Sweet Springs Sustainable Living Forum & Craft Fair Set for Aug. 16-18

Focus to be on community cohesion and resilience in the Virginias 

SWEET SPRINGS, W.Va. – The Second Annual Sustainable Living Forum & Craft Fair is scheduled for Aug. 16 – 18, 2019 at the Sweet Springs Resort Park here.

It is free and open to the public.

Topics covered will be protecting our water; transitioning to alternative energies from fossil fuels; learning about the market potential of hemp; herbal gardening and cultivating (for) personal and community health; spiritual and meditative opportunities to relieve solastalgia (climate change anxiety); regional geological characteristics; and, more.

It is being presented by Sweet Springs Institute and the Appalachian Chronicle.

The objective is to acknowledge that individuals must take steps in their own lives to reduce their ecological footprint and learn to sustain ourselves from what water, the earth and sun have to offer us; and, work together to achieve sustainable, safe and secure communities, capable of supporting even the most vulnerable. This will be accomplished only through reciprocity and cooperation. Consequently, an objective of this gathering is to introduce the concept of The Sustainable Corridor Initiative.

Roseanna Sacco of Sweet Spring Institute, a 501 c 3 non-profit organization said, “At a time when humanity faces the great challenges of global warming, environmental degradation and economic collapse brought on by the misuse of human and natural resources, The Sustainable Corridor Initiative proposes to raise awareness of existing solutions, create a platform for sharing them and work together towards a new model for human organization.”

She continued, “In our lifetime, we have witnessed the existing model of wanton consumerism escalate to a point where natural resources are being extracted at a rate faster than it takes for them to be renewed. They are being used to produce voluminous quantities of waste the earth can no longer assimilate.”

Sacco concluded, “This is our chance to take a stand. As climate changes, we will change. The only question is: Are we going to use our free will and innate intelligence to adapt to change or is change just going to happen to us? The Sustainable Corridor Initiative is about a greater community of awareness coming together to assess our situation, discuss solutions and step into constructive action.”

Speakers will include L. David Roper, PhD, a physicist, former Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and board member of Sustainable Blacksburg. He will delve into entropy and complexity theory to provide the assembly with a scientific basis for sustainability.

Autumn Crowe, staff scientist for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition will discuss threats and solutions to West Virginia’s water supplies. She obtained a B.S. in Environmental Protection and a M.S. in Soil Science from West Virginia University. Crowe shared, “It was growing up swimming and fishing in the Greenbrier River where I gained my love of nature and desire to protect the environment.”

Barbara Volk, president of the West Virginia Herb Association will be presenting on Saturday but also leading a “weed walk” on Sunday. She shared, about her work, “All that I do is about cultivating life in the spirit of reciprocity.” 

Hemp lobbyist an farmer Don Smith and Andrew Must, president of Seven Rivers Design+Build, a company dedicated to sustainable construction – both who spoke last year – will offer their expertise.

Lieutenant Colonel Scott Womack, ROTC teacher at James Monroe High School in Monroe County, W.Va., has over 25 years of leadership experience in a wide range of contexts. He stated: “While civilization at large is ignoring the problem, climate change could put us back on a frontier.” He will speak about the necessity for being prepared, for learning how to navigate that frontier and about the longing that many people have begun to experience for “living on a more basic level.”

Susan Hedge of the Appalachian Faith and Ecology Center will be offering “An Appalachian Cosmic Walk.” She said, “Merging the spiritual with art in experiential learning has always been an intention held almost unknown even to me until recently. Therefore, after I retired as a home economist, a teacher, and later director of the local Cooperative Extension Service with the University of Florida, I trained as a spiritual director and then returned to school where I completed a second master’s degree in pastoral theology from Barry University. Following a second retirement I have devoted my time to weaving and fiber art where my work speaks for the natural world. In 2016 I trained with Susan Barrett Merrill, weaving a Life, and was certified as a Weaving Circle Leader.”

In addition to speakers, there will be vendors, demonstrations and historical stations. On-site camping is free. Food vendors will be present, but those attending may bring their own food and beverages.

The Sustainable Living Forum begins Friday evening with dinner on Friday, Aug. 16 at 5:30 and ends at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18. Stay tuned as the line-up of speakers expands and more information about the planned roundtable discussions is provided.

Sweet Springs Resort Park History

The Sweet Springs Resort Park is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is a is a public park and ideal location for this gathering, as it is the purity of the water that first brought Native Americans here centuries ago until Europeans found the springs running from deep inside Peters Mountain in the mid-1700s. 

A survey party discovered the springs in the 1740s and James Moss built a cabin on the grounds in 1760. Subsequently, William Lewis obtained the deed and build the first resort in 1792. It had 70 rooms, each with their own fireplace. Also, from 1795 until 1807, it was home to a district Court House that also served as the first jail west of the Alleghenies. The stone-walled building still stands on the park grounds. 

Also on the property is the homestead of Anne Newport Royall, a pioneering female journalist. The most prominent and most beautiful building on the grounds is the resort designed by Thomas Jefferson, built in the early 1830s. It hosted presidents and other notables, as Marquis de Lafayette. 

Other buildings, built earlier and later, still stand. Others, sadly, have been destroyed. The original bath house at the warm springs has suffered from neglect, but significant reconstruction is planned for it, as well as most of the buildings on the grounds. 

Owners from the Civil War until just a few years ago used the property for various purposes until it fell into disrepair. In 2015, Monroe County native Ashby Berkley bought the property at auction, rescuing it from the wrecking ball. Currently, he and the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation are working to restore the property. 

Learn More

For additional information about the Sustainable Living Forum or the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation, call 304-536-1207, check the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation Facebook page or the Events page of Michael Barrick, owner of the Appalachian Chronicle. To get there by GPS: 19540 Sweet Springs Valley Road, Gap Mills, WV 24941.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2019.


    • The closest is the Depot Lodge in Paint Bank, Va. That’s about 7 miles/15 minutes. Number is (540) 897-6000. The Quality Inn in Lewisburg is a choice. Number is (304) 645-7722. Super 8 in Lewisburg would be economical. Number is (304) 520-0307.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s