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With “Green Fest,” Peabody reaffirms its commitment to the environment

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Sustainability fair coincides with Peabody Pride Cleanup Day

Peabody isn’t the only community that’s “gone green.” The city is the envy of the North Shore as of recently, following a number of initiatives over the weekend that helped promote sustainability and make Peabody a cleaner, greener place.

On Saturday, the GreenPeabody committee threw its 7th annual “Green Fest.” GreenPeabody was formed by the city in 2009 by then-Mayor Michael Bonfanti and champions the cause of making Peabody more sustainable and energy efficient. Hosted at the Brown School, the event was a one-stop-shop for all things “green.” Some attendees received advice on sustainable technology, energy-saving, and recycling, while others partook in educational exhibits by a number of area businesses and nonprofits, such as the Stasinos Family Farm, Tupperware, the Environmental Protection Agency and the MDAR Forest Pest Outreach Project, to name a few. Some perused arts and crafts for sale made by Brown School students, while others benefited from courtesy services, such as electronics recycling and confidential paper-shredding (provided by JRM Hauling & Recycling Services). The event also offered a “computer building” clinic, hosted a sustainable science fair and built an outdoor Pop-up Café for visitors to enjoy.

“We are encouraging people to make a day of it and have fun,” said Kelly Noonan, chair of the GreenPeabody Committee. She also praised the cleanup effort earlier that day for making a big difference in helping Peabody be a sustainable place to live.

That same day, the city celebrated the annual “Peabody Pride in Motion,” an event mainly consisting of cleaning up the city’s streets, which in turn hopes to spread hometown pride. Inspired by the spirit of community former Mayor Peter Torigian (1979-2002) sought to spread, Mayor Ted Bettencourt created the event in the hopes of doing the same.

Fanning out throughout the city, hundreds of community members swept the streets, picking up whatever trash and debris they could find and having it hauled away by DPW trucks. In all, volunteers filled two whole DPW trucks with trash collected off the city’s arteries, side streets, and open spaces. In addition to the myriad community members out in force, City Councillors Jon Turco, Tom Gould and Ed Charest and School Committee Member Tom Rossignol helped out as well, cleaning up the trash near the entry of the Cedar Grove Cemetery and along the Peabody Sunset Trail down to Sunset Drive.

Gould, happy about the outcome, called the initiative “a real grass roots effort … for folks from across our city to come together and be part of civic pride.”

Likewise in a statement, Mayor Bettencourt praised the event as a paragon of community spirit. “Many of us who grew up in Peabody remember the deep feelings of pride which came with being part of this unique community,” the statement reads. “As Mayor, I have strived to restore that sense of Peabody as a special place to live, work, go to school and raise a family. These clean-ups have proven to be a great occasion to get together with family, friends and neighbors and do something positive and constructive towards making Peabody a better place.”

After cleaning up, volunteers were treated to a pizza lunch at the Leather City common. Thanks to savvy planning by organizers in hosting both events the same day, many volunteers stopped by to celebrate GreenFest after the cleanup activities.

“It’s really positive that [the city] is getting people to give back to the community, and taking care of what’s around us,” Noonan said. “Hopefully, we can learn from it so that it becomes a regular habit and part of our lifestyle.”

To cap off the ceremonies, the committee presented two Peabody High School seniors, Diana Carbone and Isabella Valencia, with a small scholarship towards college. Any and all Peabody students who are residents and demonstrate an interest in green initiatives, while also working actively to promote sustainability, are eligible to receive the award. Valencia has been working with GreenPeabody for the past year, while Carbone has been volunteering with the committee since middle school. Noonan praised Carbone as a climate champion who has regularly attended meetings and brought forth many ideas to the committee. Both girls could not attend the festival due to out of state school trips but are said to be honored by the recognition.

The host of Saturday’s events, the Brown School has a long history of championing environmental sustainability. A certified “National Green School,” it is a winner of the “Massachusetts 2015 Recycle Bowl Award” and multiyear recipient of the “Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Environmental Education” presented by the state. Earlier this month, the Brown’s “Environmental Eagles,” a 4th and 5th grade group of 30 students, received the “Green Up New England Challenge Award” from the Boston Bruins in the “Best Green Schools Practices” category.

Over three dozen schools from across New England participated in the competition. The award recognizes schools and students who work to transform their schools and communities into “Green Spaces.” To earn the award, the Eagles demonstrated sustainable practices, such as recycling and conserving energy. This year, their work on waste reduction and keeping water clean helped them win the award.

Not limited to it’s “Eagles,” the school also offers free recycling to the public, taking paper and plastic, cans and bottles, ink cartridges, and more. The full list is available up on the school website.

Hoping to continue off the momentum gained from the doubleheader last weekend, GreenPeabody asks that the residents take simple steps to help the environment by recycling, composting and conserving energy. And of course, picking up trash when they see it.

“We have that responsibility.” Noonan said.

By Melanie Higgins





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