"Preserving Open Space"

Interviewer: Michael Kline
Date: 01-15-08
Place of Interview: Interviewed in Concord, Massachusetts
Also present: Carrie Nobel Kline
Transcriptionist: Susan R. Cronk

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Click here for audio, part 2
Audio files are in .mp3 format.

Marion Thornton: Okay.

Michael Kline: I don't know about this room. But [00:00:07]

MT: Yeah. No. No. I understand. Yeah.

MK: Okay. Well, my name is Michael Kline and I'm with --. My wife, Carrie Kline, and I are interviewers for Talking Across the Lines, a West Virginia-based firm. (MT: Uhm-hmm.) And we're here in Concord as objective observers working for the Concord Library. Today is January 15th. It snowed yesterday, but the roads are clear today. It's overcast, but not too cold. Maybe you could start off by saying, "My name is," and introduce yourself?

MT: My name is Marion Thornton.

MK: Okay. And, we never ask people their ages, but perhaps you'd tell us your date of birth [Laugh] so we could put it in historical perspective.

MT: September 14, 1933.

MK: '33. Okay. And, you want to start off and tell us a little bit about your people and where you were raised?

MT: I certainly would be welcome to do that. I was born in Boston, and I lived mostly in Dover, Massachusetts as a young girl, and college girl, and early working, for --. I worked in a hospital, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, in research, blood research, hematology. And, I meant to marry a medical doctor. However I met a young man sailing on the coast of Maine, [door closes] who was from MIT, and married him in 1959, and moved almost immediately to Concord, because there was a carpool [door closes] that went from Conantum, a development in Concord, to MIT everyday. So that's how we ended up living in Concord, Massachusetts. Delightful thing to have done. The Conantum area that we lived in was a community of a hundred houses with open land around it.

Carrie Kline: It's called again?

MT: Conantum.

MK: Spelled?

MT: C-O-N --. Cona --. N-A-T-U-M. Conantum. And, it was a hundred houses that were made by a new kind of planning. A planning where you could have a hundred acres of conservation land, as well as a hundred houses, done by MIT people. It was a wonderful place to bring up children. We had three. And they could run out the door [door closes] and do wonderful things. [door closes] So that's how I started my life in Concord, being a housewife and living happily [door closes] up in the southwest corner, near the river.

MK: Uhm-hmm. So, a hundred houses with a hundred acres of open land?

MT: Yes. There were --. Each house was on one acre. It was a new kind at that time, a new kind of development where they did have open land which contained hills and access to the river, tennis courts, and baseball field. And, it was a wonderful idea of two-acre zoning, where you owned one acre and then the other hundred acres of the hundred houses was open land. And it was beautifully laid out. So, it was a safe place for children to grow up, go out the door. And someone would always know it was your kid. [Laugh] So. It was an unusual, at that time, very unusual zoning concept. Cluster zoning. Which probably led me down the path to [Laugh] continue to do things like that.
MK: Can you give us a more detailed description of this open land? What comprised this open land? Was it a hundred acres (MT: Yes.) in one block?

MT: Yes.

MK: Okay.

MT: It was a hundred acres on one block on the Sudbury River, off Sudbury Road. And, the houses, as I say, were each put on one acre. It was a two-acre zone, but your house was on one acre, and those other hundred acres had a --. Were sort of, reading the contours of the line, of the hillsides, so that the houses were on flat land. And the other land, which was swamps, and the hills, and wetlands, and some areas like a playground, that were made into a playground, and for community gardens. It was just --. It was done by Carl Koch and Rupert McLaurin. Cluster zoning was not really known very well at that time, so it was very innovative. And a lot of MIT and Harvard professors came out and lived there. So it was a community we found quite excellent to be in. I really think more work should be done in that area. There are other places, but I think this particular place --. Since then we have moved down the street and built our own house, which was an Acorn house, in a field across the street from this area, where we put solar energy in, solar panels. [Laugh] I don't know what you (MK: This is fascinating.) are looking forward to.

MK: First of all, on a personal level we're interested in doing that to our house. So I'd like to hear about these solar panels.

MT: Well, we had them as a heat exchange system. And then some of the solar panels were destroyed by a fire, so we don't have that. But we now do have a new heat exchange system from our well, where the heat is exchanged and heats our house. My husband just recently put it in. So.

CK: You called it an "Acorn" house?

MT: Yes. There was a company called --. It was the pre-fab houses. And, they'd come in, you know, with a truck and dump the wood on the ground. And then the house --. The panels were prefabricated. It was a company that was in Acton, down by the rotary, and then you go right on 2A. It doesn't --. [door closes] I don't think it --. I think it's merged with another company now. But it was an intelligent way to build a house, because it was less expensive by pre-designing your house. So.

MK: I bet it jumped up too, didn't it?

MT: Yes.

MK: Went up in a hurry?

MT: Yes. It went up in a hurry. We did have an architect who helped us think it out. And, we've been happily living there ever since. [Laugh] And, my husband has taught at MIT, electrical engineering, for forty-five years, and now he has his own company, which he goes to very happily every day. [Laugh]

MK: And his name is?

MT: Richard Thornton. And, his company's name is Magnum Ocean. And he's trying to work on linear motors to run trains and deliver things around faster than anyone, and cheaper, and more environmental than any other system. So. But I'm getting, [Laugh] I think, probably going far afield from whatever you wanted to (MK: No.) know.

MK: No. This is all --. It fits in the Concord picture, doesn't it?

MT: It certainly does.

MK: Well, that's it.

MT: We've loved Concord. Concord has been a very satisfactory place to live, for us.

MK: Had you ever been here before 1959?

