Sustainable Marblehead was founded in 2016 by Marblehead residents Judith Black, Nancy DeMuth, John Livermore and Patricia Sullivan who were concerned about both the United States’ planned withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the escalating impacts of global warming and plastic waste on our historic, seaside town. The organization was created as a volunteer, community organization to educate and engage residents, businesses and town leaders to reduce carbon emissions and waste. Sustainable Marblehead is a registered 501c3 nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.
The founders began by surveying interested residents and then forming four working groups in the areas of Clean Energy & Public Policy, Conservation, Education and Transportation. (Transportation has since been been incorporated into Clean Energy & Public Policy.) In 2020, two additional working groups were formed: Harbor and Town Trees & Urban Forestry. The organization also includes an active Bike Marblehead group and a Public Policy group which keeps track of current climate legislation. Approximately 100 volunteers serve on the five working groups, with more participating in events and programs.
Sustainable Marblehead recognizes that while the climate crisis is a global issue, change can and should begin at the local level. Our Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, released in 2018, identified the major sources of carbon pollution contributing to climate change in Marblehead. At Town Meeting in 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed an article sponsored by Sustainable Marblehead that set a goal of “using 100% carbon-free energy in Marblehead, including in energy production, building energy use and transportation, and moving with fiscal responsibility and all deliberate speed to achieve this goal.”
In 2019, Sustainable Marblehead released its Climate Action Plan Framework, which recommended three strategies to achieve carbon freedom by 2040: increased electrification in the housing sector, increased electrification of modes of transportation, and improved building thermal performance. Simultaneously, at the request of Sustainable Marblehead and with the support of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Town Administrator Jason Silva and the Board of Selectmen created the Green Marblehead Committee to develop a climate vision for the town and explore ways to phase out greenhouse gas emissions over time. The committee includes representatives from the Board of Selectmen and various town departments and two representatives from Sustainable Marblehead.
In November 2020, the Board of Selectmen unanimously endorsed the committee’s vision as outlined in its report, Marblehead Climate Vision, Charting a Path to Carbon Neutrality by 2040. This report lays out the path by which Marblehead can achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, an ambitious but necessary goal to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
Sustainable Marblehead has actively engaged our community in numerous other ways. In 2018, we organized and hosted a town-wide Sustainability Fair that drew more than 800 participants for lectures and displays, an electric vehicle test-drive event, and hands-on children’s activities and a poster contest. In 2019, we organized a Children’s Fair which attracted 100 families and sponsored a three-part speaker series, Conversations on Conservation. We host weekly beach cleanups, and we partner with SPUR annually to offer “Land and Sea” cleanups. During the pandemic, we are offering a series of online presentations on a variety of topics related to our work. We also have a monthly column in the Marblehead Reporter, an active social media presence on Facebook and Instagram, and a regular e-newsletter for our supporters.
We are very proud of what we have achieved in our early years, and we look forward to continuing to increase our impact as our community of supporters grows.
Co-Founders Judith Black, Nancy DeMuth, John Livermore and Patricia Sullivan