~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on May 2, 2013
The TEDxFloyd program bylines reflected the diversity of topics covered by local speakers at the EcoVillage on Saturday. There was everything from the credentials of a zoology master to “I live on a farm, I am ten years old, and my favorite book is the Hobbit,” provided by Jonah Coldwater, who told jokes with a sock puppet.
The day long event was organized and hosted by upper elementary students at Blue Mountain School (the Unknowns) and their teacher Hari Berzins. It featured more than 20 short talks in the TED Talk conference tradition of “ideas worth spreading” and was streamed live online.
Titled the Fabric of Floyd, the independent Floyd TEDx was woven together by the sharing of ideas by community members and students on forest restoration, art, faith, growing up in the days of moonshine, our sustainable energy future, simple living, fiddle making, authenticity in business and much more.
Katherine Ingoldsby of the Historical Society and the Old Church Gallery’s Story Center gave a power point talk on the history and use of soapstone and handmade bricks in Floyd. Veronica Santo, speaking on Abundance with Permaculture, gave useful pointers on how she got her electric bill down to $14 a month.
Jason Rutledge of Healing Harvest Forest Foundation was introduced by a BMS student as one who “speaks for the trees.” Rutledge spoke with passion about forest restoration and horse logging, saying “Horses are renewable. Nobody has ever woke up and found a baby tractor in the barn.”
Lydeana Martin, introduced as a community leader and cancer survivor, spoke about her faith and the grace she received after her advanced cancer diagnosis in 2008. Jenny Finn, who is preparing to move to Floyd, flew in from Colorado to talk on Befriending the Darkness, saying, “Darkness is where we find the treasure.”
Plenty! co-founder Karen Day reenacted knocking on a neighbor’s door and delivering fresh produce, saying, “Plenty! happens because nourishing my community nourishes me.” Sarah Beth Jones from Nary Ordinary Business Services (No BS) talked about businesses being built on passion and the pursuit of a happy life, rather than greed.
A highlight of the last of three sessions of talks was one by renowned fiddle maker Arthur Conner and his apprentice Mike Mitchell. “It feels good to leave something for others to enjoy after I’m gone,” said the 89 year old craftsman. When Mitchell, an accomplished musician, asked Conner for advice on learning the skill of fiddle making, Conner answered, “All you need is time. It will take time.”
The power of deep listening was a theme and conversation was encouraged. Joe Klein guided the audience in an exercise designed to bring them into the present moment. At the lunch break BMS director Shelly Emmett encouraged everyone to sit with someone they didn’t know. Conversation starter prompts were placed at each table.
Following TED guidelines, attendance was limited to 100. The event included moments of silence, a pot luck lunch and a “stone soup,” supper, made with community offerings.
Poet Mara Robbins, who combined poetry with commentary on the nature of trauma, posted on Facebook the day after the event: “It was a mindblowing exploration of ideas and community. I am awed, humbled and grateful.”
Photos: 1. TEDxFloyd organizer and Blue Mountain School teacher Hari Berzins offered a follow-up comment to Fred First on his talk about our nature deficit disorder and the importance of re-localizing our sense of place, “an intentional, nurtured allegiance to our here and now.” First is a local blogger, nature writer and photographer. 2. Jason Rutledge told the TEDx audience that the trim work, timber-framed beams and the floor he was standing on in the Celebration Hall was built with lumber from products he logged using restorative forestry practices. 3. When Sarah Beth Jones briefly lost her train of thought during her talk, an audience member shouted out, “We love your shoes!” Speaking on the importance of being yourself, she closed her talk by saying, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” 4. TEDx speaker Lydeana Martin (left) and BMS parents Katie Roberts (center) and Cassie Pierce enjoyed lunch in the EcoVillage’s Conversation Café. 5. Jacksonville Center’s Lee Chichester, who gave a talk on art as an agent of world change, enjoyed lunch with her husband, Jack Russell and friends. During her talk, Chichester said she didn’t think she was artistic until she realized that we can bring an artistry to everything we do.
6. “The good Lord gave me the gift of carving and a love of music,” said fiddle maker Arthur Conner, pictured with apprentice Mike Mitchell. 7. BMS students presented Berzins with a bouquet of flowers at the end of the Talks. Berzins, who called the project “a labor of love,” thanked the volunteers and the local businesses and organizations who sponsored the event for making it possible. 8. Berzins husband Karl, a chef at a restaurant in Galax, made soup for 100, in the spirit of “Stone Soup,” a folk tale about community soup making. 9. Rick Brown of SolShine Energy Alternatives, pointed out that Floyd has a history of renewable energy with its many historical grist mills. His talk included a slide show of current evidence of renewable energy in the county, including a solar powered stoplight at the bridge on 221 that is being repaired.