Locals ‘connect the dots’ for climate change

HANCOCK — On Saturday, May 5, people across the globe held up dots — small, large, cut out or painted — asking their fellow citizens to “connect the dots” to climate change. Demonstrations went on underwater in the Marshall Islands, on the sides of cliffs in South Africa and on the last patch of snow on the Allen Trail at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl in Hancock.
The day in Hancock included a performance by the college’s pep band and Snake Mountain Bluegrass, as well as speeches by college junior Abigail Borah and New Haven’s Christopher Bray. Another speaker was Ripton resident Bill McKibben, cofounder of 350.org, which organized the global event.
Local organizer Hannah Bristol, a sophomore at Middlebury College, said the Connect the Dots event was especially meaningful in Vermont, where extreme weather events and an unusually warm and snowless winter have made headlines in the past year.
While scientists have cautioned making a specific connection between any particular weather event — like Tropical Storm Irene — and climate change, the theme for Saturday’s Climate Impacts Day action encouraged people to look at trends, highlighting the impact of flooding, heat waves and other severe weather events across the globe.
Caroline Santinelli, another organizer, said participating in the event made sense for Middlebury College students. Bristol and Santinelli, also a sophomore, are both members of the college’s environmental consciousness organization, the Sunday Night Group.
“A lot of the cofounders of 350.org were also the founders of SNG,” said Santinelli.
Bristol said the placement of last Saturday’s event at the Snow Bowl was in part due to the lack of snow — the ski area had to close two weeks early than usual this year due to lack of snow and the Allen Trail snow used in a photo op was actually the last of the man-made snow. Also this winter, Middlebury College had to move the Nordic portion of its annual winter carnival from a nearby course to northern Vermont due to lack of snow.
Bristol said the Snow Bowl was also an ideal location because it is a space where students and the community meet. Santinelli said local residents made up about a quarter of the more than 100 people who turned up; the rest were Middlebury students.
Connecting with the community both locally and globally was a theme for the day: Bristol and Santinelli said the event and the photos uploaded to climatedots.org from across the world were a reminder of why they are involved in climate activism.
“We sit here on two square miles of campus, but it’s nice to feel like we’re part of something that goes beyond the confines of campus life,” said Santinelli.
“It’s an issue that touches every single person on this planet,” said Bristol.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at andrea@addisonindependent

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