Windham County Environmental Literacy Public Dialogue
Brattleboro Senior Center
Monday, April 19, 2010
Participants responded to the question, “What do you see when you picture an environmentally literate community? What’s happening? What are individuals, schools, businesses, organizations, etc. doing in your future vision?” as follows:
- Field based science and environmental education in classrooms statewide
- Environmental literacy is integral part of all school subjects and not compartmentalized
- Composting in schools, businesses
- Slowing down to allow for action towards literacy
- Long term costs (health affects, pollution clean-up, etc.) in the initial accounting
- “Markets” instead of “stores”
- Self-reliance replaces consumerism
- People understand what a working landscape really means
- New and old neighborhoods collectively plant bird habitats in their yards.
- There are far fewer cars on the road. People walk, bike and use public transit more.
- Citizens are involved in town governance to promote environmentally literate practice (land use, transport, energy, etc.)
- Greener buildings with smaller “footprints” that run themselves, more institutions growing their own food (hospitals, prisons, schools), better environmental education, listen to our elders meaning the people who were here before us, smile more often, say hi to your neighbor
- Biocentric rather than anthropocentric
Participants responded to the request to, “Share some of the environmental projects and initiatives that already are happening in your workplace or community that bring us closer to an environmentally literate Vermont.” As follows:
- Grafton Elementary School collecting plastic bags for public ed. piece for Pale Blue Dot
- Bellows Falls restoring mills, artistry, fabric, hotel
- Springfield Hospital bought dams for medical center
- Non-competitive science fairs
- Dummerston Planning and Conservation Commission collaboration on revision of town plan
- Green Street School composts, also Vernon and Wilmington
- Project Cow – community-wide composting in Brattleboro
- Vermont Center for Ecostudies and Arrowwood vernal pool mapping
- Rural Vermont
- Brattleboro Energy Committee
- Single Stream Recycling – FBS
- Waste Water Treatment Plant – goal to become zero energy
- State and Feds create habitats, conservation, ecological restoration
- Lights off offices/motion detector lights
- Bike paths
- Four Winds in schools: Vernon, Green Street, Academy, Putney, Guilford, Wilmington, Whitingham, Wardsboro, Newfane, Townshend
- Town of Marlboro purchase and conservation of Hogback Mountain
- Use of Hogback Mountain by Marlboro College and School
- Putney vote to qualify for State Efficiency Loans
- Putney Central School forest
- Community gardens at Whitingham and Putney schools and Marlboro College
- Guilford Center Middle School students produce trail guide with interpretation of geology, ecology of lands adjacent to school
- Green Street School healthy snack program
- Farm to School (Green Street and others)
- 4th and 5th grade at Guilford attended Project Oceanology in CT
- Akioki rice farm project in Westminster
- Boyd Family Farm CSA
- Walker Farm
- Rising Rhythm
- Scott Farm
- Environmental literacy generated by Vermont Yankee debate
- Terracycle reuses yogurt containers painting them and converting to planters
- Riverview Café and Maple Café at hospital part of Vermont Fresh Network
- Drop-in center gathers crates and produce from C & S and others for distribution
- TransCanada (hydro) maintain recreation areas and education centers (i.e. viewing at fish ladders)
- Carbon Harvest Energy – Windham Solid Waste District (WSWD) methane used for greenhouses
- WSWD Swap Shop
- Businesses which take back products for free to recycle – ReNew
- Commercial reduction of energy, more solar, renewable
- ReNew Salvage
- Farmers’ markets and winter markets
- Locally sustainably harvested lumber – Perkins?
- Hospice in Brattleboro
- Green architect – Don McCormick (speaker for Pale Blue Dot)
- River Garden Restaurant – Vermont products, local farms
- Brattleboro Co-op recycles everything in café
- New Chapter Vitamins
- Individuals participate in Brattleboro Freecycle
- Off the grid living
- Solar panel installation
- Replace incandescent with compact fluorescent
- Home energy audits
- Hot water off woodstove, also cooking/baking with wood
- Walk to school and anywhere else within a half-mile
- Safe roads to schools (safeways)
- Membership/working membership in co-ops (Brattleboro Food Co-op)
- West Windham neighbors carpool and resource tool sharing
- Cobb Brook Watershed reclassified to “A” and protection by neighbor group (Charlie Peck and Diane Newton)
- Patch Farm wool give-away and celebration, Green Mountain Spinners demonstration and sales, cheese tasting, Green Valley School baked goods (David Major)
- Chester-Andover parent email list – things to share (like a Front Porch Forum)
- Grateful Garden at elementary school
- Solar hot water installations in the area
- Transition Putney movement – Paul Levasseur
- Retrofitting older photovoltaic systems for net metering
- Gail MacArthur’s farm stand
- Dan’s solar dryer for lumber
- Melissa’s wood gasification boiler
- Work at home
- Instant hot water heater
- Parents ride school bus to work
- Cut own wood/mill own lumber
- Way to Go (commuting another way to work)
- Green recreation (animal vs. power, sleigh riding, etc.)
