350Vermont Trains Climate Justice Leaders at Common Ground Center!

In February 2016, 350Vermont hosted a Climate Organizer Leadership Training weekend at Common Ground Center, and Common Ground Center staff member Neily Jennings had a chance to interview 350Vermont organizers Alix Lara and Brittany Dunn about their work. Here's what they had to say! 

How did idea for this training come about?
350Vermont started the Leadership Trainings in 2015 with the goal of connecting more people to the climate movement throughout the state. The goal for this training also came from our commitment to public education. The Climate Organizer Leadership training is an annual retreat for people who are interested in learning more about how to get involved in the climate movement and improve skills that are necessary for success in the movement.

Who planned & facilitated the training? How was it structured?

To plan the training, there was a collaboration between the full-time staff at 350Vermont, as well as the spring interns. Brittany Dunn and Maeve McBride were the core facilitators for the weekend. Our training was packed full of workshops and activities to keep participants engaged and active. We ate all of our meals together and had the opportunity to learn from and teach each other new things. It was a great time to discuss the workshops and continue our learning process. Everybody worked, listened, and collaborated so beautifully together, and we were lucky to be in such a beautiful space for our training.

Who were the participants?

The training participants were anyone who was interested in improving their organizing skills within the climate justice movement, or learning more about how to be involved in the movement. We had participants from all over the state of Vermont, as well as someone from Massachusetts who heard about our training and was inspired to attend! Many participants are involved in our 350 Nodes, local groups who are partnered with 350Vermont to address climate issues and become activists in the movement.

What topics did you cover, and why did you feel that these topics were important to highlight?

Our workshop topics were Climate Justice, Racial Justice, Facilitation, Personal Narrative, Theory of Change, Divestment and Legislation, and Campaign Development. Each workshop highlighted a different aspect of the climate movement, and the skills necessary to take action together. Each topic was very different, yet integral to a holistic approach to understanding the climate movement and what needs to be done.

Were there any major take-aways or actions coming out of the training weekend?

One of the major take-aways from the weekend was that when people with similar goals come together, there are infinite possibilities for taking action. Being in a room with so many activists in the climate movement was inspiring, motivating, and important. It reminds us all that even though working for climate justice is challenging and oftentimes frustrating, collaborating with like-minded people and learning from their successes is a huge part of a movement’s success.

Why did you select Common Ground Center as a venue for the training? Did it meet your needs?

The Common Ground Center absolutely met our needs. First of all, it is in such a beautiful location with rolling hills, a beautiful view of the mountains, great hiking trails, and clean, fresh air. The Eco-Lodge was a great facility for our needs, and lived up to our expectations. The common space was large enough to comfortably fit all of our twenty-five participants, and the kitchen had everything we needed. We did not have to worry about small logistical things like bringing silverware, dishes, towels, etc. because the Eco-Lodge provided it all.

How can people learn more or get involved in 350 Vermont?
To get more involved with 350Vermont, you can email brittany@350vt.org or check out our website at 350vermont.org. We would love to get more people involved with 350Vermont!