BENNINGTON — A new group aims to ramp up the local discussion on environmental issues.
Organizers with 350Bennington are seeking input for projects, actions and other ideas, according to Barbara True-Weber. An organizational meeting is slated for Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the Second Congregational Church, 115 Hillside St.
The new group's goals include promoting education on issues like climate change and advocating for policies that members believe would create a more "resilient and sustainable greater Bennington," according to True-Weber.
That could mean advocating for a statewide carbon tax, the subject of two bills in the Vermont legislature, or policies that encourage renewable energy like solar.
Organizers have met before, True-Weber said, but haven't settled on any specific projects. They have led outreach efforts at events like the recent All Species Day to gauge community members' interests.
"The first step is for us to be patient and have those conversations with people," True-Weber said Monday.
True-Weber said the group is open to residents in the greater Bennington area and those from other towns should attend. She said it's possible the group could someday partner with residents of nearby communities in New York or Massachusetts.
350.org is a nonprofit environmental organization founded by Vermont author and Middlebury College professor Bill McKibben in 2007. Its website describes 350.org as "a movement more than an organization" that uses "grass-roots organizing to run adaptive, locally-driven campaigns" with thousands of members across 188 countries. The name comes from the amount of carbon dioxide in parts per billion scientists say can be in the Earth's atmosphere without consequences from global warming.
350Bennington would be a "node," or chapter, of Burlington-based 350Vermont. While affiliated with the national group, it operates independently.
True-Weber, a retired teacher, said she moved to Vermont from North Carolina to be closer to her daughter. She said she wanted to join a 350 node in Southern Vermont, but there wasn't one in the area. She said she was involved with local reading and discussion groups before becoming involved with 350Bennington.
"I think the environment is increasingly in crisis," True-Weber said.
True-Weber said anyone interested in the group should come to Wednesday's meeting with discussion topics and specific ideas relevant to the Bennington area.
She spoke of a need for citizens nationwide to bring pressure on elected officials and community leaders on issues around the environment.
"I think of this as an exercise in democracy," she said.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979