The Strolling of the Heifers 2012 — It started bad, forecast was for very wet weather all day, but it was going to go on rain or shine and here we should acknowledge 3 contributors to all. First the organizers, then the presenters, then the public. Here below is proof of interest of this initiative, first of its kind in the USA. Despite the weather, and as some sort of magnet to the life of our times we still got hordes [with umbrellas] but hordes, cheerful hordes!
From previous experience I knew to go around before the crowds so that I could exchange a word or two with presenters, and also photograph them rather than the backs of people’s heads.
But I have to tell you this is in the pouring rain with no promise of relief.
So first here are some vendors, and their products, then the parade proper.
Above, a really ugly group of young people in the food industry. Even so, and by all reports, these are the sorts of people we need in New England, and in up-state New York to innovate and move our food industry. Hey, Chobani folks! Thank you for coming over from upper NY state and for being cheerful within when without it was wet, very wet and miserable. We need you, and people like you with your young energy and intelligence in our bio-region, and companies like yours who can pay decent wages, and we hope you will settle here for the same reason as your product is received. Quality food, quality environment to live your life in. Your picture together here is worth a thousand words — Much of what this whole festival is about is you.
Before the hordes descended, and would there be hordes? Some picture of vendors on the 11 acre site. These ladies were happy in their choice of footwear, eg, both wearing boots, whereas I was wearing plastic sandals.
Which had no effect on the snake which I think tuned into the range finder light on my camera, and approached. A great variety of local made products and services were on display. I only have space fro a few, and needed to make photos before 40,000 people showed up
A local teacher addresses a panel to the effectiveness of educational ideas and how they may be best deployed in a community, a panel listens, then responds
Meanwhile a new topic for The Strolling, a cultural or spiritual orientation is explored and recorded.
Lunch is up Main Street and to get ahead of the crowd....
Here is my friend Terri, previously of a preventative drug-use org, and now a teacher again. She is a volunteer at a booth — many people in our region volunteer and don’t like any credit for it, since they think this is part and parcel of being a human being.
Part of the food crew. A happy group, don’t you think?
They are presenting good local foods [as below]
A huge amount of networking and conversations generally go on at lunch. Right; Orly Munzing, founder of both the Strolling and the Slow Living Conference. If you were of a mind to these things, you might like she waved her hand at you, and what was said.
Lunch and good conversation and networking with the Connecticut River as background.
No one it seemed to me was unengaged here. Non stop conversation, quietest was the presenters book stall, imagine that
Good food; server and served alike are happy to be in the flow.
Imagine two more things, first the gent above is Dr. Donnie Maclurcan here from Australia to check us out on behalf of the Post Growth Institute
Secondly, I said to my friends, Christian McEwen and whatsisname? I was going to photo them while eating. Bad-me, no?
Left: Dr. Whatsisname and Friend. Though we had a serious conversation about objective measurement of sustainability, a subject much ranted about but less examined.
Below, no better place in Brattleboro for a big lunch than the River Garden, here accommodating some 300 people.
This car says Rowntree Ford will do 40 miles per gallon, and if you can toss a bean bag into the hole you could win..
... could win more than cows, maybe the car?
But look at these guys [below] from Friends Of The Sun who I think should be fired by Garry for ‘smugness’ while the rest of us soaked. They did claim acquaintance with me and a lady came by to also make re-acquaintance, but I asked her as a consumer if these two looked truly to be trust-worthy and if she could think of these sorts of people installing anything in her own home with any confidence? Unfortunately she could, and so could I, Friends of the Sun have installed 2 stoves in our house.
Lots of cows, and the person who stacked ‘em
After I’d hitched a free ride in the local taxi golf cart it was explained to me that despite the canopy you got soaked, and if you put up the full windscreen you can’t see a darned thing. She was right, we got soaked. But I was then on the lower campus where vendors were prepared for the hordes to come, they hoped. This couple had sausages, and being a reporter I felt obliged to try all 4 variants, and also understood that they would ‘own-label’ products for others.
