When I was a reporter, I loved covering small communities in which a passion for causes is still possible – and visible; in which sustained dedication over individual lifetimes sometimes earns success – even respect from those who may disagree with the cause itself.
There are people in many communities who are able to bring about major changes by inspiring others, including in my town of Castleton. At the moment, a few of them have banded together in an all-out effort to get our town to join the thirty-eight other Vermont towns that have passed a resolution to address climate change – in hopes of having the resolution discussed at Town Meeting Day and passed on the ballot the next.
The non-binding resolution asks the town to do its part to help move the state toward its goal of ninety percent renewable energy by 2050. Measures call for less fossil fuel use, no new fossil fuel infrastructure, more weatherizing, and more renewable energy use in town buildings.
Sure, Castleton is a small town in the country’s second smallest state, and our tiny steps will not, on their own, have much impact. And yet these steps are critical for building momentum. A new study shows that a record and rapidly growing number of Americans are personally beginning to experience the effects of climate change, so they now believe it’s real - and they’re willing to pay to fix it – something that wouldn’t be happening if not for decades of activism from local groups like 350Vermont, which organized this petition drive, and which was launched by the passion of just one man, Vermonter Bill McKibben.
If the resolution is declined, the work will just start over again next year. We can’t afford to get discouraged because, in the end, grassroots movements driven by dedicated individuals, are the best – and maybe the only path to effective action.
Personally, I’m excited to think that the charge to save the earth might get a boost from Town Meeting in Castleton and other Vermont communities.