Cultural diversity in rural New England, focus of RootSkills conference
It was a pleasure to be a part of the RootSkills conference and present, "Climate Solutions: Community Voices for Economic, Social and Environmental Justice" a workshop on our energy choices and environmental justice. Yesterday's New England Grassroots Environment Fund conference offered a nice range of workshops, including a track about narratives and stories, with three consecutive workshops.
ECHO Action shared the connections between environmental justice, health, safety and the climate emergency in relation to fracked gas pipeline expansion and fossil fuel use. Other presentations and the keynote speakers are lunch had the full attention of the audience as racial and migrant justice was literally center stage. The connections between global crises was readily apparent. The room of diverse cultural backgrounds was composed of activists already working to solve them together, encouraging and inspiring others along the way.
I enjoyed the thought-provoking discussions on racial, social and environmental justice, sharing our rural spaces and the huge makerspace art builds on the outdoor patio in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day in Brattleboro and everyone inhaled the scenic vista from the SIT Graduate Institute between sessions and at lunch! Wow! The blooming trees were buzzing with bees.
At lunch, meaningful stories and engaging perspectives on New England life were shared by:
• Abel Luna, Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante
• Ben Heweitt, Rural Vermont
• Shay Stewart-Bouley, Blackgirlinmaine
Each speaker presented a different point-of-view about life in our region, but it was Abel Luna's deeply moving description of the plight of migrants in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont that captured the attention of the audience. His organization, Migrant Justice, works to build relationships between migrants and farmers that they both benefit from.
Shay Stewart-Bouley, who lives on an island in Maine said that when people say, "there are black people in Maine?" she tells them that 10 of them are living on the beautiful rural island off the coast. It may not have been what brought her here, but it is what keeps her here.
I certainly left with much food for thought, with new ideas to contemplate. I also enjoyed the young women who attended by presentation. Their engagement in politics and local issues and their growing interest in bird dogging candidates, was great fun!
The gorgeous day included a fresh and local lunch, catered from The Porch TOO in Brattleboro. It was delicious!!!
Activist Echoes Editor