Terra Friedrichs

& her local work in
Acton, Massachusetts

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I believe in the "three pillars" of sustainability:  

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social

To achieve/maintain sustainability, I understand we must  balance all three. It makes sense to me that, just as all environmental activism begins at home, so too should it be rooted in communities.  Further, if one does not both understand and "work within" the fiscal "realities" of each social and environmental goals, then sustainability can not be reached.

I act on my convictions: such as helping to start Green Acton, going to the first organizing meetings, recruiting for the group, and participating in setting goals. I was the first to bring the concept of a Green Advisory Board to the Board of Selectmen and led the effort to staff its founding membership.

 Following are some of the sustainability projects I've worked on:

Recycling: Early engagement with Household Goods Recycling Ministry (HGRM). I was first introduced to the group when they were using my father's barn as a storage location for items being reused by families that needed them.  Before that, one of my first volunteer jobs out of college was to help in the recycling center in Stow, at a similar organization.  And I started the Citizen Action Team Relief Database (www.citizencommandcenter.org), which helps organizations match "needs" to "availabilities".


Consequences of Growth:  In the past decade, I have focused on water and eco-systems affected by development and growth.  I have strongly advocated that the Town have a meaningful conversation about the appropriate limits for growth, especially where we are placing a strain on our environment and diminishing Town Character.  Over 10 years ago, I even brought a petition to Town Meeting to take "wetlands" out of the calculation for how much development could occur on a site.  The upshot was a resolution which formally directed the Town to "research" the possibility of doing such.  Since then how growth impacts our water resources has become an important topic in our planning discussions.

Land Use Planning: I have supported every land purchase opportunity that has emerged.  In addition to traditional land purchasing, I have strongly endorsed condo buy-down and other ways to leverage our "land-use authority" to defend against inappropriate development.  At first, few town leaders were sympathetic, seeing land purchases as a limited tool for open space acquisition.  Thanks to our continuing advocacy, other ideas are gaining currency.  

Infrastructure:  Over the years Acton has struggled with the question as to whether or not the Town should engage in significant expansion of its existing sanitary sewer system.  I  worked to bring science to the forefront in the debate. While I considers myself to be "unbiased" with respect to sewers per se, I recognize that there are clear limits to the benefits of centralized processing, and I prefer that we approach septic shortages with "onsite" filtration wherever economically possible.  All too often it seemed that we were rushing to build new sewer lines without consideration of all the unintended consequences such as the stimulation of undesirable new growth on land that otherwise would have never seen development.  

I vigorously support the notion that we need to do our homework carefully and that we need to take into account the long term well-being of our environment whatever we decide to do.  This includes encouraging additional housing. Is this housing a "public necessity?" Will expanding the sewers do more harm than good? There will more about this topic, as the West Acton Sewer Committee's positions emerge.


Transportation:  I believe that our excessive dependence on personal automobiles has been a serious threat to our environment and is almost certainly not sustainable given the likely future of energy resources.  I believe wholeheartedly in the public's responsibility to provide reliable, safe high-speed transit between areas that warrant the investment, especially for vulnerable populations, young, old or disabled.  How we do that will be the hard question to ask ourselves. I believe that public transportation should be "free" for riders. How much transit we invest in will have to be a wider community discussion, as we decide how much to invest to serve those who are most vulnerable, and those who simply want to live more sustainably, without a car. .



I recognize that not all communities are ready for very aggressive approaches to environmental protections.  Here in Acton our community has nonetheless made startling advances in recent years as we creatively and boldly exercised our responsibilities as stewards of the natural environment.  Our track record so far is something we can all be proud of.  I believe that there is much work yet to be done, and I'm confident that the people of Acton will insist that we remain in the forefront of progress.

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