Post Oil Solutions

Building Sustainable Communities


Special Edition of Climate Change Café Screens: “1984”


A special edition of the  Climate Change Cafe will screen the film, “1984 ” on Tuesday, April 4, 6:00 PM. at Marlboro Grad Center, Room 2 East, 28 Vernon Street, Bratteboro.


As always, the event is free, and light refreshments will be available. NOTE  Due to limited seating, reservations are strongly encouraged. A conversation will follow the film to discuss the parallels we see in “1984,” with  our present time, and what we can do about this


On April 4, 1984, the fictional hero of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 begins the taboo practice of keeping a diary. “Down with Big Brother,” Winston Smith writes over and over.

On April 4, 2017, to commemorate the first day of Winston’s rebellion, almost 160 movie theatres across the country in 148 cities, and in 42 states, plus four locations in Canada, will participate collectively in a national event screening of the film, “1984,” starring the late John Hurt and Richard Burton.

The purpose of screening “1984” is to initiate an important conversation at a time when the existence of facts and basic human rights are under attack. It is intended to bring us together to foster communication and resistance against current efforts to undermine the most basic values of our society.


The Climate Café is a project of Post Oil Solutions that convenes the 4th Tuesday of most months .


For further information, contact Tim Stevenson, or 802.869.2141.

March Climate Change Café Screens: “We the People 2.0”


“We don’t live in a democracy. And if you live in a corporate state the only thing left is to dismantle it and build something new."

Thomas Linzey, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund


The Climate Change Cafe will screen the film, “We the People 2.0” on Tuesday, March  28, 6:00 PM. at Brooks Memorial Library, Main Street, Bratteboro. 


As always, the event is free, and light refreshments will be available.


This excellent film is a visual essay about the loss of democracy in the United States, and how people are taking it back. American citizens have been marginalized, forgotten and left to fend for themselves against large corporations who for decades have engaged in toxic dumping, mining, drilling, and now fracking in their communities. This is because, by law, the people are truly powerless.


As one community activist states, “We thought we had an oil and gas problem, we thought we had a fracking problem. We realized that, no, what we have is a democracy problem.”


But many have turned this around by successfully challenging the oligarchy that has destroyed their democracy, saving nature and themselves in so doing. Grounded in the understanding that the current system of law makes sustainability illegal, this film describes a profound change in thinking at the grassroots level where people are creating a movement, not just in this country, but around the world.


In so doing, “We the People 2.0” demonstrates  that a Second American Revolution is building; a Revolution to elevate the rights of people, communities, and nature above corporate “rights” and the preemptive authority of state and federal government; a Revolution to help America manifest a true democracy, where “we the people” are the key decision-makers for our own communities.


The Climate Café is a project of Post Oil Solutions that convenes the 4th Tuesday of most months .

For further information, contact Tim Stevenson, or 802.869.2141.

Integrity in a Time of Climate Unraveling


On the same day this past August when President Obama was in Baton Rouge offering condolences to victims of a disastrous 1000 year, climate-powered storm, his Department of the Interior was a few miles away in New  Orleans accepting bids at an auction for new oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of that auction, British Petroleum, whose Deepwater Horizon drilling platform had exploded only four years earlier, killing 11 workers and causing more than 200 million gallons of oil to spew into the Gulf, was awarded 24 new leases in the Gulf.

It is tempting to dismiss this egregious disconnect between being the “Climate President” he wants to be known as, and the “all of the above” enabler of continued fossil fuel drilling and extraction he has often been as just another instance of the hypocrisy that unfortunately has often characterized the Obama Administration around climate change. While valid, to leave it at that would be to overlook something that is important for all of us to understand, not only about our President, but more importantly, about ourselves. 

[Photo Credit: NASA]

Like Mr. Obama, there are many of us who know about climate change and are concerned (worried, scared) about it. Beyond the dire information that the scientists are telling us almost daily, it’s what we can see for ourselves, as well.  We know about West Virginia, Louisiana, and California. We know that the two hottest months ever recorded on our planet were this past July and August. We know that if we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, “we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one,” as Bill McKibben wrote in the 22 September issue of The New Republic. If nothing else, we know about the growing drought in our own backyard.

But like our President, so many of us are not willing to do what we need to do in order to avoid societal collapse and species extinction.

The denial of climate change that characterizes so much of the body politic is not solely a matter of ignorance, or of advancing a corporate bottom line. No, our denial of climate change is because we don’t act on what we know. Like the mythical frog in the slowly boiling pot of water, we behave as if what is happening is not happening. We continue with business as usual while the planet is burning. 

Like our President, it’s not that we lack moral values either. We are generally good people, attending to the care and well-being of our children, our partners, and other members of our family. We are usually good neighbors and fellow workers, and in general, decent, law-abiding citizens. We sincerely want a world of peace, compassion, and social justice, which is precisely the world we require if we are to survive in any kind of sane, habitable post oil world.

Rather, our denial is because of our unwillingness to act as if we are in the midst of the emergency we see unfolding all around us, to act, in fact, as we often have in the past when confronted with other life-threatening events. This is when we rise to the occasion, beyond conventional decency, to behaviors and interactions that are one with the values we profess to believe in. This integrity allows us to be true to ourselves, to be real about our situation, and not just when it is convenient for us to be so; it is doing the right thing because…it is the right thing. 


