From Awareness to Action: Organizing for bee-friendly habitats in Western Mass.
When Community Action Works member Peggy MacLeod heard about the steep decline of bees in the US due to toxic pesticides, she was concerned. Then while vacationing in North Carolina, a landscape and flower garden labeled as “pollinator friendly” outside the Asheville Visitor Center turned her concern into an “ah-ha” experience, and soon into action back home.
“That serious decline could have been a signal for the end of honey bees,” she said, thinking back to learning how severely bees are threatened. “But hearing about a potential solution that ordinary people could carry out was so powerful.”
In leading the Western Mass Pollinator Networks (WMPN), Peggy works with local activists from towns and cities advocating for bee-friendly resolutions, urging garden centers to stock plants that aren’t treated with bee-killing pesticides, and educating residents and municipalities about creating healthy habitats that will help pollinators thrive.
“I realized that I prefer not to just be against something negative, like pesticides; I would much rather find alternatives and actively promote them,” she said. “I believe we can make a huge difference by getting people to stop using lethal pesticides and expanding pollinator habitats.”
When the Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986, Peggy’s brother was visiting Kiev, Ukraine — just a two hour drive away. That, she says, was a huge wake-up call to take action. Starting in 1990, Peggy became a strong regional advocate for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and was an early adopter of solar energy herself. In her profession she persuaded hundreds of Massachusetts households to sign up for green electricity, and influenced several thousand new homes to enroll in programs that use greener building standards.
Peggy knows the value of working at the local level, and the value of organizations like Community Action Works.
“Toxics are very hidden in our environment — you don’t see most of the bad ones and their effects,” she said. “So we are very grateful for the advice and support from Community Action Works! Their willingness to take this on, dig deep to support us with community organizing resources and science-based information, has helped us be more effective in bringing all the issues to light.”
Peggy’s vision is a regional network of pesticide-free, bee-friendly landscapes creating a safe environment for pollinators to nest and forage along the way. To do that, she’s connecting activists to stand together and make change in their local communities.
This September, while visiting the beautiful garden project of a good friend and expert gardener, Peggy recalled how the friend’s activism was enhancing her approach to gardening.
“As we were both observing the dozens of bee species buzzing around, she turned to me and said, ‘My focus is now all about serving pollinators.’ Hearing that just gave me goosebumps,” Peggy said, “the same kind I got when I discovered the pollinator garden sign in Asheville!”
We are proud to stand with leaders like Peggy, who is turning her vision into a reality. Your gift helps us provide support and resources to leaders like her — please donate to keep this work going.