Darby Bradley On Fossil Fuel, Housing, Entrepreneurship

Darby Bradley, past president of the Vermont Land Trust, stands at the edge of a field that is part of the 300-acre Sparrow Farm in East Montpelier, conserved in 1995 with a public trail easement. The mountains in the background are the northern end of the Worcester Range, where the Vermont Land Trust conserved over 7,000 acres in 1997 and 2014.

Listen below as Bradley speaks to the relationship between landowners and the land trust over time—and read his response to the question: What will bring us to the next level in meeting the energy and environmental challenges we are facing today?

What will bring us to the next level in meeting the energy and environmental challenges we are facing today?

Reduce Fossil Fuel Use: Vermonters export $1.5 billion annually to purchase fossil fuels, an enormous loss to our economy. We will keep more of these dollars in circulation here by making our buildings more energy efficient, promoting solar generation, and reducing commuter driving. I also favor using wood pellets for heating, if they are produced on a small (40-50-000 green tons) scale. The pellet mill in North Clarendon buys its material from local woodlots. Loggers get better prices for their low quality wood, landowners have better options for forest management, and home and business owners have the convenience of fully automated pellet furnaces.

Build More Affordable Housing: To preserve our working landscape and revitalize our community centers, we must build more affordable housing close to employment, schools, shopping, and other services. This will not only help attract young families and give older Vermonters an opportunity to downsize, but it will reduce the pressure for subdivision and development of undeveloped lands upon which our quality of life and our agricultural, forestry, and tourism industries depend.

Focus on the Entrepreneur: While we may hope for the next IBM, our best chance to build Vermont’s economy is to focus on entrepreneurs, who have good ideas but need help to get them into production. The astonishing transformation of our agricultural and food industries has taken place because government, investors, land trusts, lenders, philanthropic organizations, and many others have made it possible for innovative farmers, cheese producers, beer brewers, and other entrepreneurs to pursue their ambitions.
— Darby Bradley, Past President, Vermont Land Trust

The above comes from the recent Vermont Folklife Center exhibit, Portraits in Action: Pioneers in Renewable Energy, Environmental Conservation, and Land Use Planning. The exhibit brings together the perspectives of a diverse cross section of twenty-five pioneers, activists, and leaders in renewable energy, environmental conservation, and land use planning, and invites them to speak to the issues at hand. It is both an oral history and a call to action.

See more from the exhibition - Portraits in Action.