I first met Stacey a few years ago in a typical Concord fashion – our daughters were playing with a group of kids at the neighborhood playground. Fast forward to this year, and we ran into her again, this time picking walnuts from a tree in order to make a liqueur. I was so intrigued by her creativity and ability to connect with nature right in downtown Concord! When I heard Stacey was running for City Council, I was excited that we’ll be possibly be getting a new voice that cares about the environment. Naturally, we reached out to Stacey with our “Five Questions” series and her answers are below. I personally love how her appreciation for Concord shines through. Enjoy! – Rachel
1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Why do you feel passionate about living in New Hampshire and particularly Concord? I was born and raised in NH, so experiencing the seasons, and outdoor activities during every one of them, has been ingrained in me. My family had a small farm with animals that we raised for meat and eggs. We also had a large garden, fruit trees and bushes and lots of woods and trails. I went to high school at Mascenic Regional, college at Keene State and was into my second year of teaching in Milton, NH when I really felt wanderlust and joined the Army.
Thirteen years later with a husband and one-year old, I missed my family and began craving the things I took for granted as a child – mountain hikes, beautiful lakes and rivers, and farm-fresh food. But I wasn’t ready to settle back into a rural town. I wanted the city amenities I had enjoyed in the Bronx and Arlington, VA, but also safe, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods and a small patch of land to grow things.
Concord is an ideal location in NH because of its close proximity to the natural resources we enjoy: mountains, forests, ocean, rivers and lakes. Our home is within easy walking/biking distance to parks, trails, shops, work, school and the library. What I love about Concord is the small town feel of this capital city. You can bump into the mayor on the sidewalk and a Supreme Court justice in the grocery store. It’s also not perfect, which leaves room for citizen engagement and activism. It is exciting to be a part of making changes. As a City Councilor, I want to make our roads safer for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs so everyone has easy access to our city amenities. I also want to pursue local initiatives to address the climate crisis, like installing solar panels on municipal spaces and using green infrastructure to cool heat pockets in the City.
2) What made you decide to run for City Council? What perspectives do you hope to bring to the position? I decided to run for City Council in a series of stages. I had been tracking City Council activities for two years while my daughter was trying to change the ordinance for backyard chickens. Although we were unsuccessful, I realized that I liked learning what the City Council and committees were talking about and I also liked knocking on doors and talking to neighbors. When I heard that my ward’s councilor was stepping down, I started thinking about who I could convince to fill his seat. I thought about the issues I cared about: equity of access to resources, addressing the climate crisis NOW, safe roads for families to walk/bike, and developing a vibrant community. When a close friend said she was considering running in a different ward, but wouldn’t have the time with her new job, I thought, “What’s my excuse?” I work remotely, part-time for the Concord Public Library Foundation. The more I thought about the perspectives I could bring to the City Council, the more excited I was.
The pandemic has been hard and it has had a devastating effect on working moms. With two school-aged children, I know how difficult it has been to try and work from home with kids during Covid restrictions. I was a stay-at-home mom when my kids were little, so I know how dependent families are on city resources like parks and libraries and how critical it is to have safe roads and sidewalks to get to them. As an Army veteran and former intelligence officer, I know how important it is to maintain strong lines of communication, networks and cooperation.
3) Climate change is a worldwide problem that needs extreme and immediate attention. How do you plan to address this issue as a City Council member? I will view every decision I make through the lens of addressing the climate crisis. Time is too short to waste and the stakes are too high. I would like to be actively involved in the two Conservation Commission’s Tree and Trails Subcommittees, Energy and the Environment, the Planning Board. I want more effort put toward the Bike to School/Bike to Work initiatives. I am currently the Ward 5 representative on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and am very interested in working with the Transportation Policy Advisory Committee and the Subcommittees: Bike & Pedestrian and Public Transportation.
I don’t know that I want to discontinue any programs, but I would like to promote bike safety skills in schools. I volunteered at the Concord Police Annual Bike Rodeo and have been talking with Chief Osgood about bringing those skills to fourth graders. I would like to see a program I created at Christa McAuliffe School, Engineer/STEAM Week, go city-wide and bring in as many climate scientists and engineers as possible. We want kids to meet these role models and start thinking about solutions. The more brain power we can apply to the climate crisis, the better!
I also recently learned from the Overcomers Refugee Services about Umuganda, which is the practice of coming together to accomplish a common goal in Rwanda. In Rwanda, everyone comes together one Saturday a month for a few hours on a beautification/construction project. Imagine what we could accomplish if we began a similar practice! As a Board member for the Merrimack River Greenway Trail, I created multiple events to bring folks to the site of the trail, across the river. I felt it was a resource too few people knew about. I would like to see the edge of the cornfields along the river become community gardens. One friend sells her Nepalese peppers for $30/lb to people who drive to her home from Boston. Imagine the food festivals and cooking classes we could host using locally grown vegetables!
Speaking of out-of-towners, we should be developing more sites for electric vehicles to recharge. We could be a destination city for folks who care about our planet.
4) Please tell us about your own zero-waste journey. What are some habits you’ve mastered and others you are working on? I haven’t mastered anything, but these are the habits I am working on: composting, building my soil with aged horse manure that I get for free from Live & Let Live Farm where I volunteer, walking whenever possible vs. driving, dropping down to one vehicle, reducing our lawn size and planting pollinators and native species, gardening with companion plants versus pesticides, recycling, buying at Goodwill and yard sales, hand-me-down clothing and furniture, repairing versus buying new, using the library, making gifts with found objects, foraging, insulating and using passive solar heating.
5) Anything else you’d like to share? Take a look at my website, https://www.stacey4concord.com/ and let me know what you think. I really enjoy talking to people and get excited when I hear new ideas for improving our city. Please feel free to contact me anytime at Stacey4Concord@gmail.com. I am running every street in Ward 5 and am happy to meet anyone at their mailbox or share a few chatty miles together.