Charlottesville: a community that cares

I ask the gentleman at the Sierra Club table if he knows where the Green Grannies flash mob is going to take place. 

"Yes, just over there near the parking garage on the other end. You'll probably hear a drum. They'll be starting in just a couple minutes."

I walk toward the garage and get my camera settings ready. I hear the drum.  The Tom Tom Founder's Festival has attracted an extra large crowd to the vendor lined parking lot today. A line of people begin singing and dancing to the beat of a drum and an accordion in the middle of the busy Charlottesville City Market. 

People start to join the line and sing along. They march around all the corners and down all the rows of the market. The song is very catchy. 

Make it greener. Make it cleaner. Make it last. Make it fast, and do it now now now.

We need to build a better future and we need to start right now!
— Green Grannies
Joanie Freeman of Eco Village Charlottesville 

Transition Town

The planet advocating flash mob is only one example of the immense care that Charlottesville citizens express for living sustainable lifestyles and consideration for the planet. Just about every week there is some event, activity, or volunteering opportunity in Charlottesville promoting a sustainable lifestyle. Events include skill and tool share events, skill trading opportunities, and grow your own food workshops, just to name a few. 

Charlottesville is considered a Transition Town and recently participated as a pilot for the Transition Streets program. Tested and refined, the program originated in the UK and saved households, on average, around $900 a year in energy, water, and food costs. Neighbors come together and learn simple and repeatable habits for conserving resources, consuming less, and ultimately, saving money. The end result; healthier, happier, more connected communities. 

The program expects to have a nationwide soft launch in May and a full launch in the fall. Transition Streets aims to help communities around the country adapt their lifestyles and behaviors to slow the effects of global warming and build skills to prepare citizens for more frequent disasters as a result of a changing climate.

Shop Local

The Charlottesville City market itself exemplifies the epitome of a local focused community. Supporting local business has a two fold benefit. It creates jobs and boosts the local economy and it saves resources that would otherwise be expended to package and ship goods from other states or countries.

The city market, in partnership with Black Bear Composting, Green Blue, and Better World Bettyrecently started accepting compost. You can bring your compost from home. The new local compost spot provides a solution to folks who want to compost, but live in an apartment building or don't have the time or space. Composting shouldn't be an easy out for wasting food, but it does provide an alternative to food rotting in a landfill. The gases created from rotting food in landfills are green house gases, which contribute to global warming, so do your best to eat it all, or don't buy more than you need. 

Founders and funders

The Tom Tom Founder's Festival brought magnificent displays of the art, creativity, and genuine love for craft that pervades Charlottesville. The music, food trucks, friends, families, and spirit make the festival a special one. With a strong emphasis on the local, Tom Tom Fest challenges you to "Found Yourself" and hosts a variety of events that showcase the crafts, ideas, and missions of local businesses and organizations. The non-profit pitch night alone awards $30,000 in grants and makes the process "a festive, supportive gathering for the whole community. Tom Tom and The Future Fund aim to increase public awareness of the powerful work of nonprofits in Charlottesville."

I could dedicate several more paragraphs to the ways in which Charlottesville, VA is a leader for positive change and a community embodying the values of Small Acts Count. I hear commercials weekly sponsored by All Pain, No Gain opposing the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Sierra Club and 350.org have a strong presence here. UVA hosts countless sustainability events and gives back to the community regularly. The people in this area love the earth and their city, and they don't hesitate to speak up. Maybe it's not the greenest city in the U.S., but it's headed in the right direction. 

The time to act

The Small Acts of these citizens have inspired and encouraged me to learn, grow, and speak out about issues that matter. Change doesn't happen from inaction. Are you ready to speak out?