Phyllis Theermann

It is the mission of the Natural Resources Commission to provide stewardship of, education about, and advocacy for the Town of Wellesley’s parks, conservation, recreation and open space areas so the full value of the Town’s natural assets can be passed onto future generations.

1.What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

Raina McManus

  • I’m the current Vice Chair and former Chair of the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission and a 4-year Town Meeting Member, and for full disclosure, I consider myself a member of Sustainable Wellesley.
  • Twenty-five years ago, I helped install the first community garden at Fiske Elementary school and insisted it be pesticide-free; I’ve been a strong advocate for measures to protect our environment in the Town ever since.- In 2010 I co-founded the Friends of Brookside to educate our town about a planned development in our wellhead protection area, resulting in relocation of the project and better community awareness of where our drinking water comes from.
  • In 2014 I was asked to run for the NRC, and the NRC’s accomplishments during my five-year tenure include: banning single-use plastic checkout bags; raising public awareness about the harmful effects of numerous gas leaks in town – especially on our trees; prohibiting the use of pesticides on town-owned land; launching the Grow Green Wellesley campaign to encourage eco-friendly landscaping on private property; installing a demo pollinator garden at the Police Station; bringing plant-eating goats to Boulder Brook to highlight alternative methods of invasive plant management; and more.
  • I have represented the NRC on the North 40 Steering Committee which successfully advocated for the Town’s purchase of that open space, and served on the Steering Committee for the Town’s Unified Plan where I promoted the incorporation of sustainable methods of land management into our town’s long-term planning document. I’m also a voting member representing the NRC on the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) which votes funding for open space and recreation projects and was proud to successfully advocate for $100,000 for permitting and design plans for the girls’ softball fields’ upgrades which will be environmentally sensitive to the parkland.
  • I participate in school and community educational events like the Wellesley STEM Expo and July Jubilation, speaking to residents about watershed protection. I recently attended the 350Mass “Legislative Advocacy 101” workshop to learn how to effectively petition our lawmakers, and regularly attend environmental programs so I can effectively serve and represent our community. I have also advised and presented to other towns about how to pass their own plastic bag regulations.
  • I’m also a member of the Wellesley Conservation Council and the Wellesley League of Women Voters, two organizations which have long and proud histories of land conservation and environmental advocacy. The NRC partners with both groups, and I was especially proud to work with the League to bring Dr. David Foster of the Harvard Forest to Wellesley for our Speaking For The Trees educational forum.
  • In my role of NRC Commissioner I’ve testified before the Massachusetts State Legislature on pesticide and plastic reduction laws, and have most recently protested construction of the Weymouth Gas Compressor Station. My own yard has been pesticide-free for 28 years.

Jim Miller

  • Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions: I serve on the Board of Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, where I work with Dr. Jim Hansen, the world’s most respected climate scientist; and Bill McKibben, founder of, in the fight against global warming.
  • Clean Energy and Shared Prosperity Act: I am the author of the Clean Energy and Shared Prosperity Act which Dr. Hansen presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2014 during his testimony about the dangers of global climate change. Dr. Hansen and I continue to work to make this proposed carbon fee and dividend legislation a reality.
  • Our Children’s Trust: I serve on the Board of Our Children’s Trust where I work with Julia Olson and her team litigating climate change crisis as a human rights issue. If you would like to learn more about Our Children’s Trust, we will be featured on 60 Minutes on Sunday, March 2nd.
  • Wellesley’s Power to Choose: My family participates in Wellesley’s Power to Choose 100%renewable energy program.
  • Solar Energy: My family participates in Wellesley’s solar energy program.

2. What do you think the priorities of the NRC should be for the three years of your prospective term?

Raina McManus

My top priorities include completing ongoing projects that help enhance and conserve our natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations. I also want to continue to provide opportunities to engage and educate residents to become partners in the preservation of our natural assets. Ongoing priority projects include:

  • Approval and construction of the Girls’ Softball field renovation, including a regulation size field with dugouts, bleacher seating, and improved drainage, and proposed creation of a wetlands habitat as part of the environmentally sensitive design.
  • Completion of the volunteer-built vernal pool boardwalk at the North 40 which will protect the critical resource area and provide educational opportunities.
  • Implementation of the Town Forest Stewardship and Bird Habitat Plans, starting with securing grant funding and partnering with the Dept. of Public Works to execute the work. The plan is based on the NRC-commissioned evaluation of the town forest which protects our drinking water and provides recreation and wildlife habitat.
  •  Execution of the Morses Pond Shore Erosion plan, a half-million dollar project which will serve to protect our drinking water, beach area, and wildlife habitat at this popular recreation area.
  • Implementation of the Wellesley Unified Plan. The NRC was an important voice in the creation of the town’s Unified Plan, and we have an important role in the implementation of the plan, including adoption of environmental best management practices.
  • Protection of our valuable town trees and maturing tree canopy through bylaw review, quantification of the tree canopy, development of an interactive public shade tree map, continuing the town’s tree planting program, gas leak detection prior to planting new trees, and providing education and advocacy to address gas leaks.