MT: Yes. My aunt used to come in the summertime, and she enjoyed very much White Pond, which is similar to Walden Pond, a similar pond but a little bit more west. And, she had brought me over here, and my uncle, Jimmy Ford, lived up in the north part of Concord, in the Spencer Brook area. But, no, I really had not spent any time in Concord. So.

MK: But you've been an enthusiastic observer of Concord over the past, what, forty-nine years or so.

MT: Yeah. Yeah. Well I --. Not that much, because I hadn't been here, but every Christmas to see my Uncle Jimmy, and once in a while to see my Aunt Carrie. [Laugh] So, I didn't know much about it.

MK: But since you moved here in '59 (MT: Uhm-hmm.) what kinds of changes have you seen in the town?

MT: Well, I've seen a lot, but I think a lot have stayed the same as well, I would say.

MK: You've seen a lot of?

MT: I've seen change, for sure. But I think a lot of people have worked very hard to keep it --. Well, there's both people and topography. I mean, we have two rivers that form a third, the Assebet and the Concord River, which --. I mean, the Assebet and the Sudbury River, which go together to make the Concord River, and a couple of big ponds like Walden Pond and White Pond. But we have a lot of wetlands and everything. So, in a natural way there's a lot of limitation to where people could build. So, that has been something to slow down, you know, extra building. I think there's also been a wonderful [Taps table] group of people, volunteers. Our committees are volunteer. Even the selectmen, [Taps table] I think they may make a hundred dollars.

MK: Your finger tapping is coming through the microphone. It's very sensitive.

MT: That's very bad.

MK: That's all right.

CK: Even selectmen, you say?

MT: Well, I think yes. We have the selectmen. I think maybe they work for a hundred dollars a year [Laugh] or something. But we've always had a --. I've always found --. And I've always found that Town Meeting has been a very successful instrument to get things done at. It's quite amazing. You can really go to Town Meeting and think you feel one way and your friends can, or other people, can persuade you that you ought to vote a different way. It's a very wonderful --. I like Town Meeting. It's been, for me, successful. I wish more people went. But, all the town Boards are present, and their articles are presented and voted on. And, I would say, offhand, we usually get what's the best and fairest way to go about things. So I've enjoyed that, from the beginning, type of government. And, where's --. Where was I? You were asking me something [Laugh] that I've gone off.

MK: Observing.

CK: No. No. This is fine.

MK: Observing change. But no, the meeting --. The description of the meeting (MT: Yeah.) is crucially important.

MT: Yeah.

MK: So talk about it. So it sounds like debate (MT: Yeah.) and discussion (MT: Yeah.) are still alive (MT: Yeah.) in Concord, if nowhere else in the country.

MT: Well, I would say that I think it's recently --. Sadly, some of its turned into a place to just say over and over again what you think is right when --. I have no --. I have, in the things that I have done, and everything, spent, enjoyed the ability [taps finger] to talk with people and maybe come to a compromise, I mean, you know, work things out. I like being [taps finger] with diverse people, or people who have diverse [taps table] ideas and trying to make them work together. [Taps table] And, I know I was part of a group that [Taps table] that worked on something called Haywood Meadow, [taps table] which is in the middle of Concord. And, some people wanted to put a visitor's center on it and some of us wanted to keep it completely open as a [taps table] testament to the past. Instead of working and slamming ourselves to the walls, we sat down and worked together. Found a good place for the visitor's center in the middle of Concord and saved the field, by talking things over until we [taps table] come to --. Everyone felt comfortable with what we were going to do. And I have enjoyed that part of being part of the, not the government but --. I was on the Natural Resources Commission, the Town of Concord, for about nine years, I guess.

MK: Natural Resources Commission?

MT: Yeah.

MK: And what is its function?

MT: [Taps table] It's --. Well, you have things like the selectmen and the Planning Board, and the Public Works Department, and the Natural Resources Commission, which handles purchase of land or land planning. People who are trying to build too close to a wetland or something. It's a permitting committee and has the Planning Board and zoning bylaw, the Zoning Board. It's one of the town Boards. That's one of the town Boards I've served on, and I had also to do with some hazardous, with solid-waste management. I started recycling in Concord in 19 --. I'm not quite sure. I think it was in '69 or '70, somewhere in there, where we collected paper, and bottles, and cans at the landfill, and the Town Manager told me I could do that. And we started a group called REUSEIT, which stood for Rescue the Environment and Us From Being Smothered in Trash. And we went out to make people spend a lot of time recycling, and we made some money from selling things to recycling areas. And I think we were one of the first people to, towns to do that.

MK: What kinds of things seemed to sell real well?

MT: Well, it all depends on the market. But, people could see --. It was a question of what was easy for people to do as well as what money we'd get. We were really trying to clear the waste stream from things that could be reused. So paper was probably our most --. That was probably the best things that we did, was collect paper and cardboard. And we collected glass. And we used to smash it with sledgehammers, but --. And I had the kids help me from the various schools. We finally were smart enough to put on safety glasses. And, [Laugh] we had great fun doing it. I had the schools help me. Fenn School was very helpful, and so was Concord Academy, in coming to the landfill and helping me sort out this stuff. I know you're looking at me in an amazed way, but. [Laugh]

MK: Well, these are all the things that we believe in very deeply, [Laugh] but we don't see much action where we live, on this score. So, it is amazing. Yeah.

MT: Well, it was back then. We helped other people form groups in other towns, and we became a regional group. I think we left a mark. And it has since gone on to be a town, a town appointed under the Public Works Department that has handled --. They have a day where you can bring your things you don't want, and other people do. And then you can, you know, swap. It's a land --. It's a swapping sort of situation where --. And there are other things that we did also. But I'm having a blank on some of the other kinds of things. But anything that had to do with recycling, we were involved in.

