“We have a farm, we grow local food, we are sequestering carbon, we live in a passive solar home… this is not enough.”
A non-profit fundraising advisor by day and organic farm-husband by night, Gary lives in a passive solar and wood heated house, with his wife, the farmer, who has a penchant for approaching strangers and asking “What do you think about climate change?” With progress stalled at a state level in Maine, Gary sees no choice but to take local leadership. He’s working on a campaign to get Acadia National Park to become bottled-water free, with a blind taste testing planned for the day after our visit. A few weeks ago saw the inaugural potluck of MDI Climate Solutions: sixteen people gathered to his home, dreaming of what concerted local action will look like. Gary’s eyes light up when he shares his goal for Mount Desert Island becoming net zero energy within 15 years. As vice-chair of the Bar Harbor town council, he is well positioned to make it happen. The council recently voted in favor of what will be the first municipally sponsored community solar farm in the state. Calls are coming in from around Maine from interested communities hoping to do the same.
“This winter I have to take it to the next step. We just have to organize. We will not solve climate change by putting solar panels on our barn. We have to do a lot more. That’s the message of Naomi’s book, isn’t it?”
Gary referred often to the influence on him of This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein’s portrayal of climate change as a civilizational wake-up call to build the just and equitable society that we need, right now. He describes himself as cautiously optimistic by nature, but simply “hard-wired this way” to be doing this work. While he had been interested in alternative, rational lifestyles for a long time, it was reading Naomi’s book and hearing her subsequent commencement address at College of the Atlantic that spurred him onwards to political action. What might come next? “We haven’t politicized the CSA yet,” he laughed.