Second Annual Sweet Springs Sustainable Living Forum & Craft Fair drawing expert speakers from the two Virginias this weekend
By Roseanna Sacco
SWEET SPRINGS, W.Va. — The Sweet Springs Resort Park, in collaboration with Sweet Springs Institute and the Appalachian Chronicle, will be hosting its second annual Sustainable Living Forum and Craft Fair Aug. 16 – 18. It will begin at 5:30 Friday evening and runs through Sunday, Aug. 16 at 2 p.m.
It is being held at one of America’s oldest thermal spas, The Sweet Springs Resort, located in Monroe County, West Virginia. The event is open to the public, free of charge.
The main building at the historic venue is the majestic hotel designed by Thomas Jefferson whose focus on the “dreams of the future,” which he liked better than “the history of the past,” is being carried forward through time by the present proprietor, O. Ashby Berkley, who envisions the resort as an epicenter of Sustainable Development.
It is this vision that inspires the focus of this year’s Forum, The Sustainable Corridor Initiative, a project crossing borders to promote community cohesion and resilience in the two Virginias.
At a time when humanity faces the great challenges of global warming, species extinction and economic collapse, The Sustainable Corridor Initiative proposes to raise awareness of existing solutions; create a platform for sharing them; spotlight the many projects already spanning the two Virginias and work together towards a new model for human organization.
Historically, the two Virginias were one until sectional divisions between the state’s eastern and western counties led to the establishment of West Virginia in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.
Over a century later, humanity finds itself at the crossroads where “separation consciousness” either comes to a close or the model implodes. It has served its purpose and humans are now envisioning a new, more sustainable model, one that is naturally evolving toward unity.
Emerging within this context is a shared vision, which The Sustainable Corridor Initiative proposes to make manifest: 1) by raising awareness of the seminal crossroads at which humanity stands; 2) by re-connecting the two Virginias to work toward a new model for human organization, based on the understanding that unity and diversity are inseparable; and 3) by restoring the renown of the two Virginias through mapping and showcasing the scale of their existing centers to inspire and empower others to contribute to sustainable endeavors.
The Forum includes speakers from both West Virginia and Virginia.
Speakers from Virginia
L. David Roper from Blacksburg, a retired professor from Virginia Tech who holds a doctorate in physics, will speak on “The Necessity for Electric Vehicles” and “Entropy, Complexity and Sustainable Development”; Jeeva Abbate, Director of Yogaville Environmental Solutions in Buckingham, will speak about “Yogaville’s multi-pronged Approach”; Bill Wolf, Co-Chairman of Preserve Craig of Newcastle, will address the importance of “Cultural Attachment” in community cohesion and resilience; a representative from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will point to “public interest” as the driving force for unifying the two Virginias to seek federal designation protection of the iconic landscapes located on either side of the Appalachian Trail in the western edge of the “Ridge and Valley province.” Additionally, there is a possibility that Nan Gray, Soil Scientist from Craig County, will be able to attend, focusing on the importance of soil quality for food security. Susan Hedge of the Appalachian Faith and Ecology Center will guide attendees through a time of reflection to consider the earth — and Appalachia in particular — as “A Sacred Place Requiring a Spiritual Solution.”
Guest speakers from Monroe County, West Virginia
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Womack will be speaking on the longing for “Living on a more basic Level” and “Rediscovering Resilience on The New Frontier”; Kelly Shreve, MS, Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) speaking to the necessity for community-wide “Threat Preparedness”; O. Ashby Berkley of the Sweet Spring Resort Park on “The Revival of the Jeffersonian Plantation as a foundation for Sustainable Living”; and, Paula Mann, videographer and Director of Mountain Media Productions sharing her personal experience with ‘Healing Lyme.’
Speakers from elsewhere in West Virginia
Autumn Long, Regional Field Director for Solar United Neighbors will talk about “Solar for Energy Security”; Don Smith II, of West Virginia Hemp Farmers Co-op will present, “’CBD Oil for Resilience in Human Health” and “Hemp: The Most Sustainable Plant on the Planet”; Andrew Must, President of Seven Rivers Design+Build in Lewisburg will speak on “Hempcrete: A way to grow hemp and bring it to Local Markets”; Autumn Crowe, the Staff Scientist for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition will address “Water Security:” Fritz Boettner of Sprouting Farms will speak on “Food Security”; Barbara Volk, President of the West Virginia Herb Association will offer her insights on “Cultivating Life in the Spirit of Reciprocity” and will lead a “weed walk” workshop; Allen Johnson of Christians for the Mountains will share his thoughts on the proper Christian response to the crucial crossroads at which humanity stands.
In addition to the inspiring panel of speakers, the new Tesla Model 3 Electric vehicle will be on display at the venue, in front of the stage, and its owner Dave Roper will offer test drives to interested parties. There will also be a Yoga Session, Gong Bath, Cosmic Walk, Weed Walk, Sweet Springs Water Sampling, Demos, Historical Stations and more.
Representatives of local farms, businesses, service providers, destination venues and non-profit organizations are invited to come with a picture or business card to put their initiatives on a map of the two Virginias.
Farmers, growers, advocacy groups, owners of destination venues and craft vendors are welcome to set up tables or displays to promote their business or sell their produce, products and crafts under the arches on the ground floor of the Sweet Springs Hotel.
The Sustainable Living Forum is open to the public and free of charge. Primitive camping at the venue is free. Food vendors will be providing breakfast, lunch and dinner options at reasonable prices. Additional attractions include craft vendors, historical stations and hands-on demonstrations.
For additional information about the Sustainable Living Forum program or about the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation, call 304-536-1207, check the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation Facebook page or the Events page of the Appalachian Chronicle. To get there by GPS: 19540 Sweet Springs Valley Road, Gap Mills, WV 24941.
Previous articles about the Sustainable Living Forum:
Roseanna Sacco is owner of Sweet Springs Institute and is the founder and organizer of the Sustainable Living Forum.