Festival offers opportunity to learn about and celebrate climate action in Acton

June 14, 2024
Another booth -- the awning says Acton Water District. There are people behind the table talking to a group of fair attendees.
Acton Water District Commissioner Erika Amir-Lin and Environmental Manager Alex Wahlstrom discuss and serve drinking water with non-detect levels of PFAS, being delivered to customers as of June 1 from the newly upgraded North Acton Treatment Plant. Photo: Alissa Nicol

Acton’s Sustainability Office, with funding from the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program grant program, organized a Climate Resilience Festival that was held on Saturday, June 8 at the Gardner Playground in West Acton. Participating organizations included Green Acton, Acton Boxborough Farmers Market, Acton Water District, Acton Conservation Trust (ACT), Energize Acton, Acton Climate Coalition, the green teams of Acton houses of worship, Boston Area Gleaners, Acton Garden Club, Mothers Out Front, and a few Town departments and working groups, including the Acton libraries, Hazard Mitigation Plan Update group, and Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) 2.0 group. Town staff and volunteers involved with the Acton Power Choice and Clean Energy Coaching programs were also on hand to share information with festival goers.

Upon arrival, attendees were provided a Climate Resilience Passport, and collecting stickers at the various booths earned them a free treat: ice cream, pastries and popcorn from local vendors. One important visit was to the MVP 2.0 booth where passport holders were invited to share their vision of a resilient Acton with a drawing or written narrative. Interactive posters allowed each passport holder to indicate their biggest concerns related to climate change, whether heat, flooding, or drought. The public was also invited to share their ideas for a climate resilience seed project, funding for which is provided by the MVP program grant.

The Acton Climate Coalition’s Climate Emergency Declaration, adopted by Town Meeting in 2020, launched not only the Sustainability Office, but also Energize Acton, a collaboration between that office and the Acton Climate Coalition, and several other climate resilience programs, policies, and initiatives such as the Climate Action Plan, Building with Clean Energy Warrant Articles, EV First Policy, Electrification Roadmap, and Clean Energy Home Tours. Energize Acton member Karen Root-Watkins explained, “The impetus was, and still is, to make sure that the Climate Emergency Declaration is more than words, but is a true mobilization to address our warming climate.”

This is not the first time the participating organizations have collaborated on public education initiatives. ACT, the Garden Club and Energize Acton organized and hosted a Gardening for Climate Resilience lecture in April.

Cathy Fochtman, along with Mary Smith and Linda O’Neil, shared information on many topics at the Acton Garden Club booth: garlic mustard, jumping worms, drought-resistant and pollinator-friendly plants, and how to reduce turf on lawns through the creation of garden beds. Fochtman said, “We talked to many visitors; jumping worms and garlic mustard were the most popular topics. There were good conversations with new homeowners, experienced gardeners, and young people.”

A booth at an outdoor fair with a green awning. A woman with a straw hat is showing something to a couple of fair-goers.
Cathy Fochtman, an Acton Garden Club Director, speaks with festival-goers about the booth’s demonstration display of decomposing turf into soil “in place” as a way to reduce lawn. The Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market hosted the next booth. The Farmer’s Market opens this Sunday June 16 and continues to October 13, 10-1 PM at Elm Street Playground. Photo: Alissa Nicol

Root-Watkins, who worked at the Energize Acton/Acton Climate Coalition booth with Paul Reisburg of Elder Climate Action for most of the afternoon, noted that “everyone was excited to know that the Plant-Based Community Potluck Picnic is coming back for a second year, occurring Wednesday, July 17th, at the NARA Park Pavilion from 6:00-8:00pm.”

A booth at an outdoor fair with a poster on the left and a table covered with a green cloth. A woman stands behind the table.
The Sustainability Office’s booth featured interactive displays about the MVP 2.0 project and many other town climate resiliency programs Photo: Alissa Nicol

All three members of Acton’s legislative delegation, Senator Eldridge and Representatives Sena and Cataldo, attended the festival and offered remarks, along with Select Board Members Fran Arsenault, Alissa Nicol, and David Martin.

A tall man and two much shorter women pose. One of the women holds a Climate Resilience Festival poster.
Acton Sustainability Officer Lauren West, Senator Jamie Eldridge, Sustainability Director Andrea Becerra. Photo: Franny Osman

Two music sets were provided by the Anderson-Gram Acoustic Duo and the Acton Boxborough Orquestra de la Revolución, the AB high school’s very own salsa band!

A man and a woman smiling in the sun. The woman is wearing a MassEnergize t-shirt.
Karen Root-Watkins of Energize Acton and Diego Fernandez, Musical Director of the AB Orquestra de la Revolución Photo: Suresh Jasrasaria

Coolers at a few booths dispensed water from the Acton Water District’s North Acton Water Treatment Plant, which is now delivering PFAS non-detect water to residents thanks to the upgrades completed at the end of last month. And to really emphasize the circular nature of most green initiatives, the portable toilets on site were provided by Wasted* PBC, a local company that recycles urine into fertilizer.

A man wearing a green t-shirt is speaking with two young men in front of the EnergizeActon booth.
Paul Reisburg of Elder Climate Action talks with young festival-goers at the Energize Acton/Acton Climate Coalition booth. Photo: Alissa Nicol
A woman at the Green Acton booth speaks to a fair attendee.
Sue Jick, Green Acton Co-President, talks with a resident Photo: Alissa Nicol

Alissa Nicol is a community events reporter for Acton Exchange, as well as a member of the Select Board.


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