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Amherst conference Oct. 13 to focus on sustainability

The “All Things Community: Celebrating Amherst in Transition” will be held Oct. 13 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the middle school auditorium at 170 Chestnut St.

“This is an opportunity to talk about the concept of resilience and sustainability and what it means at the community level,” said John R. White, one of the lead organizers of the event developed by the group called Transition Amherst.

In its 2½ years in existence, Transition Amherst, part of an international effort to improve community connections, has sponsored film series, organized walks such as a tour of the proposal municipal solar site, and endorsed the idea of an “All Things Local” store that would provide space for local growers, producers and craftspeople to sell items year-round.

Later this month, White said, a tour will allow people to see the town’s water sources and wastewater treatment plant and learn about water quality and availability.

“All Things Community” will feature workshops on increasing production of local food, reducing dependence on oil, building the local economy and expanding use of renewable energy. It will also examine current projects taking place to make the town more sustainable.

White said the hope is people will come with ideas and constructive resolutions to address their concerns.

“We’re looking at what we can do to create positive development and positive movements in town,” he said.

Participants will break into groups during a segment called “World Cafe” and brainstorm ways to deal with issues such as climate change and water quality.

“This will be an attempt to get people to think in a serious way about issues the world is facing and what is the impact on the Amherst community and what can we do about it,” White said.

A following segment called “Open Space Marketplace” will have participants work on concrete plans. For instance, White said he is an advocate for an alternative loan group, while others may want a solar initiative that gets photovoltaics onto people’s homes.

The hope is that this will spur Transition Amherst beyond the 10 members who have formed its core working group. “All Things Community” is open to anyone interested, with people from as far away as Hartford, Conn., and Worcester expected to attend, White said.

While more than 150 transition communities exist in the United States, only a few are in this region, including those in Pelham, Northfield and Wendell.

The event will include music, with Quaker songs performed by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, a high school jazz band and a local guitarist.

Snacks will be provided and childcare and children’s activities are expected to be available.

For more information, visit transitionamherst.org/community.

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