When this happens, there is no longer a split between the values we say we believe in, and how we then conduct ourselves. It is then that we cease to suffer the chronic condition of our kind, of living lives that we don’t want, while wanting lives that we don’t live.

The way out of this dilemma is to move the question of climate change out of our heads and into our hearts. Beyond intellectually knowing what is happening, we must allow our hearts to be touched with—to grieve--the irreparable loss that has already occurred to our special world and to many of its precious expressions. This process can move us to take action. To grieve is to become unblocked.

No question, this is painful and difficult to do. Grieving is facing the loss of something that, initially anyway, we do not want to accept.

But by going through this process, and coming to accept climate change for what it is, our inherent moral values surface, no longer suppressed by fear, anger, hatred, or any of the other defenses we use to protect ourselves from both accepting and acting pro-actively on the truth of our lives. Beyond denial, we are no longer stuck in being unreal. We can now do what we need to be doing, to live wholeheartedly and with integrity in a world of imminent climate catastrophe. Grieving will do that for you.

It is when we properly grieve the loss that has already taken place, and continues every day that we will be true to our children and partners and other members of our family, to our friends and neighbors, our work and school mates, and of course, to ourselves. We will engage with climate change in life-affirming ways, acting as if it is the here and now life-threatening emergency that it is.  Unlike the frog, we will cease waiting to act until it is too late. We will do something now.

The hidden gem of this heart-felt acceptance of our situation rests in the fact that it provides us with the necessary integrity we require to be the morals-based, values-acting human being that we really are, and that we need to be now more than ever in order to survive in a world that is so clearly unraveling. With denial no longer necessary, acceptance allows for constancy in the way we behave, so that our best is an everyday practice, and not just now and then. Mistakes are made, for sure, as part of being a human being, and of learning to live in this brave new world we have entered.

But perfection is not the issue here, steadfastness and reliability are. What counts in the end is our consistent integrity in the performance of heart values. This is the foundation of any sustainable society known for peace, compassion, and social justice. It is also the realistic basis for hope.

Post Oil Solutions Hosts:

"How to Let Go of the World

(and Love All the Things that Climate Can't Change)"




Post Oil Solutions will be screening the new documentary film, "How to Let Go of the World (and Love the Things That Climate Can't Change)" on Sunday, October 30 at 4:00 PM, in the Fountain Theater at the Latchis Theater, Lower Main Street,  Brattleboro., Vermont.


The event is free, but donations will be accepted to cover the cost of bringing this film to our community.


Many of us feel grief and despair as we hear daily news about the destruction of our planet .In “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change,” Oscar Nominated director Josh Fox (“Gasland”) continues in his deeply personal style, investigating climate change – the greatest threat our world has ever known. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?




There will be a discussion following the film. Seating is limited so arrive early. 

For further information, contact Tim Stevenson, or 802.869.2141

September Climate Change Café:

Multisolving: Strategies for Implementing Climate Solutions

That Also Improve Health, Equity, and Well-Being



The September Climate Change Café will host Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Director of Climate Interactive, on Tuesday, September 27, 6:00 PM, who will give a presentation on approaching climate change solutions from a systemic perspective.


PLEASE NOTE: Due to the construction work at the library, the September Cafe will be held at the Brattleboro Food Coop’s community Room. Please enter at the Canal Street entrance.


As always, the Cafe is free, and light refreshments will be available


Multisolving is the search for systemic solutions to climate change that solve other problems at the same time. From energy efficiency projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money for low-income families to ecosystem restoration projects that sequester carbon and build resilience to extreme events, many solutions to climate change have the power to solve other problems at the same time. But compartmentalized decision making, weak civic infrastructure and rigid disciplinary boundaries can all make it hard to realize the potential of these solutions. The presentation will focus on examples multisolving from around the world and share practical tips for multisolving in our own communities.


Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive. A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years.Beth’s work increasingly focuses on Multisolving, helping people find solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while producing multiple benefits in health, justice, equity, resilience and well-being. She writes and speaks on this topic to local, national, and international audiences. In 2014 she was invited to participate in the Council on the Uncertain Human Future, a continuing dialogue on issues of climate change and sustainability among a select group of humanities scholars, writers, artists and climate scientists.  Beth lives in rural Vermont and is a member of Cobb Hill Co-Housing along with her husband, Phil Rice, and their two daughters.


The Climate Change Café is a project of Post Oil Solutions, and is intended to educate and engage citizens around the climate crisis.

Living with Near-Term Extinction


When a student reported that he thinks about death dozens of time each day, the Buddha responded,               

“That’s not enough. You must think about death with every breath.”

Though we don’t know for certain, the scientific evidence, as well as our own observations, is pretty convincing that we are rapidly approaching, or have actually entered near-term extinction. That is, we have either precious little time to avoid climate apocalypse. Or it’s already too late.

In any case, we really have only one choice at this point in time as to how we go about living our lives. It is the choice of no-choice, the only choice we have beyond a further descent into the barbarism we’ve perpetrated for centuries upon ourselves and other living beings that has now reached the logical endgame of what we euphemistically call “climate change.”  It is the choice of finally living our lives as we should have been living them all along. And ironically, whether we still have a chance to save our sorry butts, or believe that we’ve blown it, the choice is the same for both because our moment to moment reality is identical. This is the fact of our always pending, immanent death.

