Karen Ribeiro, Sarah Partan & Madeleine Charney: Valley chapter of ‘Mothers Out Front’ targets climate change

Last modified: Thursday, February 05, 2015

AMHERST — The Pioneer Valley chapter of Mothers Out Front would like to thank Scott Merzbach for his Gazette article on Jan. 22. We appreciate the additional invitation from the Gazette to elaborate on our work.

Mothers Out Front is a rapidly growing community of mothers and others who are motivated by the strong drive to protect our families from current and future risks of climate change. Why mothers? First, everyone has one. Second, mothers cut across boundaries — political, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic — and even those who don’t consider themselves activists can see in their children’s faces a compelling reason to protect the planet.

Third, mothers and other caretakers know how to get things done: We are not afraid to clean the rotten lettuce out of the back of the fridge, or the dirt out of a scraped knee. We are fixers and caregivers, and our climate is now in need of fixing and care. We can join in and get this done.

Since February 2014, the Pioneer Valley chapter of Mothers Out Front has hosted more than 20 neighborhood house parties and gatherings, engaging more than 200 people including mothers, fathers and others.

House parties are designed to teach about climate change, provide a space for brainstorming and introduce actions that will make a difference and empower individuals to build their civic muscle. We follow up on the house parties by continuing to promote local actions, encouraging our community to become more “civically fit.”

For example, every week we send out Monday Actions, which are short, doable deeds that can be accomplished in a few minutes between other tasks, such as calling the governor’s office or speaking with a neighbor about climate change.

We also offer the opportunity for deeper engagement with the issues by hosting monthly discussion groups in a supportive environment.

In addition to building a community passionate about fighting climate change, Mothers Out Front is running a statewide campaign to green the electric grid. This campaign, Power Up for our Children’s Future, aims to switch 1,000 households away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy in partnership with Mass Energy.

Anyone who pays an electric bill (owners or renters) can switch, even without installing solar panels, thanks to green energy providers such as Mass Energy. These third-party providers enable homeowners and businesses to purchase renewable energy (wind, solar, hydroelectric) delivered to their homes via their regular energy provider (e.g. National Grid or WMECO). There is a small additional charge for the green energy, which is tax deductible because Mass Energy is a nonprofit.

An additional benefit is that Mass Energy uses power from Massachusetts and New England sources. To date, 537 households statewide have switched to green energy through Mothers Out Front’s partnership with Mass Energy.

The movement toward green energy is catching on: Mass Energy has partnered with groups around the state and so far has switched nearly 5,000 households from fossil fuels, demonstrating to our political leaders that there is a strong will in the constituency to pursue renewable energy.

Among these groups is the town of Amherst, which we applaud for its pioneering work to provide its citizens with the incentive to help “green the grid.” There is no end date to switching to Mass Energy for the Amherst program.

We hope and expect to see other Massachusetts towns and organizations making the same effort, inviting their residents and members to switch to green energy as quickly as possible.

This is a banner year for the climate, as countries around the world work to set emissions limits in advance of the potentially historic Paris 2015 international climate talks, which will take place in November. We invite everyone reading this article to show both Gov. Baker and President Obama that Massachusetts — and the whole nation — is ready for swift and bold action to combat climate change. We can demonstrate that political will by taking immediate action to switch our own houses from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Karen Ribeiro, Sarah Partan and Madeleine Charney work locally with Mothers Out Front.

To switch to Mass Energy through Mothers Out Front, go to www.mothersoutfront.org and click on Make the Switch. To switch through the town of Amherst, go to www.massenergy.org/Amherst.

To learn more about the Pioneer Valley chapter of Mothers Out Front, go to www.mothersoutfront.org/amherst_community_team.


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