Vermont 2017 by Katherine Bomboy
To me, most things in life are vertical or horizontal. I have been a commercial photographer in the film and television industry for the last 20 years. My lens dictates how I see the world. But after the November 2016 election, I decided I needed to view the world through the lens of Sustainability.
At first glance, Sustainability looks like this image (right): an uphill ideological and behavioral climb. Most people are taking the escalator instead of the stairs... How are we going to get from America pulling out of the Paris Agreement to limiting the green-house gas precipitated rise in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius? How are we going to retool America’s infrastructure and economy and end our energy dependance on fossil fuels and the carbon economy?
This summer, as part of my graduate coursework with Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice (ISP), I had the chance to travel to New England with 13 other current and former ISP graduate students and Professor Dodd Galbreath. Professor Galbreath designed the trip to expose us to a plethora of “proof of concept” sites in Sustainability.
Over the course of the week-long trip, we experientially dove into almost every aspect of sustainable practice including sustainable community development, natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, net zero and green building, renewable energy, waste mitigation and diversion, green commerce, and resilient public policy. Suddenly, Sustainability did not seem so vertical.
From farm-to-table fare to composting toilets, we experienced the gamut of all that is green, resilient, and miraculous about the natural world and human ingenuity.
Starting in the cradle of sustainable ideologies, we honored the legacies of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Perkins Marsh, and Frederick Billings as we traveled through Concord, MA and Woodstock, VT.
In this historical context, the concepts of sustainable practices came to life in a whole new way. Intentional living and conservation of natural resources in these sites laid the foundation for current sustainable corporate mindsets and behaviors that have made states like Vermont and New Hampshire leaders in the conversion to renewable energy production and climate change resilience.
Sustainable Communities like Cobb Hill Co-Housing Community in Vermont, the vision of Donella Meadows, practically demonstrate modern sustainability concepts in a residential setting. Seeing a group of individuals and families collectively working to have as little environmental impact on their 270 acres of land while living intentionally in community was astonishing. We spent the day talking with and working beside some of the most influential figures in climate change modeling and materials science.
“We have within us the ability to wonder,
the intelligence to understand,
and the love to care about that which we wonder at.
I try to play to those abilities,
within myself and within others,
and in them I always find hope.”
wrote of her work
in an online forum in 1992