September 4, 2011

Fair to join global rally

UNITY -- What better place to hold a rally for the planet than at a fair that celebrates rural living, organically grown Maine produce, sustainable living and common ground for community organizations?

Common Ground Country Fair attendees Saturday, Sept. 24, are invited to be subjects in an aerial photograph designed to inspire the world to move beyond fossil fuels.

The emphasis, said fair assistant Gianna Short, is on move.

Initiated by 350.org, a global grassroots environmental organization, rallies around the world are being planned Sept. 24 to bring attention to scientists' calls to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 392 parts per million to below 350 parts per million.

According to 350.org, other large-scale events, designed to show politicians that communities have strength in numbers, will include thousands of people on the move -- cycling, marching and skateboarding.

"For too long, leaders have denied and delayed, compromised and caved," according to 350.org. "That era must come to an end: It's time to get moving on the climate crisis."

To coincide with the 2011 Common Ground Country Fair's focus on climate change, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Transition Towns decided to take part in Moving Planet, the name for the worldwide rally based on active movement for climate action.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association sought artists' proposals of how to creatively choreograph and shoot aerial photographs of a mass gathering of fairgoers at 3:50 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Crosby Brook Road site.

The association's example of a possible proposal included staging participants in a pattern that, seen from above looks like 350. The photo will be sent to the 350.org website to be included with photos of thousands of other Moving Planet events taking place that day.

With more than 20,000 people expected Sept. 24 at the fair, organizers said the photographed gathering could encompass thousands of actively moving participants.

A panel of representatives from the association and Transition Network, an organization that supports community-led responses to climate change, are reviewing artists' submitted proposals; the winner will be announced Tuesday.

In many different ways, the Common Ground Country Fair encourages sustainable living, from bicycling to the fair to buying local produce.

The 2011 fair, which runs Sept. 23-25, features organic food, demonstrations, entertainment, a children's area, country store, exhibits, speakers and a public policy teach-in.

Titled "Climate Change in Maine: Problems, Response and Impact on Farms," the teach-in will be at 2 p.m. Saturday on Spotlight Stage.

Short said panelists include Lou McNally, assistant professor of applied meteorology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a broadcast meteorologist for Maine Public Radio and Television; Sharon Tisher, instructor and lecturer of environmental law and policy at the University of Maine; Anne D. Burt, environmental program director at Maine Council of Churches; Dylan Voorhees, clean energy and global warming project director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine; Stephen Mulkey, Unity College president and a climate change expert; and John Jemison, water quality and soil specialist from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

While the 2011 fair schedule has not been published, discussions and demonstrations frequently center on low-impact forestry, homesteading, composting, community supported agriculture, recycling and conservation of resources. Gates will open at 9 a.m. daily. Vendors are open until 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information on the fair, visit www.mofga.org.

Beth Staples -- 861-9252

bstaples@centralmaine.com

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