“We have everything we need, right here at home.”
No one could have said it better. The Piedmont region of North Carolina is home to Abundance North Carolina, an organization whose mission is plain and simple: “Bring people together to exchange ideas and build strong communities resilient in the face of challenge.”
I went into my phone interview with Executive Director of Abundance, Tami Schwerin, with only a brief knowledge of Abundance. I wanted to have a grasp on the foundation’s mission but also be able to learn about it through her perspective.
You might think a simple mission comes with a simple solution, but Abundance’s solution is well, quite abundant. Year round, they are working on various projects ranging from annual events such as the Pepper Festival, to one-off events such as their Renewable Energy and Local Food Summer Camp in 2013. Through working with their local community, they were able to educate more people on the importance of locally sourced food, where it comes from, and even how to grow their own. From there, it bloomed.
Diving deeper into our conversation, I wanted to ask Tami more about sustainability as a whole being that it was one of the driving forces in the organization. She discussed how in 2012 a farmer came to Abundance to inquire if it was possible to discuss sea levels rising and ways in which local farmers could prepare for the ways climate change was affecting their farms. This developed into the now annual Climate Change conference where farmers and interested minds can attend to discuss plans on facing the environmental challenges that drastic weather change brings.
When asking her about what sustainability means, she said “It’s not sustainable if its only sustainable for a certain demographic” which I think sheds light on something we often forget. Sustainability is meant to encompass more than just facing environmental change, while that is a very important component. Tami discusses how she believes “diversity is the key to strength”.
Tami went through what every single parent dreads, losing their kid. Following the death of her son, she realized that death is something we all deal with alone and that grieving is a very personal process, but why did it have to be that way? The Death Faire was developed to provide a space for the local community to be able to openly discuss death and grievance. This is why their events, such as the Death Faire and Pecha Kucha (a storytelling event where the community gathers to discuss sustainable topics), are important because it reminds us that in order to be sustainable, we must be open to discussing all challenging topics such as death, race, social justice, and how we treat the environment.
Abundance is here to remind us that there should always be an open space to talk about the things that scare us because without that, change will never come.
If you’d like to checkout their website it is listed below. Scroll to the bottom to find their new video “Spirit of Abundance” featuring the wonderful Tami Schwerin!
Written by: Hayden McConnell