By Mary McLoughlin

Facilitated by: Cary Gaunt, Sustainability and Watershed Consultant and Lori Hanau, Summit Emcee and Founder of the Global Round Table Leadership

“What are your Slow Living Leadership needs?” “What form would a Slow Living Institute take?” or “Should the Slow Living Summit become an Institute at all?” These questions and many others were asked of participants during Thursday morning’s “Help Us Plan a Slow Living Institute” breakout session. Through a variety of brainstorming methods, including “Open Sentencing”, Questions, and Discussion, it was concluded that a Slow Living Institute should exist, but what form would it take? Many ideas were enthusiastically offered, but the multitude and variety of thoughts made it difficult to provide a conclusive picture of what a Slow Living Institute would look like.

A calm and supportive atmosphere was created by our breakout session leaders Lori Hanau and Cary Gaunt. which encouraged each participant to feel comfortable sharing their ideas. This feeling began with a contextual poem recitation and centering breathing exercise, and personal introductions where we each shared our most important Slow Living needs. Examples of Slow Living Needs include development of leadership skills and communication of the spiritual aspects of slow living. Seeing the patterns and similarities of people’s responses to this question and others brought the group of new acquaintances closer together.

Slow Living Institute brainstorming and Local Food refreshments

Some of the overarching themes that my peers in the session voiced, include our Slow Living leader, Orly Munzing, were that a better definition of Slow Living and the characteristics of a good Slow Living leader must be reached before an academic forum can exist. We found the qualities and practices of the Slow Living leader to include: teach by example, be introspective, and be able to evoke a “yes and…” attitude. This session succeeded in shaping what may be the beginnings of an institute; but there is still a long way to go. Questions about the organization of a Slow Living Institute received a diverse amount of plausible answers. What would be taught, who would be the target participants and what would be the delivery system? The take away thoughts from the session are that Slow Living is such a large and important topic that even the great minds participating in Friday’s session couldn’t figure out what shape a Slow Living Institute might take; but we could all agree that we should try.