Blessed Unrest Program

Blessed Unrest

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All sessions will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., EDT.  On each day at around 1:30 p.m. there will be an option to attend a free hour-long workshop with one of the day’s speakers, depending on speaker availability.

Saturday, April 18th

10:30  Welcome and Introduction

Adam Sacks Introduction

Adam will briefly set the stage for the conference, with the why and how of Blessed Unrest. What does it mean for global ecological health, climate disruption, and thriving in the biosphere? Dare we say, everything!

10:45  Via Organica and Ecosystem Restoration Camps:
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Accomplishments

Ronnie Cummins Presentation

Ronnie Cummins Workshop

Ronnie will focus on what individuals and small groups have done and continue to do, things  about which we each might be inspired to say , “I could do something like that too!”  He will tell us some of his own stories, like starting Via Organica or the Mexico Ecosystem Restoration camps, and will discuss obstacles faced and how people have overcome them in creative and personal ways.

11:30  Agraria – Agriculture as More than Farming

Susan Jennings Presentation

Susan Jennings Workshop

In this generational dark night of the soul, what are our opportunities for personal and national redemption? Drawing on her inspiring organizational experiences, as well as recent trips to regeneration projects in England and India, Susan will discuss how re-localization, especially of food systems, can, like Gandhi’s March to the Sea, radically transform our personal, environmental, and political landscapes.

12:15  Lunch Break

12:30  Rising Out of Despair: Haiti’s “Green Pearl” Initiative

Janot Mendler de Suarez Presentation

Janot Mendler de Suarez Workshop

Janot is passionate about her work with Haiti Red Cross. Not just to survive in a changing climate, to thrive! The community-driven “Green Pearl” initiative aspires to transform Haiti from one of the poorest, most insecure and degraded countries in the world to a flourishing mosaic of Green Pearls. At the same time charting a new path for the humanitarian sector, rooted in the power of humanity to turn vicious cycles into virtuous cycles – all through people-centered creativity and community engagement – including through games! The new bottom line? Restoring and even enhancing the productive function of healthy resilient ecosystems.

Sunday, April 19th

10:30  Bio4Climate Comments

Paula Phipps Introduction

10:45  The Community-led Movement for Forests, Climate and Justice in the Southern US

Holly Paar Presentation

Across the South in the United States, frontline communities facing the devastation wrought by industrial logging are leading a movement calling for the protection of forests. Hit hardest by the effects of increasingly intense storms and flooding as well as facing threats of pollution, communities along the coastal plains of the Carolinas, as well as the Gulf states are uniting in a call for climate justice and economic solutions. They are challenging the status quo of what equates to a century of landscape-level industrial extraction of one of the South’s most important resources and means of climate protection: its forests.

11:30  How Faith Brings Blessed Unrest, Part 1

Panel with Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, Hayat Imam

Our communities of faith inspire followers to stewardship and good works. Our panelists will offer a personal perspective, one Jewish, one Muslim, of how they were inspired, and how their faiths bring inspiration and courage to make a difference in the world.

12:15  Lunch with Musical Interlude and a Word from Zero Hour

Singer-Songwriter Arielle Martinez Cohen

Arielle entertained us at our last conference, and is back with some more music to transport us through the day, and update us on the work of the youth movement, Zero Hour.

12:30  Improving Food Security of Smallholder Farmers

Roland Bunch Presentation

Roland Bunch Workshop

Increasingly frequent droughts are destroying food production levels in the more drought-prone half of sub-Saharan Africa. Although most people have attributed this gathering crisis to climate change, about 80% of the cause of the droughts is that fallowing–allowing the forest to grow for fifteen years or more to replace the soil’s organic matter–is on its deathbed. This problem has in turn caused a huge drop in soil organic matter and a resulting fall of rainwater infiltration rates from 60% to between 10 and 20%. The good news, however, is that there exists an extremely simple technology, called “green manure/cover crops,” that can reverse these soil organic matter losses within just a few years, at virtually no cost to the farmers. Even more amazing is that organic matter is 50% carbon. Putting all that organic matter back into the soil sequesters tremendous amounts of carbon. In fact, if all the world’s farmers and ranchers were to sequester as much carbon/acre/year in their soils as tens of thousands of smallholder  African farmers are already doing, they would sequester, long-term, over 50% of all the carbon the world needs to sequester in order to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Accords.

Roland Bunch Case Studies – 8 April 2020 – docx file
Roland Bunch – Report on a Visit to Better Soils/Imagine Afrika’s Program in Malawi – February 2020 docx file

Saturday, April 25th

10:30  Bio4Climate Comments

Fred Jennings Introduction

10:45  Building Community During Confusion and Uncertainty

Precious Phiri Presentation

Precious Phiri Workshop

Precious grew up in Zimbabwe and will tell us about her evolution as a trainer in Holistic Management and community facilitation. Her work currently focuses on working with rural communities and collaborating with networks in Africa to reduce poverty, rebuild soils, and restore food and water security for people, livestock and wildlife – and most recently, to address the corona virus. Precious has delighted audiences at two of our previous conferences, and you may meet her in a brief video here

11:30  Edible Landscaping

Sven Pihl Presentation

Sven Pihl Workshop

Edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the residential and public landscape. It combines fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, along with functional ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs.  Edible landscaping offers an alternative to conventional residential landscapes; edible plants can be just as attractive while producing fruits and vegetables. One can install an entirely edible landscape or incorporate some edible plants into existing gardens.  In this talk Sven will cover different forms of Edible Landscape design from Foodscaping to Edible Forest Gardens and some history on this ages-old worldwide practice.

