Green! What does that mean? Where do you go to learn about how to live and think green? Many of us already know that turning off a light when leaving a room, lowering the thermostat and recycling are actually green activities, right?
Well, I knew intellectually there was more to this green thing than just those few things, but what were they? I quickly found out, its not just one or two things, more like it’s hundreds of things you can do. It is looking at the bigger picture. You start by changing the way you think about your relationship with the world and then begin slowly incorporating green behaviors into your everyday life. Starting is the key. Small steps down the green path becomes the beginning which will help you understand that your impact on the environment touches everything, everywhere!
Ok. Great! So where in the world can one go to hear about and see green activities, and to learn and ask questions about living green or at least how to start? An answer was closer than I knew.
Bedford 2020 is a nonprofit organization that was created in response to the buzz generated at the 2009 Bedford Environmental Summit and the commitment evidenced by the Town of Bedford’s subsequent, unanimous adoption of a Climate Action Plan. Its mission is to lead, organize and promote a community-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 and to create a sustainable community that conserves its natural resources.”
Over 700 people attended the Bedford 2020 Environmental Action Day, which took place at Fox Lane High School in Bedford New York, on Saturday, January 29th 2011.
This full day event, co-sponsored by Bedford 2020 and the Bedford Central School District, sought to build on the awareness and excitement generated by the first Bedford Environmental Summit which was held in 2009. This year’s full day event included workshops and an Expo featuring local activities setup to meet specific environmental challenges.
There were fifteen different workshops to choose from within four time slots throughout the day. I wanted to stay and listen to them all but as the official photographer for the day my time was focused on the task at hand as I covered this incredible event.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Daniel Martin, Founder of Conversations for Action; he spoke with passion and commitment, and captivated the audience with a rousing speech “I am because we are!”
Natalle Thompson, a Fox Lane High School Senior, spoke from the heart about the impact of green awareness on her generation and the challenge to take responsibility to become more aware and involved in the bigger issues at hand.
Workshops consisted of fifteen different subjects including Home Energy Efficiency, Green Government, Future of Energy, Tending our Future, Fracking, Behind the Walls, and Losing Ground: Our Shrinking Forests to name a few.
By the time lunch came upon us, many were famished. The theme of green continued with a beautiful homemade local vegetarian lunch that included: Potato & Onion Soup, Grain salads, Assorted Breads, Butter and Cheeses. Including deserts and drinks. All grown and made locally. No bottled water for this green group, including compostable service pieces! Thanks to TABLE local market who connects the community with the farmers that harvest the locally grown foods. The concept of farm to table reveals the inter-connectedness of farming.
The energy generated by this spectacular event created momentum that continues! Over 200 participants signed up for the Energize Bedford program for home energy assessments and for potential green upgrades. This is a very practical application of green living that will have both a long-term impact and a potential for cost savings.
News Update as of March 23, 2011: Bedford 2020, Energize Bedford Task Force has launched the Energize Community Challenge and so far 6 groups have signed up. “We are very excited about the response”, says Olivia Farr, Vice President and Treasure of Bedford 2020 coalition. B2020 is offering $10K in prizes for groups that wins the most points by either hosting workshops to inform their members about the Energize Bedford program, for members that sign up for home energy assessments, and for members that follow through with an upgrade.
This was a special event, you could go to in one location to learn, network, and take those beginning steps to being green!
It is hoped that other towns/states/regions will learn by example from this Town of Bedford New York pilot program. That way we can all continue to improve and take what works in one place and apply it locally elsewhere. This event clearly shows how a town came together and demonstrated that they cared to make a green difference in the world right now and for the future generations.
The program was funded through a $2.6 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant awarded through the Department of Energy Better Buildings programs., which the Town of Bedford received as the lead Town in the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NYWEAC).
After piloting in Bedford, the program will roll out to 13 additional municipalities in the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NYWEAC), including: Croton-on-Hudson, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mt. Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Ossining, Peekskill, Pound Ridge and Somers.
There are literally thousands of people in Bedford to thank for this event and I don’t want to miss anyone. So, I will do the next best thing and tip my hat to every one of you who helped make this green event an incredible success. Bravo Bedford!