She is the winner of a Rising Star Award from Vermont Business Magazine for her work in making Vermont a great place to live and do business.

HOW REGIONAL SCALE ORGANIZING SUPPORTS LOCALIZATION

Presenters: Nina Smolyar and Ben Roberts.

Localization happens in the context of both bioregions and political constructs, large and small. How can work at these levels best support localization? Hear from leaders working across New England, and engage in dialogue to deepen our understanding of how regional initiatives can synergize with the localization movement.  

Bios: Nina Smolyar is a social justice, sustainability, and authentic democracy activist, who got her start by simply loving nature as a child in rural Russia, and later, feeling a sense of responsibility to care for the planet and to preserve the ecological conditions that enable life. She deeply identifies with the spiritual nature of activism and environmentalism, practicing a personal spiritual path that combines traditions and philosophies from around the world.  In exploring how to contribute to improving the state of said world, sustainability in all its myriad forms: ecological, economic, and social, became the platform for her personal and professional mission in life. She has lived and worked at two intentional communities in Western Massachusetts, to practice sustainable living in close relationship with Nature and people. She has investigated community-building in a self-designed graduate program, focusing her thesis work on conflict transformation in intentional community.  She is also a current graduate student at University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, pursuing her MS in Leadership for Sustainability.  

CHANGING THE WORLD ONE SYSTEM AT A TIME

Presenter: Jim Tull

Description: Conditioned as we are to explain the world in terms of the impact of individual people and institutions, activists benefit from learning to see and understand how systems, more invisibly, govern the spaces between. After a short introduction to systems thinking, we will discuss applications to local community building.

Bio: Jim Tull facilitates workshops on community building, cultural transformation, systems thinking and deep ecology retreats. He teaches Philosophy, Community Service and Global Studies at the Community College of Rhode Island, Providence College and Rhode Island’s state prison. In the summer of 2015, Jim and a small group of friends founded Listening Tree Cooperative, a community-based permaculture homestead, in Chepachet, Rhode Island. For much of his work life, Jim served as the co-director of Amos House, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen on Providence’s south side, while organizing dozens of campaigns promoting peace and justice.

TRANSFORMATIONAL ACTION

Presenter: Simon Dennis and Tony Strat

Description: At a time when activists are becoming exhausted and when social divides are reducing society’s ability to evolve, we need an approach to social action which bolsters the activist while joining them with the systems they seek to change. All too often, an “us-against-them” quality of conventional activism undermines both the effectiveness and the sustainability of modern social action. In this workshop, we will learn the characteristics and practices of a “transformational activism” which proceeds from the recognition of story change and consciousness shift as essential levers for societal reform and renewal.

Bios: Simon Dennis is a nonprofit entrepreneur dedicated to supporting community transition to a just and sustainable culture. He currently serves as the founding director of the Center for Transformational Practice, and as a member of the Hartford Selectboard. Prior to this, he  co-founded COVER Home Repair, Transition Five Villages and Upper Valley Apple Corps. Tony Strat is an activist, artist, public speaker, Buddhist and business owner of ETHK Skateboard Co. that works to create inclusive communities within the world of skateboarding. He has been guided by his spirituality, passion and philosophy to create social change in communities and skate parks in California, Colorado, and the Upper Valley.

WE CAN COOL THE PLANET NOW

Presenters: Cat Buxton and Henry Swayze

Description: By creating conditions that enhance the power of Earth's natural systems we can improve ecosystem health, mitigate flooding, erosion and drought, and cool the planet while we continue to work to get greenhouse gasses out of the environment.  This will be a presentation of material followed by a discussion-action follow up session Saturday afternoon.

Bios: Henry Swayze has been a student of climate for 50 years and now is committed to reversing global warming. He co-hosts the weekly environmental show GreenZine of Royalton"s own community radio station WFVR-LP. Cat Buxton is a social entrepreneur, a freelance organizer, activist and educator, she organizes communities to affect positive change and consults on soil health, gardening, composting, and farm-to-school. She cross-pollinates among many groups and projects to do with building resilient food systems and communities.

