About

New Canaan's Lee Garden in the Spring

Our Mission

Planet New Canaan is a non-partisan group, founded by local community members, committed to bringing awareness about the environmental issues facing New Canaan and the broader world. Through educational presentations, community outreach and new initiatives, we seek to inspire action that improves our town’s sustainability.

Our History

The Beginnings

Planet New Canaan was conceived in 2016. Robin Bates-Mason, a New Canaan resident and active volunteer, attended an environmental program at Grace Farms and came away inspired to create an organization for New Canaan residents concerned about the environment.

Robin, along with Katie Owsley and Margot Bright, led the first efforts to explore the opportunity to create a New Canaan organization that actively seeks to help the environment, locally and globally.

The original core team began with research. The team reached out to environmental groups in nearby towns, including Wilton Go Green, the Darien Advisory Committee on Sustainability, Darien Environmental Group, and Live Green CT. The conclusion reached: New Canaan should have its own environmental group.

As a result, Robin, Katie and Margot formed Planet New Canaan. The objective: to educate residents and improve sustainability — to make our town greener.

Planet New Canaan started with the help and financial sponsorship of the New Canaan Nature Center — scheduling meetings at their facility, and having the Nature Center handle PNC’s financial contributions.

Planet New Canaan’s First Initiatives

When residents Miki Porta, Christina Fagerstal, Julie Smith and Lynn Canaan came on board to create the Programs Committee, Planet New Canaan was officially in business.

The first project focused on reducing plastic bag usage. Another local conservation group, BYO New Canaan was pursuing legislative changes to ban plastic bags. Planet New Canaan got involved first by showing Bag It at the New Canaan Library, a documentary about plastic’s harmful effects. PNC then met with New Canaan merchants and encouraged them to stop handing out plastic bags. This conservation movement successfully resulted in New Canaan’s local ordinance banning carryout plastic ban, issued August 27, 2019.

Over the next five years, Planet New Canaan has been an environmental leader in New Canaan, helping implement numerous sustainability projects. As a result, these accomplishments helped New Canaan earned a Bronze-Level 2020 Sustainable CT Certification. Programs include:

  • Annual Five Mile River clean-up with Surfrider Foundation;
  • Establishment of the New Canaan Pollinator Pathway; PNC was one of the founding members, June 2019
  • Bi-annual native plant fundraiser with Copia Home and Garden, starting in Spring 2019
  • Seasonal pumpkin and Christmas Tree recycling, starting in 2020
  • Food Scraps Recycling program at the New Canaan Transfer Station, starting November 2020
  • Established as a tax-exempt non-profit 501(C)(3), January 2021 
  • Native tree funding campaign for Waveny Park, April 2021
  • Ongoing educational programs with the New Canaan Library

Working in Partnership with the Town of New Canaan

Our close relationship with the Town of New Canaan, especially the New Canaan Nature Center, the Department of Public Works, The Parks & Recreation Department, has been essential to our progress. Volunteers are the engine that drive our success. We are indebted every day to our members and residents who volunteer their time. But we also know: there is more work to do!

Robin Bates Mason at the Farmer's Market in Aoril 2018
Three Planet New Canaan members posed in front of the collected pumpkins
Planet New Canaan introducing itself to New Canaan at the May Fair 2018
Checking out City Carting Facility
Presentation at library on how to recyclie
Planet New Canaan's Programming Committee who helped start PNC
Shows Planet New Canaan's Accomplishment of Being recognized by Sustainable CT

Meet Planet New Canaan’s team: volunteers who are residents of New Canaan and are committed to driving positive change. We are grateful for their passion and the time our volunteers have spent educating and inspiring action from our town and neighbors.  

Our Mission

Planet New Canaan is a non-partisan group, founded by local community members, committed to bringing awareness about the environmental issues facing New Canaan and the broader world. Through educational presentations, community outreach and new initiatives, we seek to inspire action that improves our town’s sustainability.

