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The deadline for proposals has passed. We were swamped and can not accept further proposals! Please click on the following links for information about the 2013 Summit, and please join us in Brattleboro, Vermont June 5-7!

Summit info | Register at early-bird rates | What is Slow Living? | Summit Sponsors | Who’s Coming?

The third annual Slow Living Summit — a conference focused on the development of nurturing and mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems — will be held June 5-7, 2013 in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. 

We invite thought leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, artists, faith leaders, wellness practitioners and engaged citizens to propose conference programs that are relevant to the Slow Living Vision, consistent with the Summit’s purpose and goals, and that address one or more of the Summit’s convening questions.

Before submitting a proposal, please review carefully the information and guidelines on this page. We also suggest that your review this website, including the content of prior Summits. Should you have any questions, please be in touch with us!

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What is Slow Living?

The concept of Slow Living is built on the metaphor of “slow,” as used by other visionary organizations like Slow Food and Slow Money. “Slow” encompasses several layers of meaning that go beyond simply “sustainable.” Slow is the opposite of “fast” — fast food, fast money, fast living — and all of the negative consequences “fast” has had for the environment and for the health of people and societies. “Slow” embodies co-operation, respect, sustainability, gratitude and resilience.

Morris DanceBut “Living” is also a key word in our name and our vision. “Living” should be mindful and purposeful, but also celebratory and filled with beauty, joy and gratitude. Defining what is meant by living well, or by a life well lived, is as relevant today as it was to the ancients — and as difficult.

Combining these words, “Slow Living” is a more reflective approach to answering how we live, work and play as human beings on a fragile Earth. When we Live Slow, we give back and become more strongly connected to the Earth, to our communities, to our neighbors and to ourselves. A Slow Life is one that seeks the right balance between spirituality, sensuality, introspection and community.  A Slow Life recognizes our role as members of our bioregions and of our Earth, taking a nourishing, rather than extractive approach.

What a Slow Living world looks like

  • Slow Living is living within our means and living within the means the Earth can sustainably provide.
  • Slow Living is more time for family, community, and self. It is a fuller and more prosperous life in terms of human happiness and fulfillment.
  • Slow Living is vibrant communities and bioregions with strong economic and social resilience connected to like-minded communities in a worldwide network of mutual learning and support.
  • Slow Living encourages Sacred Economics — a gift-centered economy with more connected and sustainable ways of doing business, commerce and investing, getting the food and energy we need, and making the decisions that govern our lives based on stewardship and giving.
  • Slow Living celebrates and rewards socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurship and activism.
  • Slow Living means building sustainable communities, businesses, schools, non-profits, and governmental entities based on the needs of our ecosystem, rather than our individual wants.

The Slow Living Vision

Farmers MarketThe Slow Living Vision is of an Earth where humankind, honoring and celebrating the profound connectedness of all people, places and living beings, gives back by co-creating mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems — and where we combine the wisdom of the past with a vision for the future to ensure a balanced, fulfilling way of life for all generations to come.

The Slow Living Vision is already being realized all over the world by an amazing array of people who are working on new pathways. These include not only sustainable agriculture, community building, renewable energy, reforestation, social justice, new economic models and resource conservation, but also deeper explorations into the wisdom of indigenous people, feminine and masculine wisdom, and the roles of the arts, ethics, philosophy, science, spirituality and religion in healing the Earth.

We come from all walks of life. We live in rural areas, small towns, and large cities. We are young and old, wealthy and struggling. We are all seeking a better way, a saner way, and a happier way to live and organize their lives.

We will come together in Brattleboro, Vermont for the 2013 Slow Living Summit. 

The purpose of the Summit

At the Summit, we will model and advance the Slow Living Vision through a deep, mindful and collaborative exploration of key questions and problems facing our world and our communities.

In order to fulfill this purpose, the Summit’s goals are:

  1. To listen, to explore, and to seek answers, solutions and actions that relate to a set of key convening questions
  2. To build collaborative connections among participants from multiple disciplines and sectors of society
  3. To integrate mind, body, spirit, nature and community in arriving at holistic, balanced solutions, understanding that giving back is as important as receiving.
  4. Through a newly established Slow Living Leadership Institute, to develop a network of Slow Living leaders who can advance Slow Living in their own regions and communities

The Summit’s convening questions:

Summit session topics and content will be chosen to address a set of overarching convening questions. Any particular session may explore aspects of these questions — for example, by discussing barriers to solutions, presenting relevant research or case studies, or engaging in collaborative problem-solving.

