Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.), a Wolfeboro-based nonprofit dedicated to the education and practice of sustainability, or what they cleverly refer to as “celebrating sustainable solutions,” has many new updates and a lot to offer in the coming months. When referring to “sustainability” G.A.L.A. prefers the definition adopted by the city of Seattle as “improving quality of life within the means of nature.” Achieving this broad goal, according to G.A.L.A. Executive Director, Josh Arnold, can also be understood as “increasing social capital while reducing ecological impact.” How does G.A.L.A. go about this ambitious endeavor? Read on to learn . . .
G.A.L.A. offers a new sustainability-related educational opportunity on the First-Friday of every month. What began as a First-Friday Film Series at the Wolfeboro Library over a year ago, has since evolved to include a diverse range of opportunities including homesteading workshops, theme potlucks, and the continued film screenings. Each educational opportunity caters to different learning preferences. Homesteading workshops are hands-on activities that teach simple, practical, and low-cost homesteading skills such as sourdough baking, composting, rug-braiding, home brewing, and other do-it-yourself techniques that help people become more locally, self-reliant. Theme-potlucks combine resource-sharing with the ancient tradition of coming together around food. Potluck themes may include a book-share, clothes-swap, recipe-exchange, storytelling, or other themes community members suggest. G.A.L.A. film screenings will also continue to take place at the Wolfeboro Library in between the workshops and potlucks. Film screening are designed to encourage dialog about issues of environmental or social concern in respective and creative atmosphere.
G.A.L.A. emphasizes that First-Friday Features are made possible entirely by community volunteers. Volunteers can get involved in varying degrees. G.A.L.A. is always looking for people to host potlucks, present workshops, suggest films, and simply attend these community oriented First-Friday Features. Anyone interested in helping with the First-Friday Features should contact G.A.L.A. right away as they begin creating a Winter/Spring schedule. The next First-Friday Feature on Friday, February 1st is a film screening of “Out of Balance: ExxonMobil’s Impact on Climate Change.” All films begin at 7pm at the Wolfeboro Library and are followed by light refreshments and a facilitated dialog about how the film relates locally. Transportation and childcare are arranged upon request with advance notification.
Buy Wisely Locally Guide
Last year G.A.L.A. received a small grant from New American Dream (www.newdream.org) to create a local buying guide that would help area consumers and businesses learn more about the products and services they buy or provide. Since every purchase has an environmental and social impact, G.A.L.A. designed a guide that would begin to make that impact more positive.
Although the Buying Guide was supposed to be released before the holiday season, G.A.L.A. experienced unforeseen challenges that delayed the process. Arnold commented by saying, “Although the guide is certainly useful and a step in the right direction, in hindsight we realize that our goals could be better met by starting from scratch rather than being limited to the New American Dream template. We hope community members will still use the guide, but more importantly, tell us what works, what doesn’t, and provide feedback that will help us begin designing a more Wolfeboro-customized ‘Buy Wisely Guide’ or whatever we end up calling it.”
The guide available now was created by G.A.L.A. volunteers who worked with over 100 businesses to complete a survey that showed how each business made an effort to save resources, prioritize local procurement, and “go green.” Surveys asked different questions based on the business type such as Bookstores, Restaurants, Sporting Stores, Banks, Clothing Stores, and others. Although Arnold intends to create the next guide a little differently, he still encourages people to pick up a copy of the current guide at participating businesses as listed on the G.A.L.A. website, download a copy from the website, or call G.A.L.A. at 569-4760 to have a copy mailed to you.
Wolfeboro Freecycle Chapter
G.A.L.A. is happy to announce the recent establishment of Wolfeboro Freecycle, a “gifting” service that the public can begin using right away. The Freecycle Network™ is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns.
The mission of the Freecycle Network is to “build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources, and eases the burden on landfills while enabling members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.” Freecycle Network started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in downtown Tucson, AZ in order to help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. The Network now provides over 4,000 communities an electronic forum to “recycle” unwanted items. Wolfeboro residents can now enjoys this same service that brings life to the familiar saying, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure!”
