Regional and State Organizations Support Sustainability Work

Local sustainability efforts, like ours in the Woodstock area, can draw upon the resources, advocacy, and inspiration of regional organizations in Vermont and nearby New England.  We are fortunate that in our corner of the world there is a sophisticated awareness of environmental issues and a willingness on the part of citizens and policymakers to address them.

In order to educate ourselves more fully about solutions and strategies for long term resilience and sustainability, we should all become more familiar with the work of groups like the following. Spend some time on their websites to learn what they do, and think about how you might support or join their work, because they depend on citizen involvement.

Vermont Natural Resources Council (vnrc.org) is an influential and widely respected group that works “to protect and restore Vermont’s natural resources and environment for present and future generations through research, education, collaboration and advocacy.” VNRC sponsors active programs in energy and climate action, forests and wildlife, water, and “sustainable communities” (thoughtful land use planning).

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (vsjf.org) plays a leading role in jumpstarting a “green” economy. Its programs include the Farm to Plate initiative, the Flexible Capital Fund, the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative, and the Harvest for Use forestry project. VSJF has published two comprehensive resource guides, the Vermont Renewable Energy and Food System atlases.

Connecticut River Watershed Council (ctriver.org).  Since 1952, CRWC has been drawing attention to water quality and related issues along the entire length of New England’s major river. Their work understands a “watershed” as a holistic, interrelated set of elements, including the wildlife, agriculture, and historic geographical influences. Our Ottauquechee River is included in this watershed.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (resilientvt.org) recently produced a comprehensive report, “Vermont’s Roadmap to Resilience,” that suggests how to increase our state’s preparedness for the effects of climate change and extreme weather impacts.

The Vermont Community Garden Network (vcgn.org) is helping to build “a vibrant local food system where Vermonters of all ages experience the benefits of community, school, and neighborhood gardening and become healthier through improved diets, exercise, and positive social interactions.” An allied organization in our area is the Upper Valley Farm to School Network (uvfts.org).

Vital Communities (vitalcommunities.org) promotes a stronger sense of place in the Upper Valley through citizen engagement and leadership training, as well as programs for energy and transportation,  local agriculture and business.

Vermont Council on Rural Development (vtrural.org) helps communities “create a prosperous and sustainable future” by bringing local stakeholders and public & private resources together to address perceived community needs. Its current major project is the Working Landscape Partnership which aims to preserve Vermont’s land and forests for sustainable use far into the future.

These groups generally share a strategy of empowering local communities and supporting entrepreneurs and innovators. They are not trying to impose a one-size-fits-all vision of “sustainability” (as those who are skeptical of environmentalism often fear), but are inviting citizens, the business community, and political leaders to collaborate to find  reasonable and effective solutions to the challenges of our time.

Other, similar, organizations are also doing important work. For a more complete list with website links go to our Resources page here.

And please help Sustainable Woodstock develop these strategies in our own community.

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