Addison County trio wins prize in ‘Vermontivate!’ competition

MIDDLEBURY — Three local women competing in the online game Vermontivate! have won a $1,000 prize in their division in the recently completed competition.
Vermontivate! is a nationally award-winning climate and sustainability game designed to bring fun and creativity to the serious work of tackling climate change.
Laura Asermily, Alice Eckles and Fran Putnam formed Team Bobcat in the “Other” division and amassed more points than any of the other 55 competing teams. The six-week game consisted of a series of both personal and team challenges that had to be completed and documented in order to qualify for points.
 “I appreciate the way the game of Vermontivate! connected my sustainable lifestyle — living in a yurt without running water and electricity — to the community,” Eckles said. “I also enjoyed explaining to other people that my actions such as avoiding packaging for to-go food and giving an LED light bulb to a co-worker to use in her room at College Street Children’s Center were part of my Vermontivate! challenges.”
For her part, Asermily said, “I appreciated the opportunity to share Middlebury Energy Committee initiatives in alternative transportation. Middlebury’s Bike Swap on Green Up Day featured Dave Cohen, a psychologist from Brattleboro, who spoke about how to avoid ‘road trans’ — a condition in which we become zombies driving in cars, and the brain loses its capacity to map and connect with where we live. His new vbikesolutions project combats this by promoting cargo bikes and electric-assist bikes and vehicles like the ELF.”
Fran Putnam reported that the Vermontivate challenge that made the most impact on her was being asked to spend five days carrying a backpack that contained everything she threw away during that time. It made her more aware of just how much trash she generates even though she is aware of the importance of living sustainably.
One of the team challenges was to plant a tree somewhere in the community that would produce free fruit to anyone who wants to eat it. The team came up with the idea of planting blueberry bushes, donated by Blueberry Hill Inn, in the Ilsley Library garden. The library’s Children’s Program hosted a gardening program in 2014 and often holds events in the garden. Once the bushes produce berries, the library’s young patrons will be able to harvest and enjoy them.
Team Bobcat members are still deciding what to do with their prize money. So far, they have considered contributing it towards a community root cellar or a composting program at the Community Garden.
When asked if they would be participating in Vermontivate! next year, team members responded very positively. “This is a great learning opportunity for people of all ages,” Putnam said. “I have already recommended it to my local elementary school and hope other groups in Addison County will consider playing Vermontivate! when it begins again next spring.”

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