Patrick Holden, founder of the Sustainable Food Trust, called the gathering a “historic occasion.” Certainly last week’s “Harmony and Health” initiative attracted movers and shakers in the sustainability movement from all over the world. You can read about day one of the conference here.
Barbara Sexton Smith, former Fund for the Arts chair, brought her usual spitfire energy to serve as the ringleader for the second day of the “Harmony and Health” Institute at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage prior to the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Charles.
Mayor Greg Fischer started the day with a moving tribute to what he called “Cities 3.0.” He described Cities 1.0 as being built around ports and transportation routes; Cities 2.0 were built around industry and were destination points for immigrants; Cities 3.0 are leading the way now. The people and the productivity in America is centered around cities.
Fischer celebrated the “citizen science” and “open source” movements and said even leadership needs to be open source — “just the best, not Republican or Democrat.”
The collective conscience of Cities 3.0 has three prongs: lifelong learning, health and compassion.
Ted Smith presented the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil’s “wheel of health,” followed by brief speeches from several other Louisville experts, including Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar and Ben Reno-Weber of the Greater Louisville Project.
The morning concluded with a series of “Ignite Speakers,” 21 experts who spoke for three minutes each on a subject related to “Health and Harmony.” Speakers included billionaires, best-selling authors, the former Bishop of Oslo, and the founders of a number of different environmental and health nonprofits.
• Peggy Plympton of the National Endowment for the Humanities told us the NEH has funded 24 projects to the tune of $3.1 million in past three years, including the Filson Society and works by Wendell Berry.
• David Wilson is the farm manager at Duchy Farms, which is owned by Prince Charles. “Having the best quality food should be a human right,” Wilson said, adding that commercial farming denies us that right.
• Peter Seligmann told us briefly about the island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific that is slowly disappearing due to rising ocean levels. The leader of that nation said he has no choice but to “migrate with dignity.” Seligmann is the co-founder and CEO of Conservation International. His message was: “care for nature, save people.”
• Ambassador Tom Graham, a Louisville native, is one of the leading experts on nuclear proliferation. He spent his life fighting nuclear weapons and long considered them the greatest threat to humanity. But now his opinion has changed. He regards climate change as the biggest threat to humanity. “Nuclear weapons may kill us. Climate change will kill us.”
• Ian Skelly, who wrote the book “Harmony” with Prince Charles, observed a lack of diversity in the speaker roster — one that was reflected in the audience as well. He began his speech by saying, “I’m another white man in a suit talking to you, and I apologize for that.” People laughed, uncomfortably.
Last week’s “Harmony and Health” initiative is a true testament to the power and reach of Christy Lee Brown, who is on the board of the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil and who created this event. The official line on the event is that it was pulled together in a little more than two weeks; that’s hard to believe given the heavy-hitters who were brought in to speak and the local luminaries in attendance. But with Brown at the helm — and with a lot of help — that’s what seems to have happened.