Middlebury students organize global climate actions with 350.org

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Photo from past 350 action that Middlebury students helped organize in Ladakh, India.

Middlebury students organize global climate actions with 350.org

October 21, 2009

Middlebury, Vt.- From the beaches of Montevideo to the bright fall leaves of Middlebury, this Saturday, October 24 will be an extraordinary day for climate activism- and for potlucks. Middlebury College students from the Sunday Night Group are spearheading a potluck featuring 350 dishes on the Middlebury town green. Middlebury students abroad have also organized events in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. And students on campus have organized numerous actions in and around Middlebury.

These are just a few of the more than 4000 actions taking place in 170 different countries as part of an international day of climate action organized by 350.org, a climate activism group founded by author and Middlebury College Scholar-in-Residence Bill McKibben and several Middlebury students.

The goal of 350.org is to create a swell of public interest around climate change before the international negotiations in Copenhagen this December. Why 350? "In essence, we're turning a scientific data point into a global rallying cry," said Jeremy Osborn '06.5, one of seven Middlebury alumni working for the organization. The number 350 refers to the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that many scientists have identified as the maximum level at which the earth can sustain life as we know it. The current level is 390 ppm, and rising. 350.org is pushing for an international treaty that will set 350 as its target mark for CO2 levels.

McKibben and the 350.org staff launched a whirlwind campaign to impress the number 350 into cultural awareness. Among his many media interviews, McKibben made an appearance on the Colbert Report in August to make his case.

350.org and Stacey Thebodo, assistant director of Middlebury's International Programs and Off-Campus Study, encouraged students studying abroad during the fall semester to organize events for October 24. Nora Hirozawa '11 applied for a Middlebury sustainable study abroad grant to get her project off the ground. Hirozawa hopes to simultaneously highlight climate change and the notorious transportation issues in Buenos Aires with an ambitious bicycle march through the city to the central government offices. "Not only is it in a foreign country with foreign bureaucratic procedures in a foreign language," says Hirozawa, "but Buenos Aires is also one of the largest cities in Latin America!"

Students from the college's Sunday Night Group have partnered with local community members to organize the potluck featuring 350 dishes. "This is a great opportunity for us to feast together and celebrate the climate activism of Addison County residents and Middlebury students," said Amanda Warren '10, who is helping to organize the event.

The local event also includes 350 sun salutations with Otter Creek Yoga and a 350-minute long drum session, as well as music all on the town green (rain location is St. Stephen's Episcopal Church). Speakers at the event include dean of the college Tim Spears, Professors John Elder and Julia Alvarez, Addison County state representative Betty Nuovo, Laura Asermily from the Middlebury Area Global Warming Action Coalition, and Sunday Night Group student Sid Singh '13. Music will be provided by the MamaJamas, Ava and the Gardeners, and Eamon Fogerty. "We've gotten over 200 RSVPs, but are expecting a lot more people to come," said Rhiya Trivedi '12.5 another student from the Sunday Night Group.

Also, students from John Elder and Andrea Olsen's environmental studies class Nature and Creativity have organized creative actions related to 350, including dance, sculpture, kayaking over Otter Creek Falls, and log-rolling for those who want to join in.

For more information on how to get involved with the 350.org celebration in Middlebury on Oct. 24, contact David Dolginow, middpotluck@gmail.com, 816.853.0602 , or Laura Asermily, Middlebury Area Global Warming Action Coalition, 802-388-9478.



Schedule of Events in Middlebury for Saturday, Oct. 24th

Middlebury Climate Action Potluck and Celebration

10 a.m - 12 p.m.

350 local actions with VISION 2020- a sustainability plan for Addison County

12 p.m - 2 p.m.
350 dish potluck, speeches, and performances from local bands and acapella groups

2 p.m - 4 p.m.
350 Sun Salutations with Otter Creek Yoga, and a 350-minute drum circle

Events organized by students from Nature and Creativity Class

9 a.m.-9:45 a.m.
350 Steps: Walking meditation
Led by Mady Mainwaring
Visual: Chalked pathway
Meet at the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest, walk to McCullough

10 a.m.-11 a.m.
Focusing Energy: Yoga
Led by Andrea Olsen
MCFA Dance Theatre

11 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Climate Dances
Andrea Olsen and John Elder;
Jeremy Cline (350 breaths);
Sonia Hsieh; Alena Giesche
MCFA Dance Theatre and on campus

12 p.m.-2 p.m.
Paddling the falls at Otter Creek x 350,
Led by Christian Woodard in collaboration with Middlebury Mountain Club and Dartmouth Outing Club, Stenciled kayaks

1 p.m.-3 p.m.
Log-rolling x 350
Come help make 350 turns on a log-roll log. Everyone welcome.
Led by Abby Hoeschler

On-going displays:
Video and photos: 350 Rock-climbing at Pitchoff Cliff, Keene, NY.
Main library
Evan Daniel, Brad Carlson. Jesse Gubb

Sculpture: 350
Batell Beach Hillside
Marcella Houghton and Cha Tori

Sculpture: 350 trees
Library Quad
Oakley Jackson