© 2023
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Living Small Thinking Big & Protecting the Environment in Floyd

At a time when people are looking for ways to save the planet, the town of Floyd is offering a kind of virtual road map. The tiny town is taking on the big questions in its virtual ‘Eco Fair’ this Sunday.

It will be a full day of expert speakers sharing practical tips and ideas for living small and thinking big…for long term sustainability.

About a decade ago people in and around the town of Floyd got together and made a commitment to preserve and nurture its natural assets; rural living, that quirky charm in a place that is still wild and affordable, the kind of place that more people are now looking for. That’s why Hari Berzins and her family decided to move to the mountain town a couple of years ago.

“We’d been researching many places across the country, where we wanted to move and raise our kids. And also where we could buy land and live out our plan for building a mortgage free homestead where we could afford to buy three acres of land that we did buy for cash. So it was kind of a combination of climate culture and affordability."

Bersins now runs the local cable channel in Floyd. She’s also a guru of both the mortgage free life, and  the tiny house movement, and  she’s hosting a live panel discussion at this Saturday’s eco fair, showcasing the big benefits of having less, spending less, and living a wonderful life because of it. 

“It’s called “Tiny Homes: Lessons from Living Little.” Three women are joining me who have also lived in tiny houses and become well-known advocates in the tiny house community.

With Covid lockdown leading to a new cottage industry making it possible for more people to work from anywhere, people are. Bijou Finney and her husband recently moved to Floyd from Texas after a long search for the kind of place that puts sustainability front and center.

“So, we started searching online and, um, there weren't very many places, in the United States, this one had so much, charm to it and, um, we both work remotely.”

Floyd is known not only for its scenic beauty, but also its robust internet service –and there’s not a lot of rural places that can promise that.

“We really wanted the opportunity to live in nature, but also have the ability to have high speed internet and, um, to be able to afford our property.

Finney, runs a digital marketing company

and she’s helping out by handling most of the technology for this weekend’s online Blue Ridge Eco Fair. Keynote speaker, Dr. Zack Bush, is expected to be a big draw for his expertise on human and planetary health.

A lot of what you’ll hear at the Eco Fair this weekend is new and seemingly strange ideas, but that’s where counterculture and counter intuitives meet. And, they take what might seem like a surprising approach to sustainability.

“We've always made the choice to pay as much as we can to offer the highest level of benefits and to pay the highest premiums for green coffee and to be responsible in the way that we source our equipment and our supplies.”

He’s one of the founding members of ‘Preserve Floyd,’ born and raised there, as was his wife and partner in the business.

And the same goes for Woody Crenshaw and his wife, who are credited with starting the sustain Floyd movement decades ago.

We're responding to voices that we're hearing both locally and regionally and nationally of people that are looking for some way to find solutions, find activities in their own lives that are helpful. How can we provide information education, inspiration that will give people ideas and comfort that it's not just a lost cause, these huge issues that we have facing us.”

“It’s kind of a mystery as to what foments, emanates, inspires and draws certain people to action here to Floyd County. We don’t have a Zach Bush or Bill McKibben or Patrick Holden in our midst, and yet all three have joined forces with us over the years.  Nearly 70 of  Floyd County’s electorate traditionally votes for conservative candidates and yet, a small, determined group of progressives keep the beat behind the scenes. We don’t march and wave flags or make speeches at Supervisor meetings, we just quietly busy ourselves with the work that needs doing. I don’t know of an equivalent example anywhere in the rural south.”

Click here for more on the Blue Ridge Eco Fair

***Editor's Note: Blue Ridge Eco Fair is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.