Death is not something we readily embrace. Despite giving occasional lip service to its inevitability, we don’t recognize or, more importantly, live our lives as if death is always with us, the heartbeat of incessant change that rules every moment of life.

Hence, we ignore the essential question of our brief moment on this orb of what our lives mean in the face of omnipresent death. This is something of no small consequence. Our unwillingness to accept death as a constant companion has had a disastrous effect on our lives, as evidenced by the ubiquitous violence that pervades our society. Nowhere is this more dramatically illustrated than in the climate crisis that is currently unfolding all around us.

For in our resistance to death, we have created a “culture of death.” With every denial, death pops out of another hole, like a whack-a-mole, but as a projection of our darkest fears. Ultimately, that is what climate change is all about. In an effort to deny our mortality, we have created a civilization that is based upon the plunder of nature’s finite gifts to achieve perpetual economic growth and material abundance. This all began with the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, and our benighted effort to conquer and  rule nature. But in the process, we have been murdering our Mother who is the very basis of our existence.

By giving the reality of death its due, however, we begin to see that, rather than being a phenomenon separate and distinct from the rest of life, and suffering the existential dread that results from such a dichotomy, it is really what existence is all about. Here one moment, gone the next.

In so doing, we come to recognize the interconnectedness of everything. We see that, despite our efforts to the contrary, we are one with the rest of life, subject to same law of change. This awareness not only restores us to the universe, it also positions death in the larger scheme of things. In so doing, it reduces our fear of its presence in our lives. We no longer need to resist or deny it. This has a number of salutary benefits.

For one thing, this emerging consciousness allows us to grieve what we have lost. When we are in denial about death, we tend to minimize or disown that which is gone from our lives, whether that be a parent, a marriage, a friendship, a job, etc. We don’t grieve these losses because we don’t want to experience the pain and suffering involved, or more basically, to touch on the unthinkable that loss and change ultimately raise for us.

But this necessary, albeit unfinished business has serious consequences for our lives that prevents us from moving on. It hardens our hearts. It stunts our moral and spiritual growth. Essentially, we remain stuck in the past.

Most importantly, the failure to grieve contributes significantly to our loss of connection with the rest of life, alienating us from ourselves, the people around us, and the natural world.

That is why grieving is especially important when it comes to facing climate change. Whether we accept that we’ve gone over the precipice, or hope there is still time, confronting all that we’ve lost, all the beautiful and precious instances of life that we’ll never see again because of our efforts to exact dominion over Mother, is essential.

We need to spend time in nature, engage in heartfelt conversations with its fleeting manifestations. Apologize for how we have harmed it. Speak gratitude to the beings we encounter. This is the way we begin the journey home.

As others have noted, death can also serve as an advisor as to how to live our lives by helping us to be more aware of the passing moment. It is a reminder that we don’t have forever, and of the importance of living every moment as if it was our last. In this heightened consciousness, we can no longer afford the luxury of crappy behaviors or postponed lives. Instead, we begin to live in heartfelt ways.

The immediacy of death puts us in touch with our heart values, those that, in the “normal” course of our everyday affairs remain largely submerged beneath mundane routines. In her remarkable book, A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit tells of how people facing disaster invariably put aside self-centered concerns and rise to the occasion, exhibiting the compassion, generosity, empathy, courage, integrity, altruism and solidarity required by their dire circumstances.

These are latent qualities that most of us possess, but as Solnit suggests perhaps ones that are usually exhibited in a calamity. Unfortunately, one reason why people have not responded more appropriately to the climate crisis is that we don’t recognize the catastrophic situation that we’re in. We don’t yet feel our backs against the wall. The problem is that when we finally do, it will be too late. We will be overwhelmed.

But by making friends with our always pending death now, our lives are more likely to have purpose and meaning. We are liberated from an ego-based perspective to devote more of our lives to unconditional service to humans and other living beings. Though seemingly counter-intuitive, living with near-term extinction does not preclude working for the good of the planet. Quite the contrary, when we pursue excellence, we do what we love, not to save ourselves, but for its own sake. Unconditional love in action can provide strength and meaning in hopeless circumstances. To live passionately in the face of immanent death is to live a life of selfless joy, beauty and creativity.

Perhaps the only antidote for the despair that many of us are experiencing now in light of our circumstances is to accept the growing evidence that we’re in near-term extinction, not only as individuals, but as a civilization.  We need to submit ourselves to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grieving which concludes with acceptance.

Perhaps, then, in accepting our deaths, we will come fully alive. For if it’s still possible, it is only a transformative change of this kind that can save us from our fate.

Tipping Point


March Madness was not simply about the NCAA basketball tournament this year. It was also about the revelations that February was the hottest month on record, that the oceans are rising faster than had previously been thought, and that our nation is leaking methane into the atmosphere in massive quantities as a result of the fracking boom.

It also included the research that showed that the West Antarctic ice sheet that is larger than Mexico and thought to be vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and therefore capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more in so doing, is much closer to this disaster scenario than had been previously thought.

And that the carbon sinks that have already stored trillions of tons of carbon over the eons have been so compromised by global warming that that most of the scientific models haven’t matched the observable geologic record, and hence have grossly understated the difficulty of mitigating climate change.

