Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hull: The Little Town That Could

If there's something you have to thank CouchSurfing for, is that it takes you to the most unexpected places and puts you in contact with amazing people you would have never met otherwise. And that's how we ended up in Hull, Massachusetts, a little town on a peninsula across from Boston, at the house of Michael and Judeth.

Michael is originally from Boston and told us all those wonderful stories that bring a place to life and which only someone from the area would know. And Judeth is THE activist, having done so much for the community, among them the original carousel from the old Paragon Amusement Park, one of only a hundred left in the U.S., and the Life Saving Museum, the only one of its sort as far as I know.

Her 70th birthday is coming this week and her birthday wish is an easier access to the woods in her community (that they helped save from being turned into yet another condo development, by the way). Here is her request, in her own words:

I would like to invite you to my virtual birthday party on September 21.  This birthday marks 40 years since I moved here.
I thought you might like to help me celebrate my birthday by sending a birthday gift of $10, or whatever you can afford, to help pay for the entrance to the Woods in my town.
Making a difference in my community has been an important part of my life.  This small, densely developed town has an extraordinary nature preserve, the Weir River Woods, that most people have not known about because it lacked a public entrance.  In 2007 when land came up for sale that was critical for protecting the Woods and was also the perfect entrance, I started the Hull Land Conservation Trust, which raised $25,000 and bought the land—with a mortgage and three private loans.
By the beginning of this September, we were down to the last $18,000 to match a State grant for finishing paying for the land.  Birthday gifts so far have gotten us down to $13,600 left to go.
I would be very grateful to you if you could send your birthday note and donation to “HLCT,” P.O. Box 1081, Hull, MA 02045, or online at the Hull Land Conservation Trust.  If you get this email after September 21, please wish me a “belated  birthday.”
Thank you for your caring and support.
With deep gratitude,
P.S.  This project means a great deal to me personally.  When I was little, I loved to play in the woods behind our home in Michigan.  When I went back after my family moved away, the woods were gone, replaced by houses.  So this is my chance to give woods to the children of my town.  I am also very happy that helping lead monthly walks in the Weir River Woods has made my childhood dream of learning about woods come true.  Every time I go there I discover something new.
Judeth Van Hamm
One Hullportside, Hull, MA 02045

Is that enough? Of course not! She's also planning to provide Hull with a solar-powered sustainable transport system: jpods. Which would be a great idea given that there's no public transport during the weekend, as we found out when we had to walk all 4.8 miles to and from Hingham (to then take a bus and a metro) to go to Boston on Sunday. You can read about the system on her article here or see a video (top of posting) of her being interviewed and explaining how it works.
Our lovely hosts with their car & truck

In the meantime, while Judeth is working to make this dream come true and keep Hull clean, silent, and safe, we got to ride on their slow-speed electric car.

It is blissfully silent, comfortable, easy to drive, very safe, perfect to run errands around, and you only visit the gas station for a check up once a year. And if you need to carry big things, there's always the "truck" (the blue one) - a two-seater with a platform in the back.

Plus it's lots of fun!

Michael taking us and our huge backpacks for a last tour of the town and to catch the ferry back to Boston

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