‘We are all part of a struggle’

The past summer was possibly the most remarkable summer of my life, and even though I am only 20 years old, I feel very confident in saying that.

I have spent seven weeks on the road in Vermont this summer.

Not in a car, but on a bicycle.

Not alone, but with a team of like-minded young adults.

Not for fun, but for sustainability.

I was part of Climate Summer, a program by the nonprofit organization Better Future Project. So while spending seven weeks in seven different towns in Vermont, we spoke with people from many different backgrounds, found common ground, similarities, and overlap.

We are all part of a struggle, and the struggle Climate Summer focuses on is the struggle against fossil fuels.

The whole summer, we visited communities to learn from local initiatives, as well as to reach out to the broader public.

In Montpelier, we learned about the Two River Center and Food Works. Here, a group of young adults was doing a summer job combination of working on a farm that acts as a local food hub and renovating the farmhouse and barn to be used for projects for elementary-school children or single moms.

Food Works is very focused on food security and simultaneously is very active in the community by offering farm skills to teenagers and cooking classes to single moms.

Our general outreach culminated in Rutland, where we held a photo petition. We asked people at the Rutland Downtown Farmers Market to hold a sign that read: “Dear representatives: Stop donating our tax dollars to Big Oil, Coal, and Gas.”

This action attracted a lot of people, and it felt good to speak with people that we normally would not have connected with.

* * *

In Brattleboro, we learned a lot about local politics and economics. We attended the Selectboard meeting, as well as the regional energy committee meeting, and we met with the 350.org chapter.

We also had dinner with the Transition Brattleboro group. This was a new experience, but just as thrilling, because this allowed us to see change and big change in a realistic perspective.

Big oil, gas, and coal companies are the richest corporations in the world, and the only way to stop fossil fuels and turn to more renewable sources of energy is by people power.

The power in our bodies and voices to scream out to our leaders to obtain this change is essential. Therefore, I was a proud participant in the Burlington demonstration at the New England governors' conference in Burlington on July 29.

This summer has been an amazing experience, and I have lived all different parts of the movement away from fossil fuels.

You can start small with a house completely run on solar energy, or you can come to a demonstration.

Both ends of the spectrum are important, and I hope that we, people, can combine forces to bring about a system change, independent of fossil fuels.

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