MK: So when you say you collected glass and you collected --.

MT: Yeah, we did all that at the landfill. We had permission to do that at the landfill, the permission of the town. And we had people who came and picked up. We had big dumpsters where the glass was put and the cans were put. We tried other things, like plastic and milk cartons, but that wasn't too good. We collected leaves, and we collected brush. The town, since, has, collects brush and grinds it up. So, the town slowly took on doing things that we'd been doing.

MK: Well, from what you've said so far it sounds a little bit like coming to Concord in 1959 and living in this new, progressively-designed community, neighborhood, or development (MT: Uhm-hmm.) made sort of a green activist out of you. [Laugh] Is that right or did you always have --.

MT: Yeah.

MK: Or were you raised (MT: No.) with these values?

MT: No.

MK: Did you always have this kind of vision?

MT: No. I certainly didn't. I just grew up as a kid that was happy to have as much fun as possible and study as much as my parents made me do it. And, I went to private school, and I went to --. I went to Windsor School, and I went to Smith College, and I worked at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in hematology. Then I'd been a zoology major. And I knew the next thing to do was to have three children and bring them up properly. And when I'd done that for a while I joined the League of Women Voters and became interested in water. And, went out and saw that there were some pollution problems, and I think maybe I made a little splash when I collected a bottle of stuff coming out of a pipe from the Concord Reformatory, which turned out to be sewage, and took it to my Representative, and said that this had to be changed. And I think that was the beginning of my career. I think the League of Women Voters, I could say, was opening of my eyes that things could be done and I could get them done. And I--.

MK: How so? Was it --? What was it about the League of Women Voters that gave you this sense of yourself?

MT: I don't know. I didn't even know I was interested in rivers, other than paddling on them. I just think that they were a group of very interesting women who were out doing things in various areas. And, because I was interested in water --. I did a lot of things on the water, sailed and canoed, and stuff, and I just became interested in clean water, and then they, in a way, empowered me to go do something about it. They also had to control me a little bit, because [Laugh] I had to stay within the rules and regs of working with the League of Women Voters. I mean you had to always make sure your facts were correct and you follow certain patterns. You couldn't --. But I did become interested in cleaning up water, which I did spend some time doing.

CK: How did that become defined as an issue?

MT: Well we had some pollution problems.

MK: In the--?

MT: Well, the Concord Reformatory was one. People were using the rivers as their backyards, throwing things they didn't want into the river. So. Certain things were --. Actually, migrant workers were housed or given facilities that went into the river. So. Like outhouses and stuff. So, there were some things to be cleaned up. And so, that led to me being put on the Natural Resources Commission in Concord, and I went on to do that. And then I went on to the Boards of the Concord Open Land Trust, which, or Concord Land Conservation Trust, which was, is a group that buys land for conservation purposes. And, I've been on that --. I'm still on it, but I'm --. I was Chairman of it for about nine years. We saved a lot of land. I went on the Boards of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and the Trustees of Reservations, and I was on [door closes] their Boards for, I don't know, I think twenty years for the Trustees. And I've been on the Mass Audubon for a while. And so I just found a niche. [Laugh]

MK: Can you tell us more about the Land Trust and what its goals and purposes were, and how (MT: Yes.) it was funded, and so on?

MT: Yes. It was --. It's a private group.

MK: What is? What are you talking about?

MT: The Concord Land Conservation Trust was started, I believe, in the 1960s, early 1960s. And it had a Board of Directors, and their idea was to protect land in Concord that was significantly good open land. And their way of doing this was to have a membership. And then they would raise money either from the membership, or they would go outside to conservation groups and get grants from other places. And that still--. We're about to have our 50th reunion, and we're still going strong. We had a lot to do with getting Harvard University to restrict its land in perpetuity in the Esterbrook Woods, which is a place that's a big piece of open land between Lowell Road and Monument Street that, in the beginning there were people who said that Harvard University ought to have someplace where they could do research, their students could do natural research and studies through the Museum of Comparative Zoology, MCZ. And so, they had a field station in Bedford, the old Nike Base, and then they had this piece of land that was about eight hundred acres or so, in between the Lowell Road and Monument Street, where the MCZ students could come out and do research. But it was never something that had a permanent restriction on it. It had a restriction, starting in the '60s, that went for thirty years, and then ran out. So at that time I came along with my interests and, with some people from Harvard, through the Museum of Comparative Zoology, I being the Chairman of the Concord Land Trust, and someone from the field station, Museum of Comparative Zoology's field station, and I worked together to make, to encourage Harvard University to put the land in restriction and for perpetuity. In other words, we didn't want Harvard to just say, "Okay, you can have it for thirty years, but now we'd like to use it for housing," or something. So we worked very hard on that project, and I guess that's one of the biggest things that I was really involved in.

MK: Were there big hurdles to cross, or did you have--?

MT: Well, Harvard University never likes to--.

MK: Start again please.

MT: Harvard University never likes --. We had to persuade Harvard to do something in perpetuity. I think they were not quite ready for that. But, they said that the land that they owned, if the land around it were to stay open, then the land would remain good for doing research in. So, we went to the people who surrounded this piece of land that Harvard owned, and we encouraged them to put their land in conservation, therefore making about, both in Carlisle and Concord, making about a thousand acres of land open, with trails, open to the public to enjoy. But we were able to convince Harvard to put a permanent restriction, letter of permanent, putting it in a permanent restricted form, so it will stay open forever. And that was a very big and fun deal to do. We did it with Carlisle and with Concord, and with many people involved, for sure. And, we think we've done it so it will last. And--.

MK: And, Harvard had this desire to have open land surrounding its land, so you were able to leverage that into (MT: Precisely.) further acquisitions?

MT: Yes.

MK: Yeah.

