They’re Coming to Fort Worden
In two short days, scores of people I can’t wait to meet and learn from will be arriving at Fort Worden State Park in my hometown for the biannual North American Gathering of the Northwest Earth Institute—creator of small-group discussion courses on sustainability topics.
The theme of the four-day conference, Sept. 15-18, is “Building Healthy Communities and Local Food Systems One Conversation at a Time.”
Conference organizer Deb McNamara tells me the Institute’s “Menu for the Future” discussion course has been its most popular for several years running and a new course book called “Hungry for Change” is due out next month, so food was a logical focus of the biannual gathering.
“Food is really resonating with people and it’s really an easy place to make changes,” Deb says. “There are so many entry points.”
I’ve been in touch with Deb since I registered for the conference, and I was thrilled when she asked me if I would wear the badge of “guest blogger” for the long weekend. Are zucchinis taking over your garden?!? (My answer was YES.)
I’ll be posting here a couple of times a day on the lessons learned at presentations and break-out sessions on topics ranging from “preaching past the choir” to a mainstream audience, to the many benefits of walkable communities, to creating an edible landscape in your backyard. (View the full conference schedule.) If you can’t be there in person, you can follow along on the web!
The blogging assignment is appropriate, seeing as how the conference date circled on my calendar has been the looming deadline I needed to pull together this website, get new business cards printed, etc. Read more in my guest post on the Northwest Earth Institute’s EarthMatters blog, published today.
The nearly decade-old Northwest Earth Institute is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and this is the first time this event has been hosted in Port Townsend.
Deb says the location was chosen in part because of my community’s successes in strengthening our local food systems.
- Farmers or local food producers were represented on all 28 Menu for the Future groups that were organized here in 2010,
- the Port Townsend Farmers Market was named the state’s “Large Market of the Year” in 2011 and is reportedly the highest grossing market west of Seattle,
- our Food Co-op is one of the most active and innovative in the nation,
- there is a strong Farm-to-Schools Coalition to get local food in school cafeterias
…and we could go on. There is a wealth of experience to draw from for conference presentations and panels. A tour of the Farmer’s Market is on the schedule for Saturday noon. (It includes lunch, of course.)
“People can come here and see first-hand how Port Townsend is pulling off this amazing culture change,” says Deb.
See you at the Fort!