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Hundreds Turn Out for Howard Street Exchange on Sunday; Culmination Event for New Economy Summit

Video by Wonderland Woods

By Paul T. Choate 

Hundreds turned out for the Howard Street Exchange on Sunday. Photos by Ken Ketchie
Hundreds turned out for the Howard Street Exchange on Sunday. Photos by Ken Ketchie

April 8, 2013. Hundreds of college students and community members turned out on Sunday, April 7, for the Howard Street Exchange. The event was held as the culminating event of the four-day New Economy Summit, sponsored by the New Economics Institute.

The summit was organized by Appalachian State University students Maureen Jackson, Joelle Justiz and Ben Loomis, along with the help of Boone Community Network Co-founder Rio Tazewell. In January, a $3,000 grant was awarded to the group from the New Economics Institute to put the event on.

Prior to the Howard Street Exchange on Sunday, the event featured several economy-related workshops and several speakers, including economist Gar Alperovitz, author of “What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution,” and sociologist Juliet Schor, whose latest book is titled “Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth.”

The group had to be given a special events permit by the Town of Boone, which they did not receive until late March. Jackson said if the event is held again next year she hopes approval will come sooner so everything can be better organized in terms of vendors and entertainment performances. She also expressed gratitude to the Town for waiving the $1,500 special events permit fee, saying the event “would not have been possible” had they been required to pay that fee. 

According to Jackson, at one point there were approximately 500 in attendance at the Exchange and said a head count for the event as a whole was unknown.

“Yesterday we could not have asked for a better day. It was amazing to see how many students and community members came out to support each other,” Jackson said. “It was really good and it was really fun.”

The event featured several street vendors, many of whom were recognizable from the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, and also featured live music throughout the afternoon. Jackson said Tazewell was instrumental in helping organize the entertainment for the event. 

The goal of the summit as a whole was build relationships between ASU students and community members; encourage engagement with the High Country’s local businesses, restaurants and non-profits; and to promote communication, self-reliance and creative thinking needed in the new economy, Jackson said. 

Though not known yet whether the summit — or the Howard Street Exchange in particular — will become an annual event, Jackson said she hopes the students will keep it going despite her being a senior and not being able to help coordinate it next year. Additionally, Tazewell said they are hoping to turn the Howard Street Exchange into a monthly event during the warm months.

Along with the New Economics Institute, other sponsors included: Boone Community Network, NC Cooperative Extension, Greensboro Participatory Budgeting, Fund 4 Democratic Communities, the Fifth Annual Boone in Blossom, Ownership Appalachia, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Turtle Island Preserve, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, F.A.R.M. Cafe and The Goodnight Family.

For more information about the summit, visit neweconomysummit.wordpress.com

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