Highlights from the Sustainable Living Forum

The two Virginias speak with ‘one Voice’ 

By Roseanna Sacco

SWEET SPRINGS, W.Va. — The second annual Sustainable Living Forum hosted by The Sweet Springs Resort Park gathered 18 speakers from the 2 Virginias, and a relatively small yet enthusiastically cohesive audience. It was held Aug. 16-18 here.

At a time when humanity finds itself in the midst of the great challenges of global warming, species extinction and economic collapse, this year’s Forum focused on The Sustainable Corridor Initiative  to raise awareness of existing solutions; create a platform for sharing them; spotlight the many sustainable projects already spanning the two Virginias and work together towards a new model for human organization. 

Monroe County,W.Va. Threat Preparedness Coordinator Kelly Shreve speaks at the Sustainable Living Forum

Offering an array of unique perspectives on the necessity for sustainable living, each of the speakers drew the attention of those assembled to the discoveries and progress being made within his or her particular discipline: solar for energy security and transportation, physics, botany, hydrology, ecology, agriculture, public health, threat preparedness, hempcrete for insulation, CBD oil for health, biochar for soil regeneration, training for resilience on the New Frontier, cultural attachment, messages from religions and spiritual traditions, preservation and protection, Community Emergency Response Training.

Although the speakers’ messages were specific to their particular areas of expertise, collectively they spoke with ‘one Voice’ which echoed throughout the 3-day event. 

It was a well-measured, temperate voice speaking with the urgency that prompts immediate action and provides diverse avenues for how to accomplish it. The general consensus was that at this time in our history, humanity stands at a seminal crossroads, where every decision we make collectively and as individuals has a crucial impact on the direction we take: either to support Life or to stifle it.

The number one avenue for action emphasized  by nearly every speaker was the necessity to move away from over-dependence on centralized systems toward the implementation of local systems with regards to energy, food and water supplies, transportation, communication, tools and basic equipment, threat preparedness, etc. 

From a slide presented at the Sustainable Living Forum. The Monroe County Health Department CERT team is well-trained.

The latter, threat preparedness, gave voice to the necessity for a shift away from denying or ignoring potentially life-threatening risks towards a more courageous and systematic identification of them. Some of the threats identified include electric or communications grid failure, seismic activity, extreme weather events, sudden food shortages, economic collapse and opioid addiction. The identification of threats was seen as a way to encourage implementing measures that would allow residents to face threats with confidence and obtain greater chances for successful outcomes.

As the event drew to a close, it became apparent that the voices of the two Virginias were weaving a new narrative for human organization based on the understanding that unity and diversity are inseparable. Many participants echoed the growing feeling shared by one that “we are all in this together and together we can muster the courage to meet the challenges humanity  will be asked to face in our rapidly changing world.”

‘All disasters begin locally and end locally’

Equipped with the knowledge that all disasters begin locally and end locally, humans can take effective measures to localize energy production and increase availability of local food and water supplies. As thinkers and planners, human beings can identify vulnerable populations and build networks ready to help them cope in case of catastrophic events. 

During an informal feedback session that took place after the event, one of the organizers  said: “As the event unfolded, it struck me that each of the speakers was documenting his or her ongoing contribution to an already existing  ‘Sustainable Corridor Initiative’ which had simply been crystallized by a name to highlight and unify their efforts.  It became evident that the primary purpose of this year’s event was really for all of us to become conscious of the fact that we are in the process of  creating the corridor of change that we envision.” 

This is the first of several articles about the Forum. Photos by Maury Johnson.

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