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Cyclists criss-cross state promoting environmental action

Climate Summer cyclists Georgette Sordelini, Ben Weilerstein and Ben Linthicum will be in Northfield tonight to raise awareness about climate change.
Recorder/Richie Davis

Climate Summer cyclists Georgette Sordelini, Ben Weilerstein and Ben Linthicum will be in Northfield tonight to raise awareness about climate change. Recorder/Richie Davis Purchase photo reprints »

NORTHFIELD — Dressed in bright orange T-shirts and black cycling shorts and carried miles by their bicycles, six members of Climate Summer team have been buzzing around Massachusetts over the past seven weeks, including a vigil Wednesday night and again tonight at 8:30 p.m, in front of Dickinson Memorial Library to raise awareness about climate change.

“There’s no space in society for people to come out and deal with this issue,” said Ben Weilerstein, a 20-year-old Tufts University student from outside of Philadelphia who says he decided to join what’s already been a 500-mile ride this summer after considering how climate change is “becoming more of a reality every day. That terrifies me.”

The candlelit Northfield vigil, which follows meetings and canvassing the Climate Summer participants have had in Greenfield, Deerfield, Amherst and other towns they’ve passed through, is a way to offer people a chance “to come to terms with climate change, to empower people to take action.”

Taking action, against hydro-fracking for natural gas and against building infrastructure like the Tennessee Gas Pipeline project planned through nine Franklin County towns, which they say bolsters dependency on tar-sand-derived fossil fuel that hastens climate change, is what keeps these six college-age cyclists moving. Next week the program concludes in Salem, where Footprint Power wants to build a 630-megawatt gas-fired generating plant. The project has been opposed by the nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation, saying it would undo the state meeting its targets under the Global Warming Solutions Act to cut Massachusetts carbon emissions.

After a 2½-week training in Wilmot, N.H., the cyclists headed south and then west, helping at an anti-pipeline rally at Clarkdale Fruit Farm on their way to Cummington and as far west as Canaan, N.Y., before cycling back to Greenfield earlier this week, where they’d planned a gathering at Green Fields Market but had to move on to Northfield, then Winchendon and eastward.

Ben Linthicum, a 24-year-old, North Carolina-based Warren Wilson College student from Missouri who plays banjo as another team member strums ukelele to provide music for at group gatherings, says he was moved to action after witnessing fracking and pipeline activity in Wyoming last year.

“If they build up the fossil fuel infrastructure, that’s taking away motivation to build renewables,” he said.

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