Keynote Speakers


Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible. His background includes a degree in mathematics and philosophy from Yale, a decade in Taiwan as a translator, and stints as a college instructor, a yoga teacher, and a construction worker. He currently writes and speaks full-time. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and four children. 

To read a recent blog post by Charles click here


Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena Norberg-Hodge is founder and director of Local Futures, previously known as the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC). Local Futures is a non-profit organization "dedicated to the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide."

Norberg-Hodge is the author of Ancient Futures (1991), a book about tradition and change in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. An outspoken critic of economic globalization, she co-founded – along with Jerry Mander, Doug Tompkins, Vandana Shiva, Martin Khor and others – the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) in 1994. She is a leading proponent of localization as an antidote to the problems arising from globalization, and founded the International Alliance for Localization (IAL) in 2014.

Norberg-Hodge produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary film The Economics of Happiness (2011), which lays out her arguments against economic globalization and for localization.

To read a recent blog post by Helena click here


Michael Shuman

Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a globally recognized expert on community economics. He is one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the “JOBS Act,” signed into law by President Obama in April 2012.  Shuman is currently Director of Community Portals for Mission Markets and a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital.  He’s also a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and an adjunct instructor in community economic development for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Michael has authored or coauthored eight books.  His most recent book, published by Post Carbon Institute with Chelsea Green, is Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Move Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity. His previous book, The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (Berrett-Koehler, 2006), received as bronze prize from the Independent Publishers Association for best business book of 2006.


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Sherry Chen

Sherry Chen has lived in the Springfield/Clark County area all her life; her passion is the improvement of food security in her home community. She was one of a trio of three citizens who restarted the Springfield Farmers’ Market in 2006, co-managing it for its first four years, and is responsible for setting up the EBT program currently used there. She and her husband produced and sold free range, slow growth, organic chicken and eggs at both the Springfield and Worthington Farmers’ Markets for four years. They are very active members of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Sherry is the current chairperson of the BW Greenway Food and Farming Team, which publishes the Local Food Directory for this area and she has taught several local food information sessions as part of that endeavor. She has co-presented at the Miami Valley Planning Association conference on Barriers to Local Food Production, with other members of the Partners For The Environment Food Team.  Sherry served as the Farm Manager under a Farm to School Planning Grant in Springfield City Schools. She and Jonna Johnson formed Springfield Ohio Urban Plantfolk (S.O.U.P.) which is now cooperatively working under a Farm to School Implementation Grant with Springfield City Schools and Community Solutions.


Anthony Flaccavento

Author of Building a Healthy Economy from the Ground Up: Harnessing Real World Experience for Transformative Change

Anthony Flaccavento is an economic development consultant and organic farmer from Abingdon, in the heart of Appalachia.  His consulting business, SCALE, Inc, works with communities around the world to help build more locally-rooted, sustainable economies and healthier food systems.  Anthony was the founder of Appalachian Sustainable Development and a number of other ‘social enterprises’ in affordable housing, food and farming and forest and wood products.  He writes and speaks regularly about the economy,  sustainability, rural development and politics.  His You Tube channel, “Take Five with Tony”, covers many of these same topics in down-to-earth, five minute segments. 

Anthony was the Democratic candidate for US Congress in Virginia’s 9th District in 2012. He continues to work on more progressive political and economic strategies, in the 9th and across the nation, including two more recent initiatives:  Progressive Rural/red Economics, and Progressive 9th.  Anthony has a BS degree in agriculture and environmental science and a Master’s degree in Economics and Rural Development.   He is married to Laurel Flaccavento, a retired public school teacher, and has three terrific grown kids.


Brett R. Joseph, LL.M., Ph.D.

Brett R. Joseph, LL.M., Ph.D., founder and Executive Director of the Center for Ecological Culture, Inc., serves his native northeast Ohio as a multi-talented social systems design consultant, attorney, community action researcher, environmental educator and conversation leader.  Dr. Joseph also currently serves as sustainable agriculture program coordinator and permaculture instructor at the Lorain County Community College. In his legal and consulting practice, he maintains a focus on advancing principles and practices of economic democracy via social benefit and cooperative business enterprises, while working to bring asset-based, systemic, and socio-ecological perspectives into multi-stakeholder initiatives for organizational and community development. An active proponent of community empowerment and progressive social change, Dr. Joseph serves on the steering committees of Cleveland Vital Neighborhoods, and the recently formed Northeast Ohio Urban Farmer’s Cooperative.  He also is a current board member of the Ohio Wetland Association and former chair of the Ashtabula County Metropolitan Park District, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Lake Effect Chapter, and Slow Money Cleveland NEO.  

