PEPPERELL -- Climate Summer came to town on July 4 to join in Pepperell's festivities and to raise awareness about the natural gas pipeline proposed to come through Pepperell.
Climate Summer is a team of five college students that has dedicated its summer to partaking in local efforts to halt the pipeline plans. On the team are Tuula Perry, from Maui, Hawaii; Rachel Eckles, from Dallas, Texas; Gonzalo Crivelli, from Miami, Florida; Nicholas Jansen, from Rives Junction, Michigan; and Jana Wilkes, from Arden Hills, Minnesota. They travel by only bike with no support and expect to have biked 1,000 miles by the end of the summer. Right now they are at 220 miles.
On the 5th, the team had a table at the Pepperell Farmers Market, asking concerned locals to fill out a postcard to Governor Deval Patrick. These postcards say "No Gas Tariff" and the team plans to collect as many as possible over the summer and then hand deliver them to the governor.
The gas tariff would be part of the plan for building the pipeline to help fund the project because from the governor's point of view this pipeline would benefit the people. In reality, the majority of people in the towns that would be affected by the pipeline's construction would receive little to no benefit from the pipeline, let alone additional taxes to help pay for it. Experts are now looking into whether or not the pipeline is even needed and Climate Summer riders are saying we definitely don't need it if we ever want to escape from a nation reliant on dirty fossil fuels.
Later that day, the team was in the Pepperell 4th of July parade and walked its bikes alongside the pipeline float. "Being a part of Pepperell for the parade was wonderful," said rider Jana. Nicholas. He "enjoyed seeing the float spark conversation about the pipeline throughout the crowds watching the parade."
During the group's past few days in Pepperell, members have gotten to enjoy many of the perks of the town. They went hiking through Pepperell Springs with some members of the Nashoba Conservation Trust and got to enjoy the refreshing Heald Lake afterwards. They also have visited a few landowners' homes who are abutters on the proposed route of the pipeline and on Tuesday, you may have seen them on the side of the street by the rail trail, holding up signs saying "honk if you are opposed to the pipeline."
This group has been all around town working to raise awareness about the pipeline and is a very concerned and determined bunch.
The group gathered with members of the anti-pipeline community from towns all over to connect and share stories. Each person had such a unique reason to be involved and their stories showed that although people may come from different backgrounds and upbringings, issues like this pipeline transcend all differences.
As Linn Clark from Pepperell said, "The great thing about Pepperell is that when there is something to be done, we get a group of people together and they do it."
After the success of the Nashoba Conservation Trust in funding Pepperell Springs nine years ago, and the attention this issue is getting from people across the country, the attendees of the Climate Summer's event felt that people have the power to stop this pipeline.
Climate Summer is a summer internship program for college students, graduate students and recent graduates. Climate Summer riders travel exclusively by bicycle in small teams across New England, spending approximately one week in a community before biking on to the next. While in each town, riders connect with community leaders who are actively addressing society's addiction to fossil fuels. Our community partners are fighting new fossil fuel infrastructure and crafting local solutions that strengthen communities. Riders bring with them a movement-building perspective, sharing skills with and learning from those they meet and helping to highlight the important work of local organizations in the media and through our own social media work. -- Better Future Project