TINY HOUSES IN COOPERATIVE COMMUNITY

Presenter: Karen Wynkoop and Rick Gottesman

Description: Curious about Tiny Houses and living smaller? Have questions? Take a tour of a tiny house and talk to folks who have designed and built their own and live in them. We are the Upper Valley Tiny House Community (forming). We will be talking informally about all things Tiny House from design and construction to zoning and placement, our discoveries and challenges and our experiences in choosing to live small and cooperatively.

Bio: The Upper Valley Tiny House Community (Karen Wynkoop, Eva Loomis, Jessica & Jason Farina, Rick Gottesman) are a group of five—Millennials to Boomers—in various stages of building and living in our tiny houses. We are currently exploring possibilities for living cooperatively in the Upper Valley of Vermont.

RESILIENCE: HOW DO WE ASSESS IT IN COMMUNITIES, BUSINESSES AND ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS?

Presenter: Mindy Blank

Description: Community Resilience Organizations developed a unique Resilience Assessment Tool that community members complete to gauge the current status of resilience across sectors in their town. Based on results, they identify priority projects that will address community needs and increase resiliency. Businesses and academic institutions can also benefit from using the Tool - this workshop will introduce the Resilience Assessment Tool and divide participants into two groups that parse out the differences between an assessment for communities and for businesses and academic institutions, resulting in two new tailored assessments. This workshop is highly participatory!

Bio: Mindy Blank is the Executive Director of Community Resilience Organizations (CROs), which is a network of experts and local volunteers that work collaboratively in communities to develop hazard mitigation plans and implement them with projects that mitigate worsening impacts of climate change, help prepare for climate risks, and adapt to future conditions. The approach is focused on civic engagement and creating happier, healthier communities that have social cohesion. Mindy also teaches a range of sustainability courses at Green Mountain College, and is involved with the Cuban American Friendship Society to facilitate academic trips to Cuba. She holds a Masters of Environmental Law and Policy degree from Vermont Law School with focus on energy and climate change policy. Formerly, she was an Energy Analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris where she developed roadmapping processes that accelerate deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart grid technologies.

TOGETHER WE CAN: A FOUR-TOWN COMMUNITY VISION OF RESILIENCE AND VITALITY

Presenter: Alex Buskey

Description: During our breakout session we are encouraging constructive feedback and aiming for the group to lead a casual discussion. Topics will include the following; Bringing the threat of high density development in rural areas of the state to the attention of state officials, and creating a four town regional vision focused on building sustainable economic growth and a strong community.

Bio: Alex Buskey is the Director of Alliance for Vermont Communities. AVC's mission is to protect working farms, forests and communities of Vermont and to promote responsible development that will sustain the rural heritage and values for present and future generations. We are a nonprofit focused on the four town region of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge. We are currently working to create a regional vision relating to economic growth and vitality in the areas of outdoor recreation, agriculture, forestry and entrepreneurship.

COMMUNITY ENERGY: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

Presenter: Greg Pahl

Description: This breakout session will start with a PowerPoint presentation that will provide an overview of Community Based Renewable Energy. Topics covered will include examples of how to organize and develop successful initiatives, the many advantages of community-based energy, as well as some of the many obstacles that stand in the way of achieving greater community control of local energy resources. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.

Bio: A full-time freelance journalist for many years, Greg Pahl is also the author of seven books that deal with various aspects of sustainable living. His more recent books focus on local renewable energy. In 2005, he helped to organize the Addison County Relocalization Network (the ACORN Network), as well as the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op in 2008.

A FORK IN THE TRAIL

Presenter: Carol Irons

Description: We will consider an ancient Ojiway prophecy, its implications for current social/economic lifestyles, and the values indigenous cultures offer for the future.

Bio: Carol Irons is an Abenaki elder. Born and raised in Vermont, she spent years experiencing various cultures within the eastern US, both rural and urban. Besides academic training for BA and MSW degrees, Carol received years of training in woodslore skills and Native American spiritual practices. With the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, she focuses on returning Old Way teachings to Abenakis.

PINE ISLAND COMMUNITY FARM

Presenter: Mark Freudenberger

Description: Dr. Mark Freudenberger will discuss ways in which the impacts and responses to climate change are similarly experienced  between the Pine Island Community Farm inColchester, Vermont and farmers in the West African Sahel and Madagascar. From his experiences of working in these different milieu throughout his professional career, he will provide examples of the adaptive strategies local communities in different cultural contexts are putting in place, but how ethnicity, class, and gender affect these responses.

