Marion Institute Blog
By Kathleen McKiernan
October 25. 2015 2:01AM
Connecting for Change links ideas to solutions
NEW BEDFORD — Jake Burke of Northampton is trying to create a student social movement at at Hampshire College, while Alanna Gilbert is working in Connecticut to connect under-served populations to health information and careers.
Dave O'Connor, meanwhile, helps deliver furniture and food to families in need as part of My Brother's Keeper, a Dartmouth nonprofit.
Over Friday and Saturday, they were among the many who converged on the downtown to connect real ideas to solutions for change.
The Marion Institute hosted its annual Connecting for Change conference, a gathering in downtown New Bedford that brings innovators and community members together to discuss solutions related to food and farming, policy, innovative tech and design, health and healing, green business, environmental and social justice and women and youth empowerment.
The conference features dozens of speakers and workshops for guests to have conversations around how to address issues, particularly those that plague disadvantaged populations.
"It's connecting people on the ground to those who have resources," said Leah Penniman, owner of Soul Fire Farm, a Grafton, N.Y., farm that is working to address oppressive systems that dominate the food system.
"It can feel nice to remember that what is going on in the world is connected to what I'm doing," said Seth Kolker, a teacher in Central Falls, R.I.
"We see the effects of inequalities and challenges," said O'Connor "It's a wonderful event of progress and change."
On Saturday, these activists gathered in a classroom at Bristol Community College to learn about how Soul Fire Farm uses art and community to return farming and food back to the people, especially people of color, and bring back food sovereignty (or the right of people to healthy food produced in ecological manners and their right to define their own food system).
The first step to making any change, Penniman said, is being a family rather than an institution. The other is to focus on success when trying to broaden support.
"Present the challenges but also present the dignity. We want to see ourselves in a positive light, not victims of circumstance," she said.
The Marion Institute’s partner Himalayan Project is pleased to offer an unrivaled group trekking adventure in Nepal, led by project director Sally Hunsdorfer, from March 8 to March 23, 2016.
This trip will be a classic trek into the environs of Mount Everest, and the Nepalese Sherpa’s world of beautiful mountain villages and Buddhist monasteries. It will start at an elevation of 9200’ and climb to 15,000’, past the renowned Tengboche Monastery. A limited group of just 8-10 people will hike through forests of rhododendron, oak, birch, and silver fir trees, and receive blessings and teachings from Lama Ghesi at Pangboche Monastery.
In the village of Chaurikharka, you will experience firsthand the rhythms of Sherpa daily life, staying in private homes and visiting the classrooms of the village school that has been a major focus of development for The Himalayan Project over the last several years.
Since the two earthquakes in Nepal earlier this year, the Himalayan Project has been raising funds to help restoration efforts in villages like Chaurikharka. The country has recovered strongly and is safe for tourism, but more is needed, and this trip includes a contribution to help continue the rebuilding effort.
Do something good for yourself and good for the world. Discover why few who visit can remain indifferent to the strength, warmth, and loyalty of the Sherpa people. Upon returning to Kathmandu explore the fascinating history and culture of this medieval city. Space is limited, reserve today!
Come join Sally Hunsdorfer and The Himalayan Project team for an unrivaled adventure in Nepal from March 15 to March 23, 2016. Few mountains in the world have the mysticism or draw of Everest. This is a classic trek which starts at an elevation of 9200’ and climbs to 15,000’, past the renowned Tengboche Monastery, to receive blessings and teachings from Lama Ghesi at Pangboche Monastery, trekking alongside the world’s mightiest and arguably most awesome and beautiful mountains! This is a challenging trek through beautiful rhododendron, oak, silver fir and birch forests, past amazing alpine scenery and traditional Sherpa villages and monasteries. You will experience firsthand the rhythms of Sherpa daily life, staying in private homes in the village of Chaurikharka and visiting the village school and its classrooms which have been a major focus of development for The Himalayan Project over the last several years. Discover why few who visit can remain indifferent to the strength, warmth and loyalty of the Sherpa people. Upon return to Kathmandu explore the fascinating history and culture of this medieval city. Come join Sally for a once in a lifetime journey!
The cost for the trip is $3000. This does not include airfare to and from Nepal. Please call the Marion Institute for more information 508.748.0816x119 or email Pam Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This trek is strenuous but does not require that you have any previous trekking experience. It does not require any technical expertise, only that you be in good physical condition with aerobic endurance which will enable you to hike for 4-6 hours a day over hilly terrain with a day pack.
March 8 Leave the U.S.