A member of the VPR team said they are coming to Brattleboro. I’m unsure how many studios there will be, but I thought I heard ‘Classical’.
Lots of Food vendors, and I was professionally obliged to taste the samples. I recommend the Drew’s Ranch dressing, and also the phenomenal Hot & Sweet Mustard from Blackwater Mustard Co. which won a national prize.
Greek yoghurt and another Mediterranean yoghurt and you ARE allowed to be photographed with balloons! At this point I went back up the hill as the strollers were just coming through.
The police officer was very friendly! In fact, despite the rain cheerfulness prevailed.
Perhaps you know some of these people?
Orly Munzing [below right] told me that The Strolling of the Heifers addressed more of the female side of life.
Article: Post Growth Futures Are Here
by Donnie Maclurcan, PhD on 23rd June 2012
A friend once visited a remote village in Africa. In this village people wore indistinguishable clothing and lived in similar looking homes. Two people, however, had distinct markings on their foreheads and huts. They were treated with an unusual amount of respect, although they didn’t appear to be making decisions for the group. In fact, no governance or power structures were apparent within the community at large.
After three days of failed guesswork, my frustrated friend asked a translator to find out the nature of the group’s dynamics. The villagers responded: “In our society, we don’t have forms of hierarchy as you may know them. But we have a rule: when anyone reaches a certain level of ‘wealth’, they throw a feast until they become ‘poorest’ and then they get the marking on their forehead and home as an eternal sign of respect.”
I since discovered this widespread practice across indigenous cultures has been named a potlatch; in its common Western form: the potluck – although with somewhat less inbuilt wisdom regarding redistribution. What a brilliantly strategic, non-destructive way of engaging with ego, I thought. Hence, it has become one of my favourite examples of what we at the Post Growth Institute call ‘post growth in action’ – things that are already defining futures independent of economic growth. There sure are a lot of these things, and they don’t necessarily fit into your typical ‘sustainability’ box. Here’s a quick look around the world at some inspiring forms of post growth in action.
There are timeless Philosophies, such as the Ecuadorian Sumak Kawsay that explores alternatives to Western-style ‘development’ through the indigenous belief that well-being is only possible within a community, with that community including Nature.
There are influential Principles, such as Qard al-Hassan which, drawing from Islamic Shari’ah law, prohibits the payment and collection of interest (riba) in any loan or gratuitous offering.
There are inspiring Indicators, such as Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, whereby the happiness and satisfaction of Bhutanese citizens, measured biennially, drives and informs all government policies. Widespread adoption of the indicator was recently supported by United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and has already influenced practices in places such as the United Kingdom and the U.S. State of Vermont.
There are appealing Activities, like buycotts, whereby communities ‘auction’ their patronage to the businesses that promise the greatest commitments to making socially responsible changes to their work environments and practices. The activity was made famous by the Carrotmob campaign which saw community bargaining with 23 liquor stores result in the winning business allocating 22% of its income to an energy retrofit of its workplace.
There are ground-breaking Legal instruments, such as Bolivia’s Law of the Rights of Mother Earth that provides natural systems with rights that, in modern law, are commonly ascribed solely to humans, thereby creating the ability for such rights to be legally defended.
There are rewarding Livelihoods, such as those of doulas who ensure mothers feel safe and confident before, during, and after childbirth.
There are impressive Lifestyles, such as locavoring in which people seek to eat only local produce. A type of event has subsequently emerged that requires produce come from within a certain radius – 50 miles, for example.
There are remarkable Technologies, such as hexayurts that offer simple, low cost, easy to erect shelters to house humans in need. The designs are open access and the yurts can be built anywhere in the world using local materials.
There are powerful types of Software, such as Skype that allows over 600 million users to communicate freely, with others around the world. It’s a technology we at the Post Growth Institute use in an exciting way for our team collaboration.
