In 1971 I was elected chairman of Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Little did I know at the time that it would trigger an insatiable fascination with the environment. Every land use decision that was made impacted every other resident in our town. Clean air, clean water, and clean land …those were the Commission’s goals.
When I got to the CT legislature in 1977, I specialized in environmental issues. I spent 10 years pursuing legislation that would lead to environmental solutions.
In 1988 I was appointed to head up the regional office of the EPA. That included oversight over the environment in all 6 of the New England States. It was a challenging and satisfying job.
I was then appointed to the board of the Export-Import Bank of the US. “EXIM Bank” where I championed the international environmental initiatives for U.S. companies to export American environmental technologies and services to the world.
Now retired, I continue working on my great passion with NGOs and non-profit organizations. The question remains: “How do we protect the precious places where we live? What is the legacy that we leave to our children and grandchildren?”
Over the years the challenge hasn’t changed though the subjects have realigned. Now it is the powerful demands of Climate Change that resonates for me. It is shocking to me that some people call it “fake news”. Climate is so very real…so scientifically researched…the data of the impact is irrefutable! I find myself disturbed and motivated to speak to friend and foe alike. So, when I go to bed at night it is certainly satisfying to know that I might have made a little difference.
My energy and passion continue on and stay high. How fortunate I have been to play a small role in spreading the word of our extraordinary environmental challenges. I have no intention of giving up!
Dr. Darla Shaw
Dr. Darla Shaw is 80 years old and has lived in Ridgefield, CT. since 1966.
She is in her 63rd year of teaching with her first 38 years in the Ridgefield
School System and her last 25 as a professor of literacy and women’s studies
at Western Ct. State University. Her biggest passion is humanitarian travel
and she has traveled to over 90 countries, mostly third world countries.
Dr. Shaw also plays accordion and steel drums in two bands, dances,
takes on the role of 26 famous historical characters, is a storyteller, blogger
and podcaster, does stand-up comedy, and models for the older, larger woman.
As a recent cancer survivor, Dr. Shaw has done a Ted Talk, is trained in mind and body work for people with cancer and speaks regularly on Don’t Let People Tell You that You will Never Again be 100 Percent.
I go with the flow and live by my bumper sticker for life; ” Accept, Enjoy, Celebrate and Continue to Challenge yourself in Life.”
She is very proud of be a part of this wonderful gallery exhibit honoring the older women with a passion and purpose for living.
American music and fashions made me aspire to sail over to the US from Germany. I was twenty. After working at Leitz in New York, at a bank in San Francisco and later graduating from a local college, I ventured forth to my greatest challenge, teaching at high school for thirty-one years and most of all raising a family. Life was a challenge as a foreigner in an accepting America.
Nowadays life is good, especially when I am looking forward to commiserating with my friends from yoga, jazzercise, weight training, zumba, folk dance classes, swimming or walking. Usually the ‘girls’ are younger, so I struggle to stay just as fit as they are. Also, one of my great joys is traveling, to explore how people in far away countries live life.
My drama class at the local community college hopefully keeps my mind stimulated, spending time to ponder themes and feelings of others and relating them to today’s world. Truly enjoyable are discussions with students who are more than fifty years younger and then learn of their views. After my retirement I worked for another Fine Arts degree, just for the fun of it.
To reflect on art and paint on canvases myself has been my treasured interest for many years and continues to be now. When I try to see the world through an artist’s eye it becomes richer. My creations are not meant to strike awe or make a statement. I choose subjects that make me happy to paint and reflect on. They are signed with “I. Bloom.”
With all my little adventures I wonder how I ever had time for a ‘real’ job during my working life. Except for out of control health issues like breast and skin cancer and open-heart surgery, being of my age now, makes it possible to choosewhat I want to do instead of having to earn a living. What luxury!
Of course, the whipping cream on my cake is being blessed with children and grandchildren to love. Being close to eighty years old, life is full, and I am thankful.