Big City, Small-Town Feel

By Sara Orvis

One thing we have loved about Greenfield is the small-town community that exists in this city of 18,500 people. After our new friends at the People’s Pint recommended that we see the Solar Store, we quickly made an appointment to meet with this local business. Solar energy even has a small, local feel at the Solar Store in downtown Greenfield. The owner John said it gives all people the chance to come in and ask the questions that you would feel uncomfortable asking a big solar contractor. Just as they had for many people before, the owners explained how much has to go in to installing solar panels and told us that they have installed two sets of PV panels on their own house. They are also a source of inspiration on how to live a sustainable life. Every day the average American used 29 kilowatts of energy but the owners of the Solar Store are only using 3 to 4 kilowatts a day–meaning they make more energy than they use, most of the time. We left the store with a better understanding of solar energy and also of the community that exists here.

Mass Action with Claire and John from the Solar Store! (and Georgia, the pooch)

On Saturday we woke up bright and early to attend the local Farmer’s Market right outside of Greenfield City Hall. The vendors were all amazingly talented: from growing an abundance of organic vegetables to baking fresh bread to painting. All the people were welcoming and curious as we told them about our message and what we have committed to doing this summer. We met an assortment of new people; some were interested in why we were on this Climate Summer journey and others engaged us in discussion about what the next steps were in the movement. The enthusiasm for the climate/green movement was motivation to keep up what we are doing and then to do more. The entire time we listened and talked to people about what they are doing, I kept hearing two things from our training in my head. The first: “If not now, when? If not us, who?”. And the great quote: “ to be sane is a mad time is bad for the mind and even worse for the heart.” The people of Greenfield understand that the time to act is now. They are changing the social norm so people believe that they should be living environmentally friendly lifestyle. People in Greenfield are invested in what is going on here not just for their own benefit but also for the benefit of the entire city. People were not only proud of the steps the city had made—they were proud of the initiatives that their neighbors had begun. So often we heard “have you talked to (insert name), they are doing this really cool thing for sustainability.” No one we met wanted to brag about what they were doing; more often they wanted to rave about what everyone else is doing. The love for Greenfield and the amazing environmental movement that is happing is truly inspiring. The sense of community here is almost tangible. Greenfield, we will miss you!

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