While all of this may be especially alarming to the uninformed, it is not particularly surprising to anyone who has been connecting the dots to all the scientific evidence that has appeared in the professional, peer-reviewed journals over the years, and paying attention to the real events in the real world. It was only further evidence that we may be passing beyond the point of avoiding social collapse and species extinction. In fact, there are a small but increasing number of scientists who believe that, as a species, we are in near-term extinction and that we have reached the point where our demise as a civilization will occur no matter how many solar panels and wind turbines we erect from sea to shining sea, coal plants we shut down, and politicians congratulate themselves about the nonbinding, non-verifiable climate treaty they signed last December in Paris that doesn’t go into effect until 2020.

Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, is one of these scientists. As part of a list of 50+ examples of self-reinforcing feedback loops and tipping points, he cites the following as evidence of our situation:

·         The Arctic sea ice has already passed its tipping point, and the Greenland ice sheet is not far behind. This means that exposed methane clathrates (ice) from beneath the sea and melting permafrost on land are releasing massive amounts of methane that are probably unstoppable. According to McPherson, “Global average temperature is expected to rise by more than 4°C by 2030 and 10°C by 2040 based solely on methane release from the Arctic Ocean.” As Malcolm Light, an independent Geoscientist researching atmospheric methane put it, “We have passed the methane hydrate tipping point and now are accelerating into extinction.” All of this, of course, is undoubtedly compounded by the massive methane leaks caused by fracking that Bill McKibben recently wrote about in Nation magazine and the 97,000 metric tons that escaped from a damaged well in the California suburb of Porter Ranch.

·         Acidification of our oceans from their absorption of CO2 is proceeding at a pace unparalleled during the last 300 million years. Plankton, which serves as the foundation of the marine food web, is on the verge of extinction. Jellyfish are rapidly assuming a primary role in the oceans. The collapse of the oceans, alone, could doom our species.

·         Climate lag is the 40 year delay between the time that greenhouse gas is emitted into the atmosphere and the resulting effect of increased temperatures. Climate scientist, Wallace Broeker, the Newberry Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, observed, “Today we are operating on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from the 1970s. In the last 29 years we have emitted as many greenhouse gases as we emitted in the previous 236 years. Because of the great cooling effect of the oceans, we have not begun to see the warming that this recent doubling of greenhouse gases will bring” when the oceans release this gas.

Scientists generally agree that the planet has entered its sixth mass extinction event. As a recent study in Science Advances stated, species are presently being killed off at rates much faster (currently 150-200 per day) than they were during the other five earlier extinction events.

Rather than staying under the politically correct temperature of 2°C (which is an absurd goal when you consider all that has taken place in the world over this century at a temperature of slightly under 1°C), there is a growing belief that we’re heading for a 4°C world. “I do not know of any scientists who do not believe that,” stated Mark Maslin, Professor of Climatology at University College in London. If we do reach 4°C, we will not be able to grow food or secure potable water.

There’s so much more—lethal heat waves, killer storms, long-term droughts, and apocalyptic fires—that are already occurring and will be much worse in the years ahead.

Are we in near-term extinction? Obviously, no one knows for certain and this despite the compelling evidence that would suggest we are. The fact that an increasing number scientists, who as a breed are characteristically conservative, and seldom talk publicly about the social and political implications of their findings, are now speaking out about the unthinkable is cause for concern. But don’t expect a politician (even Bernie) to announce this dire news, at least if they have any hope of being elected to office. And of course the fossil fuel industry is inveterate liars.

What I’m far more interested in however, and what I would recommend to others is to increasingly focus on how we can learn to live pro-actively with an awareness of near-term extinction. This is something that I have been devoting considerable thought to in recent times and will share with you in a subsequent piece some initial thoughts I have about this work-in-progress that, surprisingly, is positive and life-affirming. Most interestingly, what I’m discovering is that as much as certain practices may be helpful with dealing with the collapse of our civilization, they are also the very ones we need to engage in order to survive, if this is still possible, and to move on to a sustainable and sane world.

Tim Stevenson is a community organizer with Post Oil Solutions and author of “Resilience and Resistance: Building Sustainable Communities for a Post Oil Age” (2015, Green Writers Press)

Post Oil Solutions & Climate Change Café


Naomi Klein’s

“This Changes Everything”


 Don’t forget, there is no Café this month on the 4th Tuesday at Brooks Library. Rather, we are having a special edition of the Café on Sunday, April 17 @ the Latchis Theatre: the screening of “This Changes Everything.”


Post Oil Solutions & Climate Change Café PRESENT Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” Sunday, April 17, 4:00 PM, Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro Vermont. Admission by Donation


Conversation Follows Screening: What Are We Doing?


 “A film that brings our peril into focus and what we might learn from despair.”

—Alice Walker, author and activist

“Purposely unsettling… Ultimately encouraging”
– Variety Magazine

“The realization that a solution is possible, well, that changes everything”

– Globe & Mail

“Klein and Lewis paint a picture of a post-fossil-fueled, post-capitalist future that seems not only within reach, but like a place where we actually want to live”

– YES Magazine
“Klein and those impassioned protesters provide something that has been in short supply in the predecessors — namely, a modicum of hope for the future”
– LA Times


Will this film change everything? Absolutely not. But we could, by answering the call to action.

