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the fight against fossil fuels
To the Editor on July 26:
As some of you may know, this summer I have chosen to do something
a little unconventional. I thought I'd get back in touch with you all
to give an update on what I'm doing and thank you for the support you
have given me, without which I probably would not have undertaken this
summer, I, along with 30 other college-age students, am biking around
New England as part of an internship program called New England Climate
Summer, which is part of a larger non-profit organization known as Better
Future Project. The 31 of us are divided up into 6 teams, each of which
covers a different section of New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island/Connecticut, and three teams in Massachusetts). After two weeks
of training covering everything from climate science to running community
meetings, we set off on what we have come to appreciate as both a fantastic
learning experience and a tremendous adventure.
As of now, about eight weeks into the program, my team has biked over
800 miles. Since completing our training in Wilmot, NH and Lowell, MA,
we have been to Providence, Hartford, Bridgeport, Westerly/Stongington/Voluntown/Mystic,
and New Haven, all without ever getting in a car (or train, or bus,
or airplane, etc.). We spend about a week in each community that we
visit, spreading the message that we, as a society, need to rapidly
and responsibly transition away from the burning of fossil fuels. While
we are in each community, we meet with local individuals and organizations
who are all contributing to this transition in some way or another (through
community gardens, weatherization programs, small farms, sustainable
businesses, local government, environmental justice groups, etc.) to
learn more about what is already happening in the area. We then try
to bring these different groups of people together in the form of a
community meeting to enable local groups to connect to and learn from
one another. We also document what we learn about these organizations
and are using the information to compile a State of the Movement Report,
which will be completed sometime this fall. This report will be able
to serve as both an inspiration and a resource for people looking to
contribute to the movement towards sustainability in their own communities.
It will also bring all of the work that is being done together into
one place to form a more cohesive movement against the burning of fossil
fuels. By creating this report, we hope to share the collective successes
of those we meet and demonstrate the power of community action in building
a better future.
I chose to participate in this program because I finally realized that
I could no longer sit back and watch our society face what truly has
become a crisis. After years of gradually becoming more informed about
all of the problems that fossil fuel burning contributes to, I decided
that it was finally time for me to get involved in the movement against
this practice. Our society's dependence on fossil fuels has become a
moral issue for me. Although it is true that fossil fuels have, for
hundreds of years, been a cheap and abundant energy source that have
tremendously contributed to our society's prosperous development, it
has recently become clear to me that they are now threatening our society
in many ways. Even setting aside its contribution to global climate
change, our dependence on fossil fuels negatively impacts many aspects
of our society, including public health, the economy, national security,
and social justice. I personally cannot support the burning of fossil
fuels while knowing that we have the resources and technology to transition
to cleaner forms of energy that are far more environmentally, socially,
and economically responsible. Because of this, the movement away from
the burning of fossil fuels is something that I have thrown all of my
energy into this summer and is something that I know I will continue
to work on for years to come.
With less than three weeks left to go in this program, I can honestly
say that my experiences this summer have been some of the best in my
life. I have met many, many wonderful and inspiring people and have
had the opportunity to see and learn about countless exciting projects
happening all over New England. I am incredibly excited to take what
I have learned this summer and use it as inspiration and motivation
as I continue my work in this movement in the future. Thank you all
for the support and encouragement you have given me throughout the years
to help me get to this point in my life. It may sound cliché,
but I honestly believe that I could not have gotten to this point without
the help of those around me.
To learn more about the program and see what we've done so far, you
can check out the program's website at www.newenglandclimatesummer.org.
There you will also find a link to the blog tracking all six teams'
adventures throughout the summer. You can also follow Climate Summer
on both Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you once again, and I wish you all an enjoyable rest of the summer.
Fausold is a 2009 graduate of Watkins Glen High School, where she was
a member of the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding scholar-athletes for
three straight years. She is now a student at Hamilton College, where
she is majoring in public policy.
Photo in text:
Ellie Fausold (From her Facebook page)