The Cooler Communities Program is based on a successful pilot project from Concord, MA, called Cooler Concord. Based on principles of social marketing – Saving Energy is Cool! – it leverages classroom education to empower students and set a whole community on the path to smarter energy choices.
Due to support by the Community Foundation of Western MA and the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, schools receive grants of up to $5000 for participating in the Cooler Communities program. Students of all ages research and create exhibits and materials on climate change, energy efficiency and related subjects within their curriculum requirements to be displayed at a district-wide event. Vendors, community members, and service providers offer advice and show ways in which visitors can take energy-smart actions that work best for them.
Everyone is encouraged to pledge changes – large or small. These pledges are tracked, calculated for their carbon saving potential if applicable, and followed up on.
Civics, English, and art classes contribute letters to the editor and elected representatives, as well as create posters and murals to enrich and publicize the event.
Watch this 3 minute video!
Cooler Communities encourages collaboration between municipal entities like energy commissions, grassroots volunteers and the schools to break down silos in the ways we tackle carbon pollution. The Cooler Communities team assists schools and towns in a multitude of ways to achieve their energy reduction goals. Aside from creating measurable energy savings for the participating town and it’s residents the purpose of this program is to empower young people in recognizing the relevance of their learning and to give them a taste of the impact they can have in their communities.
Staff and Advisors – Cooler Communities Playbook
- Gilda Gussin, M.Ed. Project Director and primary author of the Playbook
- Jill Appel, CPA, MPH content advisor
- Aimee Powelka, energy professional and climate activist from Framingham, Massachusetts – Playbook Advisory Committee
- Uli Nagel, director of the Cooler Communities program at the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation
Gilda Gussin and Jill Appel were part of the three-person leadership team that developed and implemented the original Cooler Concord Fair, along with Brad Hubbard Nelson, PhD. All three have extensive experience in reducing CO2 emissions in communities and have led community-based Solar, Heat Pump and Weatherization campaigns, both professionally and as volunteer members of the Concord Sustainable Energy Committee.
Collaborators and Sponsors
The Town of Concord, MA
The Town of Concord, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the Community Foundation of Western MA, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, ener-G-save and MassEnergize have all contributed financially to underwriting the fairs and/or developing the Playbook, Cooler Communities Website and Carbon Saver tool.
Cooler Communities is the brand name for events (we call them Fairs; you can call yours whatever you want!) that use the model in this Playbook (e.g., Cooler Agawam, Cooler Concord, Berkshires Cooler Communities Challenge). The word “Cooler” connotes reduced burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas and gasoline that are warming the Earth. If we all work together, we can live on a Cooler Planet and Be Cooler!
Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
Since late 2020 the Community Foundation of Western MA Cooler Communities supports the program with generous co-funding of the grants to participating school districts in Pioneer Valley.
At the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, we believe in the power of coming together to learn, give, build, protect and create for our communities.
Ener-G-save is a key program of the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation. Since 2017, ener-G-save has worked in Western Massachusetts with towns, grassroots organizations, non-profits, businesses, utilities, faith groups and schools to foster energy efficiency at the community level.
Want Some Help?
If you would like some help getting started or have questions, send an email to the team that has created this Playbook. We are happy to talk with you about your project and we offer consulting services to help you make best use of the Playbook.
Share Your Ideas
Our plan is to update this site periodically with best practices and advice from communities who use this Playbook to host fairs. Please share your thoughts with us – what works well and doesn’t, what is especially helpful, what is missing and what new ideas you have! Our planet needs us to share our ideas!