The tiny town of Poultney is putting on an ambitious annual Earth Day fair on April twelfth, featuring more than sixty exhibitors, a parade, free wood-fired pizza, musicians, entertainers, and a student science exhibit. The fair is sponsored by dozens of farm and environmental organizations, business groups, and schools, making it an event that involves the entire community and attracts people of every age and walk of life.
And at a time when efforts are ongoing to roll back policies enacted to combat climate change, local events like this that bring diverse people together to build community, and promote learning, activism and celebration seem especially critical.
Another example of local people coming together to protect the environment and fight climate change can be seen in the Indivisible groups springing up in many Vermont communities. They’ll join their own efforts with thousands of other similar groups around the country.
My local Castleton group is growing in numbers and looking for ways to make a real impact. At our next meeting we’ll be making signs for the national March for Science - an official Earth Day activity on April twenty second.
It isn’t likely that Poultney’s Earth Day Fair or all our signs, calls, emails, cards and letters will actually reverse any of the latest environmental and climate change decisions. But these grassroots efforts give me hope that the damage may at least be contained because some very major changes in modern American history have included significant grassroots activity, from the resistance of the civil rights movement to the mass protests that ended the Vietnam War.
Current climate policies can only empower us with renewed energy because they’re likely to impact Vermont directly, as planned cuts to federal programs leave crucial projects such as Lake Champlain cleanup and upgrading of aging water treatment plants without funding.
But Vermonters are well positioned to lead the battle. This state has led the nation with many firsts – from outlawing slavery to legalizing civil unions. Responsible environmental stewardship has deep roots here, and our own Senator Bernie Sanders showed how to spark a grassroots movement so massive that it challenged the Democratic front-runner.
We can do no less to protect the land, water and air we all depend on for survival, and the new administration’s climate decisions are providing the rallying cry to organize for effective action.