Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Task Force Meetings

The Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative Takes Shape!  

On Thursday evening, November 16 at 6:30 PM at Middlebury Union High School Task Forces will be joined by a visiting Resource Team of experts to develop action plans and identify resources that will help to move these plans forward. There will also be a discussion about developing an overarching vision to guide the process moving forward. All in the Middlebury area are invited to attend. Feel free to sign up for a Task Force by e-mailing Jon Copans at jon@vtrural.org or just come to the High School at 6:30 on November 16.

Citizens of Middlebury and surrounding towns gathered on October 26 as part of the Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative to prioritize action ideas that will guide the work of the program moving forward.  Lively discussion and 2 rounds of voting resulted in the whittling down of a list of 22 community-generated ideas to 3 key priorities. These Task Forces will now be formed to develop and implement plans for each of the selected action ideas. Those Task Forces will join another Task Force already formed focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities for homes, businesses, and other buildings.

The 4 focus areas and Task Forces are:

  • Advance public transportation, facilitate more ridesharing, and make Middlebury and surrounding towns the best possible place for biking and walking:  The Middlebury area is well-positioned to develop a transportation system that provides great, affordable, healthy and low-impact options for community members and visitors alike. There is already a leading rural public transit system thanks to ACTR, and great options for biking and walking in and around Middlebury. And yet ownership of multiple personal or family vehicles and single-person trips remain both normal, necessary and a significant financial burden for many people in Addison County. Ridesharing represents an emerging strategy to increase options and reduce vehicles on the road. There are also innovative opportunities to increase transit ridership and to improve options to provide better service to individuals, businesses, and institutions. A more comprehensive transportation system coupled with parking on the outskirts of town could reduce the need for parking downtown and elsewhere. Working closely with partners including ACTR, this Task Force could do a holistic review of the transportation system in and around Middlebury. The Committee can then develop and implement a plan for transportation systems improvements including improved public transit options, better infrastructure and systems to support biking and walking, and increasing ridesharing options and participation. Large employers including Middlebury College and Porter Hospital could all have a role in moving this conversation forward.  
  • Increase staff capacity at the local and regional level to coordinate climate change and energy related actions: Implementing a successful climate-change agenda requires coordination among communities and staff resources to fully realize the potential of volunteer committees and neighborhood-based action.   This Task Force can engage local citizens, select boards, the regional planning commission and other possible partners in a dialogue with the goal of increasing and deploying resources to implement climate-related programs.  
  • Help farmers transition to organic and regenerative practices: Transitioning from conventional farm practices to organic and regenerative practices can have a positive impact on the environment and a farmer’s bottom line. This Task Force will convene to develop incentives and other approaches to encourage an increase in organic farming and carbon sequestration in Addison County.
  • Advance Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Opportunities for Homes, Businesses and Other Buildings: Middlebury already is a statewide leader in community-based efforts to encourage residential and business energy efficiency. A Task Force will take these efforts to the next level by working to significantly improve energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities for homes, businesses, and other buildings. The Task Force will work with work with utilities and other partners to expedite the pace of Middlebury’s transformation to an efficiency and renewable energy-based economy. The goal will be to implement solutions that address the complex set of barriers to more widespread adoption.

In addition to selecting the 4 focus areas, the group decided to develop a vision for the initiative to unify efforts of the Task Forces moving forward. The group also decided that engaging youth was a critical component of this process and that concerted efforts will be made to engage younger members of the community in all aspects of the Climate Economy Initiative as it moves ahead.