MT: Yes. That was fun to do. We had a good project and we had a lot of good people working on it, and we had a lot of help from outside groups like the Trustees of Reservations, as well. They held a lot of the restrictions, [Sneezing] in perpetuity. So they were a big --.

MK: Say that again, after she finishes sneezing. [MT: Laugh] This microphone picks up everything. They held a lot of?

MT: The Trustees of Reservations held a lot of the restrictions around the Harvard land. We saved land around the Harvard land. And those people put their land in permanent restrictions, which were, had to be held by somebody. And they were held by the Trustees of Reservations, because they were a big organization in the state. I mean, they were --. Instead of the Land Trust doing it--. I think we could have done it too. That seemed to be a good system.

CK: We?

MT: The Concord Land Conservation Trust. I was working through the Concord Land Conservation Trust. At that time I was Chairman. But we did other pieces of land too [door closes] in Concord. And a lot of the land has been donated to us, or we've actually helped people to restrict their land by us paying to have the land restricted permanently. The legal processes we've been able to take on. We have a piece right now that we're saving on Sudbury Road. We've had actually to raise [door closes] $3.5 million to save that piece of land. But, we go to our people, and we go to our, the neighbors of the land. And we do a lot of talking and convincing. And I think we're going to save this piece. We saved a piece of land recently called Madison Field, which was to be about twenty-seven houses. And we were able to save that by working with the town. The town appropriated a certain amount of money, and we said that we would contribute a million dollars to it. And that went through Town Meeting and was approved unanimously. They --. I think they raised --. They funded it $1.5 million, and I think we donated $1.3 million from private sector. And were able to keep that field open, which is a wonderful breathing space for the houses in some areas and then the open land that they can go out and walk on, and stuff like that.

CK: Can you talk more about that breathing space?

MT: Well, how do I want to say it? We have the natural areas with the wetlands and the rivers. We have a lot of land in Concord that used to be, is farmland and used to be farmland. And that space, if preserved, gives, makes it a very popular town to live in, which, of course, raises the price of [Laugh] houses. But it is a space that people use. It's not just a space that is kept open and people should stay off it. It's all land that people can walk on. Recently, everyone loves to walk their dog on [Laugh] some place like this. But there are miles and miles of trails that we have saved one way or another. I can show you a map sometime. But, it's just -- . It allows the critters to live on land. It preserves the birds and the animals. It preserves the well being, I think, of people to be able to have --. If they live on an acre or two they have the ability to go down the street and get onto a piece of land that it's okay to walk on. And, you can always learn something from --. We use these lands to teach people, as well, the importance of saving land.

CK: [36:03]

MK: What was happening in Concord in the early '60s that caused this rising interest in conservation and in open spaces, and so on? Weren't there always kind of open spaces in Concord? What was happening?

MT: Well, there are open spaces, but a lot of them were being built up. And so, as a balance to the building boom, I would say, probably, that you save some open space in balance to the popularity that Concord was becoming a great place to live, a community, a bedroom community. [door closes] And you see some communities fill up with houses, and then you see some communities put aside some space in between the houses. Certainly, Concord's been a popular place to build. There's great pressure to build here. And there's great pressure to build big houses. [Laugh] We have some that have gone in that are pretty amazing. I'm just trying to think how to explain this. But, one of the things that has interested me recently is being able to save farmland, because there is a lot of good farmland by the natural geography of the place. The rivers providing the sort of areas that farmers have found good soil. And now we're getting more used to wanting to eat close to home, and the whole idea is sort of building up that it would be good to grow locally. Then you're removing your carbon footprint, or lessening your carbon footprint, by not having it flown in from Argentina, or Hawaii, or whatever. But we also have some wonderful farmers who have farmed this land and kept the land open. But a lot of them are in their eighties. And their children, they're not sure that their children want to continue to farm the land. So, the land trust has taken on a new idea of preservation, which would be to specifically think about farmland and how that can be saved, A, to farm, and B, to keep our open space values preserved, like the Revolutionary days, or things like that. So, we're going out and talking to some of these farmers about what they'd like seeing, what they would like. Because each one of these men, mostly, have certain ideas about what they want. They're very individual people. They're not just people in a group. But, the land that is open, and farming, and pasture keeps our open space integrity. And, the National Park owns a lot of land, as you may know, all the way out Lexington Road, [door closes] which gives you that Revolutionary field look. But, we've been --. In the nine-acre corner where we live, there's a lot of open land that's been used traditionally for agriculture that we're working on saving. So, that's our latest.

MK: And, what do you find is the disposition of these aging farmers?

MT: Marvelous. They--.

MK: I know that they're not a group, but what's their --. What is generally their disposition about this?

CK: If they are aging. We really don't know.

MK: She said they were eighty (MT: Yeah.) years old, (MT: Yeah.) most of them.

MT: Yeah. Yeah. Well, each person's going to be different, and we're just starting this project. But, [door closes] they're wonderful people dedicated to the land. Their land is in their body and mind, you know. So I think [door closes] most of them would like to have the land farmed and saved for farming, not just open space or a field to put a horse in, but a place to grow produce, or to have a group of cows. We have one farmer, Steve Verrill. You should spend your time talking to my friend Steve Verrill, because he owns a farm. And he also owns a successful store where we buy, down on nine-acre corner, that we buy our produce.

MK: What's that called?

MT: Verrill Farm.

MK: Spelled?

MT: V-E-R-R-I-L-L. He's made a very successful, I think, business out of not only farming, but also cooking a lot of things in the kitchen, which we all love to go and buy. Or, bringing in other things like bread and stuff that people --. So.

MK: Does the term "agri-tourism" resonate at all with the thinking around here?

MT: Agri-tourism? You'd have to tell me more of what you're thinking.

