Local events build up global rally

MIDDLEBURY — When Bill McKibben and his 350.org team planned the 10/10/10 global work party/rally, they envisioned many smaller events cropping up in communities all over the world in place of the gigantic gathering of 2009.
But on Sunday, those small, sustainability-themed events really added up, said the Ripton resident and chief organizer.
“It went — big,” said McKibben, who is currently bouncing from one TV studio to the next, wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday. “The pictures have been pouring in at the rate of about seven a minute for two days now, from literally every corner of the planet.”
According to 350.org, more than 7,347 events took place in more roughly 190 countries as a part of Sunday’s “festivities.” On its website, images of neighbors in the Netherlands working in their community garden fall alongside 732 Indian children in brightly colored garments sitting in formation to write out “350.” In Australia, a 3-year-old boy in a plaid shirt holds a green watering can almost as big as he is, and more than 100 bikers rally on a bridge in Minneapolis, Minn.
In Middlebury, college students and community members gathered on the town green and on campus to raise awareness for 350.org and its campaign.
On campus, students hosted a line-dry laundry tutorial and makeshift “thrift store” in front of Proctor Dining Hall. The Student Government Association and the campus’ recycling center teamed up to offer secondhand items to students for just one dollar apiece.
“They put up a thrift shop outside Proctor for three hours and sold everything for a dollar and some of the stuff was actually pretty valuable,” said Katie Siegner, a student at the college. “It was a really good way to raise awareness. They sold over 100 things.”
The line-drying event was hosted by the college’s Sunday Night Group, which also collaborated with the Middlebury College Mountain Club to do trail maintenance on Sunday.
Sophomore Sam Koplinka-Loehr and six others hiked the 2.5 miles up in the Bread Loaf Wilderness Area to the Skylight Pond trail to help an eagle scout from Boston build a latrine. The team of five college students and two parents worked for six hours carting lumber to the top of the trail.
“It was really cool, actually,” said Koplinka-Loehr. “It was nice having the multi-generational task force.”
Because they were out on the trail all day, the group wasn’t able to make it to the other 10/10/10 events.
“I heard the gleaning went especially well,” he said. “It sounded like there wasn’t an overwhelming number of people at the town green, but the people who were there were really into it and really dug in and got to work.”
The rally on the town green was a joint effort between the SNG and Middlebury Energy Coordinator Laura Asermily.
The event began with remarks from Middlebury College Professor of Economics Jon Isham who gave a bit of background about 350.org before summoning the rally attendees to act.
“He called for action to get legislators in office who will support effective and deeper climate change policy,” Asermily wrote in an e-mail. “This was implemented locally that afternoon by Middlebury College students who canvassed to get out the green vote.”
After explaining the concept of the “Low-Carbon Diet” — or a range of ideas to help the average person reduce his or her carbon footprint — all those in attendance chanted an SNG rally song to the tune of Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” replacing lines about clothes with lyrics relating to carbon in the atmosphere and taking action.
“And then we took action,” said Asermily. “Some took a solar tour to plan for green power, some attended a Button Up training, some planted trees, some gleaned gardens, some worked on buttoning up buildings. We kept our rally very short so focus could be on getting to work.”
Though the events were small, the work was important, according to McKibben.
Whether big or small, in Vermont, or abroad, all of the events contributed in some way to the success of 10/10/10.
“It was a vast worldwide show of dignified but resolute action for the future,” McKibben said.
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].

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