DRIVE Manchester to self sustainability

By Pam Morin

I’ve been watching the signs on the gas stations a lot lately. Prices have moved down from $4 a gallon, but not by much!  The news has been out there for some time, we have been warned.  Gas will continue to go up, food will continue to go up, and the dollar may soon be non-existent.  Scary stuff!

But yet, when I look around Manchester I see a community of strong infrastructure, sustaining brick and mortar buildings and organizations in those buildings, and an even stronger population of people who truly care where this world is going.  The small business I work for focuses on maximizing efficiencies with what we have and recycling what we can’t use any more, and we service many organizations in Manchester and all over New England.

So I started doing some research. What organizations are out there that I could help, and what can I do here at home?  I found www.350.org, and watched a very inspirational video of a speech by Bill McGibben .  I signed up for the 4 Years. Go. Commitment with 7,000 other people to do my part to shift humanity and make the world a better place.  I liked Post Carbon Institute on Facebook, and told all my friends to do the same.  More locally, I joined the Manchester Food Co-op , checked out my neighborhood walk score (which was pretty bad, unfortunately) and found goodgood manchester.  I composed a list of certified green energy consultants and installers and started the process of seeing how viable it is to go solar (and sans the oil tank in my basement) in my home.  I traced bus routes to try and find another way to get the kids to daycare and myself to work.  I turned half my urban yard into a vegetable garden and bought a great new bike.

After my internet travels, minor contributions to blogs and making a few small donations, I came to the conclusion that there is not enough I can do.  I have zero experience, a whole head full of ideas, and two little boys who knock-my-socks off with inspiration—but as an individual all I can do is set an example.  I want to do more.

I came across Transition United States and almost couldn’t believe what I read.

“Transition United States  is a vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crises.  It represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people in strengthening their communities against the effect of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, equitable and socially connected.”

Were they reading my mind?

“We believe that we can make the transition to a more sustainable world, and hope that you will join us!”  Wow – what’s the catch?

The catch is that the community must have the initiative, bodies and support before you can access their support and tools.  It also seems that someone who is better trained in public services would have an easier time navigating their site.  So my hope is that we can get a group of intelligent forward thinking people to start a grass roots now-world-order activist group.  The world is changing from right beneath our feet!  The ultimate goal is to really get Manchester on the map as the greenest city in the Northeast.  So far I have a few main focuses:

– GREAT (not just better) PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION for Manchester and surrounding suburbs.  I personally drive everywhere because the sidewalk situations and bus routes are so under cared for.  The New Hampshire Rail Road Revitalization Association is doing good, but could really use more support, marketing and public awareness.  As a project I want to try and get my family to go just one week without our car and blog the heck out of it!

– CLEAN ENERGY incentives… who doesn’t complain about the property taxes in New Hampshire, especially Manchester?  How about a little tax break for those of us who want to get away from oil?  The Cape Wind project has been a huge inspiration—of course they have a lot of private donations…  but we have a few “names” of our own here in Manchester!

– SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS to get trucks off the road, supply the community with ecologically and healthier products, and keep our economy thriving.  I especially LOVE the Manchester Food Coop that has been started, and anything downtown!

I have started a Facebook group page- it is DRIVE Manchester.  The biggest challenge by far is finding people who will not just like the page, but are willing to contribute resources and time to the projects.

Pam Morin is a 12-year Manchester resident and a lifelong New Hampshire resident. She is a mother of two, graduated from SNHU in 2004 and works for a small IT firm in downtown Manchester. Her love of all things natural, fascination with the city and general dislike of politics have inspired her to learn more about community sustainability and stewardship.

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