If ICAN do it, so can you

New committee on climate change creates active agenda.

Ben Robinson talks about "adaptation" efforts from his working group discussion. — Brittany Bowker

Cut carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, move toward solar and alternative energy, advocate for environmentally-minded legislation and people in office, and increase emergency preparedness — these were among the proposed ideas that came out of the first quarterly Island Climate Action Network (ICAN) meeting hosted Monday, May 6, at Felix Neck.

ICAN is a “reincarnation” of a group that started 10 years ago under the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship.

“It seemed more than obvious to bring it back,” said Josey Kirkland, one of the eight members of the ICAN steering committee. “As it stands today, ICAN is a grassroots network of knowledgeable and dedicated people addressing climate change in a productive way.”

The goal of Monday’s meeting was to put the group to work, and “take the first step toward really creating an active agenda for the Island Climate Action Network,” said steering committee member Hunter Moorman.

About 50 people attended, and broke themselves up into working groups to address three main action items: adaptation, mitigation/reversal, and education.

The adaptation group tackled preparation for and adapting to the impacts climate change will have on the Island environment. For example, sea-level rise and growing storm intensity call for preventive barriers and strategic flood zones. Storm intensity also calls for adequate sheltering, with food security and a trained staff in each Island town. Emergency preparedness also points to the value in a circular economy.

“The more we can provide for ourselves on the Island, the less we need to bring in from the mainland,” said Ben Robinson, who presented on behalf of the adaptation working group. Each group met for about 45 minutes before presenting talking points to the rest of ICAN. The group is open to everyone — whether you know a lot about climate change or nothing at all.

“Part of a circular economy is getting to a point that we feel self-sufficient,” Robinson continued. “Should we be eating oranges in the middle of winter? What does eating on the Island look like if we’re sufficient about it?”

The adaptation group also talked about an Island with fewer cars, or more electric cars. Converting cars to electric vehicles was also brought up. “That’s where we started, but this conversation is going to have to continue with some vigor,” Robinson said.

The mitigation/reversal group looked at how to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases into the environment, decreasing greenhouse gases already in the environment, and decarbonizing.

Talking points included regenerative land care, energy audits in schools and other big Island institutions, passing 100 percent renewable energy commitments in all Island towns, limits on maximum house size, food waste reduction, continuing to electrify the transport system, and energy retrofits.

ICAN steering committee members, from left: Hunter Moorman, Josey Kirkland, Noli Taylor, Betsy Carnie, Susan Feller, Sam Look, and Kate Warner. Not pictured: Liz Durkee.

“We had so many ideas and so much energy, we decided we’re going to meet again in about two weeks,” said Noli Taylor, who presented on behalf of the mitigation/reversal working group. Taylor is also one of the eight ICAN steering committee members.

The third main item was education.

“It’s interesting,” Moorman said. “The Mass Audubon data we first looked at reported that something like only 40 percent of people in New England believe that climate change is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with now … It’s important that we raise the issue of climate change on the Vineyard, and then help educate people about what they can do. Whether it’s grand things or small, simple, practical things. There’s something everyone can do.”

Promoting ICAN through social media, trifold brochures, a website, and booths at events like the Ag Fair were among the piecemeal talking points. Targeting youth, getting politicians on board, and showing up in numbers to advocate for issues of interest were also touched on.

ICAN will host its second quarterly meeting in September, but working groups “can meet as often as they want to,” Taylor said. She invites everyone to the next one, tentatively scheduled for May 23.


For ICAN updates, contact islandclimateactionnetwork@gmail.com.