People’s Climate March 2017

350.org and a broad coalition of PCM for wordpressnational organizations have called for another People’s Climate March, this time on April 29th in Washington, DC, marking the end of the President’s first 100 days in office. 350Vermont is ready to mobilize!

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Nancy Baker: Those Who Can

IMG_20170310_112315680This blog is the sixth in a series of profiles written by 350VT intern Julie Elfin. Julie got the chance to speak with Nancy Baker of Hinesburg, a special educator devoted to her community and to justice. This is Nancy’s story. 

My philosophy of government is that people who can should look out for people who can’t. The broadest shoulders should take on the most work. As an early childhood special educator, I have 30 years of experience fighting for those who can’t.

Hinesburg is a wonderful community that I moved to because it was a community. The town has a lot of organic farms and a commitment to keep things clean. Now big corporations want to dictate how our town should act and look, and they’re threatening that community.

Geprags Park is the only public park in Hinesburg, so it’s an important element of our community. I was on the town conservation commission and involved in rebuilding the barn on the property. I still spend time there several times a week, walking my dogs, listening to the birds and just appreciating the land.

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Jane Palmer: Fighting for Farmers

This blog is the fifth in a series of profiles written by 350VT intern Julie Elfin. Julie got the chance to speak with Jane Palmer of Monkton, a fierce defender of her local farmland. This is Jane’s story. 

 

D7B8.tmpMy family’s farm is just beautiful. The land is alive all the time. In the mornings, with the fog over the marsh…it draws people in. When it came up for sale 20 years ago, we knew it was ours. We couldn’t let it go to someone else who would chop it up and turn it into cookie-cutter houses. We’ve always been very protective of the land, especially the wetland on our property, because it’s such a beautiful piece of the ecosystem.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the farm is the Vergennes clay soil. Digging up our 2 acre improved vegetable garden plot and putting a pipeline through it, like Vermont Gas planned, would have completely destroyed the soil. And that was only the beginning. Everything we found out pointed to the reality that this wasn’t a good idea. Our neighbor brought over a map of the route that showed the pipeline going right through the middle of the orchard, the septic system, our pond, our water line and a grove of willows between our house and the road. Someone had just drawn a line through our property without knowing anything.

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Theora Ward: The Importance of Worker Bees

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This blog is the fourth in a series of profiles written by 350VT intern Julie Elfin. Julie got the chance to speak with Theora Ward of Hinesburg, who believes everyone has a place in her activist community. This is Theora’s story. 

 

I’m not a leader. I’m a worker bee. That’s my niche. Many in this movement are much smarter than I am. I’m just really happy to listen to those people. They help me understand things, and then I can move forward and work on our campaign. I’ve learned a lot. I regularly read scientific studies and legal briefs now. I do things on the computer that, as a 72 year old, I would have had no idea how to do otherwise. It’s not easy, but it is the most important thing I can do.  

I think about climate change every day. I know that puts me in the minority, which worries me. It’s like a huge tsunami coming toward us, and no one is noticing. Huge isn’t big enough to describe it. Climate change is the most important issue of our time. Everything else pales in comparison, because if we don’t solve this issue, life on Earth as we know it will not survive. If we don’t do something about it in the next 20 years, or even less, it’s going to be Armageddon. Believing that, there’s no way I can do anything but work on this all the time.

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Terence Cuneo: the Philosophy of Action

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This blog is the third in a series of profiles written by 350VT intern Julie Elfin. Julie got the chance to speak with Terence Cuneo of Williston, whose experience as a philosopher calls him to climate action. This is Terence’s story.

 

Philosophers are taught to be patient. The issues we usually study aren’t that urgent. They tend to be more theoretical, with little immediate impact on society. But in the case of climate change, we don’t have time to mess around. It’s utterly urgent. The kind of disruptions we’re seeing today–record-high temperatures, widespread forest fires, out of control hurricanes–it’s far worse than I’d anticipated, than I’d been led to believe when I started following climate science in the 1990s.

I teach the ethics of climate change, the necessity of doing something, in all of my philosophy courses at the University of Vermont. The logic is simple. Humans are intellectually responsible for the well-being of the planet. The evidence is clear that climate change is real and humans are contributing to it. When we observe effects on this scale, we are rationally required to act. So then the question becomes,“What are the rational decisions to make and actions to take in response to the evidence?”

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Rebecca Dalgin: Rooted in Nature

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This blog is the second in a series of profiles written by 350VT intern Julie Elfin. Julie got the chance to speak with Rebecca Dalgin of Montpelier, whose connection to the Earth informs her social justice work. This is Rebecca’s story.

 

I live in the occupied lands of the Abenaki, AKA Montpelier. When I want to feel connected to nature, to this place, I go to Hubbard Park. It’s quiet and peaceful, but still rife with life. As an herbalist, I feel connected to the Earth when I go out and harvest some goldenrod, for example, because I know my family is going to need it come allergy season or to support their digestion.

