The Founding of Sustainable Woodstock
Sustainable Woodstock began informally in 2007 when a group of people affiliated with Woodstock’s Unitarian Church met to explore what they could do about climate change. When a capacity crowd packed the Woodstock Town Hall for an Earth Day celebration in April 2008, the signs were clear: the Woodstock community was ready to step up.
In late 2008 the original group collaborated with a municipal group—the “Community Identity” taskforce, which came out of a Vermont Council for Rural Development community visit in 2005, to sponsor a community discussion, which took place on Saturday, April 4, 2009. Eighty citizens gathered for a day at the Woodstock Inn to share their particular passions for sustainability and to talk about how to turn enthusiasm into commitment. Called Our Green Villages: Sustaining Environment, Economy and Community, this conference represents Sustainable Woodstock’s official launch. It produced the framework and principles that still guide the organization.
The day following the conference, about 40 people met to form action groups focused on conserving and generating energy; strengthening the local economy; promoting local farms and foods; developing a local craft culture; expanding transportation alternatives; and creating community gardens.
In 2009 we laid the groundwork to become a nonprofit organization; hired a part-time director; developed by-laws; applied for, and received, status as a nonprofit in Vermont; and elected our first official board of trustees.
In the first year, those action groups took action! For example, the Economic Development Action Group put forward a recommendation to create an Economic Development Commission for Woodstock, which was approved by the town government and represented a big step toward creating a more well-rounded, sustainable local economy in a town that now relies primarily on tourism. The Traditional Crafts Action Group sponsored the first “Naked Table” project, which offered people the chance to make their own dining table out of locally harvested maple and culminated with a localvore lunch for 100 people held under the rafters of Woodstock’s Middle Covered Bridge.
In 2009 The East End Action Group formed, beginning the East End Park project with the goals of redeveloping the blighted east end of town; rehabilitating a badly deteriorated parcel of prime riverside land and improving water quality in the Ottauquechee River. We partnered with the Town, Village and State to move the old snow dump to an environmentally secure location; clean up the site; plant native flowers and edible plants; construct an amphitheater, labyrinth and other amenities and recreational facilities. Upon completion of the East End Park in 2020, long-term management was conveyed to the Town and Village of Woodstock and the Woodstock Community Trust.
In 2010 Sustainable Woodstock began a long-term project, which is still ongoing, in support of the Riverside Residents Association in West Woodstock by working with residents to build and plant raised beds in their community. We also established a second community garden site.
In 2018, in partnership with Pentangle Arts, we established the Upper Valley Climate Change and Sustainability Film Series, whose monthly films had, by 2022, been viewed by some 5,000 people.
Sustainable Woodstock Today – A Sampling of Projects
Today, headquartered in Woodstock, VT, Sustainable Woodstock runs multiple programs and initiatives across the Upper Valley.
Please contact us for more information about programs and initiatives.