MK: Well, it's --. We've heard of areas, and seen a few, where farms are actually opening to tourists, much as a maple sugar house would open. People come (MT: Yeah.) and (MT: Yeah.) partake of (MT: Yeah.) the yield, whatever (MT: Yeah.) it is, (MT: Yeah.) and learn more about the farm and the farmers, and the farming family. And, there's a big segment of (MT: Hmm.) tourist population now interested in making this, a real connection with real people (MT: Yeah.) on the land. Does this resonate at all with how you're thinking about this?

MT: Well, it resonates in the area, in that there are a lot of groups around here. I mean, Massachusetts Audubon Society, that saves land to keep land open, has a sanctuary in Lincoln, and Drumlin Farm, where they are farming, [door closes] and they use --. They farm certain vegetables and things where they have people will come and pick raspberries and things like that, and they have animals that the people come and look at. They also have something, which there are several other components in the neighborhood, of feeding the poor, food kitchens. They provide food for food kitchens in Boston. There's something in Lincoln called the Food Project where they do that. They also have kids come out from the core city and farm. We have the Old Manse, which belonged, which was Hawthorne's house on Lowell, on Monument Street.

MK: Say that again. Monument Street?

MT: On Monument Street. A historic building. What they do there is to --. They actually grow vegetables that were only grown in the time that the Old Manse was thriving. And I'm not going to be able to tell you the dates, because I'm very bad at dates.

MK: In what century, though, roughly?

MT: Oh, the 1800s. So, there you have people growing vegetables that only were grown then. So that's a teaching thing, as well as growing vegetables. [door closes] that--. [Laugh]

MK: That door is driving me nuts.

MT: Yeah. I know.

MK: Oh yeah. Period. Period vegetables.

MT: Yeah.

MK: Heirloom kinds of (MT: Yeah. Heirloom. Yeah.) species?

MT: And then there's a group called the Food Project. No. Oh, I can't think of --. Gaining Ground. There's another group in Concord that grows vegetables. Gaining Ground.

CK: What's that all about?

MT: Well, they grow vegetables and give them to soup kitchens, or have kids come out and work. There's several projects around in this area where people are being brought back to the land and farming it, and using it as education, and using it as producing food to help people of lesser means.

CK: In Concord?

MT: In Concord and Lincoln.

CK: I mean --.

MT: Yeah. In Concord. Yeah.

CK: The recipients?

MT: A lot of the food goes into food kitchens in the core city. I --. We do have something called Open Table and --. Where people can come and get food once a week. And I do think that we use vegetables that are grown here as well as stores give us, you know, like Crosby's or something, gives us day-old bread or things like that. But that's a different project.

MK: We know of communities where the Chamber of Commerce (MT: Umm-hmm.) or the local university has developed a tourist map of all the little farmers markets, fruit stand, whatever, (MT: Yeah.) in the community (MT: Yeah.) so that somebody coming in who's interested in local food--. And as you said (MT: Yeah.) there's increasing interest in that all the time. (MT: Yeah.) Somebody coming into the community can find, can go right to these places, (MT: Yeah.) and that sort of has that agri-tourism --.

MT: Well, we do have --. We're starting --. We have started just, I would say this year --. They have the Natural Resources Department, the Public Works Department, and they now have an Agricultural Department where farmers --. There's a board with local farmers. And they are having Agricultural Days, where the Town Square in Concord will be closed, and the people will come with their agricultural products, whether it's wool from their sheep or something like that. And then that's --. That's quite new. And they've done it like twice in one year. So I don't think they'll end up doing it every Saturday or something, because the farmers really say, "Hey, there are lots of markets around, and that takes time. We're busy guys out there just keeping our farms going." So, I don't see agri tourism, per se, according to what I think you're saying, happening. But I do see that we will have more and more trying to encourage our farmers so that they will stay, that land will stay open. I mean, my perspective is looking at it as land to stay open to keep Concord looking the way it has looked. But I also appreciate getting my food nearby [Laugh] and want to promote that too. Because --. Well, the reason, moving to Concord, instead of living in a town like Dover, was that it's a variety of people of all different walks of life trying to live here. More and more with our developing our big houses, we're crowding out providing homes for people of lesser means. But, I've always liked living in a community that has people of different means. I found it very refreshing. I don't want to live just in the bedroom community of wealthy people going somewhere else to work. So, I guess that reflects in the fact that I married an academic person [Laugh] instead of --. So. It's hard to tell how I fell into being interested in conservation, but it's been very satisfying, each project that comes up.

MK: Did your interest in clean water correspond with the national interest in clean water, the Clean Water Act of the mid-1970s when all that--?

MT: Yeah. Yes. I very strongly feel, through all that --. I've traveled all over the world and traveled to look particularly at wild places and things. My husband and I love to adventure in these areas, and I like to keep things clean, unpolluted. I like clean air. I think we have a right to it. I think we should work for it. I think, looking back, that President Nixon [Laugh] was a man, who was a President who not only put together the Hazardous Waste Act, and the Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act, but he also saw that they were funded, or is, interestingly enough --. And that was back in those days when I was just getting going, not that I supported President Nixon, but I supported that he did enjoy the environment, I mean, making rules and laws that would help to protect the environment.

MK: It's an ill wind that doesn't blow some good.

MT: I guess [Laugh] it just --. It is --. I keep remarking that this is a thing that people should think about. I mean, we need to put money towards our environment, as is so well reflected in global warming taking place. And, I have traveled to the Arctic and to the Antarctic, so I've been able to see a lot of this stuff. I have not seen change, because I've only been in those two places once. [Laugh] But --. So. Where are we now? [Laugh]

MK: Carrie, do you have any questions you want to pursue?

