“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead

The volunteers of Sustain Mid Maine Coalition volunteered about 2,400 hours last year, truly exemplifying Margaret Mead’s quote. Our group of diverse individuals shares one common characteristic: a concern for the effects our planet and its inhabitants are undergoing because of climate change.

When Sustain Mid Maine Coalition was formed in 2009, our enthusiasm was high. We committed ourselves to our vision statement, which says in part, “We, the people of the Kennebec, recognize that our survival depends on a healthy and safe environment. We are part of an interdependent world of natural resources, human communities and economic systems. Our culture supports sustainability in everything, such as use of local food, energy and transportation, as well as preservation of our natural resources.”

Since the coalition’s beginning, our six teams have worked diligently to promote sustainability in mid-Maine. Because of our concerns about climate change, we focus much of our efforts on teaching people about its potential problems.

Our annual meeting, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon Jan. 25 in Waterville City Council Chambers, will give team leaders the opportunity to highlight their accomplishments.

• The Energy Team assists local residents in learning how to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption.

• The Transportation Team has enhanced public bus transportation and increased the walking trails in the Waterville area.

• Thanks to the Grow and Support Local Foods Team, the area now has five community gardens, including at the Alfond Youth Center. Currently, this team is studying how to get more local foods into area institutions.

• The Education Team holds a variety of programs throughout the year to help others understand the importance of caring for our environment.

• Our Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Team arranges for composting at The Taste of Waterville.

• The Climate Change Policy Team watches bills presented to the Legislature for their overall impact on climate change.

Stephen Mulkey, president of Unity College, will deliver the keynote address, which will be a call to action for people to continue and increase our efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

In November, Sustain Mid Maine Coalition partnered with Running Start Institute to host “Climate Adaptation Facts: A Briefing for Kennebec River Valley Communities.” More than 100 people attended.

Future events will focus on how climate change will affect other areas such as the economy, public health and agriculture. The first of these events, focusing on energy, will be held at Kennebec Valley Community College in February.

Perhaps you have attended one of our educational programs or seen one of our community gardens in Waterville, Winslow or Oakland. Maybe you had your house weatherized through our residential energy program, rode on the Kennebec Explorer, or saw us composting at The Taste of Waterville.

However you might have learned about us, I invite you to attend our annual meeting. Come and chat with us and hear about our endeavors. We would like to hear your ideas for projects that we can work on. Perhaps you will be interested in volunteering for one of our teams.

According to thebusinesstimes.com, “The value of volunteering is much deeper, much more fulfilling and much more important in contributing to a healthy and vibrant community than money can ever measure.”

If you are planning to attend our annual meeting, please email me at lwoods@waterville-me.gov by Friday.

Linda Woods is the coordinator of Sustain Mid Maine Coalition and a life-long environmentalist. Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people of central Maine. For more information, visit www.sustainmidmaine.org