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Panel Discussion on Social Mycelium: the Fiber of Community Resilience

  • Bethany Church, 32 South Main Street Randolph, VT, 05060 United States (map)

Speakers: Mindy Blank, Simon Dennis, Chris Wood, Henry Harris

A collaboration between Building A Local Economy (BALE) and Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition (VHSC)

Mycelium are a dynamic underground network of fungi that enable biological nutrient cycling. The social mycelium mimics this collective intelligence on a human scale with symbiotic interconnections that support the whole. What does it mean to build resilient communities and who will do the work?

Mindy Blank is the Executive Director of Community Resilience Organizations - a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities enhance resilience for challenges that lie ahead, whether climate change impacts, social disconnects, or economic disruptions. The approach is focused on building civic engagement and healthier, happier communities that address vulnerabilities in the climate change era by becoming increasingly “community sufficient” - meeting their needs locally and sustainably. Mindy teaches a range of environmental courses at Green Mountain College and is the Co-Chair of the Academic Resilience Collaborative of the Resilient Vermont Network. She holds a Masters of Environmental Law and Policy degree from Vermont Law School and formerly worked as an Energy Analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris where she developed road mapping processes that accelerate deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart grid technologies. She also approaches climate change and social change through herbalism, working closely with plant medicines and teachers in Vermont, North Carolina, Peru, and Panama.

Simon Dennis serves as the founding director of the Center for Transformational Practice, a small residential community and nonprofit organization that supports its region’s transition to a just and sustainable culture by advancing inner transformation as the foundation for positive social change. Prior to this, he spent ten years co-founding and co-directing COVER Home Repair and Reuse Program. In 2012, Simon was elected to the Hartford Selectboard where he currently serves as Chair.  In these and other community initiatives, his work has endeavored to search out the root causes of the current state of emergency within human consciousness.

Henry Harris grew up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. He and his amazing 14 year old daughter live at the new center in Marshfield, VT. Henry has worked in social movements and in building trades around the US.  Most of his volunteer work has been in mass actions or direct action movements, though he has also worked for food sovereignty, cooperative economics, and racial justice. Henry is involved in training for racial- and climate-justice actions for youth and adults, and currently works with the Vermont Climate Union, the VT National Lawyers Guild, the Switchboard Trainers Network and an arts & action collective called the Make.

Chris Wood is the founder and Executive Director of BALE (Building A Local Economy), based in South Royalton, Vermont.  In addition to serving on numerous community boards and organizations, Chris has founded or co-founded many nonprofit Vermont organizations over the last 35 years including Rural Vermont, Vermont Community Loan Fund, Rainbow Coalition of Vermont, Vermont Resource Cooperative, Vermont Community Reinvestment Association, Onion River Arts Council, Vermont Committee on Southern Africa, Focus on Film, Vermont Jobs with Justice, Vermont Consumers’ Campaign for Health, Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance, Green Mountain Film Festival, Studio Place Arts, Royalton Community Radio, and Gross National Happiness USA. His strength is networking, collaboration, and working with diverse groups/participants to strengthen community goals. His only recognizable relaxation is hiking, trailing behind his wife Sylvie on skis, and happily taking control in the kitchen (he also co-founded the quirky and beloved Horn of the Moon Café in Montpelier over 40 years ago).

contact: Cat Buxton