Muriel Evans Shaw

Remembrance by Martha:

Thank you to my wonderful family and friends, and everybody for being here together with my mom for the last time, born as Grace Muriel Evans, born to Grace Doris McNayr, and great aunt to my cousin Nancy’s own little Gracie. That we are able to share this time together, was an act of Grace.

My mom went by Muriel and in fact she helped to name my own daughter Mariel. Our family is one who honors people by name and acts of love. And today is the day to honor my mom.

How fitting to spend this last time together in the First Church of Nashua, the spiritual home of my parents and grandparents. The last time, and perhaps the only time, I stood right here was at this precise time of year, when I was about the age of Sara Valentina Shaw sitting right there with all of her cousins who were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with their beloved “Gam” when she and her sister-in-law JoAnn thanked us all for not being “boring.”

I stood here as an angel in the Christmas pageant with the other angels in the pageant, Becky Kellogg, Kathy Taylor, Judy Pennington, and Mary Henderson, watching over the “manger” that stood right where mother’s remains are now, encased in a stone of granite.

We watched over the manger as my brothers Fred’rick, David, John, and some of you, walked down the aisle as Wise Men and Kings, Shepards, and in sheep costumes, some my mother had made. And I somehow imagine my brother John even once playing the baby Jesus.

During our lives as a family in this church, we also sang in the choir right there, searching the congregation to catch a look of approval from our parents and grandparents. This church is so full of memories. In Nauss Hall there, my mom and my grandmother and my aunts walked the runway of the mother-daughter fashion show, modeling matching outfits we’d made on our sewing machines together. There were father-son breakfasts, Christmas craft fairs, youth programs and dances.

To be given the opportunity to bid farewell here to a lady who loved you all so much, lived a rich and colorful life in Nashua, and all her life in the Granite State, is an act of Grace.

My mom showed her colors last week as she held fast to a motto she took seriously “Live Free or Die.” She called me a week ago today to say she just wanted to hear my voice and she wasn’t feeling well. This wasn’t the first call like this. In the last 20 years, there were many “scares.” I say scares because I could not fathom a life without my mom. In fact, I don’t think I’m the only one surprised to be here today. She had survived so many near-death experiences, that some of us had begun to think she was immortal. Some kind of miraculous, bionic woman. By Tuesday, her remarkable sons had gathered at the Exeter Hospital around her.

My own journey from Manhattan to Exeter became symbolic of our life together, and the strong will of my mom. I was driving up I-95 and getting text messages from my brothers not to dilly dally, and that mom was “waiting for me.” It occurred to me that maybe she truly was mortal, and I sped up. I began to call my 911- friends from the road to help me control my own heart rate, and heart ache, to just talk. I talked with Holly Leonard, Mary Henderson, Kathy Taylor, Ann Lamaire, Betty Tamposi, Pat Thurber and Diane Strack. It occurred to me somewhere between New London, Connecticut and Providence that my 911-friends were all the same friends as my mom’s, and I had taken that for granted… that this was a typical mother-daughter relationship. But now I realize how unique it was. How lucky we were.

Sometimes mom and I confused ourselves about who was who. When I hurt , she did. When I was happy, she was. We were more of a river than mother and daughter. And like sisters sometimes. She had no qualms telling me flat out what she thought of my hair, or how I was dressed. As I drove up I-95, I began to feel that this wild and wonderful river was heading to the sea.

By I- 495, my brothers were calling me. “Where are you now? Mom says she’s tired of waiting.” Again, I switched persona to become her, afraid that she’d spend her last moment on earth waiting for me instead of enjoying the memories of her life. I spoke to her on the phone, “Mom, please don’t worry about me, I’ll see you on the other side. This isn’t the end, but the beginning of something new.” I tried to cheer her up. I asked John if he could get her thinking about something else. “No, you’re pretty much the only topic right now.” I stepped on the gas pedal. my own breathing sporadic. I was so distraught about letting her down that I missed the Exeter exit.

Well, finally I made it. She held my hand and told me she’d waited for me, and I felt I’d given her an incredible final gift, risking my driving record to do so. As the life passed from her eyes, I played Amazing Grace to her on my iPhone, the hymn she had chosen for her funeral. For a moment, I thought the life had passed from my own. But surprisingly, I was still here.

It was then I had an epiphany. This remarkable woman who had given my brothers and I birth, had given us one final gift. The honor of accompanying her personally to the edge of life as we know it.

This exchange of gifts, this river, had run to the sea as it should. At Christmas as it should be. Just in time to lift our spirits, from the sadness that comes sometimes from being only human. Together, I would ask… for her, for me, and for all of you… that we honor my mom by celebrating the many ways our lives were touched by the amazing Grace Muriel Evans Shaw. And please have a very Merry Christmas..

