Government Schools

CT League of Conservation Voters to Host Climate Conversation in West Hartford

CTLCV’s ‘Climate, Coffee, and Conversation’ will be held at Conard High School in West Hartford on Sept. 14.

By Ronni Newton

Members of West Hartford’s legislative delegation, as well as students, the Sustainable West Hartford Commission, and any interested members of the public, will be participating in “Climate, Coffee, and Conversation,” an event being hosted by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters at Conard High School on Thursday, Sept. 14, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Panelists will include state Sen. Derek Slap and state Reps. Kate Farrar, Jillian Gilchrest, and Bobby Gibson.

West Hartford resident Kim Hughes, co-director of the organization Root2RISE and a member of the newly-formed Sustainable West Hartford Commission, said she and others in town jumped at the opportunity when the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters offered the opportunity to host a climate conversation in any interested community in the state.

“I believe the catalyst for the CTLCV was the dismal outcome to the 2023 legislative session on environmental issues – all of this taking place in the midst of the climate chaos of our winter, spring, and summer weather including smoke from the wildfires in Canada,” Hughes said. “While Connecticut has been relatively insulated from extreme weather, the number of conversations I had with friends and even strangers in the grocery store line on the topic of the impacts of climate change was at an all-time high.”

The new Sustainable West Hartford Commission – the combination of the town’s former Clean Energy and Conservation and Environment commissions – will have its inaugural meeting on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., and Hughes is hoping it will become a “gathering spot for continued conversation” on this topics, which are of great interest to many in the community.

“At this time we have working groups dedicated to Clean Energy, Waste, and the Sustainable Land Care,” Hughes said, the latter of which she leads. Another working group may focus on engagement. She said it’s important to have a conversation and foster engagement on all fronts – at the national, state, and local level – and examine what action everyone can take every day.

Topics at the Sept. 14 event will likely focus on state-related matters, but attendees are welcome to bring their own concerns and ideas to the discussion. Students have been a driving force in the organization of this event, and Hughes anticipates that many students will want to discuss a Montana case where this summer a court ruled in favor of youth who brought forward the case claiming that the state’s promoting the use of fossil fuels violated their right to a “clean and healthful environment.”

Hughes said Gibson, who represents portions of West Hartford and Bloomfield, shared that he “is eager to connect the dots between the farm-to-school legislation that DID PASS and climate action.” That same program awarded a grant of $11,000 to Charter Oak International Academy this year in support of the school’s learning garden.

“Though not considered environmental legislation strictly speaking, drawing a connection between topics around climate, environment, farming, food, and our schools and our children is of critical importance to building a culture and community around our inextricable connection with the whole living world.  My own belief is that helping every citizen see their own connectedness to the plants and animals all around us will lead to a level of environmental literacy that will ensure we are not having this conversation about ‘inaction’ on climate ever again,” Hughes said.

“Let’s not wait until our waste crises or stormwater and flooding or the local food system reach catastrophic levels to engage in productive conversation,” Hughes said.

Anyone interested in attending the Climate, Community, and Conversation can register through this link. Questions can be addressed to [email protected] or you can call 860-236-5442.

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