Building Climate Refuge

Vermont is home to 6 out of the top 10 counties in the United States that are projected to experience the least harsh impacts of climate change. It is our collective responsibility to steward the land with care, inclusivity, and radical imagination for what is possible for all of us.

We have a collective responsibility to build climate refuge in Vermont, and we take that responsibility seriously. Community Resilience Organizations (CROs) works with individuals, organizations, and coalitions to build networks of care and repair that center the frontline communities most impacted by climate change. We know that we cannot build climate refuge without the leadership of Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC), trans, queer, disabled, neurodivergent, low-income, survivors, immigrants and undocumented people.

Our work of building climate refuge is centered on four pillars, all in service of building a social fabric of alternative systems and networks of care and repair.

1. Coalition Convening

Coalition building requires a dual model of engaging in pinpointed, state-level and philanthropic systems change while also being led by input from those that have been pushed to the margins. CROs convenes and participates in coalitions to move the dial toward true social justice at all levels. This work also includes building alternatives to dominant systems through cultivating grassroots mutual aid coalitions. Examples of our work with coalitions include:

Seeding Power Vermont: This is a collective of multi-racial organizers working on systemic changes that center BIPOC self-determination and healing relationships with land and people. Since Fall 2020, this team of nine people and numerous organizations has been collaborating to create and advocate for the VT BIPOC-led Land Access Opportunity Act, which was integrated into a broad housing bill (Act 182 of 2022Act 182 of 2022) and passed with a high level of bipartisan support in 2022. Follow the Land Access and Opportunity Board here.

Moving Money: After hearing about the barriers from BIPOC-led organizations in VT to break into sustainable funding to establish and expand their work, CROs gathered with other organizers to convene a cohort of leaders in the philanthropy and nonprofit sectors. This “Moving Money” cohort agreed on a set of anti-racist and wealth redistribution principles as a baseline for collaboration to redirect funding to BIPOC-led organizations. This work intends to challenge social and structural barriers to accessing funding by under-resourced, early stage projects, by challenging funders to be more open, adaptable and proactive about funding BIPOC-led projects.

    Anti-Oppression & Climate Justice Mutual Aid Network: CROs builds relationships with organizing networks that center safety, care, anti-racism, anti-oppression, skill building, and culture change. This distributed network focuses on building safer communities to make Vermont an inclusive and just climate refuge. This is a statewide effort that includes: individuals, organizers, local groups, wellness practitioners, mutual aid collectives, and others.

      2. Fiscal Sponsorship

      CROs offers fiscal sponsorship for vision aligned anti-oppression and climate justice projects. We are the financial and administrative work of managing a non-profit, so organizers can focus their attention on creative, imaginative approaches to needs in their communities. Fiscal sponsorship is offered with low-cost, sliding sale fees and includes:

      • Administrative support

      • Payroll, banking & financial reporting 

      • Access to wellness benefits, subscriptions and memberships

      CROs builds capacity and systems of support for individual organizers and community-based projects through a diverse portfolio of compensation mechanisms. We purposefully and creatively fund individuals so that they can continue to nurture their community-based and systemic climate action while receiving a livable wage with benefits and wraparound caregiving structures.

      3. Community Wellness Program

      An integral part of climate justice work is meeting the basic needs of those most impacted by systems of domination. Community Wellness Gifts are one way that we are able to nurture organizers and caregivers embedded in justice-based work. CROs has established relationships with a growing community of practitioners and opens prepaid accounts for services. Community Wellness Gifts are available for many healing modalities including: bodywork, herbal support, somatics, and acupuncture.

      Guided by cosmologies of care, we ask “How can we contribute to building strategy and cohesion in the climate movement?"

      4. Community Resilience Assessment

      To build community resilience, we must learn from the past, understand the present, and make decisions that minimize the negative impacts of disasters – natural, climate, health, and human made – in the future. CROs believes in building resilience in non-crisis times to support our communities and prepare for our uncertain future. We invite you to fill out our Community Resilience Assessment to better understand your community’s needs and to set priorities that best serve those around you.

      Purpose of this assessment:

      • Highlight vulnerabilities and strengths within your community care capacity
      • Demonstrate the diverse factors that contribute to community resilience
      • Help towns track progress toward building more resilience through their policies and actions
      • Catalyze crucial conversations about resilience at all levels of our public service infrastructure
      • This assessment is not designed to provide quantitative resilience scores nor to prompt comparisons between communities.