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Saturday:    3:20-4:15 PM

COMMUNITY RADIO: SETTING FREE THE AIRWAVES

Presenter: Todd Tyson

Description: The community radio breakout session will focus briefly on the recent advent of LPFM's "on the dial" and the 4 1/2 year history of Free Vermont Radio...an all-volunteer non-profit station that serves the Upper White River Watershed.

Bio: Todd Tyson has been involved in Radio since 1976 and is the Program Director of Royalton Community Radio and President if the station's Board of Directors.

GRASSROOTS SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZING: USING ABOLITIONIST JOHN BROWN AS A MODEL FOR DIRECT ACTION

Presenter: Brad Archer and Mary Ellen Solon

Description: In this session, we will describe the process by which we created the Woodstock Social Justice Initiative and successfully lobbied for official state recognition of John Brown Day. Our hope is that others can use our John Brown Day Celebration and Anti-Racism Symposium as a model for what they can accomplish in their communities. Recommendations for social justice-themed resources and direct actions will be provided.

Bio: Mary Ellen Solon holds an MSW from Cal Berkeley and is a licensed clinical social worker. She is currently Montpelier High School's social worker, helping to meet the emotional and psychological needs of young people. Brad Archer has taught secondary social studies for 17 years, and is currently the adviser for Woodstock High's Queer/Straight Alliance and Students for Social Justice.

PERSONALIZED LEARNING IN A RADICAL DEMOCRATIC FUTURE

Presenter: Kathleen Kesson

Description: How can we develop a truly localized system of education that is responsive to the cultural and bioregional specifics of Vermont, and fosters global ethics and citizenship in young people? How can we support personalized learning while nurturing democratic sensibilities in youth? How can we help prepare them for the enormous challenges facing our planet in this 21st century? What policies and practices exist now which support these ideas and what needs to be changed?

Bio: Kathleen Kesson is the former Director of the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education at UVM and Program Director of Education at Goddard College, Kathleen Kesson is now Professor and Chair of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership at LIU-Brooklyn, and writes about democracy, spirituality, teacher inquiry, and aesthetics in education.

MOBILIZING LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Presenter: Paige Heverly

Description: This breakout session will begin with a short presentation on the recent projects of the Energy program at Vital Communities. The presentation will be followed by a guided discussion on how to mobilize groups to effect positive change in attendees' communities. Paige will share Vital Communities' "secret sauce" to community organizing and together, attendees will apply this formula to work through actual barriers faced by session attendees. Attendees will leave the session with strategies for bringing people together in their own communities.

Bio: Paige Heverly is a 2016 graduate of Vermont Law School with a Masters in Energy Regulation and Law and a Certificate in Climate Change Law. Her work at Vital Communities focuses on empowering citizens to make change on local issues about which they feel passionate.

WITHOUT A VISION THE PEOPLE WILL PERISH

Presenter: Dan Jones

Description: An introduction to the Sustainable Montpelier Design Competition and how it helped change the local conversation on what could be a possible sustainable future for our small city. This project drew design proposals from around the world on how we could re-centralize our downtown and move away from its auto dependent economy. An extensive public engagement effort was central to this effort with the goal of giving citizens a new vision of a desirable future. Now that the design idea has gained sufficient acceptance in town we need to move on to making the visions a reality. Our current effort is building the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition whose goal is to engage the entire community in realizing these ambitious locally focused designs through specific catalytic actions around transportation, land use and economics.

Bio: Dan Jones was the originator and manager of the design competition and is now the Executive Director of the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition, a new non-profit designed to bring together all elements of the city in the quest for sustainable development.

COMMUNITY ENERGY THAT IS LOCALLY OWNED, CLEAN AND RESILIENT:  HOW CAN WE DO IT?

Presenter: Kevin Jones

Description: Frequently we see statements about moving toward energy alternatives that are local, renewable or resilient but what does that really mean?  During this breakout session we will define what these terms mean and based on the work of Vermont Law School's Energy Clinic we will discuss what we need to do to ensure that we truly meet each of these increasingly important goals.