Freecycle offers a convenient way for people to collaborate in the spirit of environmental stewardship. In addition to the social capital and environmental angle, Freecycle also helps people save money by finding used items before buying new. Whatever angle appeals to you –strengthening of community, reduced environmental impact, or economic savings, G.A.L.A. invites everyone to begin enjoying Wolfeboro Freecycle today. Begin using the service by visiting www.freecycle.org. and typing “Wolfeboro” into the search bar, or access the site through the G.A.L.A. website by selecting the “Share Connector” icon. Either way, participants must sign up for a YahooGroup account in order to use the service. If you experience any difficulty following the prompts, contact G.A.L.A. for assistance. Membership is entirely free and open to the public.
Twelve community members recently completed a nine-week study circle titled, Voluntary Simplicity. This was the second study circle coordinated by G.A.L.A. based on curriculum from Granite Earth Institute (GEI). Last winter G.A.L.A. members completed the course, Choices for Sustainable Living. Other course topics include Healthy Schools/Healthy Children, Globalization and its Critics, Discovering a Sense of Place, and Exploring Deep Ecology. Although each course is self-governed by participants, GEI offers a helpful format to keep dialog moving and productive. Participants see the study circles as a great way to come together in an informal, yet inquisitive, atmosphere to explore more deeply those issues of social and environmental concern. A recent Voluntary Simplicity graduate, Pat Foley, had this to say about her experience, “The discussions were thought provoking. I enjoyed being with others who had similar interests. Very reinforcing.”
The next study circle will begin in late February and community members are being asked to contact G.A.L.A. now to sign up. A course topic has not yet been chosen so interested residents can cast a vote for their preferred course. Detailed course descriptions are available on the G.A.L.A. website by selecting the “Study Circle” icon, or visiting the GEI website at www.graniteearth.org. Study circles are open to community members of all ages. Course books cost $20 and can either be purchased or borrowed for later reimbursement.
Raise a Rope for Climate Hope
Last week G.A.L.A. received a $500 grant from Youth Service America to organize a youth-driven community service project that implements a local solution to a global challenge. G.A.L.A.’s application outlined a project called “Raise a Rope for Climate Hope.” The project will help area-residents reduce their “carbon footprint” by having youth install free “solar clothes dryers,” otherwise known as clotheslines! In addition to providing this service that helps people use the sun to dry their clothes instead of the conventional, energy-intensive clothes-dryers, the project will also help youth learn how to plan and execute a community service project. Youth from the Governor Wentworth School District will be engaged at each stage of the project including planning, media outreach, material gathering, budgeting, executing, and reflecting. Participants will also learn how to read a legislative bill as the project connects with the “Right to Dry Bill” (S.41). More information about this bill can be found at www.laundrylist.org.
Raise a Rope for Climate Hope will take place during the weekend of April 25-27, the same weekend as Global Youth Service Day. Youth will spend this weekend installing clotheslines at the homes of the first fifty community residents to contact G.A.L.A. Adult volunteers are needed to drive teams of 3-4 youth to their installation sites during the weekend. If you are interested in having a free solar clothes-dryer installed in your home or are able to help on the weekend of April 25-27th, contact G.A.L.A. by calling 569-4760 or emailing email@example.com
The new G.A.L.A. website (www.galacommunity.org) is not just a great informational resource describing G.A.L.A.’s history, mission, vision, etc., but also a community-tool designed to help residents share ideas and stories, arrange carpools or skill-shares, articulate their vision for a sustainable community, promote community events, and stay abreast of the many services and opportunities G.A.L.A. has to offer. G.A.L.A. is now recruiting interested community members to contribute to the blog that will be regularly updated on the homepage. Arnold would like to establish a few consistent blog themes including Recalling Local History, Trash Talk: Dispatches from the Dump, Home Energy Tips, Youth Speak, and Food for Thought. If you enjoy writing, contact G.A.L.A. to become a registered blogger on the website. There is also a forum space that anyone can contribute to at anytime. Many web-pages include a “forum” link that directs viewers to this interactive page designed as a place for networking, reflecting, and sharing.
G.A.L.A. thanks Olivia Woods for making this website possible. Arnold encourages people to browse through the site and offer feedback, especially on ways to improve usability, appearance, and content. Viewers will be able to get the most out of the site by using Firefox as a browser, though any browser should work. At the bottom of the website is a re-generating quote bar that can include your favorite quotes if you submit them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and write “quote” in the subject line. Finally, if you are not already on G.A.L.A.’s email list, you can register right from the website or contact G.A.L.A. directly by calling 569-4760.