Remembrance by Martha Shaw

Hoping for the best, or planning for the worst? Business agreements are reached at World Climate Summit in Cancun during COP16.

Hoping for the best, or planning for the worst?
Business agreements are reached at World Climate Summit in Cancun during COP16.

by Martha Shaw

Over 800 business leaders and luminaries from five continents gathered at the inaugural World Climate Summit at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun’s hotel zone to discuss how business can create low carbon markets, despite lack of regulatory support from governments. Meanwhile, several miles down the beach, UNFCCC COP16 delegates from 190 countries were sequestered at the Moon Palace working to agree on a framework to help stave off climate collapse.

Though the hopes for COP16 agreements weren’t high, those of the World Climate Summit business gathering were ‘through the roof.’ And that roof is paved in photovoltaics, lined by rain collectors, sitting atop an energy efficient, non-toxic building not far from a wind turbine, and tied into a local energy grid.

The mood was one of camaraderie and team spirit. Consensus among the CEOs was evident in a unanimous commitment to take drastic measures to reduce their carbon footprints, among other environmental efforts. Attendees also agreed that without a regulatory framework and carbon pricing from the delegates down the beach, it was risky business to finance innovation in a world where petrol and coal is heavily subsidized, and hot new clean energy technologies struggle to see the light of day.

If clean energy could produce just 15-20% of the watts in the electric grid, it would reach the critical mass necessary to create markets that can compete with a dirty energy economy. Yet, getting investment into that group is a bottleneck without conducive policies.

So, where will the leadership come from to lead us out of a crisis wrought with inequalities, in which some countries feel owed something from other countries that got the planet into this mess? As nations face obstacles, consensus is happening at a local level where mayors understand that the private sector has the resources and the entrepreneurial spirit to move the needle. According to talks at the World Climate Summit, the leadership will come from local governments. Working with businesses, cities can show how it’s done. “Cities can do it,” was the rallying cry from this powerful sector, which is more than willing to learn from each other and work together. “Screw it, let’s do it,” was another.

It is predicted that 90% of the world population will be concentrated in cities by the end of the century. Already cities around the world have created models for sustainability out of necessity. Water is being captured and reused, landfill off gasses are being converted to power, and food producers are cropping up in local community gardens in unexpected urban sites.

Attention turned to the shipping industry responsible for transporting goods and supplies around the globe and, oftentimes, leaving oil slicks in their wake and spewing diesel fumes from their tailpipes. Clean tech shipping operations vowed to clean up their act and institute new computerized rating systems for displaying their environmental footprint. Meanwhile, manufacturers made commitments to source more locally.

Participants acknowledged that it is ‘society’ that is bearing the brunt of the world’s dirty fuel economy. Asthma rates in some cities have gone up 500% since 1985. Weather has become extreme. Saltwater is invading coastal buffer zones. Soil is depleted. Already millions of indigenous people have become climate refugees, displaced from their land.

The conversation at the World Climate Summit also turned to women, who hold less than 2-5% of high-level decision-making positions in both government and business, though they are the first to suffer the effect of climate change, along with children. Though underrepresented in the world at large, women at the summit were given the microphone a little more in proportion to their numbers than most events.

Studies presented showed that without women at the table, the world is cooked. At the top of the economic pecking order, companies with women on boards and in executive positions are more prosperous and civil-minded. In the middle of the spectrum, purchasing decisions are overwhelmingly in the hands of women worldwide though earning power for the same jobs still waiver around 60%. At the ground level, lack of education for women and girls is directly correlated to the population explosion of the poor.

Traditional media channels, and new communication technologies that are experiencing exponential growth around the world, were sited at the business summit as an area of opportunity that has yet to be fully tapped in regard to messaging. In a market of sponsored news, the topic turned to how media can foster more public engagement about climate issues. Which media organizations were granted observer and reporting rights at the COP16 itself was of interest to news services, as armed guards screened reporters for credentials at the UNFCCC gateway, called Cancun Messe.

It was agreed at the summit that within the coming months, communication task forces, inside the UN and out, would work together to boost climate literacy, engage business, and help the next generation navigate the inevitable challenges ahead.

At the conclusion of a successful World Climate Summit, businesses who had made the greatest strides toward carbon reduction, waste prevention and other climate-related achievements were honored. Handshakes on new collaborations and partnerships abounded. Attendees agreed unanimously to race ahead toward a clean economy without the framework hoped for from the governments convening down the beach.

It was announced that the 2nd World Climate Summit was already in the works to take place, same time next year, in Durban, South Africa at COP17. For more details about the 2010 World Climate Summit, including the program, speakers, conclusions, announcements, and the coinciding Gigaton Awards, visit

The author, Martha Shaw, is a contributing journalist in the area of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. She founded Earth Advertising and eFlicks Media in 1998 to support the growth of a clean economy. Visit