by Anna Kruseman, Team Vermont
The fan is buzzing to my left and I am wearing my loosest skirt and shirt to combat the heat. I am writing this blogpost while sitting in a rocking chair up in the cool sanctuary of Trinity Church in Montpelier. My first impression of this capitol city is that it is hot. The concrete and asphalt of the pavement keep the heat lingering in the city. The frequent cars add heat to the atmosphere and even though the general temperature may not have risen, the micro climate in the city is certainly warmer than before. This is not the only difference between the towns we have been staying in so far and the city of Montpelier.
As Montpelier is the capital city of Vermont, this is where the legislation happens. Thus also the organizations we met with were much more legislation oriented. We met with the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Renewable Energy Vermont, Food Works, Vermont Council Rural Development, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Rural Vermont and the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition. All these groups are invovled in multiple activities throughout the year. In the spring time, when traditionally the least work needed to be done on the farms, the legistlature is active. So these groups lobby on behalf of their members or the groups they represent from January to May. The rest of the year is often spent on research, compiling booklets, public education and lobbying.
It was interesting to see this more formal side of the movement for a better, more sustainable future that all these organizations work towards. Every organization has a different mission statement and works for different smaller goals within the larger goal. In general this diversification is excellent as improvement can be found on several grounds. Still the attention of the public will be divided between the multiple good causes and therefore some of the older organizations, such as Rural Vermont, have felt a decline in people attending their actions. Legislation and public demonstrations seem to be a trade-off between achieving one big goal, or several smaller ones.
Another organization we met with the past week was Food Works, about which you can read more about in Monique’s blogpost (soon to be posted). We visted their farm at the Two River Junction Centre and there we met with the group of young adults that is reconstructing and renovation the old farm house as a summer job. It was nice to meet with other young adults in the city, as the towns we have visited seemed to be more deprived of the youth perspective. Our discussion about sustainability was illuminating, because as a climate summer team, we are so emmersed in the topic that it is good to be planted firmly on the ground and to know that most of our peers know little about what to do against climate change.
Additionally, we met with a group of teens doing missionary work around Montpelier to clean up after Irene. When we shared a meal also they voiced the same attitude: we know about climate change and that it is bad, but what should be do about it.
This positive perceptive towards our work has been prevalent throughout our trip through Vermont, and this is very encouraging, but at the same time the lack of public awareness makes me worried. Still I don’t despair, because in Montpelier we have reached out to several groups previously not inclined to worked for climate change and I sincerely hope we have planted some seeds– whether it was with the teens on missionary work, with the young adults working for Food Works or with the people in the soup kitchens with whom we shared our lunches!