By Michael Caduto
Tierra Curry–Senior Scientist, Center for Biological Diversity–offered a dynamic presentation and audience Q&A following a screening of the film A Sense of Wonder about the life and works of Rachel Carson. Photo Credit: Center for Biological Diversity: www.biologicaldiversity.org
In 2021 Sustainable Woodstock (SW) marked twelve years of partnering with the Town and Village of Woodstock, local and regional organizations, businesses, residents and municipalities to grow a vibrant, inclusive, resilient community and region where we live sustainably. Our new logo is an exciting symbol of the organization’s growth into a nexus for people, environment and community in Woodstock, the surrounding towns and the Upper Valley region.
One of the most frequent questions we hear is, “What does Sustainable Woodstock do?” Here is the annual update about our core initiatives, programs and events. Everything we do is made possible by our generous supporters and dedicated volunteers, for which we are extremely grateful.
- Sustainable Woodstock: The Whole Environment: Fostering Woodstock’s unique legacy of stewardship, sustainability and resilience, now and for future generations.
- Climate Change Action: Producing and partnering on numerous public programs, student and community actions, films, articles, solar energy projects, energy conservation and transportation initiatives and programs with regional partners—all designed to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate global warming.
- Energy & Transportation Action Group: Collaborating with the Town & Village of Woodstock and Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission) on drafting a Climate Action Plan and designing buildings that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions at considerable savings to Woodstock residents. Partnered with Woodstock’s EMS personnel, the Town of Woodstock and Efficiency Vermont to push the new Philip B. Swanson Public Safety Facility toward net-zero ready. Conducted free e-bike trials in partnership with Local Motion and Norman Williams Public Library. Helped plan Union Arena’s celebration as the first Net-Zero Ice Arena in the U.S.!
- Energy Efficiency: SW partners with Vital Communities to assist mobile homeowners in Woodstock and surrounding towns with weatherization and other energy-saving projects. SW’s own low-income weatherization program connects homeowners to resources & financing in partnership with SEVCA, COVER Home Repair and Efficiency VT.
- Sustainable Energy for All: SW promotes mechanisms to make renewable energy affordable for all. We partnered with Norwich Solar Technologies, Twin Pines Housing, Vital Communities and Norman Sun LLC for an online workshop about creating affordable solar opportunities for low and moderate-income households. https://www.tphtrust.org/solar-for-all-presentation/
- Community Solar: Worked with Rainbow Playschool and Sundeavor to plan Woodstock’s first community Solar Array, at Rainbow Playschool—a 150kW solar array providing power for residents and the Norman Williams Public Library.
- Window Dressers: Planning a 2022 project for the Woodstock area, making relatively inexpensive interior window inserts to reduce cold drafts, save energy, lower heating costs and reduce carbon emissions: https://windowdressers.org/
- Natural Resources Projects & Funding: On behalf of the Town and Village of Woodstock, Sustainable Woodstock applied for $280,000 in state funding to cover the cost of implementing natural resource projects. Initial projects include preserving a parcel of riparian habitat in the East End, stabilizing the bank along Barnard Brook near Billings Farm (in partnership with the Woodstock Resort Corporation & Billings Farm), planning for a riparian buffer and interpretive trail at the Woodstock History Center and several infrastructure projects to improve water quality in the Ottauquechee River and its tributaries.
- Community Gardens & Food Security: SW has greatly increased our focus on addressing the critical need for sustenance as the root of sustainability for individuals, families and communities by coordinating such activities in our gardens at Billings Farm and King Farm (VT Land Trust). We are increasing staff time to accommodate a 30% rise in community gardeners (due to COVID-19) and to grow food for the Woodstock Community Food Shelf and Upper Valley Haven (in partnership with Zack’s Place and Woodstock Terrace). We have collaborated with and supported the efforts of other organizations addressing critical needs for food and nutrition, including the Woodstock Community Food Shelf, Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf, Hartland Food Shelf and Upper Valley Haven. SW’s GROW YOUR OWN GARDEN project has enabled and empowered people of all ages to establish new gardens and grow their own nutritious vegetables.
- Advocacy: SW advocates on the local, regional and statewide level for sustainability and community benefits, ranging from climate change mitigation and community resiliency to quiet alternatives to leaf blowers.
- East End Park: Led by the East End Action Group, SW celebrated the decade-long transformation of Woodstock’s East End from a brownfield into a vibrant public park, due to the tireless efforts of dedicated community volunteers, generous donations from supporters and assistance from Woodstock and many other partners. (In early 2021 SW conveyed long-term oversight of the park to the Town and Village of Woodstock and Woodstock Community Trust.)
- Upper Valley Partners & Leadership: No town is an island. SW has partnered with some 60 Upper Valley organizations and municipalities to enhance synergistic impacts of regional sustainability projects, educational programs and events—from promoting renewable energy and mass transportation, to low-income weatherization. As a result of SW’s successful community-based programs, events and initiatives, residents in several towns—including Lebanon, Brownsville and Plymouth—have at times called upon SW to advise and assist in addressing sustainability and resiliency in their own communities.
- Celebrating the third year of our partnership with Pentangle Arts on monthly screenings of our Upper Valley Climate Change & Sustainability Film Series—with attendance (to date) of over 4,000 people from throughout the Upper Valley, and beyond, including online viewers from Europe, Australia and New Zealand! Films inspire individuals, organizations and governments to act on the most important environmental and social issues of our time. This series is made possible by generous support from underwriters, Mascoma Bank & Vermont Community Foundation, and sponsors: Mark D. Knott DDS, Ellaway Property Services, Unicorn and Yankee Bookshop.
- Completed our 7th year of monthly Green Drinks discussions, focusing on sustainability initiatives in Woodstock, the Upper Valley and beyond. Green Drinks attracts large numbers of participants as a dynamic venue for regional and national networking among individuals, as well as a means for public education and collaboration between sustainability and resilience organizations.
- Weekly Columns: 11+ years of writing weekly columns for the Vermont Standard. (A special thanks to the Vermont Standard & staff!)
- Community Recycling & Celebrations: At SW’s Annual Recycling Day. October 16, 2021, participants dropped off over 9,000 pounds of used electronics to recycle and nearly 5,000 pounds of documents to shred/recycle. When public gatherings are no longer restricted due to health and safety concerns presented by the coronavirus, we will again partner on many of our annual community events and projects, such as the Trek to Taste and our Solar Showcase at Taste of Woodstock.
- Forest Carbon Action Group: Working with professional foresters and to help landowners manage forests for storing and sequestering carbon while ensuring that forests remain active components of Vermont’s sustainable forest products economy. SW has organized more than a dozen workshops and related newspaper and magazine articles. We are planning a color poster and booklet explaining forest carbon management and offering resources to foresters and landowners.
- Assisted with sustainable initiatives in Reading, Hartland, Bridgewater, Brownsville, Pomfret, Hartford, Weathersfield and Lebanon: Worked with residents in Brownsville and Lebanon to help establish sustainability organizations. Advising and assisting the Bridgewater Area Community Foundation to transform the Bridgewater Community Center into a vital, resilient, sustainable hub. In its third year on this project, in 2020 SW led a successful $100,000 grant application from the State of Vermont and National Park Service to restore and weatherize historic windows in the BCC and install new storm windows throughout.
- SUSWOO GLOBAL: Collaborate with Sustainable Woodstock UK, Sea Shepherd, Small Planet Institute and others to educate and engage the global community: www.sustainablewoodstock.co.uk • seashepherd.org • www.smallplanet.org