About 100 members of the New Haven and Yale communitiesgathered Sunday afternoonon the New Haven Green for Work New Haven, an event to promote climate change awareness and educate the public about hands-on ways to get involved.
Attendees gathered to work on a variety of sustainable and eco-friendly projects with New Haven and Yale organizations. The convention of about twenty local environmental action groups was a part of the greater 350.org Global Work Party. The work party involvedmanyenvironmental groups, each bringing their own climate change solutions to the table. The day emphasized action, rather than just the conversation which characterizes many climate change awareness movements, said Lizzie Herskovitz NUR ’11, one of the event’s leaders. “What I especially loved about it was the positive, productive aspect,” Herskovitz added. “Instead of having a rally or saying how we think, let’s just actually work on this problem.”
The host of the event, Act New Haven, focused on finding ways to take direct action for the environment.The organization exists to promote environmentalism around the Elm City.
Herskovitz said that the purpose of the afternoon was to display the many approaches to environmental activism here in New Haven.
“We wanted to have such a diverse event that didn’t have just one activity, but could plug in to what people’s own passions were,” Herskovitz said.
The organizers encouraged participants to get their hands dirty in the pursuit of a cleaner earth, reflected by the slate of activities. In two-hour-long shifts, attendees composted, planted trees, repaired bikes, studied chicken-raising and cleaned up the Farmington Canal Trail.
Those opposedto grime and grit learned about advocacy and letter-writingwith the Community Carbon Fund, an organization that uses grants to invest in local energy efficiency projects.
The Yale Student Environmental Coalition offered another avenue for involvement by organizing a group to canvas the community for homeowners to sign up for free home energy audits. The evaluations entitle the residents to a free visit from a technician, who seals air leaks in the home, saving the resident money on utilities and minimizing energy loss.
Ronit Abramson ’13, stationed at the coalition’s booth, described the hopeful outlook brought on by Sunday’s event.
“Climate change is this really scary overwhelming issue, and it does come down to legislation and lobbying,” Abramson said. “[But] it also is going to take a community-wide effort to put our hands in the dirt and actually start addressing some of these issues.”
Herskovitz agreed that active community involvement is the key to affecting change.
“People are on board intellectually and emotionally,” Herskovitz said adding that many do not know how to actively contribute, she added. “They can buy a fluorescent lightbulb, but how can they go beyond that?”
Justin Haaheim, an organizer of the event, saw the day as a signalof large-scale change to come. Uniting the Yale and New Haven communities into a single collaborative body is a major step towards the green movement’s goals, Haaheim said.
“One of the takeaways for me is …how much more powerful our voices can be when we stand together.”
This was the first year Work New Haven took place.