We knew 2020 would be a time of transition for New Pioneers, but we certainly didn’t foresee all of the changes headed our way. Thanks to the support of our Members, Board, and Community, we have adapted and continue our mission to educate, demonstrate and advocate for sustainability in rural central Kentucky. As the intersection between environmental degradation, the pandemic, and racial injustice grows more evident, so too does the realization that these issues pose just as much of a threat to sustainability as issues related to water quality, clean energy, and responsible consumption and production.
Now at the midpoint this wild year, we’d like to share some updates and announcements:
  • Our office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Visitors must wear a mask and practice social distancing.
  • Visit our sustainability store at the office! Current inventory includes reusable bamboo straws  solar lanterns, LED bulbs, stunning stationery, and local pottery.
  • All in-person programs (Moving Forward Forums, Green Festival, 15th Anniversary Gala) have been cancelled until further notice.
Thus far, some of our key projects include:
  • Presenting New Pioneers Academy, a six-week online learning community that explored what could be  learned from the pandemic about living in harmony with Earth and one another. (Program summary and  resources will soon be available online.)
  • Writing an op-ed, “Triple Threats Demand Wisdom and Action”, featured in the Springfield Sun and Lebanon Enterprise.
  • Submitting a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking members to reject a petition that would override states’ rights to set net metering policies, therefore harming solar installers, as well as future and existing solar customers.
  • Implementing the “Upstream, Downstream: A Community Oral History of the Beech Fork Watershed” project, which focuses on illuminating and sharing the history of our region according to the people who live here. It is supported by the Kentucky Oral History Commission, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Loretto Community, and Washington County Public Library.
  • Meeting with community individuals to discuss community engagement in sustainability.

                         Sr. Mary Pierson

  • Initiating an Earth Day Clean-Up Challenge by encouraging folks to do trash pick-ups and post photos online. Participants spanned Marion,  Nelson, and Washington Counties, as well as North Carolina.
Sister Marilyn Pierson was part of the Dominican Sisters at  St. Catherine team that participated in our Earth Day  challenge. They also won the drawing for a pack of sustainable living goodies.
  • Celebrating the retirement of Sister Claire McGowan with a tribute at our digital board meeting (where she was presented with a book that many of you contributed to – thank you!), an online Happy Hour for current and former board members, and a socially-distanced lunch with our cherished office mates at Springfield City Hall. Her farewell letter can be viewed online.
  • Working diligently to ensure the short- and long-term viability of New Pioneers through strategic and financial planning.
  • Improving our marketing and communication efforts to ensure efficient and effective engagement with the community, especially during these times of social distancing.
If you haven’t read our op-ed, I encourage you to do so. The points presented will shape the direction of New Pioneers’ mission and work, which is of immense importance and scale:
“We now face indisputable facts about three interconnected catastrophes that simultaneously threaten our very existence: The pandemic, climate change, and racial injustice… Each of us is challenged by the facts, and by the healthy fear of what will happen if we do not change course, to discover how we actively participate to address  these three interlocking catastrophes.”

In response to those threats, we are learning as much as we can through readings, trainings, and conversations. This process of growing our knowledge and understanding, and then moving to planning and action, is ongoing and ever-evolving.  In the months ahead, we will offer another online learning opportunity, the details of which are being planned. We’re still on track to launch a youth sustainability program by the end of the year, though initial activities will likely be digitally- and/or home-based.

Please let me know if you’d like to learn more about – or be a part of – any of our efforts. If you’d like to become a member, please visit our website or reach out. We’d be delighted to include you in our New Pioneers family!


Whitney Wurzel
Executive Director