Welcome to Cooler Communities Springfield!
The 2022/23 Cooler Communities Program in Springfield stretched beyond our usual involvement and expectations. We piloted an enrichment course at Kiley Middle School, held an event at the Springfield Museums involving teachers and students across the city, and we spread the word about our program to community members at the Earth Day event at the Springfield Museums.
The enrichment course we piloted at Kiley Middle School was centered around the topics of energy efficiency, environmental justice, and pollution. This 6-week program taught us many things as we navigate further connecting with environmental justice communities and the barriers to climate and sustainability solutions. The students created a NEED Energy Efficiency House using a cardboard box and materials needed to insulate the home. Some of the energy efficiency houses were then displayed at our Cooler Communities event at Springfield Museums. The students learned the importance of having an energy efficient home and of using their voice to connect with their community and the world on environmental issues and change.
Our Cooler Communities event at the Springfield Museums was certainly one to remember. The event featured student projects from 9 different Springfield schools and ranged from hydroponic systems to grow food to moss wall graffiti which reduces pollution and adds beauty to urban spaces. Mayor Dominic Sarno, among other visitors, stopped by in support of the students’ work. We also had a live performance from climate rapper and author, Tem Blessed, who rapped songs about environmental action and awareness. We even had a student from our enrichment course, Kami, inform the public about her energy efficiency house and what she learned.
Springfield Earth Day
Cooler Communities was part of the incredible yearly earth day celebration at Springfield Museums. This event offers community members a way to learn more about what they can do for the earth and invites them to join programs that highlight outdoor recreation and learning for the entire family. The Cooler Communities presence there offered residents a platform to pledge action to make Springfield a more sustainable place. These actions ranged from scheduling a no cost home energy assessment to having ‘meatless Mondays’.
Cooler Communities had a place at the annual Springfield Sustainathon, where students, local environmental organizations and other non-profits came together to discuss environmental issues and solutions. The high school students involved added many pledges to our Springfield pledge forms, leaving us with over 50 forms completed with actions that will make the city a more sustainable place for all. Check out some photos below!
In spite of Covid restrictions, over 1000 Springfield high school students across all buildings participated in the Sustainathon and Cooler Communities program in the 2021/22 school year and collectively generated over 90 pledges on their action platform.Their presentations demonstrated engaged learning and passion for environmental subjects.
A Pandemic won’t stop Springfield High School students from thinking about climate change, energy conservation and sustainability.
Both the “Sustainathon”, hosted by Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and the “Cooler Communities” program have found a way to virtually engage over 1000 High School students along with their friends, families and neighbors.
The Cooler Communities team is extremely grateful to Springfield schools and especially Ron St Amand, the science director for High Schools, and science teacher Jenn Cherry, for their collaboration during a time that was incredibly difficult for everyone working in the school system.
The Sustainathon brings Springfield Technical Community College students, local high school students, industry stakeholders, scientists, and the community together to create awareness of current sustainability challenges and the importance of STEM innovative solutions for enhancing economic livelihood, workforce development, and quality of life of communities in Western Massachusetts. This event coincided with world-wide efforts towards environmental sustainability and stewardship in celebration of Earth Day.
Cooler Communities Springfield was made possible by the generous support of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.