There are engaging Facilitation Techniques, such as sociocracy which allows participants in a discussion to position themselves on issues using a physical spectrum (a line or series of concentric circles, for example). By expanding the simple ‘for’ or ‘against’ model, those involved may gain important insights from marginalised perspectives and/or those previously marginalised may feel heard enough to comfortably move on the spectrum to enable consensus.
There are valuable Natural Phenomena such as the sun’s seasonally shifting trajectories in relation to the earth that enable things like passive solar design. Here, simple architectural practices can ensure the entry of the sun’s heat into a structure is reduced in the warmer months and increased in the colder months.
There are common sense forms of Infrastructure, such as seed libraries that enable the public to access seeds for sewing crops, with the expectation that any propagated surplus will be returned to the library.
There are useful Online Platforms, such as Freecycle where over 8 million users, across 85 countries, are able to offer free items to or request free items from their local community.
There are heartening International Movements, such as La Via Campesina in the Global South – 200 million peasants, small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities that promote the right to produce food on one’s own territory – and Transition Towns in the Global North – 1000 registered initiatives across 34 countries that work locally to rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions partly via the creation and active embodiment of an Energy Descent Action Plan.
There are fascinating International Programs, such as the ManKind Project that has provided liberating initiation rites for over 40,000 men, drawing on wisdoms from many ancient and modern traditions.
There are imaginative International Events, such as Park(ing) Day in which people collaborate to ‘temporarily transform metered parking spaces into ‘PARK(ing)’ spaces: temporary public places’ that may include grass, chairs and other forms of activities.
And there are exciting Places, such as the Factor e Farm in rural Missouri where people are using scrap metal and open-source design to build the 50 basic machines that can ensure appropriate, local manufacturing.
Combined, these examples remind me that ‘post growth’ futures are already here, they’re just not evenly distributed. What you might be living, with respect to your food production for example, might be part of my future in ten years. That is, we can move beyond talk of starting the transition; we’ve been transitioning all along, and if we want to evolve a new meta-narrative, isn’t it more empowering and inclusive to ground it in existing practice?
Adam Smith seemed to believe so when he drew together his defining principles for a capitalistic system. He didn’t put out a vision for how the world should be. Rather, he described a series of tenets that underlay existing forms of organisation that he believed worthy of further support. The same inductive method could help us identify and nurture an abundance of hopeful, present realities that show paths to futures beyond economic growth. Shortly we’ll be sharing an initial 5000 of these realities via our newest project: How, on Earth.
Yet, whilst existing realities can provide important evidence of our ability to flourish in ‘post growth’ ways, one central ingredient for post growth futures appears to remain missing: a non-accumulative macroeconomic framework that is incentivised for innovation, creativity and flourishing. That is, a galvanizing economic framework for how we justly and sustainably converge towards a global steady state economy. An ambitious undertaking, for sure, but one in which we at the Post Growth Institute are presently engaging through our Not-for-Profit World project.
And when I think of the challenges ahead, I remind myself of the words from one of my favourite thinker-doers, Stuart Hill. Stuart believes we move through three phases in any challenges we collectively face. The first is deceptive simplicity – we think something is super easy; if we just throw money, technology or time at it, we’ll fix it. The second phase is confusing complexity – we begin to think the challenge has been underestimated. More research is needed. Committees must be formed! Even more research is needed!! But then, Stuart says, we evolve to the third, most heartening phase: profound simplicity. Here we experience ‘aha’ moments, now knowing that there were always alternative paths offering great clarity, with ease. When I consider the potlatch and the multitude of other things ‘post growth’, that’s when I sense we are bathing in profound simplicity, revelling in the beauty of dynamic fruition that speaks to our hearts and souls in ways that make a much deeper sense.
This article first appeared at
Donnie Maclurcan is Co-founder of the Post Growth Institute – an international group exploring and inspiring paths to global prosperity that don’t rely on economic growth.
Dr. Donnie Macluran
Slow Living Summit