Slow stencil on pavementThe convening questions are:

  1. How does Slow Living strengthen the community, nurture the spirit and nourish the Earth? (This question is an overlay for all the others.)
  2. How do we move from the Fast Lane to the Slow Lane? And what can we learn in the Slow Lane that we can’t learn in the Fast Lane?
  3. What is the inner transformation necessary for embracing Slow Living? How do we work to bring about that transformation?
  4. What is the difference between a Slow Economy and a Fast Economy?
  5. How do we create more resilient communities and bioregions that adapt well to changing climate and other challenges created by Fast Living?

At the final plenary session on Friday, Summit “stewards” will moderate a full-group discussion in which we share and summarize the Summit’s discoveries, understandings and solutions surrounding these questions.

The Summit format:

The Slow Living Summit takes place in downtown Brattleboro, a vibrant, quirky, progressive community in the heart of New England. The Summit’s non-traditional downtown venues, the sidewalks that serve as the conference’s main concourse, and the town’s bistros and galleries all encourage fruitful thought, conversation and collaboration.

The 2013 Summit will minimize “talking heads” in favor of sessions that maximize active participation. Traditional formats such as talks, panel discussions, videos, and slideshows are welcome, as long as sessions incorporate plenty of opportunity for discussion and other forms of attendee interaction. We encourage consideration of less traditional formats such as workshops, fishbowl formats, hands-on-activities, ambulatory sessions, games, meditations, participative music, art, dance and theatre formats, and the like. We are planning to accept fewer proposals than in prior years, seeking a “slower” conference experience and quality over quantity.

Our plenary sessions take place in Brattleboro’s historic art-deco theatre, the Latchis

The Summit will include plenary sessions with all attendees gathered in a 750-seat theatre, and breakout sessions in spaces with a variety of seating arrangements and capacities from 20 to 150 persons. Session lengths are not predetermined — we ask that you specify the necessary length of time in your proposal, along with the right group size and seating arrangement.

In general, in order to accomplish our goal of maximizing interactivity, we ask that panels of presenters be limited to no more than three persons, and that planned presentations take up no more than one half of the length of the session.

During unscheduled periods between sessions, meal breaks and after-hours periods, we will encourage continued discussions and interactions in a variety of ways including designated topical tables at lunch, and conversation hosts to facilitate discussions. If you’d like to help in this capacity, please let us know.

Scope of proposals being sought

Proposals are welcome in a wide range of areas, with strong preference given to multi-disciplinary proposals that bring balance to the Summit by exploring connections between multiple topics on this list, with the premise that cross-sector collaborations can lead to the emergence of more powerful solutions. Suggested topics include the following, but by no means do we expect to cover all of this ground in depth:

  • Spirit — the wisdom of indigenous people; mindfulness; the roles of philosophy, spirituality and religion in healing the Earth.
  • Economics — new economic models, business ownership structures, alternative investment and funding, new approaches to management
  • Arts and education — the roles of artists and educators in communities and bioregions; sustainability and the arts
  • Communities — resilience; community building; social justice; health and healing; institutional sustainability; laws and policies; slow media
  • Bioregions — climate change, reforestation, resource conservation, food systems, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, transportation systems, rebalancing our ecosystems

Proposal format

Please submit your proposal in the form of  Microsoft Word or PDF documents, attached to a cover email. It is fine to submit separate documents for the proposal and the resumes of speakers, as long as they are all attached to a single email. Proposals should include:

  • Session title
  • Summit convening question(s) being addressed
  • Summit content areas included in the proposal
  • Session description
  • How much time will this session require? (We are attempting to incorporate various breakout sessions lengths ranging from 75 to 120 minutes.)
  • Description of how the proposed session advances the Slow Living Vision
  • Proposed format of session, and description of how attendees will participate
  • Names, titles and affiliations of speaker(s), presenter(s), discussion leader(s), along with a brief outline of their qualifications and links to online bios, blogs, web pages, etc.