Dr. Joseph’s professional background reflects a life-long commitment to fostering sustainable economics and decolonization, participatory democracy, community resilience, public health, and conscious societal evolution by harmonizing the relationship between human and natural systems.  For 15 years, he served as an environmental and international attorney with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, based in Washington D.C. and Seattle. Since moving back to northeast Ohio in 2005, he has managed a 26-acre farm, and advised several local schools on ecoliteracy curriculum development.  Before leaving government service, he returned to school to earn a master’s degree in humanistic psychology with a certificate in socially engaged spirituality, prior to earning a doctorate degree in Organizational Systems from Saybrook University.  Dr. Joseph holds accredited certificates in civil mediation, permaculture design and teaching, environmental and experiential education, regenerative economics, and green building.  His research and published writings primarily focus on inter-organizational network development, cultural revisioning, community dialogue, social systems design, and sustainability education.  

Dr. Joseph lives with his wife and two daughters in Concord, Lake County, Ohio. 

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Lela Klein

Lela Klein is the co-founder and executive director of the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative (GDUCI), an incubator for worker-owned businesses that broaden economic opportunities and strengthen blue-collar communities. She is also a Board Member and organizer with the Gem City Market project, which aims to bring a full-service cooperative grocery store to the food desert in Northwest Dayton, Ohio.  Prior to co-founding GDUCI, she was General Counsel of the IUE-CWA, a 45,000-member manufacturing union, where she led major strategic projects, advocated on behalf of working people, and created a mentorship program to foster leadership among young manufacturing employees. Lela was also an organizer and later an attorney with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). After witnessing the destructive impact of the global recession on American workers, Lela returned to her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, in 2012 to use her legal and organizing training to build innovative, worker-centered solutions. Lela is thrilled to have been named a 2017 Echoing Green fellow, and she holds a JD from Harvard Law School.


Jim Merkel

Jim Merkel is the author of Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Jim founded the Alternative Transportation Task Force in San Luis Obispo, California, and held an elected Sierra Club position while honing urban simple living skills. He lobbied in Washington for wilderness, peace, and Native American rights. In 1994 he received a fellowship to research sustainability in Kerala, India, and walked in the Himalayas. The following year he founded the Global Living Project (GLP) and initiated the GLP Summer Institute where teams of researchers attempted to live on an equitable portion of the biosphere.

Community Solutions is partnering with Jim Merkel on his new film, Saving Walden's World. The film will gingerly explore two of humanities sacred cows “be fruitful and multiply” and “he or she who dies with the most toys wins.” Together they lead the stampede to wreck the planet and underlie most environmental and social woes.  The viewers will be treated to an insider’s glimpse of societies that exhibit sustainable practices, that is, have small families, small ecological footprints and healthy, educated people.


Rachel Moriarty

Rachel Moriarty is the Director of Operations at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, where she oversees the organization's functions so it can effectively house both its national and local programs. In the Berkshire region of Western Massachusetts, she helps implement the Schumacher Center's practical applications of new economic thinking.  Rachel works to educate the community in which she grew up about tools for achieving economic justice with BerkShares local currency and the Berkshire Community Land Trust. Through the Community Supported Industry initiative she engages her community members to think about opportunities to produce locally for local consumption as a way of filling in the gaps in the local economy. Rachel's connections with local people and knowledge of local institutions provide a cultural context for establishing meaningful connections and effecting systemic change in the region.

Rachel received her B.S. in Sustainable Food and Farming from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a concentration in community organizing.  Prior to working with the Schumacher Center, she worked with two small non-profits in the Berkshires to engage young people with the local food system, and facilitate connections between local farmers, restaurants, and consumers.

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Tish O'Dell

Tish O’Dell is currently working with CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) as the Ohio Community Organizer to assist other Ohio communities to organize rights based initiatives in their communities. CELDF has assisted almost 200  communities across the country to develop “first in the nation” laws banning fracking, factory farming, sludging, water privatization and industrial scale energy development.

She is also the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN) Coordinator and President working to organize and assist county chapters for the OHCRN to build a movement of community rights organizing throughout the state to culminate in constitutional change that will guarantee people’s rights to local self governance and the rights of people over corporations.

Tish co-founded the grass-roots organization MADION, Inc. (Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods) in Broadview Heights, OH that successfully campaigned to adopt a Home Rule Charter amendment creating a Community Bill of Rights banning new gas drilling, fracking and injection wells in the city in 2012. Since passage of the Bill of Rights Amendment, not one new well has been drilled in her hometown, which previously had been averaging 10-15 new wells per year.



