Introduction

Photo by Risalat Khan

The planting of one seed can produce hundreds more. This website is a seed for the environmental movement in the Connecticut River Valley and beyond.

Since the 1970s, environmental issues have figured prominently in the public consciousness and public policy around the world. However, climate and ecological science, as well as lived experience, clearly show that our efforts are not keeping pace with the overall scale and acceleration of ecological degradation. Industry and government reform, changes in personal behavior, and the current level and approach of environmental activism are insufficient if we are going to steer away from what has been the most ecologically destructive mode of development in human history. We need more people educated and active around environmental issues and the reality of environmental injustice. We have much more to do to reduce anthropogenic environmental impact, restore damaged ecosystems, and help communities harmed or displaced by pollution and changing ecological conditions. All of our lives are intricately connected to the ecological crisis and we have a responsibility to address the consequences of our mode of living for the planet .

We need more students, faculty, administrators, community members, and leaders who are willing to step up to one of the biggest challenges facing our generation. WWF Director General Jim Leape highlights in the 2012 Living Planet Report  the stark reality of current global ecological degradation and the grave consequences both for biotic species and the environment. According to Reape, “We are using 50 per cent more resources than the Earth can provide, and unless we change course that number will grow very fast – by 2030, even two planets will not be enough.” College students have some of the highest ecological footprints in the world and therefore have a special role to play in bringing about change. Students have also shown that they can have a big impact on the world when they are organized and engaged with one another across campuses, in concert with local communities, and in solidarity with those doing the same work in communities around the world.

Many have risen together to plant their own seeds and take action to slow the degradation of the environment on which we all depend, and this includes members (particularly students) of the Connecticut River Valley community. However, there is no accessible or comprehensive source for the Connecticut River Valley on ways to get involved locally and the history of the environmental movement in this area; we hope to change that. This website is an information-sharing resource on local environmental movements of the past and present for activists, community members, and campuses in the Connecticut River Valley. It is a guide to getting involved, as well as a chronicle of environmental activism on the five college campuses. We hope the stories of past and present environmental action, as well as the contact information provided throughout and at the end of each article in the “Get Involved” section, will give you all the information you need to easily link up with others and join efforts right in your own backyard toward ecological change.  By getting involved while in college you make connections and learn skills that will inform your conscious participation in the world beyond your time as a student. What will your legacy be to the world and future generations? It is time to decide.

The articles were written and this website was built by twenty-three students from the Colleges of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.