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Community gathering to address caring for our natural commons

BRISTOL — How can community members step up and care for the key parts of our local environment that we all share? That’s the question behind a community gathering to be hosted by Vermont Family Forests in Bristol on Saturday, Nov. 2. 
In Caring for our Home Grounds: A Commons Conservation Congress for Vermont’s Center-West Ecoregion, participants will explore tangible actions citizens can undertake to care for air, water, and wildlife here at home. 
“We’re in a time of climate crisis,” said Vermont Family Forests Executive Director David Brynn. “and our local forests, rivers, lakes, and wildlife are under increasing stress. It’s time for we the people to step up to caring for our local commons.” 
Commons, Brynn explained, are the parts of our home place that are unbounded and un-owned. “Air, water, and wildlife are commons—they flow freely across boundaries and they’re shared by all of us—they’re all our responsibility. 
“We’ve largely left the care of these commons to government, where they’re subject to the tides of politics and funding priorities,” Brynn said. “We’ve given up our right and responsibility to care for them ourselves. It’s time to step up to our role as commoners.” 
According to Brynn, citizen initiatives like the Addison County River Watch Collaborative (which assesses water quality in local waterways) and the Vermont Herp Atlas volunteer program, which monitors reptiles and amphibians, are great examples of effective existing “communing” efforts. 
The Commons Conservation Congress will focus on the center-west eco-region of Vermont, an area roughly bounded to the west by Lake Champlain, to the north by the Winooski River, to the east by the Mad River, and to the south by the Middlebury River and Route 125. 
“Gary Snyder wrote ‘Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.’” Brynn said. “Our home place is here in the Center-West Ecoregion, and we’re inviting our neighbors in this region to join us in imagining creative, effective actions to care for the air, water, and wildlife commons here at home.” 
Caring for Our Home Grounds will take place at Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch and a t-shirt are included for all participants, with a suggested donation of $15. More information is available on the Vermont Family Forests website, www.familyforests.org. 

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