Bio: Kevin B. Jones, PhD, is the Director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. Kevin is the co-author of the books “The Electric Battery:  Charging Forward to a Low Carbon Future” and “A Smarter, Greener Grid: Forging Environmental Progress through Smart Energy Policies and Technologies” both from Praeger.  Kevin is also a Senior Fellow with the New Economy Law Center at Vermont Law School and a Lecturer in the University of Vermont's Sustainable Innovation MBA program

HOW TO HELP ORGANIZATIONS TRANSFORM SOCIETY

Presenter: Simon Dennis

Description: In order to achieve real solutions to the conundrums of today, organizations and civic groups must strive for deeper personal and societal change. The ability to advance real transformation requires capacities that fall outside standard organizational “best practices.” In this workshop, we will learn to use a new model for categorizing organizational impact (Four Level Analysis) and discuss two powerful interventions you can bring to the organizations and groups you are part of to increase their ability to transform society.

Bio: Simon Dennis is a nonprofit entrepreneur dedicated to supporting community transition to a just and sustainable culture. He currently serves as the founding director of the Center for Transformational Practice, and as a member of the Hartford Selectboard. Prior to this, he  co-founded COVER Home Repair, Transition Five Villages and Upper Valley Apple Corps. His work emphasizes the power of story change and collective leadership in addressing the challenges we now confront. Simon also enjoys splitting wood and scything the backyard where he lives in Hartford, Vermont.  

CO-ACTIVATING YOUR PROJECTS!   

Presenter: Ben Roberts

Description: Receive and offer coaching with your peers to help you identify and/or move forward with the localization work that you are most inspired to do. Share requests and offers that the New England Resilience and Transition Network (NERT) can help activate during the conference and beyond.

Bio: Ben Roberts designs and hosts dialogue virtually and in-person in support of initiatives that seek to foster systemic transformation. He is a member of the regional organizing committee of the New England Resilience and Transition Network (NERT), and is also co-steward of the Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory, whose ~30 member organizations include NERT, the New Economy Coalition, Transition US, Shareable, and Movement Generation.

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WE CAN COOL THE PLANET NOW. PAT 2: DISCUSSION AND ACTION!

Presenter: Cat Buxton and Henry Swayze

Description: By creating conditions that enhance the power of Earth's natural systems we can improve ecosystem health, mitigate flooding, erosion and drought, and cool the planet while we continue to work to get greenhouse gasses out of the environment. This afternoon session is a follow-up to the morning Powerpoint presentation to allow for dialogue among participants; it is not essential that you have seen the morning session.

Bio: Henry Swayze has been a student of climate for 50 years and now is committed to reversing global warming. He co-hosts the weekly environmental show GreenZine of Royalton"s own community radio station WFVR-LP. Cat Buxton is a social entrepreneur, a freelance organizer, activist and educator, she organizes communities to affect positive change and consults on soil health, gardening, composting, and farm-to-school. She cross-pollinates among many groups and projects to do with building resilient food systems and communities.

VIBRANT COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: A HOW-TO FOR LOCAL DEMOCRACY

Presenter: Susan Clark

Description: Why are some local officials reluctant to hear new ideas, while other communities seem to leap ahead with economic, environmental and civic innovations? What does authentic public engagement look and feel like, and how can communities move beyond using conventional tools like public hearings to embracing productive, inspiring civic participation?  An interactive discussion with tips and trouble-shooting, featuring new materials from Public Agenda’s recently released “Strengthening and Sustaining Public Engagement in Vermont.”

Bio: Susan Clark is a writer and facilitator focusing on community sustainability and citizen participation, and an award-winning radio commentator and former talk-show co-host. She is coauthor of the acclaimed book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home, and All Those In Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community. Clark served as communication director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and has taught community development at the college level for ten years. Clark’s democratic activism has earned her broad recognition, including the 2010 Vermont Secretary of State's "Enduring Democracy Award". She serves as Town Moderator of Middlesex Vermont.

AN EQUITABLE EXIT: SELLING A BUSINESS TO THE EMPLOYEES THROUGH A WORKER CO-OP

Presenter: Matt Cropp

Description: As the "silver tsunami" of Baby Boomer retirement unfolds, the question of ownership succession for small and medium-sized businesses looms increasingly large, and one solution can be found in the sale of such firms to their employees via worker co-ops. In this follow-up to the "How Cooperatives Build Stronger Local Economies" panel, Matt Cropp of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center will offer a deep dive into the flow of the worker co-op conversion process, and talk through a case studies to help clarify what factors contribute to the success and failure of a conversion.

