Essays, Poems, Letters to the Editor, New Articles, and Works of Art
Not From Here?
No, I’m not from Vermont, wasn’t born or brought up here. I was born and raised on populous Long Island, where in the 1950s we’d sometimes see pods of porpoises sporting off the beach. The joy we felt at the sight of them bouncing in and out of sunlit waves is a memory that made me who I am. Then we didn’t see the porpoises anymore… We picnicked with our mother up the hill in a meadow. It felt like the country to us, a memory that made us who we are. Then the bulldozers came and the meadow was gone forever, replaced by a development…We’d swim at a beach with a huge salt marsh behind it, where a fascinating old recluse lived on a houseboat. Then they dredged the salt marsh—thousands of years of peat build-up that protected our shoreline--and we never saw the old man again…just a memory…
I heard another old man say that anyone who gets outside, anyone who hunts or fishes or hikes or gardens or farms or skis or watches birds, if they’ve been paying attention, they know that climate change is real. In the 1980s, my in-laws noticed there were fewer songbirds up at the lake. They didn’t have a political agenda. They were just surprised that change had come even to their safe hideaway. Will songbirds someday be a memory too?
There seem to be less and less hideaways for all of us, birds and people. Our cars, our heating fuel, our electricity contribute to the excess of carbon in the entire system, degrading the atmosphere that surrounds and protects our world. Our consumption of goods conveniently wrapped in plastic results in microbits of plastic found in 80% of the world’s drinking water and oceans. Us and them, country and city, red and blue—these divisions are no longer relevant. They’re just labels to divide and rule us. Will our great grandchildren respect that we allowed labels to prevent us from saving their ozone layer?
When I was a little kid on Long Island, there was nothing I could do to slow the losses. Maybe it was better not to love a place too much? Nowadays I work locally for small changes, doing small things like picking up roadside litter. We cannot give in to helplessness in the face of climate change. We’re all from the same place, the one we love. It’s time to face the truth of climate change and take action.
Climate Advocates of Bennington, 350VT, Pownal Proud
Published in Bennington Banner September, 2021
Sosie's lastest pic on climate change. Sosie is in 2nd grade, and she is 7 years old.
Letter to the Editor
Bennington Banner, September 6, 2021
Climate Change Is Here
To the Editor:
Climate change is no longer an abstract possibility lurking in a distant future; it is happening here and now. Massive wildfires, extreme weather, melting ice caps, rampant extinctions, and rising sea levels daily underscore the need for bold, large-scale measures.
At our current level of emissions, the annual damage from climate change will exceed the value of the global economy by 2050. The economic impact will become catastrophic long before that terrible zero point is reached.
If state and federal governments can be persuaded to address climate change as the clear and present emergency it truly is, it can be slowed down enough to give human civilization an opportunity to adapt and survive. Nothing short of a massive upwelling of public concern is likely to make that happen.
While working toward large-scale resistance to climate change, it is imperative that we begin, as families and communities, to actively prepare for the future. This must happen on many fronts: composting, evaluating the ability of our houses to withstand extreme weather, planting trees, supporting local economies, adapting our transportation and energy infrastructure to changing weather and patterns of use, and more.
Though the key to resisting climate change ultimately resides with the federal government, the keys to surviving it are found in our homes and communities. It’s time to speak up on whatever level you can, whether as an activist, an artist, a writer of letters, a conversationalist, or simply as a consumer.
A great collective conversation that will decide the fate of our species and our planet has begun; please speak up! Only millions of voices can speak louder than the fossil-fuel industry’s billions of dollars.
Fascist vines entwine the tree gripping
it so tightly that it can't breath tree
leaves & vine leaves fight for dominance
I watch this killing helplessly as it
goes on across the fence in someone
else's yard shadows increasing
the horror of watching a murder from
a window the screams are silent
that fill the air only certain beings can
hear them beings with unwaxed
ears & twelve pitches available it is
not the orchestra you might conjure
but it is a quartet of wood instruments
with strings choking choking the
wood creating a sound unheard before
silence is the evil sound that does
not announce this lynching to the world
that goes about its usual day not
disturbed by the news that is far away
Bennington Police Department earns environmental leadership award
The Bennington Police Department and Chief Paul Doucette have earned the 2021 Environmental Leadership award from Climate Advocates Bennington. The Advocates recognize the department’s forward thinking and action to reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing hybrid vehicles and their growing e-bike program.
At a ceremony last month, Climate Advocates coordinator Barbara True-Weber presented the award to Doucette, and recognized others who have made these innovations possible: Lt. Cam Grande, Select Chair Jeannie Jenkins, the Bennington Energy Committee represented by Al Bashevkin and Bruce Lee-Clark, and Donald Campbell, former Select Chair.
The award recognizes work over the last two years to address the global climate crisis through local action. In the fall of 2019 the Bennington Select Board, under the leadership of Donald Campbell, appointed an Energy Committee that is pivotal to Bennington’s Energy Plan. That committee has been working to reduce carbon emissions, global warming, and save money. One of the committee’s goals entailed converting the town’s fleet of cars and trucks from gasoline to electric or hybrid power. When researching other police departments across the country, it was found that hybrid and electric vehicles performed as well or better than traditional policing vehicles. This change also saved money on fuel and repairs.
On Sept. 22, 2021, the BPD put their first hybrid patrol vehicle into service. Doucette reported that gasoline consumption for the hybrid cruiser is far less than what they experience in the existing patrol vehicles. The hybrid patrol vehicles average 23.9 miles per gallon compared to other patrol vehicles that average approximately 14.5 miles per gallon. In addition to the hybrid cars, the BPD purchased two EV bikes for its bike policing. This will further reduce the cost of gasoline, save carbon emissions, and connect police more closely with citizens.
Climate Advocates of Bennington (CAB), presenter of this award, is a node of 350VT dedicated to organizing, educating, and supporting Vermonters to work together to address the climate crisis. Locally they focus on reducing emissions, working for climate justice, and building resilience and community. They can be reached at climateadvocatesbennington. org.