The Vermont Chapter of CASSE serves dual purposes:
1. Unifying the voice of the grassroots.
Local grassroots organizations work on many different social, environmental and economic issues. Many of the challenges these organizations face are directly or indirectly caused by the prioritization of economic growth over more important issues. This continues despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans prefer environmental protection over economic growth, as evidenced in a recent study at Yale.
Today, prioritizing economic growth is an ever-increasing threat to the environment, current and future employment, and peaceful, stable communities. Thus, the Vermont CASSE chapter works at the grassroots level to unify voices and bring divergent efforts toward the goal of a steady state economy.
2. Taking action toward a steady state economy at local, regional, and state levels.
The Vermont Chapter helps citizens move toward a steady state economy in Burlington, Chittenden County, and Vermont as a whole. In order to make this transition, these communities must determine their carrying capacity and then determine which institutions will be most useful in facilitating a steady state economy. This work builds on the projects of numerous Vermont research institutions and advocacy organizations, including at the state level. For example, in 2008 Vermont established the Vermont Common Assets Trust, which makes Vermont’s atmosphere, aquifers and other environmental assets as the common property of all Vermonters. Noteworthy victories such as this are not common, but it is worth noting that CASSE has been officially recognized by the Vermont State Legislature for its findings and advocacy. See ACTR-491.
Meanwhile at the local level, the Vermont Chapter’s Steady-State Agriculture project builds primarily on the work of Dan Erickson of the Food Systems Research Institute and research conducted under the direction of a USDA hatch grant, which the chapter’s assistant director, Skyler Perkins, worked on for his master’s degree at the University of Vermont, advised by Professor Josh Farley. This project aims to establish a steady-state agriculture system in the Chittenden County region, focusing first on the development of a food system with a drastically-reduced GHG footprint.
Given its academic institutions, citizen concern for sustainability, and progressive history, Vermont is unique among states in its potential for establishing a steady state economy. This is a long-term project entailing substantial policy reforms as well as widespread public support. Yet the path to a steady state economy is fairly clear, and it all starts with dialog. The CASSE Vermont Chapter is ready to open the conversation and help put principles into practice.