Jim Miller

  • Collaboration and Coalition Building: My top priority is to make NRC a more collaborative partner and build broad coalitions with other boards in town and the broader community. I view environmentalists, civic and business leaders, schools, and the sports communities as allies and would be a bridge to bring them together.
  • Preservation of Natural Resources: As part of our commitment to make our open spaces safe, beautiful, and accessible to all generations, I would partner with key stakeholders to increase the town’s tree canopy, fix gas leaks, and promote clean energy and energy efficiency in our schools, municipal buildings, businesses and private homes.
  • Sports and Recreation Fields: Wellesley has the highest participation rate of any sports program in Massachusetts. NRC needs to ensure that there are enough playing fields for the hundreds of teams and thousands of children playing sports.
  • 100% Renewable Energy: Wellesley should aspire to be powered 100% by renewable energy

3. What specific actions would you take to further the Town’s commitments to waste reduction, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, maintaining our tree canopy, and preserving and enhancing our open space system?

Raina McManus

  • Waste Reduction: I have participated in the 3-R Working Group – a collaboration of the NRC, Sustainable Energy Committee and the Department of Public Works – since its inception 5 years ago. This fruitful collaboration helped the NRC pass the plastic bag bylaw, and is responsible for the new food waste collection program at the RDF, which is diverting over a ton of Wellesley’s waste a week from landfills and turning it into biogas. Increased citizen participation is needed and the NRC will continue to promote this innovative program now open to all residents.
  • Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The NRC will continue to submit comments to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), requesting changes to the regulations on how gas leaks are measured and repaired. We can support other boards and committees when they propose energy efficient projects like the Wellesley MLP streetlight and Wellesley DPW LED conversion projects; support more electric car charging stations, solar panels on town buildings, and the building of net zero buildings.
  • Transportation is a huge piece of the gas emission puzzle, and I attend Wellesley Green Schools and Wellesley Green Collaborative meetings where solutions to this issue are underway, like finding incentives to get school children onto buses, building an app for high school students to share rides, partnering with the colleges to utilize their train station shuttle buses, and working to enforce those “no-idling” rules!
  • I have personally advocated as a private citizen for an “opt out” to the town’s Power to Choose program which I believe would increase participation in that program. I have attended MLP Board meetings to request the inclusion of more renewables in our energy portfolio.
  • Maintaining Our Tree Canopy: The NRC is using software to quantify the town’s tree canopy and has been working with the Planning Board to evaluate the effectiveness of the Town’s Tree Protection bylaw to consider recommendations for strengthening the bylaw. A newly purchased Combustible Gas Indicator is used to detect leaking gas (methane) in order to prevent new trees from being planted in “dead” soil.
  • Enhancing Open Space: Ensure the completion of major capital projects like the Morses Pond Shoreline restoration to protect water, recreation, and wildlife values for this valuable town resource. Enact the recommendations in the Comprehensive Pond Plan for all town ponds. Provide more opportunities for residents to become volunteer partners in the preservation of our natural assets, like the Friends of Fuller Brook invasive removal teams being trained by the NRC and DPW staff.

