Making the Switch

As a leader of the growing Mothers Out Front organization that works to switch society from fossil fuels to clean energy, Beacon Hiller Muriel Finegold keeps her eye on stories about climate change. So, she was quite struck by a comment attributed to Secretary John Kerry that was referred to in a September 21 New York Times story about the need for public pressure to overcome Congress’s resistance to climate change: “We need a grass roots movement.”

That’s just what Mothers Out Front (MOF) is, thought Finegold. It is a grass-roots movement of mothers, grandmothers and other caregivers whose goal is to make Massachusetts the first state to commit to meeting new energy needs through conservation, efficiency and renewables.

And there’s a team of MOF members right in Kerry’s backyard.

So, Finegold and 12 other members of the downtown MOF team decided to let Kerry know about the organization, founded last year and rapidly spreading throughout the state. “We are mobilizing to create the political will for our elected officials to act responsibly and boldly to meet the challenges of climate change and to assure a clean energy future for our children and grandchildren,” they wrote in a letter to Kerry last month.

But that’s not all. Just as MOF is asking Governor Patrick to switch to renewables like wind power for the state’s new energy needs, its own members are switching to clean energy to power the electricity in their own homes. So far, more than 65 downtown residents have done so, a number they hope will rise to 600 by year’s end. And, it’s easy to make the switch by logging onto

Since Kerry is a Beacon Hill resident, it seemed only logical to ask him to make the switch in his Louisburg Square home, so they did.

While they await his response, team members have adopted Nike’s marketing strategy to spread the word, said Ania Camargo, who co-chairs the downtown MOF team with Finegold. “Up until now we’ve been asking our friends to make the switch. Now, just as Nike asks sports superstars to market their shoes, we are asking our own ‘celebrities’ – elected officials, nonprofits heads and other high profile neighbors – to endorse our campaign by making the switch in their own homes.”

State Rep Jay Livingston was the first ‘celebrity’ to sign on. “Climate change is an issue I think about and work on every day,” he said. “Everyone has the opportunity to make a difference and making the switch is one way to do it,” said Livingston.

City Councilor Josh Zakim has also committed to making the switch, and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz is in the process of doing so. “Climate change is already a major problem for us,” said Zakim. “It would be irresponsible not to act.”

While Camargo, Finegold and other team members are hard at work encouraging individuals and community leaders to switch to green power, they recognizes that households are a small though important part of what’s needed to reverse climate change. “We need our government to make the big switch to green power in order to make this happen,” said Camargo.

Which is why every day this week at noon Mother Out Front members from all over the state will come together in front of the State House to make sure Massachusetts meets all its new energy needs with clean renewable sources, which the governor is empowered to do under the Global Warming Solutions Act. “Before he leaves office, we’re asking Governor Patrick to make the big switch,” said Camargo.

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