Energy Committee Meeting Minutes 6.5.24

Arlington Energy Committee


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

6:30 – 8:00 pm 

At Town Hall and online

Present in Town Hall: Mary Anne Holmes, Karen Lee, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Jenny Murtaugh, Joan Nash,

Present Via Zoom: Mardi Crane, Alexandra Ernst, Garrett Siegel (alternate)

Absent: Mary Ann Carlson (alternate)

Call to Order: 6:35 PM

Old Business

Approval of Minutes from May 1, 2024: Joan moved to accept; Karen seconded; Unanimous among all members present.

Reflections on Good News Energy & Resilience Fair

Stephanie thanked everyone for working so incredibly hard on the fair and singled out Karen for her vision and extraordinary efforts—which in turn brought out everybody else’s best efforts. It was Karen’s idea that the committee really walk the talk by doing everything as locally as possible and with as low a carbon footprint as possible—and for us to offset the unavoidable carbon footprint of the fair by planting native trees in Arlington. She inspired all of the members by the constancy of her commitment and integrity.

The consensus was that despite having far fewer people in attendance (75-100?) than was hoped for, the fair was a success.  Virtually every exhibitor made a point of saying that the conversations and interactions with the people who did come made it all worthwhile. Steph will compile a document with all the comments she has received since the fair.

In their reflections, committee members each had very positive moments to share.  Karen heard several people comment on how well the whole team worked together. She shared an anecdote about how she had worked so hard on compiling all the videos for the reel and was concerned that nobody would take the time to watch it. When she went inside the Watkins House to check on it, however, she was delighted to see that indeed there were several people seated taking it all in.  Steph pointed out that there should be a link to it on the AEC page of the website (there could also be a link to the GNAT video of the fair).

Karen also recounted that Dana Peterson of BROC signed several people up for services.  He was really pleased that a landlord came in to talk with him about how to go about putting in heat pumps. As it happened, one of his tenants came in to talk with Bryan Dalton at the next table about getting inserts from WindowDressers.  All of them soon got to talking and had an excellent, synergistic discussion on pulling many weatherization strategies together. 

Alex shared that the seed packets were really popular: folks like to touch things and to have easy, useful, cheerful takeaways.

Mary Anne noted that one of the benefits of the fair was the networking that took place among all those who were there to table.

All the trees were taken and planted—which completely offsets the carbon footprint of the fair!!!  Thank you, Mardi, for the trees!

And there were lots of other positive experiences and outcomes.

The committee also discussed what didn’t work as well as planned and what things they might do differently if they did anything like this again:

  • Consider taking out an ad in the area papers—something more visible
  • Establish a database of people interested in the issues and projects the AEC tackles by having a sign-up sheet for emails.  This way, the committee can let them know when they are offering a special program.
  • Karen was surprised that the free food wasn’t a bigger draw.  All agreed that the food tent needed to be much closer to the entrance and that it was too far in the background. 
  • Alex offered that the welcome table was not as festive and alluring as it needed to be; all the raffle prizes should have been on that table.
  • The AEC table and the meal tickets were kind of lost in the back.  Better to have that table be the last one that people reach when the cycle through and are about to go back out the door.
  • Garret suggested that the AEC table be right next to the welcome table so that folks make the connection that the AEC is the coordinating organization and are the ones to contact for resources to address energy resilience questions.
  • Where were all the children?  Young people?  Nick pointed out that it just so happened that this was a big weekend for sports—even more so than in previous years.
  • Mardi wondered if we should have invited vendors who sell locally made things, to bring in more people.  While we wouldn’t have had any more room in the Watkins House, vendors could have brought their own pop-up tents.  Joni said this would be good as long as we confined them to selling products that have to do with energy efficiency and lowering their carbon footprint (gardening tools, plants, harvest baskets, etc.).
  • Mary Anne suggests that doing this in the Rec. Park might provide greater visibility (and it is already an established vendor location due to the Farmers Market there).  It could be done in conjunction with the Lions Club.  Would need to rent a tent.
  • We should have gotten the word out earlier about the Lower-Your-Carbon-Footprint contest (although the Lions Club won with an excellent project that checked all the boxes). A huge thanks to Mardi Crane and Vermont Meadows Farm for being the benefactor of the contest!
  • We should reconsider how to display the emergency touch box; people didn’t seem interested in engaging with it.
  • While a few people were interested in the carbon tracking tool display, Joni said she thinks the display should be re-designed. Keep it simple.  Have a question at the top: What does the AEC do?  Then list three or four projects that aim to save electricity, sequester carbon, etc.  Then devote a table or poster or tri-fold to each of the subcategories—all in simple terms with great illustrations/pictures. 

Future Outreach

This generated discussion around further outreach.  How do we make sure folks know about what we are doing and how we can help them and the town?  Nick said we are always welcome to put a table right out in front of the Town Hall.  He also suggested that we consider going to other larger events in other towns and table there: ie. May Fest in Bennington. He said he sees more Arlingtonians there than at any similar kind of event in Arlington.  Folks like to go elsewhere to enjoy themselves at events quite often. 

Cross Pollination: After hearing Mardi and then Mary Anne talk about carbon sequestration with such authority and eloquence, Alex offered that the knowledge from within this committee alone ought to be shared—that instead of hoping folks will come to our events, we should make a point of going to them: take our show on the road.  We should identify key areas around which we can create a program (Jenny, too, has tremendously important experience and expertise that others will find fascinating and inspiring—as does everyone else on the committee!). 

Mary Anne recommends that we find a way to really connect with the schools.  There must be a way to talk with the science teachers, for example, and engage with them when they do their units on climate change.

Joni suggested that we sponsor a coloring contest and provide the pictures (ie. People planting trees; charging their vehicles; riding bikes, etc.)—pictures that would engender discussion. We could award prizes per grade and also come up with something for every child who participates (a seed packet, for example). 

Mary Anne suggested that we do another showing of “Kiss the Ground” and have a discussion afterwards over a beer or do it as a bring-a-bag-lunch affair—just provide time for folks to process and discuss it afterwards together, for those who’d enjoy this.

The committee also decided that we should table at the Arlington Farmers Market again this summer.  It begins this Friday.  Steph will fill out an application and then send out a signup doodle so folks can take turns at the market. This would be three different Fridays, from 4 to 7 PM, and entail gathering display items, tables, tent, etc., setting up, tabling, and packing up again.  The committee would like to have seed packets and maybe a raffle prize to give away.  Joni would like to have our envisioned sequestration display there, as well as a list of native plants and trees that folks can plant (Steph will get plant list from Hildene).

WindowDressers Update (October 17th – 23)

The Sign Up page is already live:

To be held at The First Congregational Church in Manchester. Load-in is on Thursday, Oct. 17th; Build days are the 17-23rd, loading out on the last day.  The committee will conduct outreach at the Farmers Markets this summer.

New Business

Decision to table at the Farmers Markets


  • Jenny will be staying on the AEC after all!  Yay!
  • The committee decided to take a wee break and not have a regular meeting in July.  So, the next meeting will now be:  August 7th at 6:30pm

Motion to Adjourn

Jenny moved, Joni seconded; unanimous among all members present. Adjourned at 7:58 PM.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Steph.

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