Posts Tagged With: MREA

The Conference Circuit

In the past few months I have gone to four conferences: Bioneers, Biodynamics Gathering, MOSES Organic Farmer’s Conference, and the National Green Schools Conference.  I love going to conferences for several reasons.  For one, as a young person a few years out of college it is easy to feel discouraged when there aren’t always like-minded folks around like before. At conferences, it is fun to make friends with other people in similar situations with similar interests and remember that I am not alone.  Also, conferences tend to have great food and in excess.  I love a good spread of food at a conference– especially if there are fancy cheeses or fun drinks that I normally wouldn’t splurge for at the co-op.  The most important reason I love conferences however, is that I find them inspirational, empowering, and rejuvenating.  Each time I leave a good conference it is as if the world has just opened up to me.  I AM READY TO CHANGE THE WORLD, I want to scream from the mountaintops. Finding conferences to attend can be as easy as doing a web search for organizations dealing with subjects you are interested in.  Often times there are scholarships or volunteer opportunities available to help defray the costs. Never be afraid to ask, even if there aren’t any opportunities listen on the website.

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Midwest Renewable Energy Fair

Each year just outside of Stevens Point, WI is a massive renewable energy fair.  The name is kind of misleading as it’s not entirely about renewable energy or even mostly about it.  If I could rename it I would call it the Midwest Sustainable Living Festival or the Midwest Moving-Past-Greenwashing-Into-Real-Solutions Extravaganza.  There are hundreds of exhibitors, hour long workshops on everything from solar panels to humanure to herbalism to building, great food, live music, awesome locally brewed beer at the beer tent, and an excellent vibe from everyone there. The four work studys and two board members went up to represent the Folk School and truly had a blast.  We brought with us a timberframe booth we made and a shaving horse for giving trunnel (wooden peg) making demonstrations.  I had such a fantastic weekend.

Since we had a booth at the fair we all took turns hanging out there, handing out catalogs, and talking with all the neat people that stopped to chat with us.  When we weren’t at the table we got to go to however many workshops we wanted! I went to a bunch including: Building Interfaith Environmental Coalitions, Ultimate Downsizing (living in small homes off grid), Using Local Herbs (herbalism/wild foraging), Pedal Power (using bikes to teach about electricity), and a couple others I am blanking on right now.  I learned tons and the instructors were all very inspirational.

When I first decided to move to Wisconsin I was nervous about what kinds of people I would be meeting. I definitely believe we are running out of oil and that our dependency is greater than ever—being at the Fair gave me hope for the future.  As we drove the couple of hours North for the Fair we passed thousands of acres of industrial agriculture but also wilderness areas,  beautiful rivers, and plenty of small farms.  Part of my reasoning for becoming a Driftless Folk School work/study was to learn more skills for homesteading, farming, and living sustainably and not only am I feeling fulfilled through my host farm and the school but also by the opportunities it is giving me—like going to the fair.

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