It’s a sign of the times. Like the rest of the country and world, Fairfield’s interest in environmental issues is flourishing. Recently, some of the town’s “green” group leaders met to discuss a more effective way of working together to support each other’s efforts.
Janak Desai, founder of Sustainable Fairfield, is a Civil Engineer, IT Project Manager, Yoga instructor, and Master Gardener. He started the email group in 2010 as a way to allow various green groups to work together and help spread the word about environmental issues of concern, to notify others about upcoming town events, and to assist in building advocacy efforts related to the environment, healthy food, gardening, and more. The email forum provides one-stop shopping for those interested in staying informed about green issues supported by member groups. Sustainable Fairfield members collaborate and reinforce each other’s work, allowing for a combined greener impact in the community and world.
If you’re thinking of joining the Google email group, here’s how it works. Any member may share important information about the environment with others. The rules for posting are that data must be environmental in nature, of interest to the mainstream and have local impact — though topics can be regional or national in nature. For example, although factory farming is an issue of nationwide importance, it affects each of us when we visit our local supermarkets and choose the meat our families to eat. All posts are moderated and emails are limited to avoid inundating members.
Examples of recent Sustainable Fairfield emails sent to members include:
- Notification of events such as the annual Garden Expo, Food for Thought Expo, and Annual Earth Day event (www.earthday.org).
- A call to action to sign a petition or submit testimony regarding Connecticut’s GMO labeling bill spearheaded locally by Analiese Paik, founder and owner of the Fairfield Green Food Guide and co-founder of Right to Know CT, and Tara-Cook-Littman, a holistic health counselor and co-founder of Right to Know CT. Invitations to town hall-style GMO labeling bill events with Representative Tony Hwang. co-sponsor of the bill, gave audiences a unique opportunity to dialog with a legislator and advocates Paik and Cook-Littman. (Many of the foods we eat everyday are genetically modified. Much research has linked these DNA modifications to food allergies in children and even more worrisome ailments. All European Union countries and almost 50 other around the world, including China and Russia, mandate the labeling of genetically modified foods in their supermarkets.)
- Factsheets on Fairfield recycling guidelines and rules, and ways in which to power homes with renewable energy such as solar and wind power in lieu of traditional gas and electric.
- Information about the recent meeting of the Fairfield Bike Walk Coalition. The topic of discussion was the proposed building plan for the 37.5 mile Merritt Parkway Trail, which will stretch the entire length of the highway and will be used by bikers (including commuters), pedestrians, and individuals in non-motorized wheelchairs.
Members of Sustainable Fairfield in attendance:
Janak Desai who has been involved with many Green initiatives in town over the years such as the Earth Day Committee, the Clean Energy Task Force, and the Mill River Lab program. He co-founded the Fairfield Brickwalk Farmers Market, the Green Committee at Stratfield Elementary School, and is currently initiating the building and planting of a second community garden at the town’s senior cente.
Andrew Graceffa, Chair of the Fairfield Bike Walk Coalition and a Sustainable Environmental and Energy Design Consultant.
Alyssa Israel, MPH, a board member of the town’s Forestry Commission and the Fairfield Bike Walk Coalition’s Secretary
Michelle McCabe, veteran Chairperson of the school district’s Fuel for Leaning Partnership which works to improve school lunch. Her group has recently spearheaded the “Build a Stir Fry” partnership with Operation Hope and Whole Foods in which customers choose a recipe in the store, then shop for and purchase ingredients. The recipe’s contents are then delivered to Operation Hope for distribution to needy families.
Larry Kaley, the longtime environmentalist and Chairperson of Fairfield Earth Day Committee and Fairfield Clean Energy Task Force
Master Gardener, Mary Hogue who heads up the nurturing of 2 public school gardens, is a PTA Green member, and an active member of the Connecticut Audubon Society in Fairfield
Anne Tack, Grant Writer Consultant (www.Tackwriters.com), Sustainable Fairfield member and fundraiser/advocate for Fairfield’s school and community gardens
Mary Coe, Fairfield Branch Librarian who, in conjunction with Deputy Town librarian of Branch Services, Nancy Coriaty, is an advocate for a number of sustainable issues in our town including the Seed to Seed library (located at the Fairfield Woods branch) where any town member can obtain a selection of free, heirloom fruit, flower and vegetable seeds. It is hoped that individuals will return some seeds to share with others after harvest. The branch is a CSA drop off site for Patti Popp’s organic farm (www.sporthillfarm.com), and is researching the possibility of piloting a bike share program, in which families could check out bikes for the day and return them– like a book.
Though Janak founded Sustainable Fairfield to provide a collaborative vehicle for established Green groups that allows each group to be independent and focus on its mission, Andrew Graceffa noted that “he can see the group growing into something larger in the future.” It was decided at the meeting, that indeed, all the Green groups working in concert will likely be more effective at creating change than each group working independently, especially when it comes to legislative and political issues.
Annelise McCay (Master Gardener and head of school gardens), Anne Tack, and Beth Bradley (Vice-President of the Greenfield Hill Grange) (www.grange.org/greenfieldhill133) all share this vision of building community and reducing our collective carbon footprint, and have discussed with Janak the creation of annual or bi-annual party– potluck and square dance– in which members of each Green group in town share their news, accomplishments, challenges, and calls to action. Stay tuned for the sophisticated shindig date and time– to take place this fall. Meanwhile, if you are interested in joining the group, go to Join Sustainable Fairfield or contact Janak Desai at firstname.lastname@example.org.