Bio: Matt Cropp is the Associate Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) and serves as Chief Manager of the Vermont Solidarity Investing Club (VSIC).  The VEOC is a statewide non-profit whose mission is to promote and foster employee ownership in order to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families, and stabilize communities.  Matt first became interested in the co-op model after learning about credit unions during the financial crisis in 2008, and wrote his Masters thesis in History on the founding and first 25 years of the Vermont State Employees Credit Union.  He's also involved in the #PlatformCoop movement and a co-op brewery start-up, and lives in Burlington, Vermont.

TINY HOUSES IN COOPERATIVE COMMUNITY

Presenter: Karen Wynkoop and Rick Gottesman

Description: Curious about Tiny Houses and living smaller? Have questions? Take a tour of a tiny house and talk to folks who have designed and built their own and live in them. We are the Upper Valley Tiny House Community (forming). We will be talking informally about all things Tiny House from design and construction to zoning and placement, our discoveries and challenges and our experiences in choosing to live small and cooperatively.

Bio: The Upper Valley Tiny House Community (Karen Wynkoop, Eva Loomis, Jessica & Jason Farina, Rick Gottesman) are a group of five—Millennials to Boomers—in various stages of building and living in our tiny houses. We are currently exploring possibilities for living cooperatively in the Upper Valley of Vermont.

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Sunday:    10:05-11:00 AM

THE COMPLEX INTERSECTIONS OF RACE, CLASS AND GENDER

Presenter: Francisco Perez

Description: Join us for a conversation on how racial, gender and class hierarchies overlap and reinforce one another, but also how they often contradict.  We will explore how an intersectional approach helps us better understand important social issues like mass incarceration and inadequate childcare.

Bio: Francisco Perez is a solidarity economy activist and researcher. He has worked on social and economic development projects in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the US and Venezuela. Francisco is currently pursuing a PhD in economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He studies international political economy with a focus on monetary policy in West Africa. He holds a BA from Harvard University and a Master's in Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING NEIGHBORHOOD CLIMATE RESILIENCE

Presenter: Caroline White-Nockleby and Craig Altemose

Description: This session will introduce participants to key strategies for building equitable, inclusive climate resilience at the neighborhood level, drawing on foundational work in the field of participatory resilience planning by nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and city-wide initiatives. Then, we will engage in a collaborative activity to brainstorm ways to implement these strategies in a hypothetical New England town that is facing the threat of extreme precipitation.

Bio: Craig Altemose is the Executive director of Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW), a new nonprofit that aims to engage neighborhoods and volunteers in working to build equitable, inclusive community climate resilience through education and outreach, local service projects, and participatory planning. In addition to this role, he has also served as the Executive Director of Better Future Project since its founding in 2011. He also holds a B.A. from Eckerd College, a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Caroline White Nockleby serves as the Program Coordinator for CREW. Prior to CREW, she worked in the Youth Programs department at the Museum of Science, Boston. She holds a B.A. in Geosciences and American Studies from Williams College.

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MEASURING WHAT MATTERS: TALES FROM THE HAPPINESS WALK AND THE 2017 VERMONT HAPPINESS AND WELLBEING STUDY

Presenter: Ginny Sassaman and Michael Moser

Description: What does the data show about happiness here in Vermont, and around the country? And why does it matter what we measure, personally and on the systems level? GNHUSA will share tales from the @5,000 “what matters most” interviews that the Happiness Walk has recorded during this venture’s first 4,000 miles around the country, as well as take an in-depth look at the results and implications of the just-published "2017 Vermont Happiness and Wellbeing Study." 

Bio: Ginny Sassaman, co-founder and president, GNHUSA and occasional Happiness Walker; and Michael Moser, GNHUSA Board member; coordinator of the Vermont State Data Center at UVM's Center for Rural Studies and co-lead author of the 2017 Vermont Happiness and Wellbeing Study.

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LOCALIZING AND REGENERATING THIS PARTICULAR PLACE

Presenter: Ben Falk

Description: A site walk with Ben Falk to uncover leverage points for improving the health of this ecosystem while producing more of our basic needs such as food, medicine and firewood right here right now.  Ben will lead a site walk focusing on the core of his work with Whole Systems Design - making landscapes more productive while simultaneously making them more regenerative in terms of their relationships to watershed, biodiversity and human-health. 

