Christian Science Monitor, July 2023
On a blustery spring evening in Provincetown, Massachusetts, year-round residents of this New England beach town crowded into an auditorium for their yearly town meeting–that democratic exercise where locals vote on everything from school budgets to fire department personnel to playground construction.
They considered pier repairs and stormwater improvements, fence maintenance and rental restrictions. Then, around 8 p.m., and after many gavels, they began to discuss Article 17, the agenda item that had brought Madhavi Venkatesan, associate professor of economics of sustainability at Boston’s Northeastern University, to this wind-swept tip of Cape Cod.
Dr. Venkatesan is the founder of Sustainable Practices, a nonprofit environmental action group that is working to reduce plastic waste and use across the region. Over the past four years, she and other grassroots activists had mobilized towns across Cape Cod, including this one, to ban single-use plastic water bottles. But this evening, she hoped to push the town’s anti-plastics stance a step further.