Jim Miller

  • Preservation of Natural Resources: As part of our commitment to make our open spaces safe, beautiful, and accessible to all generations, I would partner with key stakeholders to increase the town’s tree canopy, fix gas leaks, and promote clean energy and energy efficiency in our schools, municipal buildings, businesses and private homes.
  • Tree Planting Campaign: I would partner with the DPW and other town boards to champion a 25 year tree planting campaign, with the goal of making the town more beautiful, our properties more valuable, while achieving all the environmental and health benefits that come from increasing the town’s tree canopy.
  • Fix Gas Leaks: I would partner with SEC, Sustainable Wellesley, and HEET to create a mobile application that would enable Wellesley residents to identify on an interactive map the precise time and location of gas leaks that they smell while walking and running in Wellesley and report those leaks to National Grid and key stakeholders in town.
  • Clean Energy: I would partner with WMLP, the other boards in town, and the broarder community to lead Wellesley’s transition to clean and health renewable energy.
  • Energy Efficiency: I would work with all the concerned stakeholders to ensure that the new schools we are building are as energy efficient as possible and support plans to retrofit our existing schools and municipal buildings to be more energy efficient. These projects should pay for themselves very quickly from the costs savings.
  •  Sports and Recreation Fields: According to MIAA, Wellesley has the highest participation rate of any sports program in Massachusetts. Wellesley’s residents believe that sports play an important role in the life of the town and in the growth and development of our children.
  • Playing Fields: NRC needs to ensure that there are enough playing fields for the hundreds of teams and thousands of children playing sports.
  • Girls Playing Fields: In Wellesley, we believe that strong girls become strong women and future leaders, and we need to support our girls athletic teams just like we support the boys. I would prioritize ensuring that the girls playing fields are of equal quality as
    the boys playing fields. For example, the boys varsity and little league baseball fields are beautiful, regulation fields. In contrast, girls varsity and little league softball fields are not regulation fields and are embarrassingly inadequate in comparison to where the boys play. This disparity does not reflect our values as a town and yet it has been allowed to persist on NRC property for over a decade. I would work to cure this inequity as soon as possible and would remain in open dialogue with the schools and sports communities to ensure that problems like this do not happen again in the future.
  • Lights at WHS Stadium: I would install energy efficient, environmentally friendly LED lights at WHS Stadium. This one change would create much needed field time for the 28 WHS sports teams that would like to practice and host games in the Stadium: 6 soccer, 3 football, 3 field hockey, 4 cross country, 6 lacrosse, and 6 track and field teams.
  • Walkers & Runners: Lighting the Stadium also creates a safe place for Wellesley residents to walk and run at night, particularly during the fall, winter, and early spring.
  • Welcoming Wellesley’s Senior Community: I would provide Wellesley residents age 60 and over free admission to all sporting events, making the WHS Stadium an intergenerational gathering space for students, parents, and grandparents.
  • WHS Student Athletes Missing Classes because of the Dark: There are times when WHS student athletes are required to be dismissed early from school in order to play games before it gets too dark. Adding lights at WHS Stadium would allow games to be played later and would eliminate the need for early dismissals and the lost teaching and learning associated with missing afternoon classes.
  • 100% Renewable Energy: Finally, Wellesley should aspire to be powered 100% by renewable energy.
  • NRC Should Lead by Example: NRC should lead by example by installing energy efficient, environmentally friendly LED lights at NRC owned playing fields that are adjacent to the Stadium: Reidy Field, Hunnewell softball field, the tennis courts, and the
    basketball courts. This would reduce the energy usage and GHG admissions generated by these lights up to 90%. Furthermore, NRC should put all of its playing fields and other properties on the Wellesley’s Power to Choose 100% renewable energy program.
  • Messaging Campaign about 100% Renewable Energy: NRC should then message at WHS Stadium, Reidy Field, and the other playing fields that the lights the games are being played under are powered by Wellesley’s Power to Choose 100% renewable energy program. NRC could use signage and announcements during the games to inform players and spectators about how Wellesley residence can power their homes and businesses with 100% renewable energy. This strategy of gathering people together, creating a sense of community and then repeatedly messaging to them about the need to transition to renewable energy is absolutely critical for protecting our natural resources and moving to a healthy and sustainable future.


All 2019 Candidate Responses

Phyllis Theermann

Sustainable Wellesley is a group of volunteers working to make a difference in our community. Below are some of the ways you can join in – one time, weekly, and monthly opportunities are listed, as well as ones that relate to your expertise, hobby, and passion. We need you to volunteer to make all of our work possible. Together we can make a difference. See something you like? Write us at

Don’t see something here that you want to take action on? Reach out at and let us know. Maybe you want to teach a class on canning? Waste Free Home tricks, Gardening, etc., simply let us know. Sustainable Wellesley is open to diverse backgrounds and ideas.

Jobs You Can Do From Your Favorite Spot:

  • Website Manager (WordPress): We could use someone  to check in on our website quarterly  to be sure things are working as intended, as well as to be on-call to troubleshoot our wordpress site when needed.

  • Volunteer Coordination: We are looking for someone to build a database and comprehensively oversee Sustainable Wellesley’s dedicated volunteers. Goal is to be able to reach out to folks who have specific interests and time so they can step up and help at events throughout the year.

  • Event Calendar Support: Take compiled list of upcoming events and add them to Sustainable Wellesley’s calendar section on the website. We can train volunteer on how to easily use the WordPress site to enter the data. Ideally, someone can do this entry work once or twice a month. Research and enter other calendar events locally is also welcome.

  • Development: We would love an individual or a team of volunteers to dream up  and work on a fundraising campaign/event such as selling milkweed plugs, organizing a clothing swap… Creativity welcome!

