Cycling students stop in Belfast to help educate about climate change and more

July 20, 2011
Abigail Curtis
Bangor Daily News


BELFAST, Maine — For years, Karen Ireland has been working to make the yard around her Cedar Street home more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

On Wednesday morning, she got a lot of help to make that slow job happen much faster, as an army of friendly gardeners used shovels, pickaxes and other nongas-powered tools to do things like create garden plots, paths and a meditation labyrinth on her property.

Six of those gardeners were young people from the internship program New England Climate Summer, who had biked in from afar to do what they’re calling a “permablitz” for Ireland.

Lauren Audi, 19, of Saratoga, N.Y., said she wasn’t getting the meaningful experience she wanted out of her academic studies at Boston College. But her summer journey has been quite different.

“I felt the most important thing I can do with my life now is to protect what I love more than anything, which is the natural environment,” she said.

She and the members of the organization’s Maine team have biked to places including Biddeford,Portland, Lewiston and Augusta, spending about a week in each location, where they have worked to educate people about something that’s important to them: climate change.

“We support a rapid and responsible transition away from fossil fuels,” said team leader Katie Herklotz, 20, of Blue Hill, who is a student at Eckerd College in Florida. “We want to communicate the urgency. We think that if climate change is not addressed, everything falls to pieces.”

Although it’s just a small step, team members said participating in the permablitz, otherwise known as helping to turn the yard into a permaculture, is a big deal.

“Permaculture is using or creating a self-sustaining life,” Audi said.

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