Event attendees discuss spreading sustainability, politics and plastic bags

  • Lee Davis of Francestown’s Waste Disposal Committee speaks about the rising costs of recycling during Tuesday’s Community Conversations. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rindge Energy Commission Chair Patricia Martin speaks about the concept of towns banding together in purchasing agreements to keep costs down during Community Conversations.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/16/2017 4:44:50 PM

Moderator James Kelly grabbed the mic, and asked a question of the dozens of people in attendance at a Community Conversations event Tuesday night.

“Who here uses cloth bags?” Kelly said.

Almost every hand shot up.

In an hour-and-a-half-long discussion, a group of like-minded residents and environmental activists gathered at Bass Hall in Peterborough to share their mutual vision for the region’s energy future and their mutual disdain for President Donald Trump and fossil fuels. And plastic bags.

Anna Carter suggested towns incentivize smaller businesses to stop using plastic bags.

“It would be one little thing we can do,” said Anna Carter of Peterborough.

The group also talked about a commitment to spreading its message outside the room, capitalizing on the momentum and excitement from Tuesday’s conversation.

“I would like to see the Monadnock region famous for loving to be green,” said Melody Russell of Hancock.

Most of those in attendance seemed buoyed by the meeting, which featured four speakers: Suzy Mansfield, of the Peterborough Recycling Center, who talked about doing a recycling audit of local businesses; Emily Manns, of Mothers Out Front, who has been working toward “ending the use of fossil fuels”; Amelia Tracy, who is trying to build sustainable developments in town; and Steve Walker, of New England Wood Pellets, who said “local control” was the key to the region’s energy success.

Several people suggested that contacting lawmakers was the solution to expanding renewable energy options in the state.

Walker said he’s spent “too much time” in the legislature trying to “educate” lawmakers about the benefits of renewable energy.

Peterborough select board member Tyler Ward said concerned citizens should act with their pocketbooks, suggesting Eversource customers switch their electricity source to all renewable energy, through the Eversource website, as he has done.

A handful of people said they were willing to pay for renewable energy and expanded recycling services.

“There’s been a lot of talk, about what can we do? What can we do about the recycling problem? What can we do about plastics?” said Huberman, of Peterborough. “ Well, all of these questions are really addressed to the use of fossil fuels in our economy...basically every problem we’re thinking about could be solved if we were to make fossil fuels so expensive that nobody would use them.”

At the end of the talk, a piece of notebook paper was passed around for participants to be on an email list. Two initiatives also came up: the resurrection of the Greenerborough festival and the Peterborough energy committee.

Dori Drachman, along with Joel Huberman and Emily Manns, told the crowd they plan on restarting the energy committee to improve the town’s overall energy efficiency. They’ll pitch their plan at a December select board meeting, Drachman said.

“I think a really important thing that this meeting could do is just keep this conversation going,” said a woman wearing a Climate Action T-shirt who wouldn’t give her full name.


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