Humans are inherently connected to nature. We’re animals. We’re a part of nature. As the permaculturist Penny Livingston-Stark says, “we are nature working.” When we build something, it’s still nature. We’ve forgotten that we are connected to each other and to the plants and animals and fungi.To me, that’s a huge part of what has happened to our world. We are nature working, but we’re nature not working very well. (more…)


Mary Martin: Mother, Grandmother, Protector

Mary Martin

This blog is the first in a series of profiles written by 350VT intern Julie Elfin. Julie got the chance to speak with Mary Martin of Cornwall, who’s been involved with fighting the VGS pipeline since 2013. This is Mary’s story.

 

In the beginning, I was angry. I wasn’t afraid. There’s no fear with anger. I just knew I had to do something.  

I wasn’t an activist or an environmentalist. I wasn’t looking for a cause. Vermont Gas came knocking on our door, my family’s home. They just took the wrong approach with me. They threatened to seize our land right off the bat. What they were trying to do, using eminent domain for a private company, was just so wrong.

At the time, it was just about our land, and I didn’t care about the world. I was like a mother bear protecting her cubs. It was personal: my land, my town, my territory. I was still blissfully ignorant about the harms of natural gas and climate change. I didn’t know about the tar sands, where the gas was coming from. Once you are informed, though, you have to do something about it.

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Coming Soon: Activist Profile Blog Series

Protect Geprags Action (Credit Jim Mendell)

My name is Julie Elfin, and I’m an intern with 350VT. I study the environment and public communications at the University of Vermont (UVM). I’m interested in creative communication around big issues like climate change, and in the power of compelling stories to change hearts and minds. I’ve been involved with the climate movement for a few years, and the insular “bubbles” of political opinion that limit the discussion have always bothered me. I believe stories can inspire and persuade in ways that facts and debates cannot.

In order to put this conviction into action, I’ve spent the past few months interviewing activists engaged in the fight against the Vermont Gas pipeline in Addison County. Through short personal profiles, I hope to introduce readers to the many faces of environmental activism in Vermont.
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New Path Towards a Low-Carbon Future for the Vermont Pension Fund

No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure October 2014On Thursday, February 8th, 2017, Treasurer Beth Pearce released a letter that details the combined findings of the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) sub-committee on divestment so far and changes to make in the next few months. The recommendations in the letter are reflective of months of learning about the rapidly changing world of fossil fuel investments, fiduciary duty, and climate risk while hearing from panels of experts in the field, as well as a study by a third party facilitated by VPIC.

The work of the sub-committee has developed some creative and constructive climate risk mitigating policies which will have very real implications for a low-carbon future for the Vermont pension. The committee will condense their findings into final recommendations for VPIC on February 16th, 2017 to present to the whole committee on February 28th, 2017. Treasurer Pearce has recommended to her colleagues on the sub-committee the following recommendations which represent a broad shift for the pension fund away from fossil fuels and towards a low-carbon future. (more…)


A NEW YEARS LETTER TO CANADA’S PRIME MINISTER

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This article originally appeared on January 1st in Intercontinental Cry – a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies 

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

 

This is a love letter to Mother Earth, to the keepers of the fire, and to the next seven generations, yet to join us on this beautiful planet. My words are a pledge to nature, expressing my sorrow regarding your approval of the two major pipeline projects — Enbridge’s Line 3 and Texas-based Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain. Please be reminded that your decision contradicts your promises in many ways: to the environment, to work with First Nations communities and to revamp the review process for energy projects.

Briefly, your rhetorical gestures towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada are profoundly at odds with your actual approach to projects like these. The Tsleil-Waututh, whose territories are directly affected by this project, have unmistakably told you that the answer is “No.” You’ve also claimed that “only communities give permission.” In return, Vancouver and Burnaby have told you that the answer is “No.” Hence, I cannot understand how it is in any way democratically legitimate for you to approve these projects anyway. After all, your intentions seem to turn into empty words – making choices based on market based mechanisms and profit – continuing to feed the insatiable thirst of the fossil fuel industry. Which irony, in a time where our feverish planet needs us to realize, more than ever, that humans’ separation from Nature is an illusion.

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Loving the America that Elected Donald Trump

A Donald Trump presidency with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. We were told it couldn’t happen. We were sure it wouldn’t end like this. And when we were wrong, I watched my friends, many of them first-time voters in a presidential election, fall apart. So many people are hopeless and angry this morning. So many people feel defeated and abandoned. I encourage you to get the support you need to get past these emotions, to live again.

For me, this morning is about love. I have never felt so called upon to do anything as I feel called to love my community, my friends and family, and my country today.

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