The consent and tentative commitment of any co-presenters should be secured in advance.

Next steps for submitting your proposal

Please email your proposal, with all relevant attachments, to Martin Langeveld, conference coordinator, at

Additional contact information can be found on our contact page.

Proposal selection criteria

Our selection process will focus on content proposals that are most consistent with the Summit’s purpose and goals, that best fit the Summit’s convening questions, and that best address the Summit’s intended format, all of which are outlined above.

The planning committee will therefore consider the following criteria for any proposed session:

  • Will the proposed session advance the Slow Living Vision?
  • Does the proposal address one or more of the convening questions?
  • Does the proposed format permit collaboration and building of connections among participants from multiple disciplines and sectors of society?
  • Will the session contribute to finding holistic solutions that balance mind, body, spirit and community?
  • Will the session help develop Slow Living leaders?

In addition, we will take into consideration:

  • The experience and expertise of the proposed speakers or session leaders
  • The timeliness of the content to be presented and discussed
  • The clarity, definition and focus of the proposal

Requirements for speakers, panelists, and session leaders

The Summit is a non-profit enterprise (under the sponsorship of Strolling of the Heifers, Inc.), and any proceeds from the Summit are used to advance the Summit’s vision and goals, including the development of the Slow Living Leadership Program and the Strolling of the Heifers Farm/Food Business Plan Competition.

Therefore, upon acceptance, we will ask that you and any co-presenters register for the Summit at the at-cost registration rate for session speakers, panelists and leaders, which is $149 for the full conference. (Upon acceptance you will receive a discount code to use.) We encourage all presenters to attend for the duration of the Summit, June 5-7, but one-day at-cost registration is available at $79 per person.

We have a limited number of hotel rooms available for speakers and presenters and will try to accommodate all who need a place to stay.

We ask that all presenters:

  • Grant permission for audio and video recording of their session, along with permission for both live-streaming and online archived distribution
  • Grant permission of hard-copy and online distribution of supplemental resource materials such as handouts and PowerPoint presentations
  • Secure any permission necessary for distribution of copyrighted content in your supplemental resource materials, and to attach the publisher’s written permission to any such materials

Important dates

We encourage submission as early as possible. Proposals will be listed in our tentative Summit schedule upon acceptance and confirmation.

    • January 22, 2013: Final date to submit regular-deadline proposals (early acceptance deadline passed on Nov. 30, 2012)
    • February 4, 2013: All proposers will be notified of the status of their proposal on or before this date.
    • February 15, 2013: By this date, speakers should make firm commitments to attend. Dates and times of sessions will be arranged during the period of January 15 to February 15.
    • March 1, 2013: The Summit schedule with session details will be substantially completed and published on or before this date.
    • Wednesday, June 5 through Friday, June 7, 2013: The Summit takes place in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont, followed by the annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend.

The Slow Living Leadership Program

The idea for a Slow Living Leadership Institute arose from participants at the annual Slow Living Summit commented on the richness of community-based sustainability and local economy initiatives presented at the Summit, but asked, “How do you do it?” and other questions like, “How can we start a Slow Living movement in our communities?” “How do we integrate Slow Living principles in our schools and work places?”

The Slow Living Leadership Institute is designed to provide training materials, workshops and accredited academic courses, and community support to address these questions and support individuals and organizations interested in adopting a more reflective leadership approach that “honors and celebrates the profound connectedness of all people, places and living beings, gives back by co-creating mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems, and combines the wisdom of the past with a vision for the future to ensure a balanced, fulfilling way of life for all generations to come (Slow Living Vision).”

In June 2013, in conjunction with the annual Slow Living Summit, the inaugural Slow Living Leadership Institute will offer a short course in “slow living” leadership, focusing on innovative, contemplative, and sustainable approaches. (Check back for more information as plans for the Institute and the first leadership course are developed.)


Morris dance photo by Matthew Ragan, used under Creative Commons License.

Windmill photo by Craig S. O’Connell, used under Creative Commons license

Farmers’ Market photo by Corey Templeton, used under Creative Commons License.

Summit session photo by Jessie Baker, 603 Media Group, Summit photographer

Slow sign on pavement photo by antphotos, used under Creative Commons License.