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Renowned Environmentalist Marion Stoddart to Speak at MWCC

Marion Stoddart Headshot
Marion Stoddart

Renowned environmentalist Marion Stoddart, whose grassroots efforts led to the restoration of the Nashua River – once considered one of the country’s most polluted rivers – will share her experiences as a civic leader and pioneering activist during two presentations March 6 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

The events will include the viewing of the award-winning, 30-minute documentary, “Marion Stoddart: The Work of 1000,” which tells the inspirational story of the former suburban housewife who mobilized a community to save the polluted Nashua, proving that an “ordinary” person can accomplish the extraordinary. A presentation by Stoddart and a question and answer session will follow. The presentations will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the North Café of MWCC’s Gardner campus, 444 Green Street, and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the college’s Devens Campus, 27 Jackson Road. The events are free and open to the public and are sponsored by MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, the LaChance Library, the Green Society student sustainability club, and the office of student life.

In the early 1960s, Stoddart was a housewife and mother of three in Groton, Mass., who decided to take on the seemingly impossible – cleaning up the Nashua River. Flowing through north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, the Nashua River was once one of the 10 most-polluted rivers in America. During her years of advocacy, Stoddart organized a massive citizen effort to rescue the river. She lobbied successfully for legislation, including the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act. Continuing that record of success, she petitioned the federal government for millions of dollars of promised funds to fight the pollution – and won. Her dramatic success in mobilizing the community showed people that change was possible.

Thanks to the efforts of Stoddart and the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA), the non-profit she founded in 1969, the river has been restored to become a vital natural resource for wildlife and people. The river is now an internationally recognized environmental success story and a locally celebrated natural resource.

Stoddart, a citizen leader committed to a lifetime of grassroots organizing and coalition building, is the recipient of many awards for her work as a pioneer in environmental activism, including the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Global 500 Award. The NRWA is recognized nationally as a model for natural resource protection and for its community-based environmental education programs serving thousands each year. Stoddart continues to empower and motivate by speaking to hundreds of professionals, students, and community organizations every year about the difference each of us can make.

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