Climate Change Café Hosts Presentation on rCredits, a Local Currency Alternative



The Climate Change Café will host a presentation on rCredits, a local currency alternative,  on Tuesday, January 26, 6:00 PM, at Brooks Memorial Library, Main Street, Brattleboro. As always, the Café is free, and light refreshments will be available.

rCredits is a democratically controlled payment system that runs on an advanced, secure, digital technology using a debit-like card. It provides benefits to buyers and sellers; extends the value of each persons finances, builds community, uses innovative democratic processes to create economic and social justice, and restores the social purpose of money. If we want to end the dominance of oil we must first understand money, how it is created now, and how it could be created to give us a just and sustainable society.  Our current monetary system, by design, automatically transfers the wealth we all create together to the already wealthy who manipulate the system to preserve their power.

John Root, a Senior Policy Analyst for Common Good Finance, the originator of rCredits, will give us a brief history of money When we understand the nature of money, the issuance of which is the primary tool of the sovereign, we will see that we can issue money to fund the things that we value, and transform our economy and society one community at a time.

rCredits has been active in Greenfield for over 2 years where it has 170 members and 22 businesses including the Green Fields Market and Fosters Supermarket, the Peoples Pint, Mesa Verde Restaurant, Real Pickles and Snow’s Ice Cream, as well as a local farm and many services, including a dentist. Ann Arbor, Michigan recently launched rCredits, and Montpelier is currently organizing. And It is just beginning in Brattleboro with the Winter Farmers Market becoming the town’s first business member.

The Café usually convenes on the 4th Tuesday of each month, and is sponsored by Post Oil Solutions.

For further information, please contact Tim at 802.869.2141, .

Climate Change Café Hosts Carbon Pollution Tax Presentation


The Climate Change Café will host a presentation by Walt Gustafson, VPIRG Field Organizer, about placing a price on carbon emissions in Vermont through a carbon pollution an effort to deal with climate change

This event will take place on Tuesday, December 15, 6:00 PM, at Brooks Memorial Library, Main Street, Brattleboro. (Please Note: The December Café is NOT being held on the 4th Tuesday of the month to avoid conflict with the holidays.)

As always, the Café is free, and light refreshments will be available/

Along with environmental groups and some for-profit renewable energy companies in the state, VPIRG is part of a new group, called Energy Independent Vermont  that has been advocating for.a Carbon Pollution Tax. Such a measure, H. 395, has been introduced in the Vermont Legislature. Its sponsors include Brattleboro’s Mollie Burke. who we’ve invited to attend the Café presentation.

As might be expected, the tax is controversial. In addition to its positive impact on a warming planet, advocates of  the proposed legislation maintain that it would offset cost increases through the establishment of an Energy Independence Fund to help Vermonters finance energy-efficiency measures. The current proposal includes a one percentage point reduction in the state sales tax, and  is essentially revenue neutral.

The proposal from Energy Independent Vermont would impose a tax on fossil fuel distributors – anywhere from 45 cents per gallon to $1.35 per gallon for gasoline, for instance – and phase the surcharge in over 10 years. A portion of the money would be invested in energy efficiency projects; the remainder would go to individuals and businesses in the form of refundable tax credits.

Opponents of the measure fear damage to the state’s economy, and that such a tax will add to rising commuter costs for working Vermonters. Governor Shumlin has pointed out how many Vermonters who  live near New Hampshire might very easily go there to gas up their cars in order to avoid the tax. However, a recent study by REMI (Regional Economic Models Inc.) predicts significant economic stimulus as a result of a carefully structured tax on carbon.

The Café usually convenes on the 4th Tuesday of each month, and is sponsored by Post Oil Solutions.

 For further information, please contact Tim at 802.869.2141, .

Climate Change Café Hosts “An Evening of Solidarity”


The Climate Change Café will host a very special ‘Evening of Solidarity” on Tuesday, October 27,  6 PM at Brooks Memorial Library, Main Street, Brattleboro with citizen-activists and activist singer/musicians who are resisting both Kinder Morgan's proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) fracked gas pipeline just over our Massachusetts & New Hampshire borders, and the proposed compressor station that is part of the project on Gulf Road in Northfield, Massachusetts.

As always, the Café is free and light refreshments will be available.


The evening will feature a panel discussion about the pipeline project, compressor station, along with updates about the proposed fracked gas plant in Vernon.The panel will include Northfield resident , Julia Blyth, who has been active in opposing the NED project since it was announced in January 2014, is a member of Transition Town Northfield, serves on the board of the Greater Northfield Watershed Association, and the Northfield Open Space Committee, and gave a well-received presentation on the compressor station at our June Café;

Born and raised in Brattleboro, Rosemary Wessels founded No Fracked Gas in Mass in February 2014,  a website and information and action-plan clearing house for activists opposing Kinder Morgan’s NED pipeline which has helped pipeline fighters in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut;.

As current President of the Greater Northfield Watershed Association, and advocate for our precious water resources, Andrew Vernon has thoroughly researched the proposed compressor station, provided informed comments to the Northfield Select Board and personally presented on this issue to Stanley Rosenberg, President of the Massachusetts Senate.

The “Evening of Solidarity will also include a generous helping of rousing political music, supplied by well known Greenfield singer/musician and coordinator of the People’s Music Network, Ben Grosscup; folks singers, Lynn Waldron & Tom Neilson who combine art and activism with a fervent commitment to social justice; and our own peace and anti-nuke activist and song writer, Daniel Sicken


The Café usually convenes on the 4th Tuesday of each month (none in November), and is sponsored by Post Oil Solutions.


For further information, please contact Tim at 802.869.2141, .

