Anne Goodwin (Massachusetts Leadership Team) gave this Keynote for the Mothers Out Front Assembly 2018 on January 27th.



Hello, I’m Anne Goodwin. I serve on the Massachusetts Leadership Team for Mothers Out Front. I joined Mothers Out Front in 2012 and was part of the Arlington team before joining the Leadership team 2 years ago. This was when my only child was in high school, and I saw the empty nest ahead of me, with an opportunity to get more involved in something meaningful. I was so pained and afraid of what was happening to our Earth, I could barely look. But when I found Mothers Out Front, I felt I could speak from my heart as a mother, and make connections with other passionate women to create a livable future for all our kids. Mothers Out Front has given me support, and challenged me to have courage, and hope.

So today I'm going to talk about why Mothers Out Front makes me so hopeful.


There is hope

First, I think there are some different kinds of hope.

There's the wishful thinking kind of hope.

There's a fragile kind of hope that can be shattered by bad news.

There's hope in the form of passive trust that we will be rescued by someone or something bigger than us.

But I think there's another kind of hope that’s both more difficult and powerful.

The kind of hope I’m talking about looks unflinchingly at reality, without turning away. It accepts uncertainty. It is an awakening to your power to act and bring about the change you want to see in the world.

This kind of hope can be called Active Hope.

It’s kind of hope that is embodied by Mothers Out Front.

Active hope requires that we look at reality, and reality was sobering this year. 2017 brought news of drought, storms, floods, and fire around the world that proved that climate chaos is here. The current US Administration has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, is dismantling the Clean Power Plan and is doubling down on drilling for oil and building pipelines. 2017 brought climate refugees searching the globe for asylum.

Facing these enormous challenges, it’s tempting to turn away or give up before you have begun. But when we wake up to our power to act on behalf of our world, and are ready to engage, we awaken Active Hope. So despite all this, we continued to fight for the life sustaining world we want. From this position, we can see that others are by our side putting their weight behind the same future we want to see.


In Mothers Out Front

  • We believe a healthy future for everyone’s kids is possible.
  • And that a swift, just, and complete transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is possible.
  • We believe our elected officials can do better and if we raise our voices we can influence them.
  • And that more mothers and others want to be engaged and if we reach out to them, they will join us.

Five years ago, Mothers Out Front was a handful of women with an idea that mothers were an untapped and potentially powerful force for climate action. Now we are in eight states across the country with 34 community teams. We have 13,000 members and supporters, 800 active volunteers and leaders, and a staff of 13. Here in Massachusetts, we have over 6,600 people actively involved. We have grown from 14 local community teams to 18 in just over a year.

And Massachusetts Mothers Out Front had an amazing year. I asked you to send your photos, I combed the newsletter and our Facebook page, and put together some of the highlights of the year. It is impossible to say all that happened in a reasonable amount of time, so here is just some of what we did:

We showed up

  • In numbers. In the rain. In the middle of the day. With our kids.
  • In front of and inside the Statehouse.
  • At the Governor's office with 2,136 Mothers Day postcards delivered in strollers, urging the Governor to take bold action for renewable energy
  • At parades, farmers markets and town days.
  • We showed up in the offices of Representatives, Senators, The Speaker of the House, the Attorney General, boards of health, mayors, city councilors, and selectmen.
  • Around our towns with our neighbors and signs, tagging methane leaks that endanger our trees and our children’s health.
  • At the Department Environmental Protection.
  • On the streets of some towns with gas utility crews wearing yellow vests and hardhats.
  • We even showed up in the executive meeting rooms of the gas utility companies.  

We spoke out. We told our stories.

  • At rallies and protests.
  • At hearings where we testified for an increased Renewable portfolio standard, for environmental Justice, and many other bills.
  • In tweets and Facebook posts and on our webpage story blog.
  • In our local newspapers and community TV shows, on WGBH radio

We marched

  • At Women’s Marches, Climate marches, and MArches for Science in Washington, Boston, Northampton, and Springfield.
  • With the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace in Dorchester.
  • At the Honk! Parade in Cambridge and Somerville.
  • For Patriot’s Day in Lexington and Bedford.

