Continuing to Connect for Change
Three days of inspiration: keynote speakers, educational and skill building workshops, farmers’ and local artisan markets, music, art and urban camping. Sant Bani continues to join with hundreds of others at the Connecting for Change Conference presented by the Marion Institute in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The conference brings the Marion Institute tenets to life and the students bring them into daily life when they return to their New Hampshire hillside. These foundational principles emphasize that mimicking the diversity of nature is a key to success, identifying the root cause of issues creates positive change, and increasing accessibility and opportunity will create a more just world.
The range of workshops and guest speakers seemed vast to the thirty high schoolers and many staff members who made the trek south for the seventh annual conference. Whether it was teambuilding, composting, food forests, kale culture, recycled art, storytelling for social change, greenhouses or intergenerational dialogue, there was much to engage. The keynote speakers, music and dance that brought us all together at the Zeiterion Theatre were exciting and thought provoking. The food was superb—enhanced by the 20 pounds of garlic grown at Sant Bani and donated as our contribution to the conference kitchen. The accommodations on the gymnasium floor of the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford were fun and welcome.
And it didn’t end when the last sleeping bag was packed into the school van; students returned to school energized and ready to make a difference. Little notes advising us to “Be bright, turn off the lights” appeared on switches in the hallways. Wastebaskets seemed a bit more empty. Earth Support Committee meetings occupied lunch break time. Planning has begun for Earth Day when the students will continue to connect for change in their school, their community and beyond.