  • Grant Developer: Looking for someone ir a team to create a “Sustainable Wellesley Community Grant”. This would include raising the funds, creating a grant as well as a  review process so that we could offer a Wellesley student an award during the April 2019 Wellesley STEM EXPO. Grant would be offered to a student working on an environmental sustainability project or idea.

  • Nominating Committee: 1) Consider and recruit folks to run for town board and committee seats to make sure that the sustainability topic is “in the room where it happens”. We have a complete list of boards and what spots are opening when. Recruiting can happen year-round in time for March elections (80% of positions fill this time of year and 20%) happen year round.

  • Campaign organizer/supporter- Provide support and expertise to those running for positions. Wellesley town elections are in March.    

  • Book Club Organizer: Bea Johnson’s book, Zero Waste Home: the ultimate guide to simplifying your life. The goal is to get folks to read the book and/or see the film and rethink the way the operate their day to day lives and decrease their plastic and general single use practices. Reach out to book clubs across town to get engagement. Wellesley Free Library also has book club and would be open to working with us on this. Opportunity to do monthly or other annual all town reads around other books — for adults and students —  in the future!

  • Legislative advocacy leader(s): Looking for someone or a team to track bills on energy, pesticides, plastics and other issues and offer ways Wellesley residents can advocate for them.

  • Partner to Run 2019 Sustainability Challenge at Wellesley STEM EXPO: Continue Wellesley Green School’s effort to engage students in the district by creating this year’s Sustainability Challenge. Creative ideas welcome and spot open on the team to execute the challenge that gets awarded in April at the STEM EXPO event.

  • Secretary: Looking for secretary to take notes weekly on SW conference calls. (Weekly, 1pm on Tuesdays). One time a week position.

  • Writers:  Always welcome folks who like to write and can write convincing, accurate press releases/blog posts.

  • May morning volunteer: Wellesley Wonderful Weekend Breakfast recycling volunteers. One time a year position.

  • July Jubilation volunteers: Join a few of us as we staff the Sustainable Wellesley table during the annual July Jubilation (a Saturday mid July). One time event.

  • Sustainable Wellesley Action Meeting Coordinator:  Organize 5 meetings a year – confirm our usual location is available, sent invites, develop agendas, coordinate snacks, etc.

  • Sewing Bee Coordinator: Coordinate sewing bees throughout town, recruiting folks that sew and collect fabric to be used for sewing simple Furoshiki Cloths. More information here.

  • Wellesley Marketplace volunteer: Staff an information table at the Wellesley Marketplace on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Wellesley High School. Also can help us wrap gifts! First volunteers to sign up will get free admission to the event! One time event.

  • Intern: Jr.’s and Seniors in High School and College Students looking for meaningful internships send us your CV.


A few bikes are left for the Spin Class with Radio Personality Sue Brady Hartigan and our spinning leader Andy for a “Fun”- draiser Tomorrow at 7pm.

Reserve Your Seat Today for Sustainable Wellesley’s First Fundraiser Since Gaining its Charitable Status


You know you have been wanting to try out spinning, or perhaps spinning with some new energizing folks, so please register TODAY and join us at Cyclebar, 386 Washington Street on Thursday, November 12th at 7-8pm. Afterwards, join us across the street for continued “fun”-draising at the Local where 10% of proceeds go to Sustainable Wellesley.

Click here to reserve your seat before they sell out. 

Can’t make the ride, but want to join in the festivities?

localCome by the Local (11 Forest St, Wellesley Hills) at 8.15 and/or swing by any time on Thursday and mention Sustainable Wellesley. 10% of all meal costs will proceed Sustainable Wellesley’s programing.

Your generous donations fund a variety of Sustainable Wellesley’s initiatives including: promoting renewable energy, climate education, school programing, conservation, and waste reduction.

Sustainable Wellesley is pleased to announce that it has been granted 501(c)3 status and may now accept charitable, tax-deductible contributions to support and broaden its sustainability initiatives. Can’t make the event, feel free to donate here.

Sustainable Wellesley’s mission is “To engage residents, businesses, and the Town of Wellesley in the actions required for sustainability”. With Wellesley Green Schools now part of the organization, inspiring students to create a healthy, sustainable world, is also one of its core goals.

This volunteer based, 1500-member organization encourages sustainability in a variety of ways in Wellesley by organizing events, promoting learning, and encouraging *action*.

If you want a stronger voice for sustainability in Wellesley and beyond, please choose your level of action: emailing the team about initiatives that you would like to work on; filling out the member survey; going to an interesting event on the calendar; perusing the informative and inspiring website; completing the easy-to-use sustainability checklists; coming to an action meeting; adding your name to the town’s  solar map; pledging to make your lawn pesticide free; or requesting a climate change speaker for your event.  And whatever your level of action please consider making a tax deductible donation to make all of this possible.