We came together to plan and conspire

  • At strategy huddles. At house parties. At one to one meetings.
  • In three amazing strategy task forces to fix gas leaks, stop the pipelines, and increase efficiency and renewable energy.
  • In community teams in Acton, Amherst, Arlington, Bedford, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Concord, Jamaica Plain, Lexington, Lincoln, Newton, Northampton, Somerville, Waltham, Winthrop and now welcoming our newest teams Gloucester and Ipswich!

We learned and we shared

  • We educated ourselves about fossil fuels and renewable energy and how electricity is sourced and delivered.
  • We trained in organizing skills like how to give a public narrative , have a one to one meeting, or plan a strategic action.
  • We organized gas leaks forums to educate the public about the health dangers of gas.
  • We created presentations to launch household efficiency campaigns that are designed to bring energy and dollar savings to all kinds of households.

We collaborated

  • With community activists in places most affected by fossil fuel buildout and pollution.
  • With health professionals like Dr. Curt Norgar and scientists like Dr. Nathan Phillips.
  • With so many allies and coalitions, including the Home Energy Efficiency Team, Mass Power Forward, Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, the Green Justice Coalition, Massachusetts Climate Network, the Gas Leaks Allies and many more.


We were creative

  • We made dozens of supermom capes and climate hero shields that were worn proudly at the Women’s Marches and other events all year.
  • We created a leaky lemonade stand and made up games like gas leak bingo.
  • We sang and danced.
  • We helped invent a new tool - the Fluxbar! This handy device is an improvement of the inadequate tool used by the gas utilities to measure large volume leaks. We brought their tool to an MIT hackathon and made it into something much better.

We made concrete change in our towns and cities

  • Community Choice Electricity, bringing increased renewable electricity to Massachusetts, came to Arlington, Boston, Northampton, and Somerville.
  • Net Zero goals for carbon neutral buildings and beyond have been adopted by town meetings in Bedford, Concord and Amherst. And at the new Somerville High School.
  • 100% renewable energy goals have been adopted in Amherst, Northampton, and Concord.
  • The Compressor Station that was scheduled to begin construction in Weymouth as of August 2017, has been delayed. This huge industrial structure would complete a pipeline to transport fracked gas for export and damage the health of people already unfairly impacted by toxic pollution. We sat at the Governor's’ waiting room with local mom Andrea Honore, vigiled in the halls of the Statehouse with over 100 people, and showed up at short notice to meet with the Mass Department of Environmental Protection one summer day. Finally, Gov. Baker acknowledged the problem, and ordered our state agencies to undergo proper permitting processes. As a result, the compressor station construction has not begun.
  • We persuaded the 3 gas utility companies to work with us on cutting methane emissions. We worked with crews in three towns as a pilot project to find large volume gas leaks. We met with gas company execs in their boardrooms, and we set the agenda for those meetings. In October, we took them to a summit at MIT, where they followed our scripts. Finally they agreed on a shared action plan to find and fix the biggest leaks. And now, we’re giving them a list of 100 large gas leaks to start on.
  • And so many other actions and victories that I can’t name them all here. Please visit the display tables to find out more about what happened all around the state.


So, to borrow a popular phrase from 2017, we persisted.  

Whether we marched, or spoke, stood up in front of the crowd or worked quietly behind the scenes, everything we did was an expression of active hope.

There is hope. Not hope that we will be rescued by a national leader or confidence that everything will turn out right. We know the future is uncertain. We don’t know what this year will bring. But we know that we will keep marching, and speaking, and writing, and meeting. And that is how we create hope.

Active hope is real. It’s powerful. And it’s working.

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  • Anne Goodwin
    commented 2018-02-06 15:00:33 -0500
    The phrase “active hope” is drawn from the Work That Reconnects, specifically the book “Active Hope” by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. The Work That Reconnects is a profound body of group practices, and social change theory designed to reconnect activists to their relationship to the Earth.