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What: The Rendezvous: Truth, Justice, Culture, Energy
When: August 17-18, 2013
Where: Kingdom County Farm, Irasburg, Vermont
The Rendezvous: Truth, Justice, Culture, Energy Expects to Draw Activists From Across New England and Eastern Canada on August 17 & 18
Energy issues are hot-button topics in Vermont, whether it’s industrial wind on ridgelines, re-licensing Vermont Yankee, a natural gas pipeline down the western side of the state, or pumping tar sands crude through the Northeast Kingdom. Climate change, meanwhile, provides a troubling backdrop for these issues: carbon emissions continue unabated.
With all that in mind, Mountain Occupiers – a determined group of conservationists and renewable energy advocates – is hosting a ‘meet-up’August 17-18, featuring speakers, panels, workshops, music, political theater, and networking. They have billed the event as: The Rendezvous: Truth, Justice, Culture, Energy. The purpose is to bring attention to the problems with “business as usual.” For Ron Holland, a lead organizer of The Rendezvous, this means taking a hard look at “the thorny, ineffective, policy mess that currently passes for a response to climate change at the state and federal level.”
Holland, an emergency room physician who is hosting The Rendezvous at his family’s farm, sums up the outdoor event this way, “We aim to begin a conversation about the future of Vermont and the planet: one that includes the natural environment as a stakeholder with defined rights in the climate change debate. We invite anyone interested in reframing the ‘talk’ and the ‘walk’ around climate change to join us. We want this to be a lively exchange as well as an opportunity for individuals concerned with social and environmental justice issues to connect.”
Tom Slayton, VPR commentator and former editor of Vermont Lifemagazine, says The Rendezvous is a great opportunity to rethink Vermont’s energy and environmental future. “No one has to give up a position or belief to be a part of a conversation about protecting Vermont and the planet,” he said. “We all have a stake in this. The reality of global warming is our common ground – an impending disaster we all must face.”
Keynote speakers for the event are Professor Peter Brown, Ph.D. of McGill University, co-author of Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy; and Amanda Lickers, an indigenous Seneca-Haudenosaunee who is currently organizing against the reversal of Line 9, a pipeline slated to carry Alberta tar sands crude to Montreal.
The Rendezvous kicks off with an opening ceremony on Saturday, August 17 at 9:00 a.m., followed by 3 sets of 1.5 hour workshops. The afternoon will feature keynote speaker Peter Brown, followed by dinner, a Bread & Puppet performance, and local live music. Sunday will begin with more workshops, lunch, and keynote speaker Amanda Lickers. The Rendezvous ends with a closing ceremony at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Workshop presenters include members of Rising Tide, EarthFirst!, 350VT, Vermonters for a Sustainable Population, and Bread & Puppet, as well as educators, community leaders and activists involved in environmental issues and energy policy. See the event website for times and descriptions of the 20 workshops.
“We want to push back the boundaries of heated exchange that have plagued the fight over industrial wind energy on Vermont’s ridgelines,” says Holland. “At the heart of environmental issues – and the climate change debate in particular – is an unwillingness at the policy level to consider the root causes of these problems, or the environmental costs of our choices.”
Saturday keynote speaker Peter Brown’s new book sums up our collective situation in stark terms: “The global economy today is overwhelming the ability of the earth to maintain life’s abundance. We are getting something terribly wrong. At this critical time in history, we need to reorient ourselves in how we relate to each other and to the earth’s wonders.”
Brown explains his decision to speak at The Rendezvous, “We need citizens to get out front and demand change from decision-makers. It’s time to move the Right Relationship discussion out of academia, let the people own it. The Rendezvous made sense to me and I am looking forward to the weekend.”
Rendezvous organizer Carrie Glessner says, “We hope groups and individuals with an environmental or social justice mission will join us, and we invite everyone to learn more about the event workshops and speakers at our website: TheRendezvousVT.wordpress.com. Rising Tide activist, Michael Reddy, sees The Rendezvous as a rare opportunity. “Getting MountainOccupiers, 350VT’ers, Rising Tide, Earth Firsters!, First Nation folks, etc. all in one spot to talk strategy is the most exciting thing about this event. There’s no time like the present to challenge ‘business as usual’.”
The Rendezvous will take place on Kingdom County Farm, a quarter-mile north of Irasburg village on Rtes 14 & 58, rain or shine. There is an indoor arena for large gatherings and tents for workshops and a children’s play area. The site was chosen because the 73 year-old Portland-Montreal Pipeline crosses the farm, and you can see the Sheffield and Lowell wind projects from numerous sites throughout the town.
Tent sites with access to potable water and latrines will be available. Individuals traveling long distances are welcome to camp Friday night. Attendees should bring food, chairs and/or blankets. The People’s Kitchen will provide a main dish for dinner on Saturday and Wood Belly Pizza will provide pizzas for lunch on Sunday. Check the website for availability of other on-site food. Attendees are asked to bring their own tableware. Please visit the event website for more information about camping, dogs, and site amenities.
Admission is free, though donations are requested to defray the cost of the event. In addition to hundreds of hours of volunteer time from Mountain Occupiers, keynote speakers and workshop presenters, The Rendezvous is supported by Sterling College, Energize Vermont, climate activist group Rising Tide, and individual donors.