Posted By: Sara Hopps
Mass Acceleration arrived in Newburyport late Sunday night, a few hours past schedule, due to the seemingly endless hills, our farm stand indulgences of fruit, and a stop in the park for frisbee and a nap in the grass. Rolling into the familiar Newburyport on bikes was different from my normal purpose of setting the town as a destination. This time visiting the vacation spot complete with an ideal location on the water, a quaint downtown and a dining and shopping experience that appeals to everyone, I recognized my time spent in Newburyport would be very different from what I was used to. Living thirty minutes from Newburyport for fourteen years, I used the town as a mini vacation spot from time to time with friends and family. The usual theme of my trips was spending money at various shops around town, but this time it would be very different.
One store I often frequent, Ganesh Imports, my ideal store for exotic, unique clothes and jewelry, was bypassed more times than I would have previously accepted as we biked by it on our way to meetings galore. The overbearing temptations I once felt to make an exclusive trip to Ganesh for an article of hemp clothing or a colorful tapestry to decorate my room, were easily forgotten as the events we had organized for our one week stay captured more of my compassion and interest than any amount of money could purchase.
The intense discussion after our screening of the movie “Gasland” left me and many others concerned with what we were going to do to stop this injustice. Planting soldier bean seeds at The Alchemical Garden; a place so intricate in its art, meanings and growth which I as a passerby did not notice at first; sent me pedaling away with the satisfaction that I could eventually come back to see how I had contributed to a garden which uses plants to extract the chemicals in the earth and turn it into “golden soil”. The sheer accomplishment of leading a “posse” of bikers compiled of locals from surrounding communities, on a massive ride down the Clipper City Rail Trail was a noticeable impact that our team of five had on Newburyport.
This whole new perspective of Newburyport has shown me that there is much more to a town than the tourist attractions of shops and the water. As seen in Newburyport, towns are committed to creating a better future for their community members. Molly Ettenborough is vigorously working on recycling and waste management, David Hall has worked to make the Tannery Marketplace a sustainable business model, Elizabeth Marcus is vital in spreading the idea of Transition, Mark Richey Woodworking uses alternative energy solutions such as biomass and wind turbines to power his business and Erin Stacks is instrumental in the community gardens effort. For so many years I have come to Newburyport and focused solely on the commercial sectors, unaware of the beautiful Joppa Flats Sanctuary and the Parker River National Park. I always have considered myself more of a naturalist than a shopper but up until my visit to Newburyport with New England Climate Summer I was enveloped in the ease of consumerism in this particular small town. The small town shops during Christmas time made it the perfect destination for a stroll through the downtown and to browse the shops for gifts for family and friends. I had seen many of the places we visited on this journey before, but the significance had not hit me before. While planning to rock climb at the local Metro Rock gym my friend described the directions as “the building near the Wind turbine”. The turbine had no other greater significance than a directional asset before now.
Newburyport was once appreciated for its change of scenery when it came Christmas shopping, but from it I have come away with a different sense of community resilience, full of generosity and cooperation in building a better future for the town of Newburyport. From now on that rock gym or Ganesh will be described in comparison to the wind turbine or the Clipper City Rail Trail where I have built a connection greater than shopping to the tight-knit community.
I will not deny however that the Ganesh pull captured me after our sixth day. That pair of earrings should be just small enough to be maneuvered into a space in my panniers’.