Spring 2013 A group of Greenfield citizens decided to take a 2 day workshop with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) called Democracy School. They learned about the process to enact laws to put the rights of people, communities, and nature over corporate rights. Thus the Democracy Working Group was born out of the desire to protect the environment, and people of Greenfield. The Democracy working group has evolved to the Rights of Nature Organization.
2014 Our group continued to meet bi-monthly and submitted the first plastic bag ordinance.
March 2014 Group had decided to withdraw the initiative and re-evaluate next steps
April 1st, 2014 met with council man and lawyer about upcoming election and our ordinance.
April 15th, 2014 Louise and Emily went to a day long Advocacy Training in Amherst
June 29th, 2014 Afternoon workshop with Terra Friedrichs from the Boston area focusing on "How our ordinance impacts the Rights of Nature. Sponsored by the Rights of Nature group, we had 15 people attending. Much good information and conversation happened to help us proceed with our goals.
July- Sept 2014 The group decided to Submit the Greenfield Biodegradable Packaging and Litter Reduction Ordinance. Gathering signatures was started and Garrett took the lead and lions share of the effort in front of the post office, Greenfield Coop and Greenfield Farmers Market. Group members were involved in alot of activities from writing articles to the Greenfield Recorder, meeting with the Mass Food Association and big grocery store's in Greenfield for lunch to discuss our education campaign, contacting the high schools to have the students be part of our campaign to raise awareness, attending events like the Green River Cleanup where we also collected signatures, and on top of this joining the struggle to Stop the Pipeline in Massachusetts.
Oct 2014 Close to 1500 signatures were gathered to officially submit the ordinance to the town for the Nov. Elections. Unfortunately we were 37 short, out of over 300 signatures that were rejected.
Jan 2015 This brings us to our present work to rewrite our ordinance, resubmit in timeline to be on the Nov. ballot for vote.
Jan 28th, 2015 Our education campaign had the first showing of the movie BAG-IT at 6:30pm open, to the public, at First Congregational Church on Silver St. It was an inspiring nite, with over 60 people, who eagerly looked over the info table, signed our petition and bought our new beautiful cloth bags with logo. After the movie was shown, a thoughtful, 45 minute discussion went on led by Andrew Fisk from the Connecticut River Shed Council. Many participants voiced not being aware of all the things presented in the movie about plastics. Several offered to help gather signatures. A second showing will happen in the fall.
Feb-March 2015 The Rights of Nature group worked on revising the Plastic Reduction Ordinance to include single use plastic bags at the point of sale, single use water bottles that are less than one liter and food packaging that is not compostable at point of sale from food establishments.
April 6th 2015 Louise, Lori and Emily presented our Plastic Reduction Ordinance to the Town Clerk, who will present it to the town lawyer. The Greenfield Recorder did an article in the paper about our ordinance.
April 27, 2015 we received the Ordinance from the town clerk, ready for us to collect 1500 signatures. Louise and Sandra were out in front of the Post Office the next day. Dorothy and Hazel were at the Franklin Community Co-op on Main St. in Greenfield. With a limited amount of time to get the Ordinance on the Nov. Ballot, we all realized we could not take the whole 90 days allotted to do this. We are working to get all the signatures in 45 days. Edie and Emily took the shift just before Dorothy and Hazel at the Co-op. Lori, Hazel and Dorothy were out again on Friday at the Co-op. It's full steam ahead with a meeting to work out the strategy for all the team signature collectors on May 4th.
June 9th, 2015 we have collected over 1200 signatures and have 10 days left to get the remaining 300. Many new people have joined our campaign to collect signatures, Dorothy, Edie, Hazel and various friends at places like Solar Village and the High Rise on Highland St. We have been meeting every two weeks to be prepared for the A & O meeting of the town council in July, preparing a list of possible word changes for the town council to consider.
June 19th, 2015 we handed in our 1500 signatures. We learned that 1251 of our signatures were verified meeting the amount needed to pass our ordinance on to the town council.
July 15th, 2015 we attended the Town Council meeting where our ordinance was discussed and learned how unclear the process was to proceed forward, even to the town councilors. There was even a possibility that our language in the ordinance was not legal, according to the lawyer. After contacting Town Councilors about the deadline for getting our ordinance on the Nov. 3rd ballot was running out by Aug. they finally decided to put our 3 issues, banning plastic bags, plastic water bottles under one liter, and Styrofoam food containers on the Nov. ballot as three separate non-binding referendums.
Sept. 10th, 2015 we marched in the large, one mile Franklin County Fair Parade with 6 banners, a bird custom holding one banner saying " I need clean air too", two members with plastic bags and bottles tied to their waste and dragging out in back of them on the road, with banners saying " I'm on my way to the incinerator, DON'T BREATHE DEEP"
Oct. 2015 we are working hard on our education campaign with showings of Bag-It to the Senior Center and Mill House Apartments. On Oct 20th we will hold a forum at the GCTV studio, at 6:30pm with Councilor Penny Ricketts to discuss town concerns.
Oct. 10th, 2015 we will be displaying the sandwich board in picture on the left til Nov. 3rd, 2015, election day on the Greenfield Common which receives the most traffic in town.
Nov. 3rd, 2015 The Town Council chose to put 3 referendums on the ballot for banning plastic bags, banning single use plastic water bottles under 1 liter and banning non-biodegradable take out food and beverage containers.
Nov. 4th, 2015 The food and beverage containers referendum was voted in. We will work with the new town council to put this into law.
March 2016 We have been meeting with the Town Council to get the wording for the referendum and are hopeful the final draft will be completed at the Town Council meeting June 15th. We plan to give away our remaining bags at the opening of the Greenfield outdoor market to all snap residents who come to the opening on April 30th. We are currently working on a Tap Map of stores, parks, and businesses that are willing to refill water bottles for the public. The Chamber of Commerce and visitors center have agreed to display flyers for visitors and town folks. Each business will have a sticker on their window. We hope to have this in place by the end of June 2016.