November 21, 2012

Nancy Oden, of Jonesboro, environmental activist

By North Cairn ncairn@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Since moving to Washington County in 1979, much of Nancy Oden's environmental activism has focused on curbing or eliminating the use and proliferation of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

click image to enlarge

Nancy Oden harvests medicinal herbs, tansy and goldenrod, in her Jonesboro organic garden.

Photo by Peter Aldridge

An organic grower, she was the leader of successful campaigns over three decades to bar waste incineration and disposal that would have allowed millions of tons of out-of-state garbage to be dumped in townships 30 and 14 in Washington County. She helped halt a proposed jetport in Jonesboro that threatened wetlands, and organized a citizen's referendum to stop virtually all aerial spraying of pesticides in Downeast Maine.

"These issues flow into one another," says Oden, who acknowledges that more than 35 years of activism, virtually all of it without pay, has required constant vigilance and struggle. She has attended countless public meetings, cajoled people to care about issues that often seem too big to tackle, and given up private time to make a difference in the future of the state and the planet.

Oden is a conscientious troublemaker, a characterization she sees as a vindication of her work, not a condemnation. She has agitated against special interests and corporate greed in her unrelenting effort to protect Maine's natural resources, farms, fisheries and families from harm.

Oden's dedication to the effort to preserve a clean earth for future generations has been a spark of hope for other environmental activists in Maine.

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