Note: This edited transcript was prepared by Susan Wagner and Ken Isaacson.
Isaacson: There's a new civic group in Wayland. It's called Sustainable Wayland. We'll find out who they are and what they're all about. Our guest is Wayland resident Steve Wynne, one of the founders of the group. They announced their formation in January by email. They stated that their purpose is to focus on important town-wide issues. We'll get into the details with Steve. Steve, welcome to “The Buzz.”
Wynne: Thank you very much. It's very pleasant to be here. And I think it's a great opportunity.
Isaacson: So to start, tell us a little bit about yourself. You've been a Wayland resident for 20 years or so.
Wynne: Twenty-two. My husband and I moved to Wayland in 1998. We live at Willow Brook, and I'm a member of the Board of Trustees at Willow Brook. My career has been in marketing communications for financial services. So as a part of Sustainable Wayland, I've taken on the job of chief communicator. I've created our Google and Facebook pages working with the entire group, of course, for content and managing the information as it goes out.
Isaacson: How and why did Sustainable Wayland come about?
Wynne: I've always been active in civics. I believe in civics education. I believe in understanding how government and politics work. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve stayed politically active. I was in my first campaign when I was 13. And that whetted my appetite for working on political campaigns all through high school and college.
And as I moved to Wayland, we've lived through great big projects like the Town Center, the new High School, new fields at the High School, the proposed new library. I was always very interested in keeping on top of those and going to meetings, certainly voting, attending town meeting. And it's just something I just naturally enjoy doing. And it turned out I was meeting people who felt the same way. And we just kind of organically grew into this group.
Isaacson: Are you focusing on any particular issues?
Wynne: Our real goal is to provide information and resources. It tends to be the sort of overarching issues that we’re looking at across the town. “Sustainable” as a word means the opposite of temporary or unsuitable or wasteful. So we focus on overarching interests like the natural resources we have here, the beautiful green spaces that we have. And then there are specific things we look at, but that tends to be the thread that runs through everything. And we want to help provide information and resources to the population.
Isaacson: How do you see doing that?
Wynne: A couple of different ways. We meet often as a larger group and we’ve been doing that for a few months to see where we want to focus. We don't want to be a one-issue or a two-issue organization. We want to be an organization for people from all over different parts of Wayland. Looking at taxes and expenses and the affordability of living in Wayland. Then we figure out how we’re going to be able to communicate information out. Do we want to use the Google page? We want to use Facebook. Do we want to use a newsletter? Do we want to mail a postcard? What's going to be the best way to get the information we feel is important out to the largest number of people?
Isaacson: And what are you focusing on right now?
Wynne: How can we best do our outreach to hopefully engage with as many people as possible. So the more tactical things, the operational things, getting the Facebook and Google pages up and working. We're going to be sending out an introductory postcard within the next couple of weeks. And one thing people should know is that we’re an independent group. We're not associated with any political party. We're not associated with any existing group.
One area we’re looking at is the climate crisis. That's a critical issue that’s becoming more important every day. So you take something like a global issue about sustainability of natural resources and you look at how we can make a difference in our town. How can we look at the limited number of conservation resources we have and protect them? How can we look at the green spaces we have and protect them? What can we do to educate people more about the global climate? How is the global climate crisis relevant in this town for any project that the town is looking to support and build?
So we focus on what are the important things that we can look at as a community, knowing the community has to grow. The community has to support growth. One thing we do support is open planning processes in town. I've attended hundreds of civic meetings in the last 22 years and there are very dedicated, hardworking people on all those committees. The more open those committee meetings are, the more open the information is, the better, because that informs decisions. What we probably would say we oppose are what would be poorly planned or overly costly projects that would have a detrimental effect on the environment and making sure that people are aware of all of the issues around complex projects and to educate people about those issues. Things like clear cutting of trees that are very difficult to replace or using a material like crumb rubber to build a field where it may have an adverse effect. And the complex adverse effect it may have on a water supply or on an existing parcel of land.
Specific things we might be looking at in the near future would include tax issues and the detrimental effect that a very high tax rate can have on an individual. I think several of our discussions will tend to be on the 30% of the population in Wayland who are over 65 and how a high tax bill can really have a detrimental effect on the home budget. So it's just not environmental issues, but it's also sustainability, meaning livability and the ability of someone over 65 to be able to stay in Wayland. We’re also very interested in things like the proposed Community Center/Council on Aging.
Another thing we want is collaborative conversation with people. Not everyone can go to a meeting in the early evening, but they can certainly send an email. They can certainly post on Facebook. They can certainly reply to a post on the Google Group.
And our big message in the upcoming Town Election is come to Town Meeting prepared and educated and vote the way you want to vote and participate in the national election in the fall.
Isaacson: Well, that'll be a big job. There's a lot of people in Wayland – I’d say 80% – who don't vote, who aren't involved. And it's a tough job to get them to be involved. They have a lot of other things drawing attention and their time and they just don't find it interesting enough.
Wynne: That's a very good point. We have that power, that power that not everyone in the world has. And why wouldn't you take advantage of the greatest power you have as a citizen of the United States? Vote. Vote in Wayland. Vote in the national election. Vote in our state election. Vote in our upcoming primary.
Anyway, I'm the person in charge of getting the information and messaging out to the community. But we want to hear back. A two-way conversation is very important – it helps us formulate better opinions, give better information. There are now about 40 people in the Google Group and over 50 in the Facebook group. Both are open public groups. And we welcome any new members. All they need to do is search us in Facebook and ask to join. For Google, send an email to “Sensiblewayland@gmail.com.”