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The Forum:

Embracing 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 great endeavor.

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 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.

Best wishes,
Ellie Fausold

Editor's Note: 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)


© The Odessa File 2011
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