March10 Arrive in Kathmandu
March 11 Sightseeing in Kathmandu
March 12 Fly to Lukla, hike to Chaurikharka and spend the afternoon at the school
March 13 Hike to Jorsale
March 14 Hike to Namche
March 15 Acclimatization day in Namche with a side trip to Khumjung and Kunde
March 16 Hike to Pangboche with lunch at Tengboche Monastery
March 17 Rest day in Pangboche with Lama Ghesi
March 18 Hike back to Namche
March 19 Hike back to Chaurikharka
March 20 Fly to Kathmandu
March 21 Rest day in Kathmandu
March 22 Fly home to U.S.
Note from the Nepal Office of Tourism
"Following devastating earthquakes last spring , Nepal has officially been cleared to welcome tourists again, just in time for peak hiking season. Structural engineering firms from the U.S. and Europe oversaw a survey of Nepal's infrastructure and it was determined that the country—as well as Annapurna, Mt. Everest, and other places favored by international tourists—is safe to visit. The Everest Base Camp trail is now open and it's business as usual with most of the teahouses operational. There were several minor landslides that crossed the trail but the locals have been quick to engineer alternative routes where necessary meaning the entire Everest Trek is currently passable without to much difficulty."
“The trip was beyond my wildest expectations. We were totally immersed in the Sherpa, Nepali and Tibetan culture and landscape, thanks to our most knowledgeable guide, Karsang. On the day of fleece distribution to the hundreds of school children, we were brought to tears experiencing their joy in receiving a scarf, hat or fleece jacket.”
- Nancy Bousum
“To travel to Nepal with Sally Hunsdorfer is a very special experience that no traditional tour operator could ever replicate. Because of Sally’s long history and fast friendships with the Sherpa people I was welcomed into their homes and lives like family. I was able to participate in village life and to learn about the Sherpa culture and Buddhist customs up close and personal, as they say. The guides and porters who accompanied us on our trek were long-time friends as well…..and they knocked themselves out to see to it that we were well taken care of and safe every step of the way. I came back from Nepal with more than a lot of pretty pictures. I came away profoundly changed by what I learned and with new friends I hope I will have for a lifetime!”
- Susanne Rheault
“Traveling with the Himalayan Project does not involve just trekking. Yes, under the expert and inspiring leadership of Karsang Sherpa we were able to do both the Mt. Kailash and Mustang treks through scenery that is beyond description. But there was
another level that most treks don’t include. That is the spiritual level – the understanding and appreciation of the Buddhist faith and way of life and the Sherpa culture. These insights were life changing!”
- Karen Budd
“Unless the things I believe in, i.e. the sanctity of all life: human life that includes women and children and native peoples of the earth; non-selective species; the life of wild places; the life of mystery and the life of the earth……unless these beliefs are grounded in interconnectedness, they can become shrill and hurtful to life itself. It is a comfort to have found you!”
- Anonymous Donor
When Zoe Hansen-DiBello walked out onto the stage at TEDx New Bedford last week, it was the kick-off to an amazing day of ideas and inspiration. She set the tone perfectly with a story that was locally focused but thematically universal, sharing the story of how the Marion Institute’s Grow Education program is building gardens in urban schools, and in the process building a richer sense of community and connection in the surrounding neighborhoods.
She talked about how surprised the teachers have been to realize the gardens draw in parental involvement far beyond any other school program. And she talked about how proud the children have been to see their immigrant parents and grandparents sharing their farming skills with the teachers. One student’s Azorean grandmothers made suggestions about how to use every part of the vegetable in soups. Another student’s mother requested that they grow foods that were expensive in the grocery stores.
In each of the 8 schools the program is operating in, the children grew seedlings in their classroom in the winter time. In the springtime, the neighborhood families built raised beds together and then transferred the seedlings. The teachers are using the gardens for lessons in a variety of subjects. And after hours, the local families tend the beds and are free to use the produce for their dinner table. “The garden creates a space where people can connect in a meaningful and authentic way,” Zoe said in her speech, “where parents can participate, not in a formal teacher conference, but in real life.”
Zoe pointed out that our schools are one of the few public institutions that have a lot of land available, especially in urban environments. “We can provide spaces for increasing cultural capital and healthy food, while providing space for engaging school curriculum,” she said, “… the garden is a place where people build relationships.”
Zoe closed with a challenge for all us: “I challenge you to create spaces in your life where you connect in authentic ways with those who are similar and different from you. I believe it is the development of relationships and connections, sometimes through a garden, that will create space for compassion. And it is that compassion and connection to other and the earth that will ultimately create a more peaceful, sustainable, equitable, and just society.”