Stephanie Rearick

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, Stephanie Rearick is founder and former Co-Director of the Dane County TimeBank (DCTB) - a 2800-member time exchange, and Creative Director of Mutual Aid Networks, a new type of networked cooperative ‘creating means for everyone to discover and succeed in work they want to do, with the support of their community.’  In addition to her work in timebanking and growing grassroots-up economic and community regeneration, Rearick is co-owner of Mother Fool's Coffeehouse. Rearick worked for Greenpeace for six years of young adulthood, helped launch Madison Hours local currency in 1995 and served for several years on the steering committee of independent local political party Progressive Dane. She also works as a musician. Rearick is honored to be a BALLE Fellow for 2016-2017.



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Tony Wells

Tony Wells is a business veteran recognized as a successful business entrepreneur, community philanthropist, family foundation, and board director.

The Wells Foundation was created in 2001 by Tony and Dana Wells to provide technology and social entrepreneurship grants to nonprofit organizations. Their mission statement is “Create value for the community by developing stronger nonprofit leaders and investing in the next generation of social innovations”. In 2007, the foundation expanded its programs to Leadership Development including developing the first national executive education program for social impact investing. The foundation offered its first impact investment in 2005 and is recognize as one of the largest funders of Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Investing in the Central Ohio area.

Wells has an International MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. Wells is also an alumnus of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Wells is a lecturer at The Ohio State University on the subjects of social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and social impact investing. Wells was awarded an Honorary Doctoral degree in Public Service by Otterbein University in 2015. He and his wife, Dana, and their two children reside in Lewis Center, Ohio.


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Patrick Westerlund

Patrick Westerlund leads the Wells Foundation's Social Impact Investing executive education program for nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs, which launched in December 2013. Patrick also works on the investment team, providing advisory services related to social enterprise development and conducting due diligence on impact investment opportunities. Additionally, Patrick collaborates with other foundation staff members on the development of new social ventures within the portfolio of the Wells Foundation including ds-connex and Citra.

Patrick is currently serving on the board of GroundWork group, nonprofit social enterprise that provides affordable IT services to over 200 nonprofits and helped them raise over $45 million in 2016. Patrick also serves at the United Way of Central Ohio on the Planning & Investments Committee, and co-founded the Festival for Good, an annual event that showcases nearly 50 social enterprises and introduces them to thousands of socially conscious consumers.

Prior to working for the foundation, Patrick worked at Desco Capital, a $500 million Columbus-based private equity firm, started his own branch of a painting company, and worked in his family’s restaurant business. Patrick is a graduate of The Ohio State University where he specialized in Finance, actively consulted for Columbus nonprofit organizations, planned the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit, and was involved in various other university programs and student organizations. 

Linda Wigington

Linda Wigington was the 2002 recipient of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's Champion of Energy Efficiency Award. Linda Wigington is a residential energy consultant and founder of the Affordable Comfort conference. Through ACI, she worked under contract to PG&E to support projects that aimed to achieve deep energy reductions (70% or more) as part of the Thousand Home Challenge. She has direct knowledge of many residential energy projects that are delving beyond business as usual to achieve 70% and greater reductions in site energy use.

Visit Linda's website here


The World House Choir

The Rev. Derrick Weston and Dr. Catherine Roma met in the summer of 2012. They were encouraged to meet one another because people felt they had the same focus about creating a peace and justice choir. Rev. Weston was Director of the Coretta Scott King Center and minister of the Presbyterian church in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In September 2012,  they worked together to form an embryonic choir that sang for world peace day celebration at the Presbyterian Church.

After that successful effort, a mission statement was created: “To perform music that motivates and inspires our communities toward justice, diversity and equality as we strive for peace and to create our web of mutuality.” Rev. Weston and Dr. Roma wanted the choir to be associated with the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College and embarked on a collaboration.

The choir grew throughout 2013. The first major collaboration was for the CSK birthday celebration at the CSK Center at Antioch College in April 2013. This was considered  the “official” launch of the choir and the beginning of the public phase of our collaboration. Prior to the WHC’s creation there were occasional celebrations of Ms. King’s life at the CSK center.

From the beginning, Antioch College has graciously provided practice space in the CSK Center or elsewhere on campus and child care has been provided by Antioch College students. Louise Smith (Dean of Community Life) and Jennifer Berman (Community Life Liason) have been very supportive and have helped the collaboration to grow.

In 2013, Rev. Weston announced that he was leaving the CSK Center and Myla Cooper was hired as the new director.  We collaborate with her on the annual Coretta Scott King Birthday celebrations at Antioch College and we are also honored to perform at the Antioch College graduation ceremony each June.

The Choir is associated with “Arts for Peace and Justice,” a non-profit association in Yellow Springs, Ohio created to promote and unite progressive arts movements for peace justice and social change with an emphasis on the choral arts and people’s music.

The name “World House Choir” is rooted in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s metaphor that we must create a “world house” in which we all live together in peace and justice. The name refers to the choice each person must make – to live in community or chaos, particularly in a nation where racial stereotypes remain strong and multiculturalism a work-in-progress.