What a great weekend ... In case you didn't know, I've been out in Pennsylvania for the weekend at the inaugural MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair. It was fantastic.
So many things stood out over the weekend that I find myself hard-pressed to single out a particular part that impressed me most. The speakers and presenters were knowledgeable and informative, the product vendors – but for perhaps a few – were relevant to the overall "theme" of the fair, the organization – particularly for an inaugural event – was exceptional and the venue itself left little to complain about shy of it's sheer "three dimensionality," as I heard it so aptly put.
To put truth to paper there was, at least in my opinion of it, no single stand out part of the event. Nor, was it merely the event as a whole that was the standout. For instance, imagine you went to a symphony performance. Imagine it was Beethoven's 5th, an incredibly powerful and moving piece no doubt, but that it was just you in the hall to hear it. Beautiful as the music would be, and as much as you may love to hear it, it would ring sort of hollw wouldn't it? There's an intangible quality that comes about when people, passionate about a thing, get together to share in that thing. That passion adds, I think, an entirely new dimension to the event in question. It was that x-factor, that passion and shared purpose, that filled me the whole time I was there. At any junction of the day be it standing in line for a class, sitting down to write a few lines or catching some air after the live music Saturday night, the opportunity to sit and connect on a very personal level with a perfect stranger was more than available, it was unavoidable!
I was moved by the firey man from Detroit who is fighting to change the zoning laws in the "food deserts" of the inner city. He wants to farm, not garden but actually farm, the vacant lots and abandonded land that's been made available by the auto-industry collapse and economic decline. His passion was incredible.
I enjoyed brainstorming with a young lady who, with her partner, wants to find a way to put themselves on a piece of land of their own. They've been working on an organic farm for the last year or so, so they have experience, enthusiasm and some great ideas but were getting a bit discouraged. I hope they were able to come away as energized as I was.
There were too many individual interactions to list them, but I hope I've made my point. As Bryan Welch, Editor and Editorial Director of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, said in his closing keynote address, we are at an amazing point in our history. I could not agree more. We are indeed at an amazing time and seem to be more focused on that future that we desire more clearly than at any other time in history. I am so excited to truly feel like I am in some small way a part of it.
Finally, I'd like to extend a thank you to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS and GRIT staffers who worked so hard to make this such an enjoyable event, as well as to the presenters for sharing their knowledge and time and for being so approachable as well.
Now, where's my calendar ... I need to find out the dates for the next fair and mark them off as occupied.
Hope to see you at the next one.
[Check out this video Caleb took of Paul and Hank at the fair. -- Ed.]
You can reach Paul Gardener by email, or check his personal blog at
A posse ad esse.