Zoe’s full talk will be available soon on YouTube, and we will be sure to connect to it on the Marion Institute’s channel.
Laura Killingbeck’s workshop on brining produce proved that just about anything in season can be transformed into a tangy treat.
Killingbeck’s class, the first in a three-part series she will be hosting at Round the Bend Farm, offered guidance to those interested in preserving vegetables.
The process involves submerging, sealing and storing vegetables in a salt water solution inside a jar or vessel. The produce will be preserved by transforming the plants’ sugars into acid.
The end result is a tart vegetable that can last for months. It’s a way that consumers can have vegetables regardless of whether or not they’re in season.
Killingbeck said fermentation also comes with some health benefits. Read the rest on the Dartmouth Weekly Website.
11th Annual Connecting for Change Conference Presented by the Marion Institute
Friday October 23 – Saturday October 24 Held in downtown New Bedford
For more information please contact: Diana Painter 508.748.0816x115 Diana@MarionInstitute.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
President of North Carolina’s NAACP Address crowd at Connecting for Change
OCTOBER 23, 2015 | NEW BEDFORD, MA – The Marion Institute is proud to announce that
Reverent Doctor William Barber II, Moral Monday organizer and civil rights icon, will be the social justice keynote at Connecting for Change this October.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II comes from a family of change makers. He was born in Indianapolis in 1963, two days after the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. His parents intentionally moved to North Carolina I 1963 to help desegregate schools. His father was a public school science teacher and a pastor. His mother worked in the position of the first black office manager, and was grown to be called “Mother Barber.”
Barber has lived in Goldsboro, NC for 20 years and been the pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church. The congregation began large-scale community development work in 1995, after a social demographic analysis of their neighborhood found high levels of poverty and under-employment. Working with other community groups, they invested $1.5 million into the community, creating 60 affordable housing units, a 41 bed senior citizens’ home, and a pre-K academy that serves 90 students. Their investment went further with the addition of a community center offering afterschool programming, healthcare education, technology training, and gang member rehabilitation. Working with the county, Barber and his congregation are currently working on The Stop the Funeral Initiative and the Drug Dealer/Gang Member Redemption Conference focused on reducing drug and gang violence in Wayne County through the 2nd Chance Education and Job Training program, aimed at providing education and job training for formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment.
Rev Barber is currently making history by helping to channel activists’ frustrations. In 2012, after draconian cuts to the North Carolina budget, Barber gathered a coalition of religious leaders who felt the state budget and policies were moving their state backwards from the social and racial progress made in the last 50 years. The coalition grew quickly and took on the movement title of “Moral Mondays” because of their weekly rallies showing support for budget priorities like healthcare, education, jobs for ex-offenders, senior’s benefits, policies that affect people of color and people living in poverty.
Rev. Dr. Barber graduated Cum Laude from North Carolina Central University (NCCU). He received a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. Dr. Barber has a Doctoral degree from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, with a concentration in Public Policy and Pastoral Care. The Honorable Governor Beverly Purdue presented Dr. Barber with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest citizenship award presented to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state. Dr. Barber is an MIT Mel King Community Fellow for Community and Economic CoLab.
Dr. Barber has written one book entitled, “Preaching Through Unexpected Pain”, and several articles and is currently working on his second book. He has been featured on Wall Street, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Crisis Magazine, and has spoken, preached and lectured around the country.
Barber will be bringing his experience in social justice, policy priorities, and urban community development to the crowd at the Zeiterion Theatre at 12 pm on Friday, October 23, 2015 as part of the Connecting for Change annual conference.
For more information or tickets to the event, please visit connectingforchange.org or call the Marion Institute at 508.748.0816.
If you’d like to interview the Reverend Doctor before the event, please contact the Marion Institute.
RTB's Open Farm Day is September 19th from noon - 6:00pm
- RTB teammate, Laura Killingbeck will be conducting a workshop on Fermentation from 9:00 - 11:00am. Learn how to eat farm fresh produce all winter long. Registration is required for this workshop. Click here, for more infomation and to reserve your seat today!
- Ashley's Produce will be on site selling an abundance of seasonal veggies.
- Geoff will have grassfed beef and pasture raised non-GMO pork for sale.
- Local Honey and Maple Syrup will also be available.
- Family fun farm tour begins at 2:00pm at the barn. This is a great opportunity to learn about RTB's mission and programs.
Hope to see you on the farm!
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