Hope Without Expectation


Are we becoming a people without hope?

At the present time, Americans appear to be suffering from a paralysis of will when it comes to acting proactively on climate change. It’s not that we are unaware of it, or that we refute its existence; to the contrary, we are concerned, and many of us are frankly disturbed by it.

Rather, as I wrote 14th August, it’s a failure to integrate this awareness into our everyday lives and to transform it into social action. Knowledge does not seem to carry a moral imperative to act. What is disowned here is not the fact of climate change, but rather the psychological, political, and moral implications that one would expect to follow from such awareness, that would promote a daily practice of appropriate behaviors.

While there are many understandable reasons for this situation--feelings of powerlessness, fear of the future, incapacitating grief and guilt, ineffectual political leadership, the unprecedented nature of the climate challenge, to name some--the failure to do the right thing can perhaps be best understood as an absence of hope.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “to want something to happen or be true, and think(ing) that it could happen or be true.” While it doesn’t guarantee anything, the presence of hope at least suggests the possibility of realizing the desired outcome. Our situation, that is, is not hopeless.

This standard definition, however, doesn’t include two key elements which make hope real: intention and behavior. Such is their importance that their absence is fatal to maintaining a sense of reasonable hope in the face of climate change. The passive nature that the dictionary imparts to hope ignores the decisive role of human agency, of the importance of acting intentionally and proactively upon that which we hope to realize. Minus our active involvement, we have little reason to be hopeful.

In their book, Active Hope, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone write about the need for “becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for.” They observe that hope “is something we do rather than have.” This is in contrast to the more conventional understanding which asserts that we must first have hope in order to act. What this misleading notion fails to address, however, is where hope originates beyond simply wishful thinking.  Macy and Johnstone correct this shortcoming by noting that “The guiding impetus is intention; we choose what we aim to bring about, act for, or express. Rather than weighing our chances and proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus on our intention and let it be our guide.”

Intentionality means a commitment to action. We don’t leave hope and its realization to chance. Instead, we demonstrate that they are dynamic partners by acting on our lives. Hope is a condition of living our lives in those ways that make possible a post-oil world in which we can both survive and thrive.  When we do this, our hopes are congruent with an appropriate practice. Being an actor in our present lives is what justifies faith in the time ahead. Only a daily practice that proclaims our hope for the future can get us from here to there.

This understanding is amplified by Kate Davies In her recent Tikkun op-ed piece, “Hope in the Age of Climate Consequences.”  Her stance supports the second element of real hope, ethical behavior. She writes about hope being “an orientation of the spirit,” which she terms, “intrinsic hope,” one that “emphasizes resilience and agency. It accepts whatever happens and does whatever needs to be done.” The consequence is a daily practice whereby “we act because it is the loving and caring thing to do, rather than because we expect to succeed.”

As Davies suggests, while essential, acting intentionally does not alone make us hopeful about our prospects to limit climate change. This only occurs when the focus of our daily behavior is upon living the values of a peaceful, socially just, sustainable world. Hope, in other words, is also a matter of how we go about doing what needs to be done. Only then, when process and goal are one, can we be reasonably optimistic about the possibilities for a peaceful, socially just, sustainable world.

The delicious irony, of course, is that by acting on our values for their own sake, we invariably create the propitious circumstances that allow us to be hopeful. Being proactive in this manner inspires hope. In fact, at moments like this, it’s really quite impossible to distinguish between the doing and being of hope. They seamlessly blend with one another as the unity they are.

Hope is possible when we act with selfless love, personal integrity, moral courage, and a basic commitment to the sacredness of life. Unfortunately, a values-based practice is not a regular or consistent part of our species’ behavioral repertoire.  Too often, we are prone to greed, violence, and self-aggrandizement. This is why we’re in the fix we are today. Whether we choose to act upon our heart’s values, or not, is crucial to the people we are and the world we live in. When we behave in ways necessary to create a viable post-oil world, we access these essential human values, along with the power and credibility they lend to our efforts.

At these moments, we come alive! We tap into our innate capacity for kindness, generosity, and compassion; forgiveness, truth and love, and modesty, humility and selflessness, as well as other qualities we prize. Because our behavior is informed by our heart’s values, we do the right thing without expectations; in so doing, however, we find that our actions are their own reward.


Tim Stevenson is a community organizer with Post Oil Solutions and can be reached at 802.869.2141 and

“Keep it in the Ground” Campaign Launch Event


As part of its involvement with’s “Keep it in the Ground” campaign, Post Oil Solutions and the Climate Change Cafe will host a simulcast of this project’s major launch event on Thursday, September 10, 7:00 PM at 118 Elliott Street, Brattleboro (the former sight of the laundromat).


Originating from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the event will be live streamed and will include such climate notables as Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as well as other voices from the global movement


The “Keep it in the Ground” campaign will shape much of’s work through the critical gathering of world leaders at this December’s COP 21 conference in Paris, where it is hoped that decisive actions will be taken to substantially reduce global warming. The idea is to use the September 10 launch to build up a clear global narrative and kick off the sprint to Paris.


The campaign is envisioned as having a number of actions and events that lead up to and beyond Paris, including a National Day of Action on October 14, in which local organizations will call out leaders that have blocked or failed to act to address climate change, and a Mass Mobilization in April, 2016 to demand a Just Transition of 100% clean energy for all.