CK: I'm interested in how you negotiate this new terrain of very large housing developments and mansions coming in. How do you work with this new situation?

MT: I don't know, because I --. I have the time to do my environmental stuff, but I am --. I'm so busy that I --. I know there's things that should be addressed in Concord, and I have a lot of those examples right on my street. Somebody recently bought a two-acre lot and was able to --. Just went in and cut down every tree on the place, of a forest. And there was no law that said anything about, "You can't cut down every tree on a piece of land that you own." But, it certainly was an enormous scar. So I'm in the process of going to the town with some legislation, that both Lincoln and Lexington have, that says, "Before you cut down every tree on the place you have to have a hearing." So, that's a zoning bylaw that I think we ought to have. I think the town, most recently, is --. Its bylaws and everything are getting more to encourage houses, big houses, and indiscriminate ability for people to manipulate the land. So that's one thing where I would like to help the town make a law, and I won't be, will be working on this to see that you can't take down every big and little and everything tree until you have had a hearing about it. I think another example on my street is that the builders built a very big house, and when there was water, so that they couldn't make the driveway, they just filled until they could make the driveway. And, when they put in the septic tank it was too wet, so they just filled until they could put in the septic tank. And, in the process that house has a good septic tank and a dry driveway, but the water did go somewhere else. It went down the street and made a pond on somebody else's land, and there is no law in the town that prevents you from building in a wet field. There are wetlands state laws but we need a town wetland law that can be --. You know, water will go somewhere. [Laugh] It doesn't disappear. So, I've seen that and I've seen, on my street, also a person know exactly, "I cannot build beyond twenty feet to this stream." But then they've built a great cement wall and filled with tree stumps and things, and rocks. And I just think we're falling behind on having good zoning bylaws to keep people from building in inappropriate places. I think we haven't addressed the mansionization. I brought something here where some towns have, where you have a community, an area of little houses, modest houses, and someone will come along and tear down a modest house and build a very big house. And that looks pretty bad, because, you have little houses and then some monster house. And towns are addressing that, but Concord isn't at this time, mansionization. And I think we're going to feel --. I think we shouldn't allow this to happen either. And other towns are addressing it, and recently I don't see Concord addressing the wetlands, or the chopping down all the trees, or things that at least should have more concern before the developers can manipulate the land.

CK: Umm-hmm. And how do you propose addressing these?

MT: Bylaws that are passed by Town Meeting that will give more control to the department.

CK: What could it say? Is there simple --?

MT: It's not simple at all. [Laughter] It's never simple. But --.

MK: But other towns --. There are some models for (MT: There are some models.) successful limiting of this (MT: Yes. Mansionization.) mansionization.

MT: Or --.

MK: And how do they do that? How is it worded? What's the --? How are the restrictions stated in those places?

MT: They are brought to Town Meeting, and they're brought to the planning process, and then they're developed, and then they're voted at Town Meeting. And people have input at hearings before it goes to Town Meeting, and that kind of thing. So there is a place for [pounding] tightening up some of our zoning bylaws. I think Concord really has done a, [taps table] excuse me, a couple of the long-range plans, the recent Open Space Plan, and we did talk about it.

MK: So. So, but there are models for this if it --? And the trick for you, or for other (MT: Yeah.) people is to sell this idea or broaden people's consciousness about this (MT: Yes.) mansionization problem.

MT: Yes.

CK: We were hearing, a little while ago, that someone felt his hands were tied until the State made some legislative changes.

MT: Yeah. I think the zoning bylaws --. And, I'm not --. I haven't gone to be on the Planning Board or somewhere else, because I know my expertise isn't in understanding bylaws and stuff, or maybe my interest isn't either. But I much rather persuade people to put land into open land to preserve it. So I have not chosen to say yes to doing, being on other boards. But I think my ability to talk people into keeping their land open is much more successful than understanding the zoning bylaws. So, there are zoning bylaws that other towns have, and there is a big state Zoning Board, and all these things go to give you the tools to make the kind of zoning --. I think we should tighten up some of our zoning, so that we don't allow just these things that I have talked about to take place. I think developers will, rightly so. They're have a business, and they will develop --. They will manipulate the land to do what they want, if they think there's money in it, and you can't fault them for that. It's just --. I think we have done some things recently that are --. Even when --. Even when we were working with the Esterbrook Woods--. We had the Middlesex School wanted to develop its back land, and I would have said --. There are enough of us who really believe that Middlesex School could have put its playing fields in an area where they did not have to chop down the entire, a great chunk of a very important forest, the Esterbrook Woods. And we argued and argued with them, but of course the school is a nonprofit group and it doesn't --. It's an educational --. They can do --. They were able to put the fields in, although a lot of us thought they could have done a better job of fitting the fields on the existing campus and not chopping down a whole forest. That was something that bothered a lot of us. But being a school they had more rights than some, it seemed. The forest really was a special place, just because of its size. Of course, the Esterbrook Woods has in the middle of it stone walls. So you can tell that one time it wasn't [Laugh] a forest. Someone was either trying to keep somebody in or somebody out, or something. So history does have its way of reminding you of land use in the past. But it is a big forest that --. I mean, to save a thousand acres of land in two towns that is completely open was quite an event.

MK: Umm-hmm.

CK: So you succeeded in that.

MT: We did succeed in saving a thousand acres, but Middlesex School was a thorn in our side. [Laugh] Some of us. I'm not saying anything that [Laugh] anyone is not going to know.

MK: Well, you are an imminently pleasant and well-spoken (MT: Oh.) person, as far as we're concerned, on the basis of knowing you for an hour and twelve minutes.

MT: Wow. [Laugh]

MK: Are these --? Is this the approach you use in your trying to persuade or convince people?

