Vine & Fig

Tom.CAAV.3.15.16March 15, 2016

One of CAAV’s favorite Coalition partners came to the March 15 meeting of the steering committee.  Tom Benevento of Vine & Fig (new name for New Community Project in H’burg) always has a lot going on.  He keeps interns, visitors and locals engaged and amazed by what is happening onsite at the North Main St. Sustainable Living Center.  They have recently improved the outdoor shower by using a biomass heater instead of solar.  It is essentially a composter, and channels the heat from the process to warm the water in the shower.  When it gives out, the compost is ready to use on the gardens—a genuine “twofer.”  This shower is available not only to those working in the gardens, but also to homeless persons in that area, who often have no place to wash up.  As the center has always served to promote the health and well-being of marginalized people, it extends that mission just a little further into the community in need.

The national New Community Project has recently refocused on addressing climate change because of its threat to  humanity–especially to the most vulnerable people across the globe.  Vine & Fig was central to the November 2015 Postcard to Paris event,  and now they are doubling down on the issue. The “Renew Rocktown” project is subtitled “Harrisonburg Climate Recovery and Resiliency Strategic Plan.”  In the Plan, “Citizens lead the way, build diversity, positive and fun, focus on actions and effective results, supportive of city council and staff, work for justice and build relationships.” The goal is a 50% CO2 reduction by 2035 and 100% reduction by 2050.  To that end, both “citizens and government must become educated on the subject and action oriented.”  In their sights at the beginning is a big push on energy efficiency, continuing focus on biking/pedestrian paths with interconnections across the city, an improved city bus system, more local sustainable food production, attention to waste reduction and recycling, with multicultural integration throughout.  There is a very thorough long term plan with stepwise implementation through both government and nongovernment agencies, aimed to make Harrisonburg a model city.  This is really exciting stuff.  Look for their upcoming website for more information, and invite Tom to share his vision with your group.

– Anne Nielsen, CAAV Coalition Building Committee

Photos below by Anne Nielsen taken at the Post Card to Paris event on November 29, 2015.


Each month, the CAAV Coalition Building Committee invites a community member or group to present to the CAAV steering committee about projects with which they are involved. We are grateful to be working with so many other groups and individuals passionate about creating a more resilient, healthy and just world.

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