Ellie Goldberg stands as a stalwart advocate for environmental health, having played a pivotal role in Green Newton since the early 1990s. Her journey into environmental activism was ignited by a personal concern for public health amidst the prevalent use of pesticides in Newton’s schools and parks. In 1994, Goldberg received a grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute to address the use of pesticides. “My kid came home from middle school one day and said, ‘Mom, kids are throwing up on the soccer field.’” This incident served as a critical catalyst for Goldberg to advocate vigorously for safer alternatives.

Goldberg’s engagement with Green Newton was grounded in a collective endeavor to promote environmentally responsible practices. The aim was to establish policies for pesticide alternatives due to extensive pesticide use in schools and parks. “I put a little article in the school newsletter, and it stimulated a review on some of the policies and practices,” said Goldberg. Through her activism in Green Decade, which later evolved into Green Newton, Goldberg found a supportive community for her advocacy efforts. “Green Decade provided the platform for this initiative,” Goldberg noted. She adopted the motto “Don’t spray them, outsmart them,” underscoring the campaign’s dedication to educating and empowering the community.

Goldberg’s initiatives transcended mere advocacy to practical solutions. For twenty years, she hosted an alternative to pesticides month. Goldberg additionally founded Rachel Carson Day, a holiday to spread awareness on the author’s message regarding the urgency of environmental issues. Looking forward, Goldberg reiterated her dedication to addressing pressing environmental issues, such as the proliferation of unrepaired gas leaks in Newton, “Newton has hundreds and hundreds of unrepaired gas leaks.”

Goldberg’s dedication and contributions recently garnered recognition when she was nominated as Newton’s Commonwealth Heroine by Representative Kay Khan. This nomination celebrates Goldberg’s tireless efforts and leadership in advancing environmental causes and community health over the decades. For Goldberg, this honor underscores the impact of grassroots activism in effecting positive change and serves as a testament to her enduring commitment to making Newton a healthier and safer place for all residents.

In addition, the recognition she received validates a lifetime dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and community health with Green Newton, as well as other nonprofit groups, including Mothers Out Front, Clean Water Action and 350Mass. Her story exemplifies resilience and community building. Continuing her work, Goldberg’s message remains resolute, “My recipe, like on my Facebook page, you show up, you stand up, you speak up, and you team up.”

Author Jessica Schwarz is a Green Newton intern and Boston University student.