Bio: Ben developed Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and increasing separation between people and elemental things. Life as a designer, builder, ecologist, tree-tender and backcountry traveler continually informs Ben’s integrative approach to developing landscapes and buildings. Ben has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds a master’s degree in land-use planning and design. He has conducted over 300 site development consultations across the US and abroad, and has facilitated dozens of courses on property selection, permaculture design, and resilient systems. Ben is the author of the award-winning book, Resilient Farm and Homestead.

REVALUING SOCIAL BELONGING AND COMMUNITY

Presenter: Gregory Wilson

Description: Many have suggested the development of community is part of the healthy response to the present crises of environmental degradation and failed national governing leadership. What does that mean, and how might we discover the meaning of community when it has been devalued and not considered, as the market economy has become a central source of value in our nation. From the dismantling of the agrarian community in 15th century Spain to build an Empire, to the Enclosure Acts in England, to 24 hour factory work at non-living wages, to the normalization of the mobile Empire (we must move where the work is), communities have been dislocated both physically and psychologically. In this workshop we will explore pathways and systems of organization to reestablish and encourage the development of resilient and meaningful community.

Bio: Rev. Dr. Gregory Wilson has worked to understand the nature of story in parish settings, the counseling office, communities and culture for the past 30 years. He has frequently been heard asking the question, “How is it we find ourselves in this destructive story, and how are we to find our way to another story that is life oriented?”

EFFECTIVENESS, TRANSPARENCY, EQUIVALENCE: THE SOCIACRACY APPROACH TO MEANINGFUL SELF-GOVERNANCE

Presenter: Jerry Koch-Gonzalez

Description: We don't have enough experience with practical models of self-organization that are inclusive, deliberate and effective. Sociocracy reaches beyond the limitations of both majority rule and consensus. This experiential session will overview the three key elements of sociocracy: organizational structure by linked teams, decision making by consent, and continuous adaptation through feedback. Useful for members of any kind of organization which would like to walk the talk of egalitarian self-governance.

Bio: Jerry Koch-Gonzalez teaches governance (sociocracyforall.org) and compassionate communication (NewEnglandNVC.org), and lives in the Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community in Amherst MA.

SOIL HEALTH AND PUBLIC HEALTH: A WHOLE SYSTEMS APPROACH TO IMPROVING COMMUNITY AND CLIMATE RESILIENCE

Presenter: Didi Pershouse

Description: Around the world, people are using simple principles to regenerate healthy landscapes that prevent flooding and drought by turning atmospheric carbon into a water-holding, climate-cooling, “soil carbon sponge.” These same land-management principles can dramatically improve public health. Didi Pershouse, author of The Ecology of Care, and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function, will lead participants through an investigation that demonstrates the biological processes involved in natural and human-managed landscapes that provide many interconnected “ecological services,” such as: Abundant clean water and nutrient-dense food; Cooling of the surrounding atmosphere; Flood and drought resilience; Prevention of algae blooms; Thriving local economies; Reduced conflicts over resources; You’ll never look at soil the same way again!

Bio: Didi Pershouse is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities as well as Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function: A Teacher's Manual. As the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine, she developed a practice and theoretical framework for systems-based ecological medicine—restoring health people as well as the social and ecological systems around them. After 22 years of clinical work with patients, Pershouse is now working with the Soil Carbon Coalition, the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub, NRCS and other groups on a large-scale citizen science program to engage schools, conservation districts, farmers, and the public in positively impacting public health and climate resilience through changes in land and watershed management. She does individual and group consulting, and facilitates retreats and support groups for leaders in social and environmental change. 

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Sunday:    2:25-3:20 PM

LOCALIZING THROUGH AN INVESTMENT CLUB:  WRIC - A CASE STUDY

Presenter: Steve Aldrich

Description: This breakout session will present the history and experience of the White River Investment Club (WRIC). WRIC is an investment club of about 24 members organized in 2015. The members are working together to place pooled investment capital in attractive, socially responsible private debt and equity opportunities identified within the local area. The genesis, operating processes, and investment experience of the club will be presented and discussed.