MT: Umm-hmm.

MK: Or, are you a fist pounder, or a --?

MT: No. I like to work with people.

MK: Umm-hmm. Okay.

MT: And I think that's been my ability, but I also found it interesting. I mean, I just like people. [Laugh] I like open space, and I like people. And I think --. I guess the one thing that we haven't talked about is moderate income housing, I think, is something that I wish that we could do in some better way than I think we're doing. And I don't have any short list of things to do for making it happen, but I do enjoy --. Again, I think, we could do more zoning, that we could have --. Allow in the built area to have more different kinds of housing. I mean, I don't say taking a farm field and building a whole lot of buildings on it, but I do think that we could have better zoning bylaws so that people could live in apartments or different --. Like they always have. There have always been people on big pieces of land that may have lived in a smaller house on the land. I think --. I think we could be more creative with how we presented moderate income housing to Concord, but I'm not about to take on the project myself. [Laugh] I don't have the --. I don't have the --. The fire in the belly has turned into embers, maybe. [Laugh]
MK: I don't believe that for a minute. Well what are the arguments that you would see?

MT: To what?

MK: To accomplishing that end?

MT: Well, I guess I wouldn't --. I wouldn't --.

MK: More diversity?

MT: I'd like see diversity of people being able to be accommodated in the town. I don't think making a lot of big laws about every piece of land that is going for conservation should have some housing on it. I don't like laws as much as I like sort of tinkering around to see if somebody has a house. I mean, I found a couple of places where the people had an extra apartment or something that somebody could live in of moderate means. And I've just tinkered with seeing that those people know these people, and then you can --. So that it isn't a big, "Okay. This is where our moderate people are going to live, and this is where our [Laugh] rich people are going to live." I like to see the mixture. I think we could make some of our places more dense, so that businesses could have apartments on top of them, or something like that. I think we could do some more creative work there. But I'm getting out of my real ability to do these things.

CK: When you have newcomers come in, especially in numbers, how do you teach them the values of a community?

MT: Well, that's very interesting, because I just recently --. In a couple of things that we've done, we've had newcomers to the conversation world saying that they're great conservationists, but I don't see --. I think their just complaining about whatever they're doing isn't --. They don't get it, but they --. Oh, what am I trying to say? I don't see them putting either money or time into doing what they're doing. They're just complaining that it isn't being done. So. I don't know how to do anything about that. There are some people who think if they just say it over and over again, then it'll become either law or right, or something. [Laugh] I don't know. I had a couple of run-ins in this situation. I'd very much like to see the bicycle paths come into Concord on the existing bicycle, existing train track in West Concord. And, a lot of people don't want it in their backyard, but they've become environmentalists, saying that it shouldn't be paved, or it shouldn't be built, or --. And I think that's recently annoying me, because I think a bicycle path would be a wonderful thing to have for people to be off the street and bicycling. And I guess that's been one of my recent things that I don't seem to be able to quite solve yet. But anyway.

MK: Well, that opens the whole issue, I guess, of transportation then, and --.

MT: Oh, I love the issue of transportation.

MK: Which is putting a real squeeze on things now, I guess, isn't it?

MT: Yeah.

MK: With so many more cars?

MT: Oh, I know. That's what my husband would like us to do is to have high-speed light vehicles that run on levitated tracks.

MK: Say that --.

CK: Could we start again?

MK: Would you say that again? Your husband would like to see?

MT: His company, Magnum Ocean, is, would like to have --. I don't want to say "fast trains," because they're not. But, they're levitated light pods that would move people fast and get them off the highway and have them be taken to their destinations faster, and cheaper, and more environmental than the trains we have. It's hard to get people out of their cars.

MK: Is there a website where people could go to learn more about that?

MT: I think you can go to I have a card in my purse that I can give you. He's got a wonderful idea.

MK: And his name again is?

MT: Richard. Dick. Dick Thornton, and he actually works nearby. His company is right on 62, right on the corner of Sudbury and Main, and everything. And, they would like to be people movers. They move things around production lines and everything faster and cheaper than --. He's building a --. He's using Department of Defense money to build a elevator for the George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier to be launched in 2020. And the system will move the ammunitions up and down in an elevator [Laugh] faster and cheaper than any other mechanical system. I'm not an electrical engineer, so I can't [Laugh] tell you a lot of what he does, but anyway. Transportation is a very interesting thing. I wish we could get people off the highway and have better trains or modules that would move people around. But, people are really wed to their cars, aren't they? We all are. I mean, I am wed to my car. I don't pretend to be particularly different [Laugh] than anybody else. But --.

MK: Well, certainly in West Virginia we don't have any alternative. We don't have any public transportation.

CK: We do. We do.

MK: Well, we have a little shuttle bus.

MT: Well now, now wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. I don't know --. He's just going to make Old Dominion --. Where's Old Dominion?

MK: Virginia.

MT: In West Virginia? Oh Virginia.

MK: Virginia.

MT: Okay. He just won a grant to make a people mover in Old Dominion, to redo the people mover that I think they have, but make a better one. And, he just won a grant and he's actually at his company today and they're --. The press are coming in to talk about it.

CK: Really? And there is one at West Virginia University, some model of a (MT: Is there?) high-speed pod. Yeah.

MK: Yeah. Yeah. A light --.

CK: Yeah.

MT: It's not --?

MK: A monorail (MK: Yeah. Yeah.) that serves the university community.

MT: Yeah.

MK: Experimental. But, nobody uses it. I mean, the students all have their cars and nobody rides it. [Laugh]

MT: Yes. I know. Well, look at the high school here.

MK: I mean, there has to --.

MT: I mean, the high school has to be --. We have to have a new high school because we need room for the students to park their cars. I mean, where are we here?

