Artists paired with speakers in Slow Living Summit
BRATTLEBORO -- "Slow living" doesn't mean living slow.
Orly Munzing wants you to know that.
The founder and executive director of the Strolling of the Heifers and all its accompanying events, she lives a busy lifestyle and believes "slow living" -- as she calls it -- is a way to tug on the reins and remind people to "to give back to yourself, to your community and to others." That is exactly what the Strolling of the Heifers is for, and Munzing considers its Slow Living Summit the perfect microcosm of the local festivities.
The Slow Living Summit is scheduled to take place June 4-6 and will once again focus on sustainable economies, communities and policies. Munzing said Strolling's organizers listen to the feedback of each year's participants and learned from last year's attendees that incorporation of the arts was popular. She told the Reformer the most popular part was when keynote speakers came and shared their stories -- instead of PowerPoint presentations. So this year's event will feature each speaker paired with an artist to help relay the subject matter.
For example, Samantha Eagle, the founder and medical director of Biologic Integrative Healthcare and the Biologic Wellness Center in Brattleboro, will team with performance artist, yoga instructor and writer Lindel Hart and guitarist John Sheldon at 6:50 p.m. on June 4. Munzing and Slow Living Summit Coordinator Martin Langeveld are particularly excited about world-renowned cellist Eugene Friesen pairing with economist Charles Eisenstein from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on June 5.
"We're trying to really demonstrate and exemplify how important the arts are for our inner soul. Whether you have dancing, music or visual arts, it's been scientifically proven that you're able to process information in a much better way and it is much better for your environment," Munzing said. "Brattleboro is an arts town and we need to articulate that and have people fully understand why we need to support the arts."
A full schedule of times, location and topics can be found at www.slowlivingsummit.org.
Langeveld said his role consisted of handling the management of coordination and marketing, as well as figuring out the schedule and keeping the website updated, while Linda McInerney booked the artists.
He said admission to the Plenary sessions of the Summit is free to the public, but donations are accepted and appreciated. Langeveld told the Reformer he is most excited to see the outcome of the artistic collaboration he and others have worked so hard putting together. Though, he said it is difficult to say in advance how the collaborations will be received.
"I guess what I would say is I'm expecting surprises. We don't know what to expect," he said. "It should be fun. It should be very engaging and, hopefully, it will be very revealing ... of the deeper meanings of the words of the speakers."
Langeveld said he has been working with the Strolling of the Heifers for about six years, following 30 years in the newspaper business (including time as the publisher of the Reformer), and signed up because he has always been interested in the idea of sustainable living and thought the Stroll would be a good way to get into the movement. He said locals really seem to embrace all aspects of the Strolling of the Heifers.
"What I have been hearing for the past month or two is that Brattleboro people are looking forward to it," he said. "It puts Brattleboro on the map."
In her welcome statement of the Slow Living Summit program book, McInerney said she became the Summit's artistic director because of her fondness for Munzing. She said her husband introduced them to one another five years ago and Munzing told her about "a crazy idea."
"She said, 'You've heard of Slow Food, you've heard of Slow Money. I want to do a conference that pulls it all together, about Slow Living,'" McInerney recalls. "I thought it was amazing. And here were are."
The Slow Living Summit will also feature events to promote what is called a cargobike. According to local eco-therapist Dave Cohen, cargobikes are the center of a thrilling evolution in the United States and are gaining popularity because they are spacious enough to replace gas-guzzling vehicles. Cohen was instrumental in getting Burrows Specialized Sports at 105 Main St. to carry cargobikes and believes getting the devices equipped with electric-assist systems (becoming e-cargobikes) will further extend their range, carrying capacity, comfort and overall relevance.
The cargobike will be present at 10:30 a.m. at the Marlboro Tech Center cafeteria on June 6, the Strolling of the Heifers' Rolling of the Bikers on June 7 and at the Brattleboro Common at noon on June 7.
Cohen says Elf -- a human/solar electric-powered vehicle featuring directionals and headlights, fully protective windshield, a solar panel roof and enough space for 350 pounds of cargo -- will be at the events, as will Brattleboro's fleet of e-cargobikes.
"As our nation and the larger world struggle with impacts of climate change, there's a growing awareness that we are being called on to authentically think outside of the box. The cargobike phenomenon in the U.S. is a fascinating creative response to this challenge," Cohen said in a statement. "Without the bulk, weight and size of a car, as well as the sensory deprivation and the sedentary lifestyle experienced within its confines, cargobikes represent a far more socially and ecologically connected and appropriate way to get around, while also engaging our bodies."
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.
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