After yesterday’s election, I can no longer expect (if I ever could) anything of substance coming through or from the national political system; any change will be local, and AERO is perfectly positioned to nurture the local changes we wish to see. May AERO fly straight to the heart of that change and infect our gasping cultural organism with loving enthusiasm and imagination!
— John Brown, AERO Founding Member
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Red Lodge was ablaze with vibrant Fall colors as the AERO constituency arrived, excited to reconnect with friends, inspire newcomers and celebrate 40 years of sustainability innovation in Montana.
The festivities kicked off Friday afternoon with Agricultural and Energy Tours around the Red Lodge area to explore and get to know the local sustainability innovators. After soaking up the warmth and sunshine, everyone poured into the Carbon County Fairgrounds main building, adorned with hand-made quilts, hay bales, pumpkins and harvest-themed decorations prepared with love by the Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council. Attendees browsed the more than 80 silent auction items and settled into their seats with delicious beef generously donated by Dick Espenscheid of Wholesome Foods and a colorful array of pot luck items as Board Members introduced AERO’s new Executive Director, Jennifer Hill-Hart! The night programming capped off with a short, inspiring film introducing AERO’s on-the-ground wonder team, The Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council, and the grand finale – the Great Cake Race Auction. Each table pooled their money for a chance to ‘race’ to their favorite cake, baked by attendees and other AERO supporters. When all was said and done, everyone further indulged in the Annual Meeting cake (made with zucchini and beets), made by Red Lodge caterer Melissa Davis.
Saturday began early with the Food & Ag and Energy Task Force Meetings (sign up for a task force by emailing [email protected]). Each task force elected new co-chairs, discussed goals and plans and re-energized for a productive year moving forward. Everyone gathered back at the fairgrounds for an engaging keynote presentation by Tony Boniface of Independent Power Systems. Red Lodge’s own, Hope’s Artisan Foods, prepared a delicious lunch to power the afternoon’s programming, including two Sustainable Living Skill-Building Sessions and AERO’s annual membership meeting.
The 2014 Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Award Recipients were announced Saturday night following dinner provided by another Red Lodge cornerstone, Cafe Regis. Congratulations and thank you for your dedication to sustainable solutions for Montana.
Ag Implementer Award — Dick Espenscheid
Ag Instigator Award — Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council
Energy Implementer Award — Ben Reed
Energy Implementer Award — Henry Dykema
Energy Instigator Award — Ben Brouwer
Every 5 years, AERO recognizes outstanding individuals who have demonstrated in the area of sustainability innovation.
Leadership in Sustainability Awards:
The live auction was a terrific success – click here to see the list of auction items. This year was particularly ‘lively’ with the assistance of a professional auctioneer team. In addition to the impressive items and packages, an AERO auction would not be complete without a bunch of larger-than-life Funk carrots and knock-your-socks-off Barngrover rum cakes! The night slowly wound down following a vibrant music jam session, and the closing of the silent auction.
Sunday morning marked the being of the end of an inspiring weekend, starting with an overview of the vision and next steps for each the Ag and Energy Task Forces and motivating remarks from Jennifer Hill-Hart. A final Sustainable Living Skill Building Session set the stage for a unique segment this year with the Roots & Shoots: AERO Story Slam. New and seasoned members presented short stories about the exciting work they’re doing, their best memories from AERO’s past and their brightest hopes for its future. Following lunch provided by Honey’s Cafe, attendees reluctantly trickled out of the fairgrounds prepared and energized for another year of creating sustainable solutions to make Montana a better place for everyone.
“Over the years, and over the decades, AERO Annual Meetings have always been the highpoint of my year, and the 40th anniversary celebration in Red Lodge was no exception. The meeting was a perfect blend of great local food, practical breakout sessions, a wildly fun and successful live auction, thoughtful conversations, and the opportunity to connect with old friends and new who are changing the world for the better in so many small and not-so-small ways. ”
— Dave Oien, Timeless Foods
Thank you again and again to our generous 2014 Annual Meeting Sponsors: