sustainable winchester Carolyn Starrett started Sustainable Winchester, a nonprofit organization, in 2005. It’s mission is to educate and raise awareness about sustainability so that residents, officials, and community organizations can be empowered to take action in their day-to-day lives and to incorporate sustainability into our community. Their programs have helped many Winchester homes and public buildings become more energy efficient, facilitated cost-efficient solar power installation for homes, helped to start our Winchester Farmers Market, and lead a path for our town to become a Green Community, qualifying it to be eligible for state grants on our energy projects. A current home energy-efficiency program is WinSAVE2016 which offers extra savings for seniors.

Interview with Carolyn Starrett

Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you started Sustainable Winchester.

I moved to Winchester in 1989, really fresh out of college, and I’ve lived here ever since. I lived here for a while and wasn’t really connected with the community at all. Like a lot of us, I’d just come home at the end of a long day at work and hunker down. Back in 2005, I was taking a transformation leadership type seminar. I just felt like I wanted to shake things up. The question they asked everybody was: If you could pick one part of your life, one group, whether it’s your family or your group of friends, your workplace, or whatever, and you wanted to make a difference, what would you like to do? I thought of Winchester, and at the time we didn’t have an environmental group. I thought “Wouldn’t that be great if we had one?” With the help of that program laying out the roadmap, I put a notice out that I was starting an environmental group in Winchester and anybody would be welcome. That meeting was at the library, and 20 people came. The really cool thing was that beforehand, I didn’t know what to expect – I could be sitting there in a room by myself. I thought “You know, it would be amazing if 20 people came.” And exactly 20 people came! We’ve been meeting weekly ever since, really, and just working on different projects.

When you started building Sustainable Winchester, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
What have been some of the biggest highlights so far?
What do you think has been your organization’s biggest contribution to Winchester?
What do you want the legacy of your organization to be?
Do you think being a woman has impacted how people view you as a businessperson/or head of an organization?
Who is one woman who has inspired you?
Any advice to other female entrepreneurs?