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Ben Gamache and Riley Mello perform at Connecting for Change 2012

Connecting for Change Survival Guide

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Ben Gamache and Riley Mello perform at Connecting for Change 2012
By Shonna McGrail Ryan

Having lived on the South Coast for the past 8 years, I have heard the Connecting for Change Conference mentioned many times, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually discovered what this incredible three-day event is about.

Having corresponded with Connecting for Change manager Brooke Syvertsen, I was able to learn a lot about the upcoming 9th Annual Connecting for Change: A Bioneers by the Bay Conference.  Thus, I have put together this “Connecting for Change Survival Guide” to answer any questions you might have.

1.  What the Heck is Connecting for Change?

The Connecting for Change Conference is an internationally acclaimed, three-day conference that brings together over 2,500 teachers, innovators, business professionals, students, community leaders and many others.  Participants discuss resilience, regeneration and solutions to key community issues such as:

  • Food and farming
  • Health and healing
  • Green business
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Environmental and social justice
  • Women and youth empowerment
  • Spirituality
  • Sustainability

The conference is presented by the Marion Institute and features workshops, live keynote presentations, family and Youth Initiative programs, an exhibition hall, a farmers market, live music and local artwork.

To learn more about the conference and the Marion Institute, check out this brief video of 2012 highlights (Connecting for Change 2012 Highlights)


Ameena Matthews, violence interrupter in Chicago at Connecting for Change 2012

2. When and Where is this Internationally Acclaimed Event?

The 9th annual conference will be held October 25-27, 2013 in Downtown New Bedford.  The event encompasses three blocks of the city, but its main hub is located at the Zeiterion Theater (684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA).

The conference starts at 9:30 AM on Friday and goes until 6 PM, and the hours are the same for Saturday, with evening entertainment each night that is free and open to the public.  Sunday also starts on 9:30 but ends at 3:30.

3. How Can I Get Involved in Connecting for Change?

Registration for Connecting for Change 2013 is now open, and prices are based on a sliding scale.  The actual ticket price is $100 per day, but accessibility to all is important to the event organizers, “…so that income barriers will not prevent people from attending. To truly create change in our community, all classes, races, and creeds need to be present at the conference. We are asking you to pay what you can, per day that you attend, so that our conference can continue to create positive impacts in this world.”  You are also able to pre-purchase locally-sourced, vegetarian buffet-style lunch for $12 a day if you so choose.  To learn more, check out their registration page.

You can also receive a registration discount by volunteering.  To learn more about volunteering opportunities click here: Volunteer for Connecting for Change.  For those who cannot afford the minimum donation, there are limited need-based scholarships available and they can be applied for through the registration page, apply for a need-based scholarship.

There is no deadline for registration, however, event organizers do anticipate that the conference will sell out due to the world-renowned keynote speaker line-up.

Scholarships are made possible by donations from other attendees, supporters, local organizations, and make a great impact on the ability of community youth to attend.  To learn more about the impact of scholarships at the conference, watch this video Connecting for Change: The Need for Scholarships.  To support the scholarship fund, click here: Support the Scholarship Fund.


Arn Chorn-Pond, defender of Cambodian-American human rights with author of his story, Patricia McCormick.

4. Paid Features of the Event

For the registration cost, you will be able to attend keynote speeches and workshops under the categories of:

  • Food & Farming
  • Health & Healing
  • Spirituality & Indigenous Knowledge
  • Women Leadership
  • Youth Leadership
  • Social Justice
  • Sustainability

These categories are referred to as “tracks” which is simply a system of organizing similar topics for those interested.  As Connecting for Change manager Brooke Syvertsen explained it to me, “If you were interested in Spirituality you would enjoy seeing keynotes Eben Alexander, Ptolemy Tompkins, and perhaps Princess Lucaj.  Ideally, there will be at least 5 workshops for each track.”  For more information about the 2013 keynote speakers, click here: Keynote Speakers.

Keynote speakers present from approximately 9:30 AM- 12 PMat the Zeiterion, and workshop sessions take place after lunch, from roughly 2-5:30 PM (with the exception of Sunday, which ends at 3:30 PM).  The schedule is still being finalized, but there will be 50 workshops over the course of the three days.

5. Free Features of the Event

There are several features of the event that you do not have to register for to participate in.  They are as follows:

Family Area

The family area includes family friendly activities that relate to the sustainability theme of the conference.  For example, last year families could participate in a recycled art activities.  The family area also includes music, live animal presentations such as The Birds of Prey Exhibit, and much more.

Farmers Market

A Farmers Market stationed on Purchase Street at Union Street will be open all three days of the event.  It will be open from 12 PM- 4 PM on Friday and Saturday, and 11 AM- 3 PM on Sunday.  The Farmers Market is a great way to pick up delicious, high quality local foods while also directly supporting the community.  Food items include fall vegetables, locally grown apples, apple cider, jams, jellies, honey, baked good and many other delicious options.


Lunch Intermission during Connecting for Change 2012

Youth Activities

The organizers of the Connecting for Change conference feel strongly about getting young people (ages 13-25) involved in learning more about interconnectedness, social justice and environmental sustainability.  Thus, there are free youth events offered that vary from hands-on activities to musical and artistic performances. There will also be many youth programs, schools, and colleges tabling in the Youth Tent to promote student involvement and “next steps” for those looking to further their education or enter into a certificate program.

To learn more about how the Youth Initiative element of the CFC conference is beneficial, check out this cool video (Youth at Connecting for Change 2012).

Exhibitor Hall

The exhibition hall features sustainable businesses and organizations,  music, art installations, live demonstrations, a book vendor, coffee and delicious snacks.

Movie at the Zeiterion Theatre

A movie that is still to be determined will be featured at the Zeiterion Theatre with free admission on Saturday evening of October 26th.  Stay tuned for more information!

Free Concert

Grammy-winning saxophonist Paul Winter will be performing for at the Zeiterion for free (open to the general public) as part of Connecting for Change on Friday, October 25th at 7:30pm. He will be performing Flyways, which is a musical celebration of the great bird migration from Africa through the Middle East to Eurasia interweaving the voices of the birds with indigenous music from the cultures over which they fly. To read more about the project and to watch some short clips on the performance click here Flyways Video.

There is a Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1430946260460447/. Invite your friends!

About SRyan

The South Coast has been my home since I came to UMD in 2005. I have worked and lived in NB, and now live in Westport. With a Master's in public relations I have worked as a consultant, and as a professor. I love trying new foods, writing, watching movies (and football!), traveling, listening to a wide array of music, and of course, I <3 the South Coast.

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