New Canaan's Lee Garden in the Spring

Our History

The Beginnings

Planet New Canaan was conceived in 2016. Robin Bates-Mason, a New Canaan resident and active volunteer, attended an environmental program at Grace Farms and came away inspired to create an organization for New Canaan residents concerned about the environment.

Robin, along with Katie Owsley and Margot Bright, led the first efforts to explore the opportunity to create a New Canaan organization that actively seeks to help the environment, locally and globally.

The original core team began with research. The team reached out to environmental groups in nearby towns, including Wilton Go Green, the Darien Advisory Committee on Sustainability, Darien Environmental Group, and Live Green CT. The conclusion reached: New Canaan should have its own environmental group.

As a result, Robin, Katie and Margot formed Planet New Canaan. The objective: to educate residents and improve sustainability — to make our town greener.

Planet New Canaan started with the help and financial sponsorship of the New Canaan Nature Center — scheduling meetings at their facility, and having the Nature Center handle PNC’s financial contributions.

Planet New Canaan’s First Initiatives

When residents Miki Porta, Christina Fagerstal, Julie Smith and Lynn Canaan came on board to create the Programs Committee, Planet New Canaan was officially in business.

The first project focused on reducing plastic bag usage. Another local conservation group, BYO New Canaan was pursuing legislative changes to ban plastic bags. Planet New Canaan got involved first by showing Bag It at the New Canaan Library, a documentary about plastic’s harmful effects. PNC then met New Canaan merchants and encouraged them to stop handing out plastic bags. This conservation movement successfully resulted in New Canaan’s local ordinance banning carryout plastic ban, issued August 27, 2019.

Over the next five years, Planet New Canaan has been an environmental leader in New Canaan, helping implement numerous sustainability projects. As a result, these accomplishments helped New Canaan earned a Bronze-Level 2020 Sustainable CT Certification. Programs include:

  • Annual Five Mile River clean-up with Surfrider Foundation;
  • Establishment of the New Canaan Pollinator Pathway; PNC was one of the founding members, June 2019
  • Bi-annual native plant fundraiser with Copia Home and Garden, starting in Spring 2019
  • Seasonal pumpkin and Christmas Tree recycling, starting in 2020
  • Food Scraps Recycling program at the New Canaan Transfer Station, starting November 2020
  • Established as a tax-exempt non-profit 501(C)(3), January 2021 
  • Native tree funding campaign for Waveny Park, April 2021
  • Ongoing educational programs with the New Canaan Library

Working in Partnership with the Town of New Canaan

Our close relationship with the Town of New Canaan, especially the New Canaan Nature Center, the Department of Public Works, The Parks & Recreation Department, has been essential to our progress. Volunteers are the engine that drive our success. We are indebted every day to our members and residents who volunteer their time. But we also know: there is more work to do!

Meet Planet New Canaan’s team: volunteers who are residents of New Canaan and are committed to driving positive change. We are grateful for their passion and the time our volunteers have spent educating and inspiring action from our town and neighbors.  

Robin Bates-Mason

Robin Bates-Mason

President

Robin is a 21 year resident of New Canaan and a lifelong nutmegger, with the exception of a few years in both Boston and New York City. A graduate of Darien High School and Dickinson College with a career in finance before starting a family. An active volunteer, Robin is also a board member for New Canaan Beautification League, New Canaan League of Women Voters, a member of New Canaan Town Council and New Canaan Sustainable Team Leader. An avid gardener and composter who has been hard at work turning her property into a bird and pollinator paradise. On most weekends, Robin can be found hiking with her family and her dog Cookie.

Lynn Canaan

Lynn Canaan

Outreach, Programs Committee

Lynn and her family moved to New Canaan in 2003 after 8 years in London and Surrey, England, and 3 years in Darien. A graduate of Cornell University with a Masters in Nutrition Education from Columbia University Teachers College, she is a Registered Dietitian. Growing up in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, Lynn was influenced by the environmental activism of folk-singer Pete Seeger and his Clearwater organization’s efforts to clean up the Hudson River. As a member of BYO New Canaan, Lynn worked on the Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance passed in 2019. She is a Board member of the New Canaan League of Women Voters, a member of BYO CT, Sustainable Fairfield County and the Cornell University Council. A fitness enthusiast, Lynn enjoys swimming, running, biking, hiking and contemporary modern dance.

