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June 30, 2021

Dear Friend of the Museum,

Today I watched a dad and his 3-year-old son play hide-and-seek all over the Museum’s outdoor campus. Watching how they naturally found the fun and joy in the surroundings we have created, I thought about how a carefully curated environment conveys a powerful message—in this case, “Play is welcome here.”

That’s a great message! But what if we wanted to convey an additional message: “We all need to protect our world by living sustainably.” Ok that is a much longer message but is one I believe can be conveyed by our surroundings and by making visible the practices that protect and conserve resources and keep our environment healthy.

What does this mean in practical terms? For the Discovery Museum it will be big and bold: it will be a display of on-site renewable energy. It will be places for the rainwater to return to the earth. It will be drinking water made available in ways that don’t produce waste. It will be waste materials that are composted back to their natural state. It will be programs and exhibits that communicate not only what nature is, but why it is our responsibility to sustain it, and how.

This month our Board of Directors adopted Discovery Museum’s five-year Sustainability Plan—steps we will take to “walk the talk.” The plan outlines our approach to achieve ambitious goals to become carbon neutral, reduce water usage, minimize waste generation, and create a signature education effort. Kids and families will connect with nature, learn about the environment, and become advocates for sustainability in the fun, hands-on Discovery Museum way. The most visible part of the plan is our project to produce onsite solar electricity to meet 100% of the Museum's energy needs—and then some.

Getting to this vision will take time and resources. Luckily, many have stepped up in just the last year to support this work. Most notably by far, the Sheth Sangreal Foundation has committed $1M over the next five years to help make our plans a reality. And furthermore they are challenging our broader community to match this commitment, sologo of the Sheth Sangreal Foundation we can create an environment of play and learning that inspires everyone to help protect our natural world. The Foundation was founded by Brian Sheth, an Acton native, and his wife, Adria, who have been with us throughout the recent expansion of our environmental education initiatives, including a significant investment in the construction of Discovery Woods. Without question, we owe them and the Foundation incredible gratitude for helping us inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.

We enter into our sustainability work with full knowledge that racial justice is an important topic that we need to be aware of and engaged on. We know that the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately affect people of color and people living in poverty. And we know that access to the outdoors and nature-based learning experiences are less available to many. As we expand our work in outdoor, environmental, and sustainability experiences and advocacy, we are committed to doing so in ways that promote equitable access.

In many ways, all of this is integral work for the Museum, but in other ways it is new and fresh. To my mind we’ve made a renewed commitment made urgent by the world around us. We are energized and motivated and we hope you will share those emotions with us.

I encourage you to take a look at our Sustainability Plan and send along your thoughts—we are in some areas learning as we go. Our goal is to be transparent and accountable for reducing our carbon and environmental footprint.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback to ngordon@discoveryacton.org.

Be well,

Neil