Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Home from Terra Madre

Finally, we have arrived home - after about 60 hours of no sleep, missing our last flight and renting a car from JFK to Burlington! However, all is fine - our luggage made it with no breaks of any important bottles, which is a huge relief! Our last day in Turin feels like such a blur - I'm sure it's hazy due to the lack of sleep factor, but I'll do my best to recount our amazing last day.
We spent the morning taking in the areas of the Salone del Gusto that we hadn't yet, as well as making those necessary last purchases at the Presidium section. We spent our dollars mostly supporting the Presidium foods, and really feel good about that. However, there are so many amazing foods all over that are purchase worthy, and we made sure to partake in things like pistachios from Sicily - made into a nut butter and also made deliciously into a buttery gelato. It was this that we tanked up on while attending a workshop called: Food Security, the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy. This was a panel discussion that had a meteorologist, Vandana Shiva, the Piedmont Minister of Agriculture, the Turin Minister of Commerce, and President of the Economics Commission on the Government of Cuba. Such a diverse crew of folks all saying the same thing - we need to become self sustainable in the agricultural department to survive the challenges of climate change as well as the economic and food crises that are upon us. It was a fascinating panel that I tried to record with my camera's audio feature - I'll try to find a way to post that somewhere here. After that amazing talk, we had a couple of hours before we had to be back at the Olympic stadium for the closing ceremonies. We spent the time visiting with some of our friends that we've made at past Terra Madre installments, farming conferences as well as other Vermonters that we happened to bump into. Then it was off to the crazy closing ceremony that was incredibly awe-inspiring. The air was positively electric with the collective experiences we 8000 delegates had shared - there were closing speeches that were praised and booed (the video of the Minister of Foreign Affairs was 17 minutes too long, and all the Italians booed him and eventually stood and turned their backs to his image - all in all, his message was positive, but the natives were restless and couldn't sit still for that long!). The Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that in 2010 when Italy hosts the G8 summit, Slow Food will be invited to make a case - a pretty big deal! Carlo Petrini had to come out and scold us gently and redirect the energy towards celebration of all we had experienced. We were then treated to Fiesta Madre - a beautiful celebration of the farmer-musicians that participated. It was ring-led by the Torino based music group called Mau Mau - fantastic Brazilian style with a world beat, a perfect complement to the other groups they had playing with them - an Ethiopian group, a Senegalese group, some various Italian traditional groups; I've never seen anything quite like it; the entire room was vibrating with the dancing throngs in pure joy and happiness. What a rush! It was essentially a manifestation of party scenes from Kim Stanley Robinson books - especially the Mars series, which catalogues humanity's challenge to colonize Mars (so convincing, you'd swear it was already accomplished). In his books there are always several inspiring gatherings of people that erupt into intense dance parties, playing to our primal urge to commune through music....THAT was what Fiesta Madre was like. (Incidentally, Time magazine just named Kim Stanley Robinson as a "hero of the environment" - check out his Capital Code series about abrupt climate change (Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting). At any rate - it was a dizzying end to the conference, especially as we were shuttled to our buses at 11 pm to be whisked to our hotels, where we would be picked up to go to the airport at 3am (for an 11 am flight!), and our many hours of not sleeping were underway. It's no use anyway, we were so wired from the experience that it would have been hard to sleep! So, we stayed up and debriefed and wrote and talked while traveling home with high hopes to continue the momentum that we gained during this amazing experience. I would LOVE to have the Intervale have a much larger delegation in 2010, as urban farming will become more and more important as the cities maintain the bulk of our world's population. Look forward to us organizing some fun slide shows, talks and dinners coming up!


Kari & Herb said...

Greetings from Cleveland! I just stumbled across your blog and loved reading about your Terra Madre 2008 experience. Fellow delegate Abbe Turner sent me your "hello". I'm so bummed to be experiencing TM vicariously this year but much is happening here on the homefront. Take care! -Kari, Slow Food Northern Ohio

Robert said...

Greetings from Robert at Three Tomatoes Trattoria.
Terra Madre Vermonters Blog is a great idea.
Talk soon.

Mandy D said...

Awesome, guys. We should try and set up a brown bag here at the Center - there are no doubt many people in the Intervale community who'd like to hear more, see pix, etc.!

Thanks for your awesome work!