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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Shopping locally but trading ideas


By Bob Ferris

I suspect there are times when people might think that many of us in The Valley are broken records when it comes to buying local products -- what with our seeming fanaticism about farmers' markets and our willingness to do the bacon grease and popcorn thing during the localvore challenges.

At our core we are truly folks who read labels and are more easily seduced by a crooked carrot from Warren or Waitsfield than the latest in fashion knockoffs from China. And while we tend to turn a jaundiced eye to talks of imports and exports there is one exception: We, in the Mad River Valley, are bullish on the export of ideas.

Last fall three Valley residents -- Gregor Barnum, Jasna Brown and myself -- met with the idea of starting a movement loosely based on David Gershon's low carbon diet book. The idea caught on and exploded, eventually morphing into the Mad River Valley Carbon Shredders.  

Time has passed and the Carbon Shredders have become a force to be reckoned with. They have appeared on Channel 44, in local music videos, on regional radio, and even in Valerie Porter's august column in this publication. They have their own website (, are shedding on YouTube and have proven that they are not just a catchy and timely name.  

Proof of their impact abounds in their successful efforts to forward carbon footprint reduction resolutions in the towns of Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston, form a multitude of eco-teams, and even become the topic of a fan page on Facebook.

This week some Valley residents along with a team of folks from Seventh Generation and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will quite literally take this Valley-developed concept on the road. On Tuesday, June 10, we left on the Solar Bus-powered by vegetable oil and bio-diesel-to take the Carbon Shredder show down to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.  

While it is not exactly Kesey's Magic Bus of nearly 45 years ago, these 15 or so intrepid souls will be singing camp songs and ripping up the electronic ether with megabyte after megabyte of blogs and vlogs whenever their paths collide with the WiFi faeries during their 40-some-odd hours of travel.

Once there they will be staffing a booth for a dozen hours a day and spreading the Carbon Shredder's gospel to all who have a footprint to reduce. The bands will be blaring and interviews and panels will be sat on and given. Little time will likely be spent in sleeping bags or tents. So if you see some folks wandering around The Valley next week with bags under their eyes, a little hard of hearing, and rubbing sore posteriors with big smiles on their faces, they might just be folks returning from this important trade mission.  

So how do we put this all in context? The Mad River Valley has produced many products that make us proud. In fact, our per capita contribution of innovations and creative designs likely ranks among the highest on the planet. Yet with the Carbon Shredders -- as with the Localvores -- our most important and effective product might not be a product at all but rather something much more needed at this point in time: leadership. Get on the bus...come chill with us...we are Carbon Shredders.

Bob Ferris is the executive director of Yestermorrow Design/Build School and a carbon shredder.

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