Bio: Steve Aldrich is a retired entrepreneur living in Stockbridge, Vermont with his wife Deborah.  In 2015, Steve founded the White River Investment Club LLC (WRIC) and served as its first President.  He is also the founding CEO of Bio Economic Research Associates LLC (bio-eraTM), an independent research and consulting firm specializing in the social and economic consequences of human-induced change to biological systems; the co-founder of the North American natural gas practice at CERA (Cambridge Energy Research Associates); and a past Chair of Building a Local Economy (BALE).

INTERSECTIONALITY AND POLITICAL ACTION

Presenter: Francisco Perez 

Description: The 2016 Democratic Party Presidential Primary revived the old debate over whether progressives should prioritize issues of concern to all working-class families or the urgent need to address racial and gender inequalities.  An intersectional approach will help us understand why achieving working-class unity in the US has been so difficult.  We will discuss how to overcome the "redistribution-recognition paradox." 

Bio: Francisco Perez is a solidarity economy activist and researcher.  He has worked on social and economic development projects in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the US and Venezuela. Francisco is currently pursuing a PhD in economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He studies international political economy with a focus on monetary policy in West Africa. He holds a BA from Harvard University and a Master's in Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

THE REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH FOOD

Presenter: Grace Gershuny

Description: Grace will offer the example of her own story of waking up to the connections between food, soil, health, and politics, as told in Organic Revolutionary: A Memoir of the Movement for Real Food, Planetary Healing, and Human Liberation. You are invited to share your own tale of how food and health became your entry point to understanding the need for system change, and where it took you. 

Bio: Grace Gershuny is a Vermont-based organic pioneer, educator, consultant, and author who helped develop the USDA’s regulations for organic agriculture. She is a board and faculty member of the Institute for Social Ecology and adjunct faculty at Green Mountain College. She has written extensively about soil and compost, and is currently working on updating The Rodale Book of Composting.

LOCAL AUTUMNAL HERB WALK

Presenter: Donna Derenthal and Katherine Elmer

Description: Join community herbalists Katherine Elmer and Donna Derenthal for a community medicinal herb walk!  Take a relaxed stroll around town to meet a few weedy and cultivated medicinal friends that make up our local "living apothecary".  Discover the names and uses of some your helpful Green Neighbors!

Bio: Katherine Elmer grew up in the green hills of Central Vermont and revels in the opportunity to connect with clients around a shared love of place and nature through whole foods nutrition and herbal medicine through her clinical work at the Burlington Herb Clinic and her community education efforts at Spoonful Herbals (spoonfulherbals.org). Katherine is also co-founder of Burlington Herb Clinic (burlingtonherbclinic.com), an herbalist-owned co-op, and RAILYARD Apothecary (railyardapothecary.com) In addition to her efforts as a clinically-trained Community Herbalist, she is a childbirth mentor. Donna Derenthal has been a traditional homebirth midwife for 24 years and is currently training to be a clinical herbalist at VCIH in Montpelier. She moved to the beautiful hills of Strafford, Vermont 20 years ago, where she enjoys spending time making wild medicine and raising her daughters, Amber and Opal.

LISTEN AND TAKE ACTION

Presenter: Chris Dyson

Description: The much-needed national conversation being called for in recent years has finally begun and it is bloody and filled with hate. The Right radicalized against Obama. The Left has radicalized against Trump.  As individuals we have the choice to promote a side, stand aside, or work to emphasize the common ground to start coming together over. Let’s work to find an approach that hears all concerns?

Bio: Chris Dyson is the Executive Director of Ka’Way Monti. Though informally trained, he has lived through Giuliani’s Manhattan in the ‘90s, walked America from GA to WA, and spent 2 ½ years hitching the US and other countries developing a keen sense to cultural subtleties.  In 2012, he began to put actions behind his observations working slowly in a small Andean village of Llupa in the Cordillera Blanca.

LOCALIZING ENTERTAINMENT

Presenter: Rose Friedman

Description: What place does art and entertainment have in a localized future?  Why is it important to gather people together, and how do we convince them to leave the couch? In this breakout session, we will share working models of arts organizations and companies that are connected to a local culture and economy.  We will discuss the realities of funding and compensation, as well as ways to meet the entertainment needs of a community.

Bio: Rose Friedman has been working in theater since she was a young child.  She performs puppetry and music with her husband as Modern Times Theater, and is a founding producer and performer with Vermont Vaudeville.