MK: What's wrong with the picture?

MT: [Laugh] Well.

CK: Is that --? Is that really what's happening?

MT: Well, they need --. Because the parking lot is not sufficient for the number of cars that come [door closes] and park in it and those cars are students'. The growth of students having their own cars is the problem. There are other problems that the high school has to be redone, because the building's falling down and stuff, but one of the concerns is that there isn't enough parking [pounding] for the student body. [Laugh] I don't know. That wasn't something when my children were growing up, luckily. But, (CK: It wasn't--?) I do have grandchildren who are now needing a car, and have one. And, anyway.

CK: Well, I wanted to ask you about that actually. You --. Your main goal growing up and as you became a woman was to raise children. Then--.

MT: Yup.

CK: Yeah.

MT: Yup. I didn't --. I hadn't thought it all out. I mean, I really --. It was really interesting that I fell into clean water and that kind, the environment. I hadn't even really traveled that much before I met Dick, and seen the world, and been around. But, I don't know how I arrived at where I did, (CK: But how did you --?) to tell you the truth.

CK: [Laugh] How did you negotiate being a mother and the work you wound up doing here?

MT: Because I did most of my --. My children --. I took care of my children until they were pretty much in school. And, I began, interested in --. My third child I found places that they provided babysitting. So I could take my last child and have him taken care of while we all talked about these things. Don't ask me how it did. But I --. And then as my time freed up I just got involved more. And I spent a lot of time going out across the state with the Trustees of Reservations and Mass Audubon looking at land. And so, I've seen a lot of the land that's been preserved, or something, or we did preserve, by being on the land. So I really learned not by going to school but to being out on the land, what I know. Yeah. What I know I learned in the laboratory [Laugh] of the land that we were visiting. I don't know.

MK: Well what you know you couldn't have learned in school, because it wasn't being taught in school at the time.

MT: Right. That's right. One of the things we've done with the Concord Land Conservation Trust is we give a lecture series about things that deal with the environment, and we've asked that three, the three schools, Middlesex, Concord, Carlisle, and Concord Academy, provide us with juniors, about six juniors and seniors that will come and take a course on, extracurricular course on conservation. And, they and a teacher from each school join with people from Harvard. And there's a subject presented, and they learn about it. And that sort of tweaks them to get out into the environment more. So that's been a little thing that we've been able to do for about, let me see, '70s, '80, '90, and yeah, twenty years or so. So, in a small way [Laugh] I've done that. We're just about to do it. It's just about --. We do it in January, February, and March with these kids. It's fun to see them be drawn into it. If we make one kid go into saving the environment out of each group I'd say it'd be pretty good. Well.

MK: If you're looking at a particular field, an old farm, an old common that (MT: Umm-hmm.) with the idea of preserving it, does the specific history of that piece of land is that, does that play any part in the equation of preserving it?

MT: Everything does. I mean, you have to --. You have to be pragmatic. Okay? First you have to like the piece of land or the --. Does it do something? Does it abut a river or a pond or is it --? Is there a wetland, or is there --? History definitely would play a part, I mean. But you get a bunch of things that tell you that this is important to go after. Then you go out to the neighbors, or you look in your purse. [Laugh] You find out what it's worth to whoever owns it or something, and then you make a strategy. I mean, each people --. Each piece of land that has come along has been different. I could give you so many examples of just --. I'm working --. It's wonderful. There's a --.

[END DISK 1 — 1:19:54]

MT: Each piece of land that has come along has been different. I could give you so many examples of just --. I'm working --. It's wonderful. There's a --. I'm on a committee that I don't do much, because the staff does, for Mass Audubon, where we're talking to Makepeace, who are the big cranberry people just this side of the Cape. And that's thousands of acres of cranberry land. But, in between the cranberry land are eskers and pieces of land that nobody knows what really lives on, what creatures are living there, because, it's just been a cranberry bog, created bogs, to grow cranberries. And they're willing to enter into thinking about saving a great deal of that land if we can provide them with --. They want to develop some land and make money. But if you help them make the zoning different, tighter, so they can put more houses in one place then you can go out and save a thousand acres of land. And, just being able to save a thousand acres of land in Massachusetts is incredible. So you go to tailor them with a zoning permission to concentrate the houses, and have different kinds of houses, big houses, or apartments, or condominiums, or something, and you adjust the zoning bylaws so that you can save a great deal of land that's unknown. They're finding moth species down there that no one's ever recorded before. And that's just in Massachusetts, on the way to the Cape. [Laugh] And so, it's always interesting.

MK: So it sounds as though you're working well beyond the boundaries of Concord on these things.

MT: Oh, I do, but I don't --. It used to be, when I was on the boards of these two groups, the Trustees and Mass Audubon, that we did a lot of the work ourselves. Now, they're bringing in more and more staff. So we're sort of the "Okay, that's fine," or "Think of this," or "Do that," but we aren't quite as active as we used to be. But there's a lot of land to save and in Massachusetts, but--. So, I have, yes, I have worked outside of Concord quite a bit, in those two particular --.

CK: How much have you saved in Concord, and how have you done the fundraising for it?

MT: Beating people on the head. [Laugh] Becoming so unpopular that people see me coming, and they walk across the street and go into the men's room so they won't have to talk to me. [Laugh] Which is the truth. [Laugh] But. I don't know. We've just --. Each --. As I say, each piece has had its own --. There's some very generous people who we know who have come and helped us by giving us big chunks of money. They're few and far between, but they've helped us. So, we raise the money. I mean, you know, we don't have a lot of free cash hanging around. But, the land speaks for itself, if you can do the message, put the message out there. So, anyway.

MK: Wow. What a beautiful conclusion.

[END DISK 2 — 04:08]