This past summer, in the midst of a major office cleanout, I made some important archaeological finds: a worn but loved ’50 purple beanie, a gift, which I have worn in the alumnae parade; a pica pole; a light table; and a lot of slides. (These latter elicited amazement from our student worker, who had not seen these “little pictures” before. Yeah, how to feel old.) But the best discovery was a letter sent to me by Lily Susan Marston ’32, just after I was introduced as the magazine’s new editor in the spring 1997 issue. She did not miss the fact that I had gone to Another Women’s College.
“WELCOME TO WELLESLEY,” she wrote. “You are forgiven for choosing Holyoke over Wellesley. You were ‘young.’” She goes on: “I’m a Wellesley ‘late bloomer,’ flowering in what is known as the ‘waning’ years of life, euphemistically called ‘the Golden Years,’ into both a writer and an active, activist radical feminist. You’ll be hearing from me. I’ve found my voice—and how!” After describing how women had emerged “from our much too recent history of our absorption by our modern version of Neanderthal man,” she ended with a cheery, “Non Ministrari sed Ministrare together, Sister Alice!”
Chuckling, I realized this was someone then in her late 80s who had suddenly found her voice as an activist. I wondered what it was that made her speak out.
Twenty years later, we are living in a fractious and tumultuous period—one filled with voices amplified by social media, sometimes spewing blatant untruths and hate. In the midst of all this noise, how do we find our voices and make what we’re saying count?
Sometimes it’s starting small, with generosity and openness. After the havoc brought by floodwaters in Houston, and as Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida, a single alum on Facebook asked a question: “Can we start a list of currently available places for people evacuating from natural disasters?” Within minutes, dozens of alumnae from all over the country were offering rooms and homes to Wellesley families, yards where evacuated pets could play. For me, that moment of generosity was a wonderful antidote to all the distress swirling through the news that week.
A single voice can give hope and bring solace. A single voice, joined with others, can help to bring needed change.
All of which is a long way of explaining why we chose to do this special “green” issue. For some time, we have been noticing an active and growing cohort of Wellesley alumnae—as well as students, faculty, and staff—working in fields related to the environment. Many voices calling for better stewardship of the Earth, women (and men) taking action.
There is Marianne Moore, Frost Professor of Environmental Science, emerita, who overcame numerous obstacles to collaborate with Russian scientists and understand the effects of global warming in Siberia. There’s Jae Rhim Lee ’98, who started a company to promote environmentally friendly burial practices. And Sarah McBride ’18, who is working to get students to recycle and live more sustainably. And so many others who are featured in this special issue.
Climate change is not a myth. The need for sustainable practices is very real. With this issue, we seek to amplify these voices in our wider community calling for action—large and small, global and local.
Non Ministrari sed Ministrare together, friends.