For further information, contact Tim Stevenson, 802.859.2141 or .

Implicatory Denial


“We can feel and care intensely, yet remain silent.” —Stanley Cohen

 Beyond the literal denial of climate change, another more insidious variation of this behavior has come to characterize the American public’s response to this unprecedented crisis.  What distinguishes this from the original is that people are aware and concerned about climate change; they don’t refute its existence and are disturbed by it. However, despite their acceptance, they have normalized their awareness to the extent that they’re not acting on it.

In her fascinating book, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life, Kari Marie Norgaard terms this “implicatory denial,” where despite knowing about climate change, most Americans respond to it “as no more than background noise (to) the possibility that life as we know it will end.”  What is disowned here is not the fact of climate change, but rather “the psychological, political, or moral implications” that one would expect to follow from such awareness.

Public silence for the most part is not an absence or rejection of the information, or even a lack of deep concern and caring. Rather, it’s a failure to integrate this knowledge into our everyday lives and to transform it into social action. Awareness is not seen as carrying a moral imperative to act. This failure to respond appropriately, Ms. Norgaard claims, “flies in the face of basic assumptions regarding human behaviors that go back to the Enlightenment, and the origins of modern society.”

Why is this? Why are we seemingly incapable of acting in the face of this existential threat to our continued existence?

There are a number of excellent reasons. At the top of the list is that “it’s uncomfortable to think about changing our way of living in order to prevent something that’s not immediately perceived as knocking on our door.” Living in the bubble that we presently do, where climate change is seemingly something that is largely happening to other people in other places, it’s challenging to wrap our heads around the profound changes that are involved beyond switching to solar panels and electric bikes.

There are also those of us who are not able to act because of a sense of helplessness and fear for the future. Many suffer an overwhelming guilt “for participating in a system that (we) do not know how to escape.” There is no clear solution, and time is quickly running out. What so many of us are skeptical about is not the existence of climate change, but our ability to solve it. The antidote for both guilt and powerlessness is implicatory denial that allows us to not accept responsibility for what we know must be done.

This is compounded by the culture of individualism that pervades our society, and disempowers people in the face of a crisis that requires actions on a societal and global scale. Norgarrd observes that, unfortunately, “individualism is so pronounced in the United States as to create a crisis of civic membership” where we are unable to come together and work collaboratively around this common concern. This results in a loss of political power. People tend to see themselves as consumers rather than as citizens, and rely on “personal contributions to greenhouse gas reduction” rather than community building and social action.

All of this is exacerbated, of course, by the lack of confidence in our political system. Our alienation has grown particularly acute in recent years as it has become painfully obvious that ours is increasingly less a government of the people, and more one that serves the interests of a corporate oligarchy. As she correctly notes, “our current political economic structure is intimately embedded in our petroleum-based economy.” Norgaard cites a Gallup Poll that indicated only 2 percent of the body politic feels they can trust Washington to do what is right. The fact that there don’t appear to be any viable political options is critical to why we don’t respond to this emergency.

Ultimately, the climate issue challenges our existing social order as nothing else has. Unless we can change our political and economic systems, “we are trapped.”  For our present system is incapable of embracing the massive social and economic changes necessary to address the climate crisis.

This is largely due to the class privilege that many Americans take for granted and the American way of life that has been deemed “non-negotiable.” It is the consequence of a fatal anomaly where seemingly “intelligent, caring and basically decent individual people” can at the same time collectively produce a world of “such profound suffering, indifference and exploitation. How, she asks, “can ‘good’ individual people collectively generate such ‘bad’ social and ecological outcomes?”

Norgarrd sees this as the product of a sense of innocence that is “obsessed with comfort, convenience, contentment, where the lights are always on,” and invisibility where “the most intimate details of life from food, clothing or family vacations are directly, yet invisibly linked to the hardships and poverty of people in other parts of the world.”  As she reminds us, “Privileged people reproduce power relations as they enact denial in everyday life. We are protected from full knowledge of environmental (and many other social) problems by national borders, gated communities, segregated neighborhoods and (our) own fine-tuned yet unconscious practices of not noticing, looking the other way, and normalizing the disturbing information.”

How do we break through this debilitating denial into active awareness, to act on “a new sense of integrity between self and world?” Quite simply, she asks, in light of the challenges we face, and the obstacles in our way to dealing effectively with them, “Can we make the path by walking it?”

Norgarrd feels we can by working from the ground up. She writes about engaging communities in projects at the local level in which they assess climate impacts and develop solutions. In this way, people’s life world can be potentially revitalized. This kind of effort “will reduce the gaps between abstract information and daily life” by demonstrating why the reality of climate change matters to them.

She states that “social movements around the world have emerged based on a fierce return to the local that may provide a key for breaking through climate denial.” While yet to merge and be recognizable as one, the numerous civic, private, local and state groups that have developed serves as an antidote to government inaction. It allows people to move beyond that which has prevented them from acting on their better instincts and to respond, instead, to their inherent sense of concern and caring.

Brattleboro can Provide Leadership on Climate Change



Leadership is essential to the success of almost any enterprise you can name. Its absence is invariably the cause of its failure. Governments (big and small), work places, businesses, schools, churches, fraternal and civic organizations, sports teams, political groups, theatre companies, choruses, clubs, families, or just about any other gathering of people whose purpose in coming together is to accomplish a common task, all require leadership to be successful, however defined.

