Our team had the pleasure of spending the last two weekends of September on the road, getting the word out about our little project up here on the hill. Our focus for the past few months has been not only on site construction, but marketing our brand to our stakeholders: the community that we serve as well as the vacationers who spend their time in Garrett County. We introduced ourselves to the local community this summer at the Garrett County Agricultural Fair, as well as the Art and Wine Festival. In order to meet our vacationing audience we took our show on the road, and visited two semi-local sustainability festivals. From September 21st to the 23rd we were in Seven Springs, PA for the Mother Earth News Fair, and then September 28th to the 30th we had a booth at the DC Green Festival. In DC we soaked up some Capital culture, as well as learned about all of the latest and greatest in the world of sustainability. To us, the event in DC felt a little more corporate, set inside the DC Convention Center, juxtaposed to the Mother Earth News Fair which was mainly outdoors.
Both events were entirely dedicated to the theme of sustainability. Each had vendor booths, products, workshops, keynote speakers and seminars. The whole team (Lisa, Elliott, Bryan and myself) went to both events where we networked with sustainability experts and attended workshops from the basics of beekeeping, composting, and organic gardening, to marketing solutions for small farms, and Fair Trade 101. In Seven Springs Elliott and Bryan found inspiration through the words of Joel Salatin, a farmer, lecturer, and author of many books including Folks, This Ain’t Normal.
I fell into some inspiring story telling at the Mother Earth News Fair in the form of Lyle Estill, author and one of the founders of Piedmont Biofuels. At these events you decide within the first few minutes of a lecture if you should stay for the whole hour, or if the “How to Cure Your Own Bacon” seminar would really be a better investment of your time. Estill began with “My interest in recycling started with deep frying turkeys”…I stayed.
Estil was intriguing and honest, sharing his stories of getting their biodiesel coop started, alternative economies, life in a local economy, and the importance of human and social capital. While discussing many of the local efforts he has been a part of in Pittsboro, NC, Estill mentioned a local currency they had been using in their town for about 10 years. The PLENTY stands for Piedmont Local EcoNomy Tender, and you can use it to pay the local internet provider, eat lunch at a local restaurant, or buy a book from the local town bookstore. Check out their website for images, the currency itself is truly a work of art.
For Estill, through good times and bad, one thing remains true about the value of success: It really is about the people…It’s about the people who want to drive their cars on biodiesel, eat delicious and healthy food, and support local enterprise.
After coming to McHenry from Montgomery County for summers and winter weekends my whole life, this is the first time that I have lived here full time. One thing is clear about life in Garrett County: our citizens crave community, and many of those people, from long time locals to weekend vacationers turned residents, are dedicated to creating it, cultivating it, and celebrating it.
To me, this is what Blue Moon Rising is about as well. Its about the people who come to see the beauty of Garrett County, the artists who choose to call this place home, the educators who tirelessly strive to help students excel, the farmers who take care of the land to bring us incredible food, and the locals who cultivate the culture of Garrett County.
Maureen Myers is one of the Incorporators of the Blue Moon Rising Center for Sustainable Education, and currently resides in McHenry. Originally from Gaithersburg, MD, she has lived in Ohio, Italy, and most recently Chicago, IL after receiving her Master of Architecture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.