By Gail Marlene Schwartz, a member of 350VT’s Writing for Climate Justice group

Walking down the sidewalk to the 350 Vermont office last Thursday evening, I pulled my hat down to warm my face. The Burlington night air was frigid, but when I walked into the volunteer training, my glasses fogged and the chill disappeared.

Last Thursday evening, I was one of nine prospective volunteers gathering to learn more about 350 Vermont. I felt the warmth and coziness right away as the group shared homemade lentil stew and stories related to our interest in working for climate justice. Then, facilitators Ashley and Lily led us in activities designed both to
familiarize us with 350Vermont and also to connect with one another.

Sharing from the recent Strategic Planning session, Lily and Ashley went over some values and characteristics about the organization. Identity basics were taped on the wall, like “We’re bold, collaborative, and resourceful.” “We’re committed to inclusivity.” “We are story-based and relationship-based.”

Burlington node coordinator Natalee Braun joined us later to talk about her group’s activities and group culture.

One exercise I found particularly hard-hitting was taking on roles of real people deeply affected, in different ways, by climate change.

At the end of the evening, we talked about what we would take away from the training. Inspiration, gratitude, motivation, joy, and excitement were some of the many words shared. For myself, it was one step closer towards living my values fully, being part of a warm and committed community of people changing our lives in the name of justice and well-being for all.