Furthermore, leadership is not inherently the “bad” thing that it frequently appears to be; that is, it need not be the authoritarian, partisan, abusive, corrupt, and self-serving practice it all too often is. Rather, it can be enlightened, consensual, democratic, and fair. Ultimately the outcome depends on the motives of the particular leaders: whether it’s to exercise power over others, or to facilitate and inspire the empowerment of others. It is this latter variety of leadership that we desperately require at this time in our history.

Progressive leadership has been glaringly absent in the midst of the present climate crisis, particularly of the political kind. True, there have been some municipalities and states that have been actively involved in preparing their constituents for climate change, but these are, unfortunately, the exception. And while these efforts are extremely important, as we’ll discuss below, what they are able to do, in terms of dramatically curtailing the burning of fossil fuels, is nevertheless modest when compared to the clout that political leadership, as exercised through national and international policies and commitments, would accomplish.

I’m not confident that this will change in the near future: after all, the next UN climate summit isn’t scheduled until the end of this year, and whatever is agreed upon won’t be implemented until 2020 (as if we have all the time in the world!). Furthermore, with the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, the current lineups of likely Presidential candidates for 2016 does not optimism inspire.

Rather, and this has been apparent for some time now, we’re largely on our own, especially when it comes to adapting to the climate change that is already here and whose increasingly severe effects in the time ahead is unavoidable. As such, we need to increasingly look to ourselves and our neighbors, the people in our communities and regions, to realize what needs to be done by way of preparing as best we can.

In a recent Commons piece, I suggested that intentional community was necessary to achieve the kind of social resilience we will require to adapt successfully. That’s one part of the equation. The other is local political leadership.

In this context, I want to focus on Brattleboro, and specifically its offices of Town Manager and Select Board. I do so because the kind of leadership they can potentially exercise in helping their town and region to adapt to this life-altering world we’ve already entered is significant.

Brattleboro is not just a town of 12,000 people, as noteworthy as that is in a state of only 625,000. It is also a regional center, the hub of southeastern Vermont, with the corridors of Routes 5, 9, and 30, as well as I-91, swelling its numbers daily with shoppers, culture consumers, and work commuters. It’s a border town, with all that this suggests, a major, and very accessible transit point for Boston and New York traffic.

Therefore, whether by choice, or not, Brattleboro has influence far greater than the average municipality. This makes it a particularly important player in how our region prepares for climate change. It thrusts upon its local government, unwanted as it may be, the role of climate leader.

What does this involve?  For one thing, it’s certainly not the responsibility of these few men and women to prepare the rest of us for the climate crisis. That’s something that all of us must do, in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, and work places. The nature of this unprecedented crisis requires nothing less.

Rather, the leadership we need from our elected and appointed officials is to publicly acknowledge that climate change is both real and present, and, thus, something we must prepare for now as best we can, before it overwhelms us. By so taking this responsible position, our leaders provide an important dimension of credibility and legitimacy to an issue that is otherwise missing at the present time. Because of their singular stature within the community—because they are, in fact, viewed as the leaders—such a statement makes climate change official. It imparts a sense of importance to climate preparedness that both compliments and at the same time elevates the efforts of citizens to come to terms with this phenomenon. In short, it places climate change on the town’s agenda.

But where might this leadership go from here? After all, the Select Board and Town Manager have many other things to attend to—matters that we want them to be addressing, as well—that doesn’t allow them the space and time to otherwise attend to the details of climate preparedness. Nor do they have a pot of money to throw at this crisis.

My suggestion would be that, as a follow-up to their official recognition, the town leaders appoint a volunteer Citizen Climate Committee whose responsibility would be to study, and then periodically advise the Select Board and Town Manager (and in so doing, the general population) about the actual and potential effects of climate change in our area, along with recommendations as to what the town might consider doing given its limited resources and fiscal constraints.

This Committee, for example, could examine the specific manifestations of climate change that current research indicates are likely to impact our region—from severe weather events to the influx of climate refugees, new health threats to the impairment of public services, potential increase in crime to potential decrease in food security, the dislocation of box stores and national chains to opportunities for local entrepreneurs, and so forth.

It could also sponsor films, talks, and presentations by authorities and experts in these specific areas, not only to help educate the public about the potential consequences of climate change, but most importantly, as to what communities can do to better prepare themselves through collective efforts. In so doing, it could serve what could be its most important function, the rallying and organization of the local population around the importance of community self-sufficiency.

I am purposely broad-stroking here, believing that such a Committee has many possibilities, and that details are best left up to others to articulate and define. And certainly over time there will be specific matters that the Select Board and Town Manager may need to address, or that the public may want to spend money on, as the impact of the climate crisis becomes further clarified by the work of this Committee.

Rather, what I’m trying to suggest here is that with minimal, yet crucial, effort on their part, local political leadership could help generate a culture of climate preparedness amongst the citizenry. Through a Committee of this kind, it could do this by mobilizing its most valuable resource, the good people of Brattleboro and the surrounding communities, to participate actively in a variety of ways to deal with the ultimate crisis of our times. By so doing, it would accomplish what effective leadership always does: empowering people to empower themselves.

Tim Stevenson is a community organizer with Post Oil Solutions and can be reached at 802.869.2141 and



Oil Solutions

Building Sustainable Communities

is written by


Tim Stevenson

Founding Director

Post Oil Solutions