“Climate Change: Forests, Farms, Habitat, and Sustainability of All Living Things” Belfast Senior College Course presentation by ABCD


“Climate Change: Forests, Farms, Habitat, and Sustainability of All Living Things” Belfast Senior College Course presentation by ABCD


In this 6-week course at Belfast Senior College (March 30 - May 4, 2023, in-person at the Hutchinson Center), attendees are hearing from local land and forest preservation groups who steward the beautiful lands and waters of mid-coast Maine. They will describe their programs, goals and challenges in the face of climate change. The course will initiate conversations on how we can protect and sustain these resources for future generations.

Speakers for the course include ABCD, Georges River Land Trust, Coastal Mountains Land Trust, Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, and the Waldo County Soil & Water Conservation District. Moderated by Fred Bowers, former soil and water scientist and the Chair of the Belfast Climate Crisis Committee.

As part of the first class on March 30th, Brenda Harrington (Adult Programming Librarian and ABCD Project Lead at Belfast Free Library), presented a visual overview of the All of Belfast Climate Dialogues (ABCD) project. Her slides and notes are included above. 

Class participants (30 total in attendance) had a conversation after the presentation about the possibility of forming a climate action group. Many attendees were from towns surrounding Belfast: Montville, Jackson, Northport and more - and they wanted a climate action planning coalition that would include the whole of Waldo County. 

The group learned more from Brenda about A Climate To Thrive (ACTT), a grassroots-based community-driven climate action group encompassing all the towns of Mount Desert Island. ACTT is a potential model for Waldo County to follow for community-based climate action. 

What’s next? Brenda shared that ABCD is planning to have another community discussion soon on climate action planning. Although the ABCD project’s grant funding ends in August 2023, the ABCD team is hopeful that others in the community will benefit from the progress that has been made in talking about climate change - and that there will be leadership and continued momentum toward action.

Talking points to go with presentation:

Slide 1- Title

I am here to tell you about the All of Belfast Climate Dialogues project of the BFL
In 2020, the Belfast Free Library won a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to facilitate conversations among broad cross-section of the Belfast community about climate change to ensure that all voices and views are heard.

Part of this grant is to collect and save Belfast area residents’ observations, concerns and hopes about climate change impacts in our region at this critical time. This collection is meant to increase awareness of each other’s experiences, and serve as a benchmark for future reference - and hopefully as a catalyst for taking action now.

Slide 2. Katharine Hayhoe

Inspirations and background of grant:

In 2019 when we applied for the grant, no one was talking about climate change. My grant partner, Sarah approached me with project idea - inspired by climate scientist Katharine Heyhoe. Talking about it is one of the most important things we can do to support climate action.

“The most important thing we can do about climate change is talk about it- talk about why it matters, and how we can fix it- and use our voices to advocate for change within in our spheres of influence”

Additional Comment:

It sounds simplistic but Dr. Hayhoe has dedicated the last 15 years of her career on encouraging people to talk about climate change. “Talking about climate change and helping others connect climate change to the things they care about can lead to advocacy and action.”

Slide 3.Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
In writing our grant we were also influenced and encouraged by the reports from the Yale Program on Climate Change Commincation that their studies have found …  Read quote. 

We found out that we got the grant in June 2020 to begin in September 2020.

Slide 4. ABCD Project Team Introduction

Sarah- a Consultant with experience in processes for public engagement, education, worked at GMRI and currently at NASA leading Citizen Science initiatives.

Misty- Our communication specialist - this project is essentially a communication challenge!

Brenda  -Librarian, experienced with community engagement

Together we focused on developing and carrying out the project goals:

Slide 5 ABCD Project Goals

Next Slides about Engage:

The ABCD project began in the fall of 2020, mere months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Our plans for facilitating cozy conversations among Belfast residents to help each other learn how to be comfortable sharing and listening to others’ perspectives, priorities, and observations of climate change and its impacts were no longer safe to do. We had to come up with another plan.

Slide 6 Outreach at community events was one way ….

Surveys were another way example here of the heat survey, which had 60+ responses from many community places- soup kitchen, high school…

Slide 7 -
Engage the community about climate change through art and poetry:

Call for Art- In late 2021 we put out a call for art about Climate Change for an exhibit called “The Art of ReClimation” The curated collection represented over 30 artists and some poets and was on display in the Library’s Kramer Gallery and Abbott Room April- May 2022.
The Exhibit is also available as a digital exhibit on our webpage.

Slide 8
ABCD's summer 2022 photo contest, "Celebrating Belfast: Places & Play!"
We asked for submissions about what you love about our area, what you care about and would like to protect in the face of Climate Change Impacts. We received 35 great submissions! See thte winners and runners up at the top .

Slide 9- Tide Gauge: 
ABCD was excited to take part in the Unveiling of Belfast's new tide gauges and high water mark signs in October 2021 : This project was the result of three years of work involving the Climate Crisis Committee, Students from BAHS, US Harbors, our Harbor Master and many more. 

With the installation of these new gauges Belfast can gather local data to better understand what is happening right here with sea level rise and storm surges The data is sent to National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. Work continues on this project.

Slide 10- Outreach at Harbor Fest-
tabled with the CCC, demonstration of electric vehicles. 

Slide 11-
Our Monthly Newsletter- outreach to the community- with news and events often with reports about our programs.
If you would like to sign up I have a sheet for you to do so.
Past issues on the website.

Slide 12- 14 Educate:

When we started the project in fall of 2020 we did what we could to start the conversation about climate change by adding educational resources to the library’s collection and website:

>We began adding books to the library collection.

>We created new webpages with information about climate change and the value of talking about climate change.

> Resources about Climate Action Planning and Climate Action Leadership. 


