We are in full swing preparing for

The Cooler Community Challenge and the 2019 Berkshire Earth Expo

For the past three years, Living the Change Berkshires has been a key organizer of an annual climate and sustainability fair, the Berkshire Earth Expo, focused on energy efficiency, climate resilience, and environmental action. Presented in collaboration with community partners, the events feature climate-friendly vendors, exhibits, workshops, speakers, games and art-making for kids, poetry readings, an art show, music and more. Over 1,200 people have attended these fairs.

For 2019, we are presenting the Cooler Community Challenge in conjunction with the 2019 Berkshire Earth Expo.

What is the Cooler Community Challenge?

The Cooler Community Challenge is an initiative of Living the Change Berkshires in collaboration with the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Flying Cloud Institute, and other organizations and groups as well as Berkshire County Schools.

The Cooler Community Challenge is based on a model from the “Cooler Concord” event held in Concord, MA, in 2017 The goals of the project are:

  • To empower young people and celebrate their activities and contributions to solutions in energy efficiency, climate change, and environmental preservation and protection.
  • Offer a new opportunity for teachers, students, parents, and community members to learn about climate, energy, and environmental topics, and provide hands-on activities that result in tangible outcomes community-wide.
  • Lower our community’s energy use and energy-related expenses and our carbon footprint.

Dates and Place

The Cooler Community Challenge begins in the fall/winter of 2018 and will continue throughout 2019 as we showcase students’ exhibits at the 2019 Berkshire Earth Expo on April 6th, 2019 at the Boys and Girls Club Pittsfield and track the outcomes of the challenge.

Guidelines for Participation

SCHOOLS

Students are key to the Cooler Community Project! Study topics and actions can come out of many disciplines – from science and civics to art and hands-on work in the outdoors – and will be designed to comply with STEAM curriculum standards (see examples below). The presentations can take many forms, such as written documentation, posters, science projects, exhibits, drama, artwork, video reportage, and more.

Prizes will be offered for participation! Each project participating in the Expo will be awarded a small grant.

VENDORS & NON-PROFITS

Student presentations at the Expo will be complemented by vendors and non-profits who will provide ways for visitors to take – or pledge to take – environmental, energy saving or other “climate-smart” actions. They will offer services and resources related to energy efficiency, greening our energy, transportation, food, and lifestyle. Please contact us if you are interested in a booth at the Expo.

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION

Experts, leaders, clubs, and groups in our community will be invited to participate in the Cooler Community Challenge and to provide guidance and resources for the project.

TRACKING OF RESULTS

It is our goal that actions and pledges taken and committed to by school and Expo participants will be tracked so schools and the larger community will be able to see the overall impact of the students’ work and the collective success of the event. We will provide guidance and tools to all participants so they can easily collect actions and pledges, and our team will follow up to compile the results.

PROMOTION

Leading up to, during, and after the event, an ongoing social media campaign will provide a platform for reporting on students’ development, execution, and follow-up activities, giving students a voice and presence in our shared journey to increasing sustainability, care for the environment, and climate resilience. We will provide schools with templates and links to help create a “buzz” around their projects. Promotion will include announcements about participating vendors and non-profits as well, increasing their visibility in the community.

CONTACT:

Project Lead: Uli Nagel, Livingthechangeberkshires@gmail.com 413.329.3514

Project Manager: Judy Eddy, judy@judyeddy.com  413.652.5387

Examples of Possible Actions and Research Projects

Actions and research projects where teachers and students take the lead

– A group of students joins Greenagers and report on what they have learned and done there.

– A class conducts a survey of the energy efficiency of the school/home/neighborhood, writes a report and recommends improvements.

– Students write letters to the editor/town, state or federal government official about an issue (pollution, climate change, endangered species, etc) that has been studied, or a change they want to see.

– A class goes door to door to have people sign up for Energy Audits.

– A school or class starts a composting/recycling effort involving the whole school. (Taconic High School in Pittsfield is planning this project.)

– A school community/class and parents work together to address idling cars.

– A school community pledges to use the school bus and sets up a carpooling system.

– A class learns about different kinds of alternative energy.

– A school/class starts a vegetable garden to complement school lunches.

– A class learns about food waste and the biological processes of composting.

– A class learns about different insulating materials and their applications.

– A class goes to pull hardy kiwi with BEAT and learns and reports about invasive plant species.

– A class researches and builds a pollinator-friendly flower garden at school/home/neighborhood.

– A school finds alternatives for all single use plastic straws, utensils, plates and cups in the cafeteria.

– A school changes from commercial chemical cleaning products to environmentally friendly ones.

– A class creates posters about the Expo to attract visitors.

– The school theater group writes a play related to climate change and performs it.

The students’ work will inspire students and parents to make changes in the home that save money and energy, for example:

– Use smart power strips and programmable thermostats

– Understand peak hours and adjust energy use accordingly

– Sign up for an Energy Audit and follow up to:

– Upgrade insulation

– Change lightbulbs

– Install solar panels

– Install heat pumps

– To be more environmentally friendly through:

  • Pledges to reduce use of weed killer and herbicides
  • Pledges to plant a pollinator garden
  • Pledges to avoid buying plastic as much as possible
  • Pledges to change cleaning products
  • Pledges to use recycled paper products
  • Pledges to eat less meat and more vegetable based foods
  • Pledges to walk, bike, or take a bus instead of using the car
  • Pledges to re-use, re-purpose, recycle, compost.

We are available to meet with you to help you design your project! We will also provide a list of resources.

Please contact us at: Livingthechangeberkshires@gmail.com or Uli at 413 329 3514.

 

Student- or teacher-led exhibits at the fair can include and are not limited to:

Science

– ecology/ science of eco-systems (Audubon?)

– the science of climate change and human contributions

– species protection/ impact on wildlife and bio-diversity (Audubon?)

Political / Civic

– lobbying, letters to the editor, press releases

– economy

Home and/ or school energy use and behavior[UN1]

  • energy efficiency

– heating

– electricity

– renewables

– recycling

Food

–      composting and food waste

–      carbon friendly diet and food preparation

Travel Choices

Climate Friendly Shopping

  • Plastic and Packaging
  • Buying less, re-use, re-purpose

Human Resilience

  • Community building
  • Communication Skills, Dialogue practice
  • Adaptability/ Preparedness