By far the biggest unknown at this past weekend’s Paleo-Primal-Price Foundation inaugural conference in Southbridge, MA, was the half-day governance session scheduled for Sunday morning, to figure out the rules and procedures for getting things officially under way.
It’s hard to imagine many people getting excited about such things as amending by-laws and electing boards of directors, and discussions of topics like how to broaden member involvement.
Would anyone choose to run for the board? Would member really care about such issues? If they did. how would discussion and decisions happen in an orderly way?
Before Sunday morning was over, attendees had broken into ten or so small groups to discuss the key issues, and filled up a few dozen sheets of easel paper with ideas and suggestions. It all happened under the firm professional guidance of a facilitator, Andrew Stachiw of the Toolbox for Education and Social Action.
In between the small-group discussions, some 13 people had declared themselves candidates for the four open positions on the board, and most of them gave brief introductions about themselves and their qualifications to the group at large. Then, the 130-plus members in attendance had the opportunity to vote for their favorite candidates. I personally found the sincerity in those brief introductions the most moving part of the conference. Many people who lead very busy lives clearly wanted to commit to building a broadly based food organization drawing on the Paleo, Primal, and Weston A. Price communities.
It took almost an hour to count the ballots, and when it was over, those elected were Victoria Bloch, a graphic designer and food rights activist; Nora Gedgaudis, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind; Annie Dru, a teacher about traditional food preparation; and Allana Marie Woods, a permaculture designer. Those four were in addition to the three people who founded the organization—Ron Schmid, a naturopathic physician; Kaayla Daniel, a nutritionist and author of the explosive report on fermented cod liver oil; and myself. Schmid and Daniel will serve initially as co-presidents.
Schmid invited those who weren’t elected to the board to work with PPP in other ways, such as on board subcommittees and as volunteers.
Other conference notables:
- The 137 conference attendees came from 27 states, as well as Mexico and Canada. Another 80-plus had signed up for the video feed that will be available later this week.
- A number of special awards were handed out at Saturday evening’s banquet, most notably the “Badass” award to Kaayla Daniel for her release of the report on fermented cod liver oil, “Hook, Line, and Stinker”.
- About 20 flash dancers surprised attendees during the Saturday evening cocktail hour (see photo above).
- I got to meet a number of people I knew only through their comments on the blog, including Steve and Stephanie Tallent of Beeyoutiful and Randy Hartnell of Vital Choice Wild Seafood. Along with Archie Welch, Karen Myers, and Dan Corrigan of Corganic, U.S. distributor of Rosita extra virgin cod liver oil.
- I was also pleased to meet Sarah Smith, of the Nourished and Nurtured blog, whose blog post in January 2013 about why she and her family discontinued taking fermented cod liver oil ignited the whole controversy. Like me, she was astounded at the intensity of the reactions she received on her blog.
- The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund had a table at the conference.
- There was little mention of the Weston A. Price Foundation (or “WAPF -bashing” as one attendee put it) in Saturday’s presentations, and in the informal discussions around the conference. I found the presentations highly informative, especially those about Paleo and primal history and diet approaches.
- The food was stupendous—great salmon, shrimp, steaks, salads, and even a decadent (gluten-free) chocolate birthday cake celebrating PPPF’s founding.
In all, it was a pretty amazing get-together, a breath of fresh air at the first Paleo-Primal-Price Foundation conference. If you were there, feel free to add your observations and recollections in the comments.