There is no good or bad time to talk about sustainability within a community.
However, one of Cheshire’s newest civic groups is certainly hoping that, now and into the future, October becomes a month when every resident’s thoughts turn to such efforts.
For the second straight year, the Sustainability Fair, hosted by the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire, will take place in October, this time on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 10 am to 2 p.m., on the green in front of First Congregational Church. Parking will be available behind the church, although, in the spirit of the event, it might be a good opportunity, if possible, to take a walk or ride a bicycle to get there.
A. Fiona Pearson, co-chair of the Coalition, says the primary goal of the event remains the same: “To help educate the community.” That means not only helping community members become familiar with the many organizations in town that are working toward goals of environmental health, but also “getting people to understand that we can make changes in our everyday lives and in our institutions.”
Along those lines, some of this year’s new participants include Town of Cheshire entities like the Environment Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission. Pearson believes having the support of Town officials sends a strong message to the community that concerns about local environmental issues, from preserving open spaces in town to reducing food waste in schools and homes, are being heard and proactively addressed.
“Things like the recent vote (by the Town Council) to join the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Waste Management show that the leadership in this community cares about these (environmental) issues. Joining (CCSWM) allows us to have a voice in the discussion,” says Pearson, who also works with the Town in an informal capacity as part of the Sustainability Team.
Cooperation on sustainability initiatives brings a wide range of people together. The fair will feature groups that focus on specific geographical features, like Friends of Boulder Knoll Farm and the Mill River Watershed Association. Both are groups that have played big roles in protecting green spaces within the community, Pearson mentioned.
Alongside those volunteer organizations will be some others with wider ambitions, like the Cheshire Land Trust, which maintains open spaces throughout town. The Cheshire Pollinator Pathway is another. Although it focuses on tracts within Cheshire’s borders, it is part of a network stretching across the continent. Its primary mission is to protect the insects — butterflies and bees, for example — that are vital to an array of resources.
Representatives of the Southwest Conservation District, headquartered in Hamden, will be on hand to discuss their work as well.
Another participating group, Creation Care, is a relatively new interfaith collaboration that includes First Congregational Church, Temple Beth David, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and Cheshire United Methodist Church. As Dr. Anne McNulty, one of the group’s founders, states, part of the group’s mission is “Recognizing that the mandate to love our Earth, to learn about it and to preserve it was from its Creator, (is) as important as the command to care for our fellow humans. Secular organizations are crucial in the quest for environmental preservation, but it is through our religious communities that we gain the vision of hope and the deep-seated incentive to act.”
The group is seeking members from other faith communities in Cheshire as well, according to Marjorie Chapman, another spokesperson.
Creation Care is also sponsoring an informative presentation on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at First Congregational Church on the topic of recycling, which serves as informal kick-off for the Fair. Titled “Is This Recyclable?” the talk will be presented by Sunshine Fiore, a packaging engineer with consumer-goods giant Unilever. It will offer residents an opportunity to learn more about which items should go into the recycling bins, and perhaps which items to avoid as a consumer who wants to focus on Earth-friendlier types of packaging.
While learning about ways to participate in and contribute to the sustainability movement is the main focus of the fair, that doesn’t mean attendees will go hungry. Food will be available from the Cravin’ Food Truck.
Fair-goers will also be invited to visit the Coalition’s booth to enter a raffle. The possible prizes available to the winners will include a rain barrel and a backyard composter.
Saving on water usage and reducing food waste are two of the little steps any household can participate in to make Cheshire that much more efficient, the Coalition stresses, whether one’s winning raffle number comes up or not.
While the fair offers an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air and hopefully some beautiful autumn weather with neighbors, Pearson hopes that with the increased knowledge of best practices, “a willingness and an awareness” to make positive changes will follow.