Daphne Dixon takes reins of Wilton Go Green

When Daphne Dixon, the new executive director of Wilton Go Green Inc. looks back, she can identify the moment in her life the environment became so important to her.

“It goes back to childhood and growing up in a time where the town I lived in in California was experiencing a severe drought, and as a child it was pretty scary to watch the lawn turn brown, and for water not to be served in restaurants, and for water rationing. It made me realize at a very young age, natural resources are something to be respected and protected,” said Dixon, who is busy planning Wilton Go Green’s next major effort.

The Fairfield resident’s first initiative will be the first How Green is Our Town symposium, designed to bring environmental constituents, Wilton officials, businesses and residents together to identify and develop a five-year action plan for advancing the organization’s and town’s shared vision for a sustainable, environmentally responsible community.

The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 29 at Wilton Library. Gary Cuneen, the founder and executive director of Seven Generations Ahead, will address the symposium.

The nonprofit Wilton Go Green was founded by a group of citizens to engage the community in conservation and sustainability practices. It complements the work of the Wilton Energy Commission, in collaboration with town officials and staff, schools and also with kindred nonprofits across the state.

“We want to engage all sectors of the community and highlight all the great programs and initiatives that existing organizations currently have and make all the good work that’s going on in Wilton transparent, so we can leverage everything we’re doing, and work toward Wilton Go Green’s vision of having Wilton become the greenest community in Connecticut,” Dixon said. “There’s a lot of passionate people in Wilton who are dedicated to doing what’s right for everybody.”

Dixon is known in Connecticut as the founder and executive director of Live Green CT, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2010. She also organizes the Green Drinks events from Stamford up the Long Island Sound coast to Stratford.

She holds a degree in English from the University of California at Los Angeles. Her career in the environment began after she took a gardening class in Stamford.

“What really started all this was in 2007, I went through the master gardener program at Bartlett [Arboretum], a national program run through state colleges. While going through that program, I was inspired during the core session on soil. We had a remarkable instructor who talked about soil, and about how everything we do including the pesticides people might use or the fertilizer people might use, everything we use in our yard potentially ends up in our drinking water. So I was really struck by the importance of what we can do as private citizens and what we can do to protect our water,” Dixon said.

“All the things I had been doing, and people do, that they don’t realize have  a serious impact on our water, and consequently our wildlife and at some point us. If someone is using pesticides, whatever you spray out there is going out to our environment in one way or another and it will come back to us. Nothing really goes away.”

Dixon is a firm believer in local action, which can often expand itself to achieving much broader national and international goals.

“It all starts in your own backyard, that’s what I believe,” Dixon said. “As people get involved in local politics, and politicians rise through the ranks, the people we have are a reflection of how we are involved in our own communities. That’s where it all begins. Our country is made up of 15,000 towns and collectively these towns make up our country. It’s important for people to get involved and do what they can. It makes us who we are as a country.”

Wilton Go Green president Peg Koellmer said Dixon is the first-ever executive director of the organization.

“Wilton Go Green has grown steadily since its founding in 2009,” said Koellmer. “Bringing Daphne on board reflects the organization’s continued commitment to help Wilton become the most environmentally sustainable town in Connecticut.”

Over the past six years, Wilton Go Green has spearheaded numerous initiatives, such as the Wilton Energy Challenge, the WGG/Wilton Library Green Speaker Series, the Bring Your Own Bag campaign, the annual Wilton Go Green Festival, the Green Business Designation program, and, most recently, the town-wide No Idling campaign.

“I became involved with WGG because I believe in its mission and am continually inspired by the passion of our members. Our driving force is bringing together community members, municipal leaders, businesses and organizations with environmental and sustainability knowledge, initiatives and ideas to help solve our toughest challenges. I’m immensely grateful for the WGG leadership and I look forward to working with our amazing board and volunteers,” Dixon said.

Information: wiltongogreen.org.