By Laurie Caswell Burke, published in the Shelburne News:

Last month I joined 400 Vermonters from around the state to participate in the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Summit on Creating Prosperity and Opportunity Confronting Climate Change. Business leaders, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and community citizens, like myself, came together at Vermont Technical College campus to collectively develop a structured plan with practical actions that will reduce carbon emissions and stimulate green economic development in Vermont. Several members of the Shelburne community attended including Shelburne Farms Alec and Marshall Webb, Megan Camp, and Sue Dixon. After a full day of workshops, engaging speakers, and examples of actions that are making a difference, I felt inspired to return to my community to see what we could do to become more active participants in combating climate change.

Our news of late has been focused on extreme weather that has wreaked havoc in many parts of the country. In early March one broadcast had 47 million Americans under severe weather of snow and ice including stories with inches of ice in Kentucky. A few days later it was 100 million and more states being affected by snow, sleet, wind, and ice were added to the list. If ever there were a time to wake up to the fact that our climate patterns are changing, it’s now. The past two months give us reason to pause and ask ourselves “What more can I do?”

We all lead busy lives and often with little time to focus on issues like climate change. It’s just easier to go about our daily lives and hope that someone else will worry about that. What motivates me on this issue is recognizing that I have had the privilege of living at a time with access to clean air, fresh water and plentiful good food. I want the same for my children and their children. After the past few months of watching way too much extreme weather impact lives around our country, it is very clear our planet is struggling. It’s time to ramp things up! A few opportunities to consider this month:

Vermontivate is an award winning sustainability game that will launch its third round of competition March 23-May 2. This frolicsome online real world hybrid game infuses joy and creativity into the serous and important work of tackling the global climate crisis. Participants will spend six weeks racking up points for everything from changing light bulbs, starting compost piles, writing energy poetry, decorating bicycles, and reaching out to people around the world affected by climate change.

At the recent climate summit, I enjoyed a box lunch on the bleachers with Kathryn Blume, Vermontivate co-founder, artist and activist. Her enthusiasm for the game was contagious. Last year teams hailed from towns all over the state and in neighboring New Hampshire and as far as Honolulu. Charlotte resident Blume shares, “Climate change is the most significant issue we face as a species…and it seems time to kick the Culture of Solutions into high gear with a potent combination of innovation, competition, and a little old fashioned bribery.”

Vermontivate is engaging, entertaining, educational and fun. Interested players can sign up at and also get more information. This year let’s have a Shelburne team or two.

A book discussion group co-sponsored by All Souls Interfaith Gathering, and the Pierson Library kicks off on March 24 and offers three consecutive Tuesday evening discussions on Naomi Klein’s recent book “This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. The Climate.” For more information and to register call the Pierson Library at (802) 985-5124.

Lastly, we can all continue to evaluate how we can do better at making changes in our lives that contribute to a more sustainable future for future generations. They deserve this.