BY SUSAN COTE
SunCommon, the Waterbury-based installer and seller of commercial and residential solar power systems and a certified B Corp, was founded with the mission of addressing climate change through expanded use of renewable energy.
From the start, the company focused on storytelling as a means of engaging customers and the community. In 2020, it widened that practice by presenting its first Climate Action Film Festival, featuring documentaries that went beyond describing the climate crisis to demonstrating solutions and inspiring action.
Two sets of premiers were aired, in Vermont and in the Hudson Valley, home to SunCommon’s second headquarters in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Then the pandemic struck and the team quickly moved the festival to digital streaming, expanding the audience.
This year, by necessity, the event is fully virtual. Starting March 2, there will be six evenings of films and panel discussions across two weeks centered on solutions and the activities of those who are working to fight climate change.
Voluntary donations from ticketholders will go to two organizations, 350 Vermont and New York Renews.
“We aim as an organization to serve as connectors, so we’re hoping the festival brings our benefit partners attention, donations and people who want be involved,” said Tavit Geudelekian, SunCommon’s integrated marketing director.
Having previewed all of the films in the festival, Geudelekian said one he found particularly compelling was “Oil and Water,” a short documentary airing Friday, March 5. It captures an ongoing situation in the Turkana region of Kenya, where women in ancestral nomadic groups have organized themselves to face off against a large oil company that has brought changes to their environment and threatened their way of life.
“This feels like a big experiment putting on two weeks of films and interviews — and we’re so excited and hoping to inspire,” said Geudelekian.
According to the State of Vermont Climate Change website (www.climatechange. vermont.gov), Vermont is experiencing a number of measurably changing climate factors, including rising temperatures, more intense storms, increased precipitation and shorter winters. The impact already felt from these changes is multifaceted, including increased heat-related emergency room visits; more ticks and mosquitos; shorter and earlier sugaring seasons; rapidly changing plant hardiness zones; increased flood and erosion dangers and water safety risks. Other parts of the world are experiencing these and more drastic changes.
If you are among the many Vermonters interested in better understanding the dynamics of climate change and what can be done to mitigate and adapt to it, you may want to join upcoming virtual events, delve into resources available at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library and online or get involved in a local organization.
Climate events in March
March 2-12 — The above-mentioned Climate Action Film Festival is sponsored by SunCommon with support from Seventh Generation and the Vermont State Employees Credit Union. The festival brings together activists, filmmakers and communities to witness and celebrate stories of climate action. The festival’s mission is to amplify voices and inspire further action in addressing the climate crisis, locally and beyond. There is a recommended donation of $10 per ticket with proceeds going to support climate action focused non-profits 350 Vermont and New York Renews. For tickets and information, visit www. suncommon.com/climate-action-film-festival/
For gardeners concerned about their impact on the environment, Gardener’s Supply, an employee-owned company with retail locations in Williston and Burlington, hosts a series of webinars including:
March 2, 6-7:30 p.m. – The Complete No-Dig Garden presented by Charlie Nardozzi. Based on his new book of the same name, Nardozzi will cover what no-dig gardening means, why it’s important for your soil, plants and the climate and the various ways to practice no-dig.
March 16, 6-7:30 p.m. – Edible Landscapes presented by Jacob Holzberg-Pill. Learn the basic principles of edible landscape design, including the basics of site analysis and design, making use of small spaces and plant palettes that include medicinal herbs, perennial vegetables, nuts, fruits and berries.
March 23, 6-7:30 p.m. – Designing Four-Season Gardens to Support Pollinators presented by Master Gardener Larri Cochran.
For a complete list of programs and to purchase tickets ($15), go to www.gardeners-supply-stores.ticketleap.com.
March 2, 6:30-8 p.m. – Managing Invasive Plants in Your Forest with Ethan Tapper. This Access CVU online Zoom class is free with a voluntary donation. Whether you own a large woodlot or a small yard, you have probably struggled with invasive exotic plants. They are an existential threat to the health of our ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them, and they diminish the capacity of forests to perform other important functions, including cleaning our air and our water, sequestering carbon and providing habitat for our pollinators. This virtual discussion will address the threats posed by woody invasive plants, how to identify them and options for treatment. To register, go to www.cvsdvt.ce.eleyo.com.
Dorothy Alling Memorial Library resources
Library Director Jane Kearns notes many resources available for loan about climate change and activism. In addition to the resources highlighted below, the library loans passes to Vermont State parks and area museums like Shelburne Farms and the ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center.
“What better way to understand the importance of activism and the impact of climate change in our state, than visiting and supporting our science center and state parks,” said Kearns. To borrow museum or state park passes, request books, access eBooks or to get a library card, visit www.damlvt.org.
Youth collection featured climate titles
“101 Ways You Can Help Save The Planet Before You’re 12!” by Joanne O’Sullivan
“Endangered Planet” by David Burnie
“Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines” by Paul Fleischman
“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” by Valentina Camerini
“Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care” by Alan Greene with Jeanette Pavini and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo
“Sustaining Our Natural Resources” by Jen Green
“True Green Kids: 100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet” by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonni
Adult collection featured climate titles
“All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis” edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine Keeble Wilkinson
“Climate Justice and Community Renewal: Resistance and Grassroots Solutions” edited by Tokar & Gilbertson
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet” by Michael Bloomberg & Carl Pope
“Dangerous Years: Climate Change, The Long Emergency, and The Way Forward” by David Orr
“Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist” by Bill McKibben
“On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal” by Naomi Klein
“What Can I Do?: My Path from Climate Despair to Action” by Jane Fonda
Online climate resources
This site focuses on changing habits for social and environmental benefit. Learn which actions have the most impact and track your progress.
This site offers an overview of the ways that a warming planet is changing the climate in Vermont and the effects on health, water quality, flood events, farming, forests, tourism and recreation, plants and animals. It includes descriptions of what the state is doing to ameliorate and adjust to climate change – as well as practical actions Vermont residents can take on their own.
Local & state climate organizations
The Nature Conservancy – Vermont
Sierra Club Vermont Chapter
Vermont Natural Resources Council