Saturday, November 28, 2009

Manchester group wins 'green' award

From the Bennington Banner

Manchester group wins 'green' award
Posted: 11/26/2009 10:09:13 PM EST

MANCHESTER -- A local group has been recognized with the Vermont Tree Steward Award in the volunteer category for work in promoting environmental awareness.

Dozens of volunteers have helped Transition Town Manchester pull together events over the last year promoting "green"initiatives and sustainable living, the largest of which landed it state recognition when a ceremonial apple tree was planted and 350 fruit trees were sold locally.

The sales and planting event was the group's part in an effort to raise awareness of International Day of Climate Action on Oct. 24, which more than 5,000 communities in 181 countries took a part in. Events promoted by all had something to do with the number 350, because many scientists and climate experts that say 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

The annual Vermont Tree Steward Award sponsored by the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Council of the state Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is given to a group that shows outstanding dedication and commitment in introducing or sustaining an urban and community forestry project.

Lee Krohn, Manchester's tree warden, nominated the group for the award because he said its work fit that criteria and the group deserves some recognition. "I thought this was a really wonderful project that involved trees, the community, and larger issues of sustainability and those were all key elements to this particular tree steward," Krohn said. "To
me, this was just a wonderful, tangible example of the qualities this award seeks to recognize."

In the spring, TTM plans to choose a day when the approximately 100 people who bought the trees will plant them, but the project doesn't end there.

"We're doing this for the long run; it isn't just planting 350 trees. What we'd like to do three or four years from now, when these 350 trees will be bearing fruit, is do a canning session ... and bring food to the community cupboard," said Bill Laberge, an active member in TTM who lives in Dorset.

TTM has also helped raise awareness about environmental issues in other ways over the last year, Laberge said. The group has hosted events with local food producers, screened films about global and local concerns and sponsored events such as Bread and Puppet Theater at the Long Trail School and the Food Summit in Bennington.

"Our model is to engage the community to move away from its dependence on foreign oil, lower carbon emissions and strengthen the economy," said Laberge.

Transition Town Manchester is one of many Transition Town groups that can be found around the world after the first was created in Kinsale, Ireland a few years ago. Since then, Transition Towns have spread across the world with volunteers starting their own groups that plan their own events and decide how they will raise environmental awareness.

Laberge said a core group of volunteers in TTM have been meeting together for two and one-half years. More than a year ago the group heard about the Transition Towns initiative and because their goals aligned the group decided to change its name.

An awards ceremony will be held Dec. 9 at the Statehouse in Montpelier where Gov. James Douglas will present the group with the award.

Anyone interested in learning more about Transition Town Manchester can visit Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at

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