Uli Nagel

Cooler Communities Fall Newsletter 2021

Summer has officially ended and was truly one for the records.  Droughts, wildfires, dangerous heat indices, hurricanes, and floods – many of them destructive and deadly.  While none of us want to dwell on these scary issues, we must keep the implications in mind as we navigate this school year.  Together we can help our students, as well as their families and communities, learn and work toward climate change resilience, adaptation, and solutions.

We at Cooler Communities continue to participate in these efforts. Despite the pandemic, we held five virtual events during the 2020-21 school year.  Kudos to all students, teachers, volunteers and administrators in Agawam, Springfield High Schools, Sherborn, Pittsfield, and Greenfield that came through in such a big way. We are applying what we learned in this virtual world to our planning for the 2021-2022 school year and look forward to running our program in eight to ten school districts, expanding our footprint throughout the state and doubling the number of events held last year.  And we’ll continue to share our information and experiences with you. In this newsletter issue we highlight:

  • Western Mass Youth Climate Summit
  • A recent high school graduate’s creation of the CC Student Playbook
  • What to do with seasonal leaf collections
  • Time sensitive events and programs for teachers and students

We wish you all a safe and successful school year!


Cooler Communities Newsletter Summer 2021

Dear Friends of Cooler Communities,

We all made it. Summer is here and gifted with inviting weather (at times!) and nature’s bounty we hope you all get a chance to relax, breathe in the scent of flowers, of moss or of something delicious on the grill, and re-charge your batteries. Especially for those of you who are working or learning in schools, we wish you a deeply restful and rejuvenating break and a much more predictable year ahead. 

We too are taking a break, wrapping up four wonderfully inspiring Cooler Communities events in SpringfieldAgawamGreenfield and Sherborn, our first venture in “the East.” From over 1500 students participating in Springfield and Agawam to a small group of High Schoolers at the Greenfield High School Environmental Club, all participants worked very, very hard to not lose sight of climate change and climate solutions during a very difficult school year. It’s that kind of commitment, focus and creativity that makes this program so rewarding!

And of course our sights are set on next year’s programs. We will be working with even more towns and will hopefully be able to include in-person events again!

Still Going Strong

Michelle Foley's Contribution to the Art ShowYes, Covid has slowed down the people working on Cooler Communities in 7 Berkshire and Pioneer Valley communities – but it’s not stopped them! Have a look at the first virtual Cooler Communities event, set up in partnership with Berkshire Museum and the team organizing the yearly Berkshire Earth Expo.

Close to 30 students participated both in an extraordinary art show as well as other projects, presented in podcasts, from research on the anti-fungal properties of local honey to songs composed in honor of the earth and those protecting her. Other students demonstrated hands-on activities that reduce waste and plastic use – great things to do while at home due to COVID.

For this virtual and regional event, we awarded small grants to the individual projects, rather than one large grant to a specific district. Some of the students were homeschooled, some came from private and others from public schools.

Over 600 people visited the pages related to the event, many of these going to the art show.

And as far as the actions related to students’ work is concerned – we worked with MassEnergize on this platform to which we invited visitors to the Expo to take or pledge action. This aspect of our program still needs improvement, and you can help by visiting the page and adding your own actions. Start here!

Earth Day Ecochallenge

We hope that you are healthy and able to navigate these very trying times surrounded by care and support.

Five towns had scheduled Cooler Communities events or projects for this spring: Springfield, Hadley, Northampton, West-Springfield and Pittsfield in the Berkshires. A lot of wonderful work went into these projects already, and much of it done by student leaders. All events will be re-scheduled for the fall or next spring.

While we are staying safe and at a physical distance from others, we also want to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this April. Our team has joined the Ecochallenge. We are pledging and taking action, along with thousands of people across the country, to help and heal the earth. From saving water to advocating for climate legislation, from planting healthy gardens to installing energy-saving appliances, you can choose from existing actions or create your own. You can join us here and invite your friends and family as well.