- Walking paths
- Claire Simpson – cook at Warren Elementary
- Amphibian monitoring
- Putney Mountain Association and Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association land conservation
- Windham Foundation
- Four Winds Nature Institute
- Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (BEEC) – camps for kids promoting unstructured play/exploration of outdoors; also works with elementary school teachers to support science curriculum development with materials, ongoing support and assessment
- Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
- Marlboro Conservation Commission Wildlife Corridors
- Nature Museum at Grafton – Pale Blue Dot, Memorial Day Weekend (Jeffrey Hollander)
- Green Up Day
- Green Mountain Conservation Camp
- Smart Growth Vermont
- Orton Foundation
- Green Valley School
- A Forest for Every Classroom
- Vermont Wilderness School
- Mountain School (Burr and Burton Academy)
- VECAN – town energy committees
- Hogback Association bought Hogback Mountain
- Strolling of the Heifers
- Athens Dome – Pinnacle Association hiking
- The Nature Conservancy, Pinnacle Association, Vermont state trail connector – big land purchase of farms
- Dummerston Center Church celebrated Earth Day with compelling sermon, music, fair, displays
- Environthon – local, state and federal agencies organize high school competition (environmental science knowledge)
- Efficiency Vermont
- Farmers’ markets
- Brattleboro Climate Protection
- Fairwind (wind power)
- “Post Oil Solutions” group
- West River Trails
- Vermont Natural Resources Council
- Brattleboro Thermal Utility
- Dummerston Conservation Commission Biodiversity Inventory Report – town-wide conservation plan
- U.U. as “green sanctuary” (physical plant)
- Brattleboro Energy Commission rewriting town plan with attention to energy consumption
- CSA’s promoted through Brattleboro Food Co-op
Participants responded to the question, “In order to get from where we are today to your future vision of environmental literacy, what more needs to happen?” as follows:
- We could emphasize that schoolyards are public land/public lands are schoolyards.
- Private folks could run CSA’s on school property through the summer, and compost could be brought in from the community.
- Produce sold at farmers’ market could help to fund school.
- Students could be involved in growing healthy eats.
- The town planning process could include a specific outreach/door-to-door public education component. Town Plan could use a public booster club, civic engagement. There could be a town checklist to identify names for specific folks to talk to.
- Teachers and school boards could be in full support of environmental education (bottom up) in collaboration with environmental education organizations in schools. The state could support environmental education from the top down too.
- There could be carbon credits for individuals. There could be municipal initiatives like you ride your bike to work for 5 years, and you earn a solar panel!
- There could be Property Assessed Clean Energy (P.A.C.E.) districts established.
- There could be a town fund to loan against the home or business renewable energy construction or efficiency project. It would be paid back with a surcharge to property tax.
- The profit motive could be more equal with sustainability/community consciousness
- Eco-services could be included in the balance sheet
- There could be a PR value of “green” or “carbon neutral.”
- Input by individuals and communities could influence business culture.
- We could aim to reach goals through education – more carrots than sticks.
- We could pass “living streets” legislation – roads for all means of transport.
- There could be mandatory participation in Town Meeting.
- Communities could throw block parties/potlucks/community dinners.
- Your individual choices matter for the total health of individuals and communities.
- People could take showers together to save water.
- There could be less screen time and more face time.
- People could live the example.
- People could organize weekly blackouts.
- People could eat by candlelight.
- People could vacation at home.
- People could weatherize their homes.
- People could rethink heating/conserve oil.
- We could think beyond ourselves – children’s children’s children’s children’s…
- Vermont Product Stewardship Council is introducing legislation that would require manufacturers to take back products at the end of their lives (includes municipalities, businesses, individuals)
- There could be a stamp or sticker for non-consumptive use of wildlife and habitat (bird watching, canoeing).
- No Child Left Inside may be integrated into No Child Left Behind (bill in writing stage).
- There could be loans at low-cost interest to support environmental nonprofits.
- Vermont Fish and Wildlife could be used as a model for generating revenue through licenses.
- There could be a tax check off for education and nonprofit conservation programs.
- Current programs could be used (i.e. Drop-in Center) as forums to inform, educate and raise awareness.