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New England Climate Summer team visits Holyoke

Date: 7/12/2011

July 13, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE — The teams of college students representing New England Climate Summer are cycling through New England this summer with the goal of discovering how communities are recycling and addressing sustainability issues and Holyoke was on the route.

The Better Future Project sponsors the program and according to the group’s Web site, 31 college students are participating this year with six teams of riders traveling in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island over a nine-week period. They not only want to discuss issues associated with climate change with the people they see, but also explain what other communities are doing in response to these issues.

The six teams are expected to travel about 30,000 miles and visit 42 communities. At the end of the programs, the team members will write a “State of the Movement Report,” which will highlight the municipal and civic efforts to recycle more and move away from fossil fuels.

The group of five students spoke to Reminder Publications while staying at the Episcopal Church in South Hadley on the first full day of their stay in the area from July 6 through July 11. The group receives a stipend for the service and lives in donated spaces, generally made available by churches. This was the first time for the students to take part in the Climate Summer effort.

They had cycled from Fitchburg and Greenfield and Kaia Zimmerman, a Sarah Lawrence College student from Amherst, said the program shares information from one town to another,

“It serves as inspiration for other communities to see what’s going on,” she said.

April Bello, a Wellesley College student from Los Angeles, Calif., said the Mount Wachusett Opportunity Council assisted the group in understanding conditions in Fitchburg. Bello said that before work can be done on issues of sustainability, social justice problems need to be addressed there.

Greenfield was different, though, Bello added. “We felt a sense of life and community,” she said.

In Holyoke, the team was planning to visit the Farmers’ Market, meet with Mayor Elaine Pluta, conduct a public meeting at Open Square and speak with officials of Nuestras Raíces.

“People are doing great things,” Sara Orivis of Clayton, N.Y., and a student at the State University of New York at Potsdam. “There is a need to connect communities with themselves.”

After visiting Holyoke, the next stop for the group was Chelsea, a three-day trip by bicycle.

For more information on the project go to and to

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