There is enough time, love and money for everyone. That’s the philosophy behind “Think Again: LOVE,” an event scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. on April 20 at The Plant on Lorax Lane in Pittsboro. …
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There is enough time, love and money for everyone. That’s the philosophy behind “Think Again: LOVE,” an event scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. on April 20 at The Plant on Lorax Lane in Pittsboro. It’s sponsored by Abundance NC, and this week, we speak with its executive director, Tami Schwerin. Schwerin founded Abundance NC as an organization dedicated to celebrating community resilience. Schwerin also manages The Plant, the eco-industrial park and Beverage District on the edge of Pittsboro. She has been creating things in Chatham County for almost 30 years. Her fellow workers at Abundance NC describe her as a person with an “utterly contagious” vibrancy, as well as “a fearless visionary, community builder, and cartographer of the impossible,” and someone who sees “in pure potential.”
Let’s start with Abundance NC. What are its mission and roles, and what kind of cultural change are you working to accomplish through it?
Abundance cultivates and celebrates community resilience.
That means that when our community is healthy, we can withstand small troubles and big crises. It means creating a local culture of equity, coming together to help each other and educating folks on the critical importance of sustainable agriculture, local food and renewable energy. Diving into our spirit and our souls to find meaning is part of resilience, too.
The culture needs to be examined and systems need changing. We have to start with ourselves first.
You’ve mentioned that when people talk about Abundance, sometimes they ask – “What is that crazy non-profit up to this time?” What is it about Abundance that makes it so unique among other organizations in Chatham County?
Well, obviously, the leadership of Abundance is a bit quirky. And a bit ambitious. We envision a community where people are not afraid of each other, where everyone has healthy food and a place to lay their heads, where they are loved and cared for and more than that, where people thrive and do what they are passionate about. The times, they are a changing. There is a bubbling up of all the darkness that has been underground. As it emerges, the voices of those that have been quiet, are speaking and being heard. It’s time to really look at and question the status quo.
We emerged out of a need to educate people about healthy food and healthy fuels, sustainability and conservation. If we just paid upfront for local healthy food and renewable energy, we would pay less for our healthcare and for cleaning up the environment. We are starting to wake up, it just needs to go faster, and it needs to be for everyone.
Your very name — Abundance — brings to mind the notion of the scarcity mentality that so many people (and some organizations) tend to have. At the same time, you preach sustainability, healing and the importance of modeling what abundance means. Can you talk about that, and why it’s important?
We have everything we need right here. There is no reason for the haves and the have nots. There is no reason to have poverty and to put walls up and to exclude certain people that don’t look like me. There is enough time, love and money for everyone. There is enough food and shelter. If you look at every problem we have; the “isms” and the environmental crisis, they are caused from fear and scarcity. Exponential growth and extraction are acts of scarcity.
One of the things Abundance does so well is events and festivals. Your “Think Again: LOVE” festival is scheduled for April 20 at The Plant in Pittsboro. It’s billed as an event to address the divisiveness within the Chatham County community. What was the inspiration behind this event’s creation?
Abundance NC has had such success with the Death Faire and last year during the “#me too” movement, there was some local sexual misconduct that caused our organization to start questioning how to address this as a community. As we went down the road, I realized it was a very profound and vast subject. There are many layers, perspectives and deep wounds.
I also wanted to explore romantic love and the taboo topics as my marriage of 24 years changed from traditional to very not traditional. Naturally I spoke to many single and married folks who were unhappy, wanting more, not able to connect, missing something. I also talked to happy couples and realized the root is back to the self. When one does the hard work of taking responsibility for their reality, for their own happiness and love, it creates magical relationships with their mates, their kids, their friends and their co-workers. I believe it is worth working on as a community to get to a higher level of relationship.
Think Again: Love will focus on communication, education and celebration. Talk about what else will occur during this day-long event…
Our keynote speaker is soul-doula; Vanessa Jackson from Atlanta. She is going to give us a talk about authentic love, loving a broken world, and the question, how do you love when it’s hard? She’ll discuss our community needs, focusing on the self and more. We’ll have kids’ activities, workshops for men specifically, sexual empowerment for all, weaving community with song, vulnerability, couples’ intimacy, medicine for the earth, raising LGBQT kids, vendors, an art gallery, and live music.
What do you hope will result from it?
I want people to acknowledge their own power. I want people to make an effort to be uncomfortable, to stretch and grow. I want people to think differently and question their beliefs and to imagine how things could be if we put our differences aside. There is a lot of trauma from our pasts, from our ancestors and from being human. We need to feel it, face it and heal it. From there, we can get to deeper places and have more satisfying relationships with ourselves and others.
I believe we can make a significant difference by showing up and being present.
What about details – what do people who are interested in going need to know?
Folks should buy their tickets now. Prices are kept low so that all can go. ($15 early/$20 at the door) Volunteer positions are still needed, so no one is turned away. Kids are $5 and there are activities for them as well. I would say come with an open mind and leave with a full heart.
We’ll be talking, listening, singing, dancing, eating and drinking and most of all: LOVING.
For schedule and tickets, go to https://abundancenc.org/event/think-again-love/