In setting out its 2016 work plan the board of directors focused on defining what success looks like to High Meadows: Land use that supports resilience, healthy soil and water; lower fossil fuel use in buildings and transportation; and viable and sustainable farm and forest-based enterprises. Within each of those areas of focus the board identified more specific objectives that contribute to our measure of success. You can find these in our work plan posted here.

The board also recommitted to High Meadows' values and approaches. This plan states more explicitly that we encourage our partners to address the social justice challenges that climate change presents. Building resilience among low income, elderly, new American, and isolated communities should not be an after-thought. A clean energy future with new options for mobility must benefit all Vermonters, not just those who can draw from savings or solid credit ratings to cover the upfront cost of energy efficiency, solar panels, or an electric car. Farm and forest based enterprises need to provide income, security, and safe working conditions for their owners and workers.

Of course, these aren’t our thoughts alone. At a recent conference of place-based funders who focus on building vibrant communities around the country, I heard many references to the three pillars of resilience and sustainability – social, economic and ecological.

And in Vermont, lenders, energy service providers, utilities, housing organizations, and others are collaborating to reduce financial barriers to making homes more comfortable, secure, and affordable by reducing their reliance on fossil fuels. Upstream and downstream communities are exploring new watershed-based approaches to reducing risk to land and property and improving soil and water health. And the Farm to Plate network continues to support the energy and buzz among its diverse membership in addressing the dual challenge of economic opportunity and affordability of food.

The High Meadows board and staff consider it a real pleasure and honor to work to work with and learn from our thoughtful and creative partners throughout Vermont. We’re looking forward to the work ahead!