The Medfield Chapter of Savvy Women’s Alliance, formerly known as Medfield Green, began making changes in their community simply enough. Four women came together with different interests but with the same goal: to change the community around them. From legislation on safer alternatives to banning harmful chemicals, from renewable and recycling efforts to food awareness, these women set out to educate their friends, family, neighbors and beyond on how to create a cleaner, greener Earth and a safer environment in which to live.
“All of our efforts – including programs on organic landscaping, cooking classes, movie nights, book clubs and trips to local stores with various youth groups to advocate for safer food or products – have led to our evolution from Medfield Green to the Medfield Chapter of the Savvy Women’s Alliance, a national non-profit dedicated to all of the issues we care about!"
How did they do it? Helen Dewey, current co-ambassador of the Medfield Chapter (along with Erica Reilly), shared some of the ways she and her like-minded friends made their mark, and changed many lives along the way. In doing so they have become the Savvy Women's Alliance 2018 Chapter of the Year.
1. Create A Community Tradition
Chapters aren't required to come up with fresh ideas each month. In addition to the national support chapters give each other, some activities become an annual tradition and then grow each each year. “Medfield Green Day began as a community recycling day and was such a success that it morphed into Medfield Green Month, and it really put us on the map. It’s now something we do every Saturday in May and October, and it’s a completely volunteer effort.”
2. Work With Your Town
Every town is different in what they offer and sometimes they just need a helping hand. Would you like to see something shift in your town? Don't be afraid to adopt an issue within your community as a chapter. “There’s a big push for recycling in our town. Our trash is incinerated but we wanted to keep as much styrene out of the incinerator as we could. On average, we collect 40-50 cubic yards of styrene per collection, the equivalent of a box-truck load-full.”
3. Working With Other Community Organizations
With the Savvy Women's Alliance, the pressure to be THE expert is removed. It is more important to become the expert at collaborating. Not only is it less work, it is more fun! “We work with the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), annually, to clean up the Charles River. Across Massachusetts and throughout the towns through which the river runs, we walk along the banks of the Charles River and collect garbage. It’s a true community effort, full of volunteers from Medfield Green, youth groups and Scouts."
4. Many Hats
Our member have so many hats, roles and networks, it is easy to find people who also are involved in the schools, town government or businesses. “Many towns have committees – some Savvy chapters may even have members who are part of these – and it’s a great way to find like-minded people who are already engaged in nontoxic efforts. We even worked with our Recycling and Transfer Station Committee to have plastic bag recycling bins at the transfer station.”
5. Start Small and Believe
Chapters can start small and on educational topics -- such as in home composting. But beware, many Gathering topics are so popular they take off on a journey of their own! “We implemented a free composting program through the Recycling Committee, where every Medfield resident who has a transfer station sticker can bring their compost to the dump.”
6. Your BIGGER Backyard
Once members start to become enlightened, they start to become hungry to do more, outside their homes. The Savvy Women's Alliance is connected to state partners, and chapters can stay up to date with what is happening in their state. “Over time we have participated in gathering signatures to ban BPA in sports bottles and children’s products to lobbying at the State House for the Safer Alternatives Bill to taking toxic products back to retail stores. We’re making our voices heard.”
And for you?
Helen recommends to anyone considering participating in a chapter or starting one, “Have an event at the local library or even a senior center. Arrange field trips to local farms or even grocery stores. Talk to area restaurants about hosting fundraisers. Involve small shops engaged in free trade or selling local goods. Just get people involved and share what you’re doing with your local papers, television station, what have you. The more engaged people are, the faster the ideas will flow and the more successful your efforts will be.”
Are you in the area?
Please feel free to attend the upcoming Meet and Greet With Your Local Farmer
Join us at this regional Gathering where you will meet many local farmers, learn about organic farming, and how CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares help small farms. Many CSAs fill up quickly, so now is actually the time to start thinking about where you're going to get your summer veggies from! This event is open to the public, so please share with anyone who many be interested.