Two years ago, Dawn Henry bought a Tesla.
It was not to save the planet. “I just thought it looked cool,” she admits.
The Westporter was a successful marketing executive. She’d spent 12 years working with Diageo. Now she was a sought-after consultant.
Environmental concerns were off her radar. “I vaguely knew about climate change,” she says. “But I wasn’t paying much attention.”
She flew to California to pick up the electric car, then drove it home. At nearly every charging station along the way, she chatted with people who were interested in renewable energy.
There were, for example, 2 solar installers from Germany. They talked for 45 minutes. Dawn learned a lot.
Back home, she watched documentaries and read about climate change. She realized that the effects will not be “300 years from now. It’s happening today.”
The 2016 election galvanized her. “What Scott Pruitt is doing to the EPA, the fossil fuel money that’s going into politics — our government is moving backwards,” she says.
She joined national organizations. She went to conferences, and got trained as an advocate.
She lobbied Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and Congressman Jim Himes. “They’re great on the environment,” she says. “But I realized there’s not a lot that’s going to happen nationally. It’s more on the local level.”
Dawn Henry and her son Charles at the Climate March in Washington, DC, in April 2017.
She took the Climate Reality Project course in Seattle. The brainchild of Al Gore, it was “amazing,” she says. Back home, she made presentations at the United Methodist Church, the Fairfield Senior Center and Fairfield University. Soon, she’ll speak at the Westport Senior Center and Bartlett Arboretum.
Dawn joined the board of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Westport’s Green Task Force and the Electric Car Club.
“It’s hands-on. You can see results,” she says of the community organizations. “Energy, waste, water, conservation — they’re all important.”
So how does Dawn assess our town’s awareness of and commitment to environmental concerns?
“We’ve got good history and momentum,” she says. “There’s Net Zero” — the goal is to be fully sustainable by 2050. “The plastic bag ban. And we’re expanding our EV charging stations.”
Dawn Henry presenting at Indivisible’s ICT4 “Evening of Action” at the Unitarian Church last month.
Through her involvement in environmental issues, Dawn says, she has met “so many great people, in Town Hall and around town, I’d never have known.”
But, she notes, she and her fellow activists have “way more ideas and ambitions than we have hands to do them.” She invites anyone interested in helping to contact her (email@example.com).
If you want, she’ll show you her Tesla.
It is pretty cool.