Bedford MA – Seniors Cultivate Earth-Friendly Values

I am always looking for stories about communities.  Many times people are looking to move into a community and these stories help them decide if the community is the right fit for their family.  Bedford lies next to the towns of Lexington, Burlington, and Concord.

This is a great story in the Boston Globe by correspondent Nancy Shoehet West who talks about a wonderful senior community – Carleton Willard that sits on the grounds of a former farm.  You can read the full piece at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/05/13/bedford_seniors_demonstrate_that_the_environmental_movement_isnt_only_for_the_young/?page=1

Among the approximately 350 residents in their 70s, 80s, and beyond living at the continuing care retirement community of Carleton-Willard Village in Bedford, suggestions from their adult children are a frequent topic of conversation.

But resident Peggy McKibben  may command a little bit more attention than some of her peers when she passes along wisdom from her son, especially if the topic is sustainability or conservation. She is the mother of renowned environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben, author of numerous books including “The End of Nature,”“Enough,” and most recently “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.”

Bill McKibben is also the founder of 350.org, an international initiative to raise awareness about climate change and reduce carbon emissions to slow the rate of global warming.

A few months ago, when Peggy McKibben read about an event that 350.org was planning for May 5 called “Connect the Dots,” with projects and rallies scheduled worldwide, she knew that several of her friends at Carleton-Willard Village would want to participate with her.

“The idea behind ‘Connect the Dots’ is to map out the world using red dots to show the dramatic damage caused by catastrophic events related to climate change, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis, and using green dots to show the ways in which people are practicing sustainable living,” Peggy McKibben explained.

It wasn’t the first time that a group from the retirement community had undertaken an environmental initiative.

In October 2010, when 350.org promoted its first major climate impact awareness day, residents at Carleton-Willard established the center’s composting program, which is still thriving today.

McKibben sent out an e-mail to gauge interest in “Connect the Dots,” and then held called a meeting.

Several who showed up were enthusiastic gardeners. Carleton-Willard already offers residents and staff access to individual garden plots. The group came up with an idea: What if they joined together in a gardening project, one that could eventually provide food for their own community?

After a little bit more discussion, the concept solidified: The group would plant cherry tomatoes, with the goal of serving their harvest in the Carleton-Willard dining halls later this summer.

Carleton-Willard staff responded enthusiastically: chief executive Barbara Doyle applauded the idea, and the buildings and grounds workers said they would help with tilling and other jobs requiring heavy lifting.

Those who assembled for the meeting were quick to find ways they could pitch in. Mary Waters Shepley offered her own garden plot for the project, and found a collection of tomato hoops they could use. Esther Braun,  the informal overseer of Carleton-Willard’s composting program, said she would ensure the garden would have an ample supply of enriched soil from her project.

“We all consider ourselves environmentalists, and we’re all very committed to making Carleton-Willard be as much of a community as possible,” McKibben said. “We also thought it was going to be a fun thing to do together.”Continued…

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