Cynthia Contie (BA, Psychology, MEd – Environment) started her Blessed Unrest journey while working in a high pressure corporate management position of 12 years in Minneapolis Minnesota. Although her life was materially comfortable, she found herself deeply disturbed by our society’s fractured relationship with Nature, and particularly with the beings of the animal kingdom. Seeking out cruelty-free foods and products led Cynthia to discover what was then a new movement called “sustainable development.” Early volunteer work in sustainability in 2002 led Cynthia to attend a study tour in the country of Sweden, where she and other tour participants visited with and learned from the “fire souls” in Sweden who were at the heart of a nationwide movement there called the “ecomunicipality movement.” This is where Cynthia and Steve Weinberg first met as co-participants to the 2002 tour, and both of their lives were profoundly impacted by the tour. Cynthia, for example, decided to resign from her corporate position and dedicate her work and life to promoting awareness of and supporting development of the eco-municipality movement. One of her first projects was in collaboration with Ms. Sarah James and Mr. Torbjorn Lahti and Mr. Weinberg in 2004 with the release of James and Lahti’s book, The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices. Cynthia coordinated their book release tour, including visits to several communities in the eastern and midwestern US. Steve Weinberg hosted in the Philadelphia region. This release of the book and the accompanying book tour planted seeds that ultimately led to development of a network of ecomunicipalities in the US and ongoing collaboration with Lahti and Sustainable Sweden.
Cynthia’s work continues now as the primary contact for ongoing Sustainable Sweden Tours, which are now being re-imagined to include a virtual tour option. Steve and Cynthia’s presentation today will tell a bit of the story of this quiet but vibrant Odyssey that is the world-wide ecomunicipality movement.