Environmentalism is deeply encoded in the DNA of Massachusetts.
This is, after all, the state that gave the world Henry David Thoreau and “Walden.”
Back in 1848, when Thoreau spoke at the Gloucester Lyceum, his uncompromising views on earthly stewardship encountered push-back from local business leaders, enthralled as they were back then with the rapid rise of America’s industrial economy.
This Saturday, speakers at the TownGreen2025 Clean Energy Fair in Gloucester will encounter no such push-back from local business community members, many of whom will be among the sponsors and vendors “energizing” Gloucester High School’s field house with a citywide “Solar Challenge” and lots of “smart ideas to save money and live sustainably.”
One of those smart ideas, an EV Porsche, will be on display, accompanied by members of the MIT Electric Vehicle Team, a group of over 20 active undergraduate and graduate students at MIT dedicated to the research, design, and operation of electric vehicles (EVs).
Proof positive that green cannot only be glamorous but big business, the Porsche team will be sharing the floor with two BMW iv E3 cars from Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, and an LED light display by the environmentally-savvy Swedish domestic goods giant, IKEA.
While their crowd-wowing presence is impressive, so too are some of Cape Ann’s own home-grown green initiatives. Nonprofit trailblazers such as Gloucester’s Backyard Growers have literally transformed the landscape, along with successful green businesses such as Black Earth Compost, and both will be present on Saturday.
Altogether, some 25 vendors will be on hand. Event organizer Ashley Gullet credits vendor recruiter Eric Magers, whose Manchester Essex Regional Schools Green Team has worked on everything from hydroponics to food reclamation, while bringing lots of next generation thinking to the party. And with live music, food, raffles, and plenty of kids activities, it really will feel like a party, says Gullet.
Hosted by TownGreen2025, organizers also see the Clean Energy Fair as a community challenge: An invitation to come, take measure of your own carbon footprint — literally– and step up to the task of “reducing Cape Ann’s collective carbon footprint to zero by 2025.”
The brainchild of The Gloucester Meeting House Foundation, TownGreen2025 is co-chaired by Dick Prouty and Candace Wheeler, chairwoman of the Clean Energy Commission of the city of Gloucester. Its goals are multiple, the most immediate of which, says Prouty, is “to install solar panels on at least 100 homes.”
In columns in the Gloucester Daily Times, Prouty has defined this “Gloucester Solar Challenge” as a plan that would see not just local rooftops, but fields converted to clean, green solar powerhouses.
Such conversions do not come cheap, but here is where Massachusetts’ deeply environmental DNA kicks in to lend generous helping hands in the form of tax credits, subsidies and state-wide programs such as “Solarize Mass.”
Incentives like these have created an opportunistically charged environment, accounting in part for why, despite its northern exposure, Massachusetts ranks No. 4 in the nation in solar energy development.
Significant too is growing public pressure to phase out the state’s dependence on natural gas domestic imports to generate electricity. Environmental concerns over gas pipelines, fracking, and fossil fuels in general, combined with market volatility that’s sent the state’s already high electricity rates soaring, have contributed to solar’s attraction to Massachusetts residents, resulting last year in $791 million invested on solar installations throughout the state, with some 391 solar companies competing for business.
That competition can be aggressive, and products, service, price and quality can vary. Which is why TownGreen2025 can prove invaluable.
TownGreen2025 sees its mission as advisory, simplifying the conversion process through a program that streamlines vendor selection and options, offers competitive pricing through group purchasing power, and support in the form of educational meetings, and recommended installers, several of whom will be on hand this Saturday.
Also on hand to share their learning will be residents such as Lanesville’s Susan Hoague, whose solar field — a model for what can be achieved through the Gloucester Solar Challenge — would be very much at home in Thoreau’s Walden.
The TownGreen2015 Clean Energy Fair is free, and all are welcome, Saturday, Nov. 7th., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Gloucester High School Field House, 32 Leslie O Johnson Road.
Joann Mackenzie may be contacted at 978-675-2707, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: The TownGreen2025 Clean Energy Fair, an educational event with 25 vendors, live music, food, raffles and children’s activities.
When: Saturday, Nov. 7,, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Gloucester High School Field House, 32 Leslie O Johnson Road.
How Much: Free
What’s on tap at TownGreen2025 Clean Energy Fair
MIT presents an EV Porsche, Lyon-Waugh Auto Group presents 2 BMW iv E3 cars, LED lighting display by IKEA.
Youth activities by Gloucester Maritime Center and Change is Simple
Electricity use at the TownGreen2025 Clean Energy Fair will be matched with 100 percent Massachusetts wind power by Mass Energy Consumers Alliance.
10 to 10:20 a.m.–Matthew Coogan, senior planner, community development, City of Gloucester
10:30 to 10:50 a.m.–Larry Crethien, executive director, Mass Energy
11:00 to 11:20 a.m.– Craig Altemose, Better Future Project
12:00 to 12:30 a.m. — Dick Prouty, co-chairman, TownGreen 2025
1 to 1:20 p.m. — Deborah Cramer, writer, “The Narrow Edge”
1:30 to 1:50 p.m. — Julia Knisel
2 to 2:20 p.m.– Tim Grenier, Homeowner, co-founder, Pure Strategies
Live music: Liam Bradley from 10 a.m. to noon, Keeping Company, 1 to 3 p.m.; Eliza Cole, 3 to 4 p.m.
Vendors: Annisquam Landcare, Backyard Growers, Black Earth Compost, Cape Ann Cares, Cape Ann Farmer’s Market, Cape Ann Time Bank, Cape Ann Vernal Pond, Cape Energy Solutions, Change is Simple, Cazeault Solar, Direct Energy, Folly Cove Water, GMF, Gloucester Maritime Center, IKEA, Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, MERSD Green Team, Next Step Living, North Shore Sustainability Partnership, Premier Imprints, Second Glance, Superior Nut, The Open Door, Reforest the Tropics, Seaside Sustainability, Vivint Solar
This article was written by Joann Mackenzie from Gloucester Daily Times, Mass. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.