Judeth Van Hamm’s home in Hull has a perfect location for someone fighting global warming – because her house is on a hill that provides a perfect view of the ocean below, which slowly is rising due to the melting of ice at the top and bottom of the world.
It is that subject, which recently drew a friend to her house, where Van Hamm greeted the visitor with an apology for the work clothes she was wearing. That, of course, was unnecessary for someone who is used to Van Hamm’s seemingly endless absorption with a variety of concerns that must be taken care of.
It is her activism for the town of Hull over the years she has lived there that has given Van Hamm renown across the entire South Shore. Her achievements in the town include providing it with a carousel and a lifesaving museum, which not only are enjoyed by Hull residents but also, during summer months, draw many visitors. Another of her contributions to Hull is the creation of a land conversation trust.
Because Van Hamm always has to make better what has to be fixed, when she became aware that the earth was warming – to the extent that not long into the future most species on the planet would not be able to survive – she knew she had to take on this potential disaster.
With determination, a clear mind, and total belief in her own abilities, Van Hamm branched out beyond Hull and created an organization called Sustainable South Shore. Later, she persuaded all of Hull’s boards to add another one: Hull Clean Energy Climate Action Committee.
What is perhaps the most extraordinary of her abilities is the number of responsibilities she can handle at the same time. Besides chairing Sustainable South Shore and co-chairing 350 Mass South Shore, both of which are devoted to replacing the burning of fossil fuels with clean and sustainable energy provided by sun, wind, and water, she recently created a climate-warming film series, which will run through Feb. 22. (Viewers can tune in on their computers at wwwHullTV.com.)
Among those films is one by David Attenborough, which has to do with the rabid extinction of species all over the world. Called “Extinction,” the film had a profound effect on Van Hamm, which she expressed: “One of the stories in the film is about two rhinos, a mother and a daughter, who are the last of their species. Watching them together, to know that, is heartbreaking.”
An admirer of this woman, who undertakes so many causes and sees them through, always with determination and a light heart, makes one wonder how Van Hamm maintains her enthusiasm.
“I believe in the power of people, thousands of people, a thought I keep in mind. And I give thanks always for that miracle,” she added, extending her arms, as if she were embracing the entire planet.
Constance Gorfinkle is a resident of Hull.