Report back from IHS 2015

The main theme of my IHS experience this year was stories. The stories of people I met.  I had the opportunity to listen to so many truly interesting people here. And with nearly 1,000 people, the International Herbal Symposium really is a little village. (My current town features a population of about 1,000!)

It is easy to get overwhelmed at herb conferences, especially large ones.. And especially if you don’t know any or many people. The first IHS I attended years ago is where I learned that I might need to just walk up to strangers, to just be open and go for it. Cause I don’t want to eat lunch alone.

If you find yourself in that position, remember: just ask them about their story!

I do go there to attend a few classes, but I am really there for the moments in between, before and after, the stolen moments and deep discussions. Like this:

Jim McDonald and Orna Izakson
Jim McDonald and Orna Izakson

I will say that I’ve gotten a little prickly about some aspects of herb conferences, which I will rudely call “the woo”, but I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter. As I get older I am less concerned about making sure everyone agrees with me.

traci and jim
traci and jim

Gary is a treasure trove of stories. He is a native RI-er like me, and lives with Lovecraft’s ghost. Well, lived. He put H.P.’s name into a “radionics machine” to get rid of him. I wonder where it went….

Gary Katt and Lesley Wooler.
Gary Katt and Lesley Wooler.

This is Agnes Adler. She makes art that cracks my heart open. Her passion is a joy to behold.

Agnes Adler
Agnes Adler

This photo speaks for itself. There is no word that can express how delightful this moment feels to me. OK, maybe one: boots.

Matt Wood and Kathi Langelier
Matt Wood and Kathi Langelier

This is Thomas Easley. It turns out that I like him–and his lovely wife!– even more than I thought I would.

Thomas Easley
Thomas Easley

My favorite part of the work-study program is working the info booth–with and without these amazing ladies. Stories abound here. Problem-solving and connecting with people makes me very, very happy. And a shout-out to Bonnie Kavanaugh for her commitment to our mutual respect-which is a story that I carry with me.

Melanie, Bonnie, Laura, Helen
Melanie, Bonnie, Laura, Helen

To my surprise I ended up bonding with Susun Weed over our shared dislike of the last century’s story of anti-sex food movements such as Graham and his stupid crackers and the fearful, sex-negative Kellogg. (this fear-based paradigm is not over.) Sorry about your goats, Susun!

Susun Weed
Susun Weed

And thanks to Howie Brounstein for taking about 1,000 brilliant photos of me, which helps to illustrate MY story, for being an all-around neat guy, and for wearing the perfect shade of purple.

Howie!
Howie!

Thank you to all the people who worked together to make this happen–this year and every year. And thank you all for sharing your stories with me.

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