A heartfelt thank you to the organizers of the Souhegan Sustainability Fair, which took place on May 4 at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle High School. As a former WLC board member I understand the value and challenge of forming bonds between the school and the wider community. This event is an outstanding example of the use of a town resource (the school) to bring together students, families, local businesses, and area residents to explore and support efforts toward sustainable living.
This is the third year I have attended the event which seems to get better every year. Because a family member was representing a local farm at another “green” event nearby, my husband and I started our day there. Both events used the local high school, both had presenters, vendors, entertainment and local farmers. The similarities, though, ended there. The first event felt cold, the vendor booths awkwardly placed, the panel discussion in a distant room, and the farmers relegated to the outdoors. When we stopped at a booth representing a solar energy company, we stood for a good ten minutes, looking at a graphic at the entrance to the booth, but unable to access the rest of the booth which was blocked by two men chatting. We left without information and not knowing which of those men were actually in charge of the booth. There was a lovely offering of food made by local students, but nowhere could we find a simple bottle or cup of water.
By contrast, the event at WLC was warm, energetic, beautifully set up, and welcoming. From the Boy Scout directing cars to parking spots, through the local producers lining the entrance hall, into the gym with booth after booth of diverse and interesting vendors, the school was alive with activity. The fair offers food by local restaurants in the cafeteria where an eclectic mix of musicians perform for the diners. Perhaps the best part is the varied speakers and panel discussions.
At the solar energy booth there were three or four people already looking at handouts or talking to the vendor. I waited for a chance to get closer. Within seconds someone came from behind the table to see if I needed help. She answered my questions, explained the process, and left me with exactly the kind of information I was seeking.
Perhaps the other location was simply having a bad year but I mention the problems there because these events take a great deal of energy and coordination to put together. I think the success of the Souhegan Sustainability Fair has a lot to do with the passion and sincerity of the people who run it. They deserve our support to keep going year after year.