New local group focuses on economy and climate

FOUNDING DIRECTORS OF the Climate Economy of Addison County are, from left, Amy Sheldon, Greg Dennis, Andrea Murray, Steve Maier and Spence Putnam. CEAC works to integrate ongoing efforts to stimulate the local economy with the urgent need to respond to climate change.

ADDISON COUNTY — A new Addison County organization is working to combine local economic development with substantial reduction of carbon pollution.
The Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County (CEAC) recently incorporated as a nonprofit with the goal of integrating ongoing efforts to stimulate the local economy with the urgent need to respond to climate change.
The group is led by an initial board of directors of five community leaders and will work closely with other local business and environmental groups. CEAC focuses on strengthening Addison County’s economic, environmental and social resilience to achieve deep carbon reduction and support a thriving ecosystem of people, businesses and institutions.
The organization’s board is chaired by Steve Maier, a former member of the Vermont House of Representatives who previously headed the Addison County Solid Waste District and is now executive director of the Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured. Other board members are natural resources consultant and Vermont House Rep. Amy Sheldon; architect Andrea Murray; journalist and healthcare business consultant Greg Dennis; and Spence Putnam, former vice president of Vermont Teddy Bear and a past executive director of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
“Business, agricultural and civic leaders across the Vermont political spectrum have come to see that climate change is a present reality affecting our daily lives and communities,” Maier said. “CEAC was formed to work with other organizations and individuals to develop a sustainable local economy in the face of climate change, while also aiming to achieve deep reductions in carbon pollution.”
He said the organization will work to sustain the county’s vibrant communities by organizing “focus projects” that address critical business and environmental challenges.
CEAC taskforces have already done early work on energy, transportation and agriculture in Addison County, while also establishing the organizational and financial foundations to carry out the group’s mission.
Among initial efforts have been energy conservation and carbon reduction projects in Middlebury; collaboration on a Business Energy Efficiency Grant Program; a campaign to celebrate and build bus ridership; and discussions with several organizations about developing more solar and other forms of alternative energy.
Original work on CEAC began in the fall of 2017 when Middlebury was just chosen to participate in the Climate Economy Model Communities Program, sponsored by the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD). Over 150 participants including local leaders and community partners attended a series of public meetings to develop action plans for strengthening the vitality and prosperity of Addison County.
Among community leaders working with CEAC are Jack Byrne, Mary Cullinane, Fred Dunnington, Jeremy and Caitlin Gildrien, Fred Kenney, Adam Lougee, Diane Munroe, Heather Neuwirth, Fran Putnam, Stacey Rainey, Claire Tebbs and Thomas Wentworth, along with Jon Copans and Paul Costello of VCRD.
For more information about the Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County, go online to or email [email protected]

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