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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

Community celebrates Global Work Party

In 188 different countries, people joined together at 7,347 Global Work Parties across the globe. Groups gathered to celebrate the environment, and to inspire political leaders across the world to take action and to curb the effects of global warming. The College’s Sunday Night Group and local community members coordinated and planned the events of 10/10/10 with help from, an international environmental organization.
“Today is only a humble part of a lifetimes work,” said Jon Isham, associate professor of economics, who is also involved with “Today is a great start and a day to get recommitted to politics.”
Isham believes the most important step in achieving’s goal of “350” is forcing politicians to listen and to take action, so climate changes can be controlled. This number represents the amount of carbon dioxide in parts per million that is safe for our environment. Everyone must get to work so the world can get to 350.
“We all understand numbers, and this is the most famous number in the world,” said Isham.
After weeks of preparation, community members gathered on the Town Green last Sunday afternoon. To begin the festivities, a drum circle played several West African pieces. The drummers, who have been taking classes together every Thursday for the last 12 years, played djembes or tall drums.
“Our drumming is a community builder,” said Louise Brynn, one of the drummers and a resident of Bristol, Vt.
Fellow drummer from Salisbury, Vt., Netaka White, echoes Brynn, as he believes that the music is not a performance, but rather a loose gathering of community drummers. Laura Asermily, the Middlebury Energy Coordinator, asked the group to open the 10/10/10 celebration. Following the drumming, Isham and Asmerily both spoke to the crowds. Their speeches, along with a photo, were sent to the leaders in Washington, D.C.
Numerous pamphlets were available for the community, including a booklet called the Low Carbon Diet. This 30-day program teaches people how to save money and energy by, for example, eating less red meat and being more fuel-efficient.
Asermily also organized a Carbon Buster Fashion Show and had volunteers dress up like “Carbon Cuttin’ Cats.” She talked about reducing waste, using energy efficient light bulbs, air sealing and insulating houses, reducing the amount of hot water being used and “thinking before you go,” which is an effort to off-set air travel and encourage biking.
“Forty-six percent is the number on my mind,” said Asermily. “This is the amount of carbon emission related to transportation in Middlebury.”
She advocates modifying transportation and instructs locals about proper space heating methods by “buttoning-up” their houses, as she believes these are two significant ways to reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon. Asermily met with an energy auditor and in the last three years, she has been weatherizing her home. The changes cut her fuel bill by one-third; she has saved 900 dollars per year and now uses 300 gallons less of oil.
“It is about efficiency and conservation,” said Asermily, who weatherized her home by insulating her attic and basement, and sealing her windows. She has also cut an additional 200 gallons of oil by installing a wood stove in her fireplace and placing solar panels on her roof.
Asermily feels efficiency is “environmentally benign.” Her current projects, “Way to Go,” which inspires locals to bike ride and walk instead of driving, and “Efficiency Vermont,” which offers businesses free energy visits, aim to provide people with the necessary information and resources to change their actions. By teaching small businesses about the benefits of saving energy and weatherizing offices, they will save thousands of dollars and help control climate changes. This is why Asermily offers free home and business energy visits; she wants people to make alterations to the space heating and cooling in their homes.
On Sunday, she spoke to a group at the Isley Library about “buttoning up Middlebury.” She discussed the importance of home efficiency because 56 percent of Middlebury’s carbon emissions are due to space heating and cooling.
“People are too dependent on their cars in rural Vermont,” she said. “We need to take local action.”
Middlebury residents also participated in the festivities by taking a solar tour of the town. The walk aimed to spread knowledge to the community about the importance of solar energy. Asermily highlighted the option of group net metering, a process in which neighbors invest in solar energy together.
The day’s events would also not have been possible without the contributions from Sunday Night Group. In addition to singing a catchy tune to engage community members, the club was also involved in canvassing and hoped to register green voters. One member, Audrey Tolbert ’13, talked about the College’s involvement in “Race to Replace” and “Dorm Storm” events. These campaigns seek to register voters who believe in electing green candidates in the upcoming Vermont elections. The college teamed up with fellow schools, including Bennington, Johnson State College and the University of Vermont, to raise awareness about 10/10/10 and to get students excited about voting for clean energy.
“There is only so much we can do on the campus,” said Olivia Noble ’13, another member of the Sunday Night Group. “We need to expand our work into the town and into Addison County, and to integrate all areas.”
Some left the Town Green and went to an elementary school in Cornwall, Vt. to plant a vegetable garden, while others took a hike or participated in gleaning activities.
Asermily realizes it is hard to change habits, but asserts that all must get involved to reach the goal of 350. It starts on a local level.
“We need another political revolution,” said Isham. “We did it with slavery and the Progressive Era.”
The environment is next.