12:15  Lunch

12:30  The Making of Lifelong Blessed Unrest Activists

Panel with Rachel Burger and Iona Conner

Workshop with Rachel Burger and Iona Conner

Two women elders whose lives were changed by neglected work that needed to be done will tell  stories of Eureka! moments, the persistent struggles that ensued, and hard-won victories as well as losses on the paths to restoring the Earth.

Notes from Rachel Burger – pdf file

Saturday, May 2nd

10:30  Bio4Climate Comments

Bob Labaree Introduction

10:45  Love (of nature) in the Time of Covid-19

Florence Reed Presentation

Florence Reed Workshop

Climate change and loss of biodiversity threaten humanity’s very existence. Pandemics like the Coronavirus add another layer of crises to populations throughtout the world.   Some of the hardest hit are the millions of rural poor who live day to day, often dependent on external inputs to grow crops, access to markets for selling crops and buying their food and loans or remittances from outside their communities.  All of this is jeopardized during a pandemic, leaving millions of the rural poor more food insecure.  Some, however, are leading the way to a different kind of food system that is better for them, better for us and better for the planet.   At the same time they are stabilizing the climate, bringing biodiversity back to degraded lands and feeding the world. Meet some of these unsung heroes working with Sustainable Harvest International, a member of Regeneration International, and learn how millions more could join their ranks to become the cornerstone of a healthy planet and food system.

Florence Reed – Love of Nature – slides (pdf)

11:30  How Faith Brings Blessed Unrest, Part 2:
The Necessity of the Divine Feminine in the Climate Crisis

Panel with Rev Dele and Lama Elizabeth Monson

Workshop with Rev Dele and Lama Elizabeth Monson

This panel will discuss: What is the Divine Feminine?  Why should we care?  How can the Divine Feminine significantly impact the climate movement?

12:15  Lunch

12:30  Environmental Leaders of the Future

Jim Laurie and Home Schoolers Presentation

Jim Laurie and Home Schoolers Workshop

A report from young people who are exploring possibilities for their futures on a changing Earth. Updates on various ecosystems and how they see their part as the new world unfolds.

Saturday, May 9th

10:30  Bio4Climate Comments

Charlie Shore Introduction

10:45  Soak Up the Rain! What We Can All Do to Reduce Drought, Floods, Heat Waves and Severe Storms

Jan Lambert Presentation

Jan Lambert Workshop

Did you ever stop to think about what happens with all the water that goes down the storm drains in your town or city every time it rains? Jan Lambert, even though a lifelong nature advocate, never gave that question much thought until 2014, when as an environmental journalist she learned about the profound and central role of the natural water cycle in regulating and moderating each region’s climate. It is not at all hard to understand how humans, by interfering with the natural flow of water through landscapes and the atmosphere, have damaged both land and climate. The good news is that by making some simple changes, we can restore the natural life-giving  flow of water.  It may surprise you to learn that it’s not how much water we use, but what happens after we use it, that really matters

11:30  Youth, Gardening and Food Security: Using Gardening for Climate Change and Creating Self Determination

Anna Gilbert-Muhammed Presentation

Anna Gilbert-Muhammed Workshop

There is an intersection between, nutrition, gardening and being a good steward to the environment.  Join Anna Gilbert- Muhammad – Equity Director and Food Access Coordinator for the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA MA) as we talk about how a low income housing development and youth/families are growing food and learning about methods that protect the soil.

12:15  Lunch and Tribute to Beth Adams, founder of the Massachusetts Forest Rescue Campaign

Brief tribute to Beth L. Adams by Ralph Baker

Ralph Baker – How is COVID-19 Related to Climate Change – docx file
Ralph Baker – Links Pertaining to Beth Adams Tribute – 5/9/29 – docx file

12:30  How Liberians Fought Big Palm Oil to Protect Their Forests

Alfred Brownell Presentation

Alfred Brownell Workshop

How Indigenous Peoples, local communities and environmental rights
activists stopped the world’s largest oil palm companies from causing
deforestation and accelerating climate change in West Africa.

Alfred Brownell – How Liberians Fought Big Palm Oil – slides (pdf)

Saturday, May 16th

10:30  Bio4Climate Introduction by Prof. George Scarlett

10:45  Eco-Municipalities

Steve Weinberg and Cynthia Contie Presentation

Steve Weinberg and Cynthia Contie Workshop

Eco-Municipalities – a walk through a world-wide movement of communities undergoing systemic sustainable transformation.  We will share the story of how these Eco-Municipalities evolved starting in the country of Sweden and how Eco-Municipalities use a powerful shared framework to guide them.

11:30 Heat Planet: Another View of Climate

Christopher Haines Presentation

Architect Christopher Haines will give an overview of our built environments and degraded rural habitats, and how they make significant contributions to global warming.  He illustrates how a change in perspective may lead to a cooler planet much faster than we thought, inexpensively, while restoring a greener, biodiverse Earth.

Christopher Haines, Heat Planet – pdf

12:15  Lunch

Adam Sacks

Meet Grandpa Rap, hear him rap about the climate trap!

12:30  New Movements: Zero Hour, Sunrise and Extinction Rebellion

New Movements Presentations – Claire Hedberg (Zero Hour), Nick Rabb (Sunrise Movement), and John Burkhardt (Extinction Rebellion)

New Movements Workshop

Two powerful young people’s movements and the cross-generational Extinction Rebellion are bringing organizing, educational and political influence to new heights.  Hear more about what they’re up to!