Slide 15 -Maine Won’t Wait:

In December of 2020 the Maine Climate Council and the Governor's Office of Policy and Innovation for the Future released Maine Won’t Wait: A Four Year Plan for Climate Action.

Four Goals : 1.To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions,
2.Avoid the Impacts and Costs of Inaction, 3. Foster Economic Opportunity and Prosperity,and 4. Advance Equity through Maine’s Climate Response.

The plan has 8 topic areas with recommendations for action.  It’s a Very Comprehensive plan.

Its release informed and influenced the direction of our programming as we touched on the topics:

Slide 16 & 17
We hosted programs to explain the goals and implementation of the plan like this one with Dr. Rose from GOPIF

and Dr. Fernandez from Umaine on the role of carbon management...a topic also addressed in Maine won’t wait.

Slide 18 & 19

Another Covid pivot was to host zoom programs for community organizations
The Library was able to use zoom to create an event series co-sponsored with Belfast organizations such as the Garden Club and BBWC,
we agreed to have the topics in the series be about climate change.
(there are a lot of them!). We have a lot of really smart people in our state!

Did any of you attend one of our zoom programs?

BTW- All of these programs were recorded and can be found on the Belfast Free Library’s YouTube Channel.

Slide 20

Maine Won’t Wait two year progress report last December is an encouraging report that outlines statewide successes in the reduction in GHG as well as the growing number of communities participating in the Community Resilience Partnership- a state program to help with climate planning and funding to implement projects to mitigate or adapt to climate disruption. Lots to talk about.

Slide 21- June 14th:

So…. Here in Belfast, we were inspired by MWW and the need for planning for climate change impacts.

In June of 2022, we teamed up with Belfast’s Climate Crisis Committee to host a series of Community Climate Conversations on topics to be included in a Belfast Climate Action Plan. This first conversation was broad, seeking suggestions from the audience.

Slide 22

Since June of 2022 we have hosted 3 more Community Climate Conversations: one on Building Resilience for Big Storms and Flooding,
one on Modernizing our Homes and Buildings, and this one in February being most recent and inspirational on the Future of Transportation in Belfast and Waldo County.

In each of these conversations : we brainstormed ideas through a framework of actions individuals can do, actions we can do as a community together and the things we recommend the municipality can do. We called these the “three buckets”

All of the notes, recordings and  full reports are available on our ABCD collection site linked to from the ABCD Drop down menu.

Slide 23

Earlier in 2022 With the CCC we also hosted the Waldo County Climate Symposium on zoom. The goal of the symposium was to foster collaboration and coordination among the active organizations.

Fifteen Waldo County organizations with climate change-related activities attended the symposium. Each gave a 5-minute presentation about who they are, their present activities related to climate change, and their future plans. A summary of each presentation is available in the symposium report in the ABCD Collection. The symposium ended with an enthusiastic call for continued conversation.

Slide 24

Zoom community panel discussions like this panel of Local Farmers….

Poignant discussion about their first had experiences dealing with unpredictable weather in every season making it challenging to grow our food! Thank a Farmer.

(You will be viewing this recording later in the course, I show this to put it in context for you)

Each of these programs and discussions are archived on the ABCD collection site (Omeka URL), and the recordings are on our YouTube Channel.

Slides 25- 28: ARCHIVE:

Early on in the project we were able to create this online collection space where we invited Belfast area residents to post writings, letters, artwork, poems, pictures - anything that captures their observations, fears, hopes, or priorities about Climate Change. These are some examples….
While we have gotten some submissions – always seeking more.

 The suggestions and ideas.This site serves as a digital archive of the ABCD project, with more in depth reports of the programs and discussions.

Thoughts/ Obersvations:

What we have learned/observed from all the programs and conversations is that there is a need for leadership for Community Driven Climate Action Planning.

Climate Change and all the issues around it can be overwhelming and lead to despair, I often hear people say, What can I do about it? or it’s too late…
But we have found that working together towards solutions can be uplifting and motivating. Like when we had the community climate conversations and people got excited about

Examples can be found in A Climate to Thrive (ACTT)

Slide 29 : Local Mentors and Models

ACTT:  A community based Climate Action group from MDI.

They started small (2015) gathered at potlucks to develop a shared vision of solutions to climate change impacts. They are now a non-profit with paid staff, offering programs and support to help folks transition off fossil fuels. They are working towards energy independence for MDI by 2030. Lats year I began attending their Local Leads the Way meetings- this is a support group for communities engaged in community drivenm solutions focused climate action.
Other ACTT programs on slide- Building Solutions and Climate Ambassador Training.

Slide 30-Sierra Club

Helps commnities work together on climate advocacy to influence decision makers.
I recently met with Sierra Club’s grassroots Climate Action Organizer, Nyalat Biliew. She had lots of ideas and suggestions for us. We plan to invite hespeak to us sometime soon...

Slide 31- Final slide 

What’s Next ?

What does our community need to move forward on Climate Action Planning?

Before I open it up to your comments I want to share this:

We envision the formation of a coordinating body to bring all the groups working on Climate related issues together. A network/ alliance/ umbrella group
> to be created by ? You and me.

The CCC is an advisory board to the city. They are doing a great job in this capacity. But they are not a Community Driven Climate Action Team.
We have observed that citizens want help and resources and support of all kinds to make the changes needed to get off the dependence on Fossil Fuels.
Municipalities can’t do this for individuals.

But we can.




March 30, 2023


ABCD Team, ““Climate Change: Forests, Farms, Habitat, and Sustainability of All Living Things” Belfast Senior College Course presentation by ABCD,” All of Belfast: Climate Dialogues, accessed May 27, 2024, https://abcdbelfast.omeka.net/items/show/147.

Output Formats


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>