Sustainability for the Community

TogetherYes - Sustainability for the Community

A Sustainable Wedding

The theme of the Calvin/Salisbury wedding can be summed up in two words: Mason jars.

From the centerpieces filled with dried flowers and cinnamon sticks to the candy-filled favors, mason jars put the country feel in the Calvin/Salisbury barn wedding.

The best part, I’ve been married for over a year and a half and I’ve found many ways to reuse the jars. At Christmas I filled the leftover 8-ounce jars with homemade cocoa and gave them as gifts. I’ve used the jars for candle holders, juice glasses and yes, even for another couple’s wedding. This past year, Mason jars have become the thrifty bride’s go-to.

Our October fall wedding wasn’t extravagant. It was small (63 guests) and on the grounds of the Holliston Historical Society. We picked the location because of the barn. The historic white barn with Christmas lights in the rafters, a finished cement floor, full kitchen and two bathrooms was the perfect reception hall (and it was a great price). Check out it’s website at:

Once the date and location were set, my husband Mike and I started mapping out our ideas for a theme. We agreed upon a fall wedding with a color scheme of burnt orange, brass and hints of yellow. We wanted to just have a fun party celebrating the years that got us to that day, and we didn’t want to go into debt over it. This meant planning early and shopping at the end of the season.

I was engaged for two years before we got married, so I had plenty of time to plan. When the Mason jars went on sale during canning season, I loaded up. I needed 70 of the 8-ounce size for favors. We ended up buying eight cases of 12 at a bit over $8 a case. These jars were filled with penny candy, purchased in bulk. We used twine to secure the burlap on the lid. To put a personal touch to the entire piece, I learned Quilling. Quilling is when you roll strips of paper into coils. Those coils are then shaped and glued together to create designs. Over several months, a group created a batch of flowers and spirals shaped to look like springs in a watch.  The flowers were put into a resin mold and turned into charms for the female guests.

The centerpieces were a tad tricky. Basically, I relied on my crafty family members to turn an idea into magic. We planned on eight tables, of which four would have a glass pumpkin (purchased on the clearance rack at CVS for $2.50) filled with autumn colored M&Ms; the other four would have a combination of various sized Mason Jars filled with dried flowers and scented herbs. Easy enough.

When planning your wedding, think about the seasons. The trend of buying colored M&Ms and filling jars is cute, but can be expensive. Remember stores put out seasonal colored M&Ms and if you don’t mind a mix – can be a great way to cut back on the extras.

At the end of the wedding, all of the centerpieces found new homes and are in use. What wasn’t used for centerpieces lived in my mother’s basement until another wedding rolled along. This past July, a good friend was married. He spray painted our leftover 16-ounce Mason jars gold, filling them with wild flowers as centerpieces for his picnic style wedding.

And now, as I end this column, I am finishing a refreshing glass of iced tea in a Mason jar.          Andrea Salisbury

Other party ideas using Mason jars:


Music and Food

A Song and a Smile

Steve Marchena, classical guitarist, has entertained twice this season at the Norwood Farmers’ Market. Support for local musicians is a sustainable practice, support for local farmers is a sustainable practice, and it is all an afternoon well spent on Tuesdays (through end of October 2012).

! ! !

At first, I was saddened and frustrated. Then, as always happens when sadness and frustration aren’t dealt with, I turned to anger. Perhaps the anger is most useful right now. Perhaps we should all be angry enough to take action.

There have been many international conferences on climate change over the last couple of decades. There have been warnings from scientists and environmentalists for longer than that. We (humanity) are still at it: destroying our ecosphere as quickly as we can.

It seems as though our powers (governments) should take steps to solve the problem, telling us what to do and making laws about it if necessary. However, what should be and what is do not coincide here.

Starting with the UN Framework Conversation on Climate Change in 1992, and continuing with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 (which the U.S. refused to sign, and other nations are not upholding), the UN Copenhagen Talks in 2009, the UN Climate Change Talks in 2011, and now the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (June 2012), our governing bodies are doing very little. These conferences largely yield an agreement that further talks should be held within the next few years. Not very useful as small island nations prepare to find other land to settle on once their countries become untenable and Boston begins to prepare itself for the flood.

Meanwhile, the ice caps are melting, habitats are being destroyed, extreme geologic events are on the increase, and the seas are rising. In his Boston Globe article of June 25, 2012, David Abel reports that the ocean (from North Carolina up through New England—yes, including Boston) is rising 3-4 times faster than the global average. We will deal with climate change by choice now, or by catastrophic necessity later.

Let’s encourage our respective governments to take action, knowing that is not historically shown to be likely. And let’s take action ourselves. There is where the difference will have to be made. We have to use our votes, our consumer power, and our voices to make change before it’s too late.

Can we get angry enough to stop the human activities largely responsible for climate change? I hope so. Working small and local, at our own spot on Earth, we have to keep the big picture before us: biological life on earth is in danger, some effects of our activities are too late to stop, others will come and be even more dire. Our many personal possessions and prosperous businesses won’t mean much when food and water become scarce, will they?

Write us with your perceptions. This is a place to sound off decisively. You’ll be preaching to the choir, more or less, but you don’t know when something you say will inspire someone else to actually do something more than just get sad and frustrated.

175 Years Ago

“We are to look chiefly for the origin of the commercial spirit, and the power that still cherishes and sustains it, in a blind and unmanly love of wealth. Wherever this exists, it is too sure to become the ruling spirit; and, as a natural consequence, it infuses into all our thoughts and affections a degree of its own selfishness; we become selfish in our patriotism, selfish in our domestic relations, selfish in our religion.

“Let men, true to their natures, cultivate the moral affections, lead manly and independent lives; let them make riches the means and not the end of existence, and we shall hear no more of the commercial spirit. The sea will not stagnate, the earth will be as green as ever, and the air as pure.”  Henry David Thoreau (1837, the year he graduated from Harvard)

From: Kenneth Walter Camerson, “The Solitary Thoreau of the Alumni Notes,” Emerson Society Quarterly, VIII (1957) 22.


In late-fall/early winter, Together Yes plans to offer a free series of sewing workshops (3-5 of them), and will have sewing machines available for the workshops. It is hoped that smaller groups of people interested in a particular pursuit will continue meeting and talking with one another. It’s about community, as always.

These workshops will show how to do basic sewing: using a machine, necessary hand sewing, repairs, mending, altering, etc. Just “how to.” But they will also show ideas and techniques for turning clothing and other household fabrics (curtains, sheets, towels, etc.) into usable items. We are trying to avoid discarding and buying new as much as possible. Sustainable from an economic perspective, of course, but also sustainable in that we won’t be buying so much that’s been outsourced overseas and transported back to us at great cost (monetary & environmental). This aims also to show how fabrics can often replace plastics in many items of use. The notable absence of such textiles in our landfills is an obvious environmental plus.

Just by word of mouth so far, we are aware of people who’d like to take these workshops, including some men and high school students. This is not only sustainable for people, but financially important for those who have trouble buying new when something no longer fits, needs mending, or goes just “out of style.”

We will naturally have one of the workshops focus on the use of smaller scraps that can be saved to quilt or appliqué.

If you are interested in helping plan/organize the Sewstainability workshop series, or would like to get your name on the list of participants early, please email us by clicking on the Contact button. We would also welcome ideas and suggestions!