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SUPPORTING LOCALIZATION THROUGH THE NEW ENGLAND RESILIENCE AND TRANSITION NETWORK

Presenter: Nina Smolyar and Ben Roberts

Description: The New England Resilience and Transition Network (NERT) connects grassroots groups working on community resilience, Transition, new economy, economic and environmental justice initiatives, permaculture, renewable local energy, local food, time banking, and sustainability projects to foster an equitable, inclusive, and thriving world for all. Learn how NERT can support your work, and help NERT leadership identify new opportunities to be of service to communities across New England.

Bio: Nina Smolyar is a social justice, sustainability, and authentic democracy activist, who got her start by simply loving nature as a child in rural Russia, and later, feeling a sense of responsibility to care for the planet and to preserve the ecological conditions that enable life. She deeply identifies with the spiritual nature of activism and environmentalism, practicing a personal spiritual path that combines traditions and philosophies from around the world.  In exploring how to contribute to improving the state of said world, sustainability in all its myriad forms: ecological, economic, and social, became the platform for her personal and professional mission in life. She has lived and worked at two intentional communities in Western Massachusetts, to practice sustainable living in close relationship with Nature and people. She has investigated community-building in a self-designed graduate program, focusing her thesis work on conflict transformation in intentional community.  She is also a current graduate student at University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, pursuing her MS in Leadership for Sustainability.

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BEYOND SEPARATION: PRACTICING EMBODIMENT FOR SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

Presenter: Adin Buchanan and Suzanne Richman

Description: How can we embody solidarity and co-liberation? What does this work look like in these extraordinary times? First we must gain familiarity with the patterns of our own bodies that fragment us internally, and separate us from one another. Using a mixture of practices stemming from the organizations "Generative Somatics" and "The Strozzi Institute", we will gently explore how systems of social division like race, gender, and ability, exist in our bodies, and recreate themselves through interaction. We will also explore how to more fully embody solidarity through deepening our connection with one another.

Bio: Adin Buchanan was born into the Winooski River watershed of central Vermont. He is currently a student at Hampshire College, studying transformative education and community organizing, and working with peers as a public speaking and facilitation coach. Back home in Vermont, he has five years experience co-creating and facilitating nature education programs for youth. His deep passions lay at the intersection of social justice, creative, visionary leadership, and connection to the living Earth. He appreciates fresh berries, pleasantly absurd humor, and coffee with various types of "mylk". Suzanne is a recovering academic, with over three decades facilitating health and sustainability studies at Goddard College. Before Goddard she taught at the Institute for Social Ecology, toured with a public performance-Turtle Island Visions and Soundscape, did health education at the Fort Totten Reservation in North Dakota and Renz Women’s Prison, and facilitated garden projects in the inner city. 

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LESSONS FROM THE GROUNDSWELL TOUR

Presenter: Graham Unangst-Rufenacht

Description: Rural Vermont is a grassroots, farmer-led advocacy group that has 30-plus years of defending and supporting the needs and political actions of small farms and rural communities. This past spring and summer they organized six "community conversations" around the state of Vermont to seek guidance and ideas from these communities, particularly relevant due to a growing awareness of

the intersection of issues that share a common root. Graham will offer the collective findings from this "Groundswell" tour that will help guide the organization -- and the wellbeing of rural communities -- going forward. What might rural advocacy look like in the coming years? What are the emergent issues? How can we strengthen the voice of small farmers and rural life? Come share your thoughts.

Bio: Graham Unangst-Rufenacht (aka Regenerator) is Field Organizer for Rural Vermont, an organization for farm advocacy, where he focuses primarily on grassroots organizing, policy, and coalition development. Graham grew up in East Montpelier and currently lives in Plainfield, Vermont. He is an educator, herbalist, and co-owner of a grass-fed beef operation (Robinson Hill Beef), and 'home-to-farm scale' agroecology design/build business (Walking Onion). Graham works with youth in a variety of settings and organizations across Vermont including: ROOTS School, EarthWalk, The Maplehill School and Community Farm, and the King Street Youth Center. He is currently looking for land on which to live, grow a family, farm, and educate. Graham holds a degree in Religious Studies and Plant and Soil Science from UVM, a Permaculture Design Certificate from Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and a certificate in clinical herbalism from the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism.

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