Peter Hanson

Peter Hanson

Photographer

Peter has been a New Canaan resident since 1965. Peter and his wife Karen mow with a mulching electric mower, rake their own leaves, compost, have solar panels, and often walk the 1½ miles to Main and Elm. Peter has planted almost all the trees and bushes at his house. He grew up in Wilton CT, graduated from St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Lafayette College, and Columbia Business School. He was publisher of Money magazine at Time Inc., taught Publishing and Public Speaking at Pace University, and has volunteered at the New Canaan Nature Center, and now with the New Canaan Beautification League.

Stephanie Ladd

Stephanie Ladd

Special Events Design

Beth Sanford

Beth Sanford

Communications/PR, Advisory Council

Beth Sanford, a 23-year-resident of New Canaan, has spent her career as a marketing executive in the content media business, including HBO, AMC Networks and Lifetime Television. Beth is a partner in the New Canaan-based Hyphen3, a strategic-marketing consulting firm that she founded in 2006.​ A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Business School, Beth raised three children in New Canaan, all of whom graduated from New Canaan High School. Beth is a long-time naturalist and environmentalist. She proudly participated as a student leader in the first Earth Day in 1970, attended NOLS as a teenager, and has been a skiing enthusiast, a sometimes birder, a perennial admirer of open space and protector of all things natural throughout her life.

Ulrika Veroude

Ulrika Veroude

Initiatives

Heather Boulanger

Heather Boulanger

Membership

Heather grew up in Arizona and found herself in various locations in California post college followed by a long stay in Illinois before moving to New Canaan in the Fall of 2016. Along the way, she noticed how each location handled waste management and approached topics such as composting, recycling, and climate change implications. She saw first hand how she could make a difference at her children’s first elementary school in Winnetka, IL. Pulling from that experience and finding other parents with similar concerns, Heather worked with a newly focused Green Team to increase awareness at South School pre-Covid. Heather hopes to continue to make a greater impact as a part of Planet New Canaan. An active volunteer, Heather has served on school boards from nursery school to her current role on the Saxe PTC and loves acting as co-leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

Christina Fagerstal

Christina Fagerstal

Programs Committee

Christina Fagerstal grew up mainly in Southern California where she spent much time visiting the mountains and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. She developed a love of nature and animals at an early age. Since attending college in New England, Christina has lived mainly on the East Coast of the U.S. Christina and her husband have lived in New Canaan for over twenty years and have raised their three children in this community. While her husband commuted to New York City and traveled around the world, Christina volunteered in the public schools and with many other local organizations. Christina enjoys hiking with her dogs in the woods and planting native plants in her garden.

Skip Hobbs

Skip Hobbs

Advisory Council

G. Warfield “Skip” Hobbs is a geologist, farmer and conservationist. He has been a resident of New Canaan since 1980, and is passionate about preservation of New Canaan’s open spaces and historic buildings, sustainability, and educating the public about the reality of climate change. Skip is a graduate of Yale College and the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London. He is the founder and managing partner of Ammonite Resources, an international geological consulting company. When not working on geological projects, Skip manages a family farm in Massachusetts where he raises grass-fed beef and organically grown vegetables and bees. Hobbs served as the president of the American Geosciences Institute, an organization that represents over 250,000 earth scientists in 52 professional societies; and currently serves as the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents in Washington. Locally, Skip is a past president of the New Canaan Nature Center; served on the former town Tree Commission; is a board member of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance; served on the board of the Old Faithful Fire Company; and is the immediate past-president of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Associates.

Katie Owlsley

Katie Owlsley

Treasurer

Katie has been an active member of the New Canaan community for 17 years. Since moving to New Canaan from Boston, she has served as an appointed member of the New Canaan Parks and Recreation Committee, the Head of the Girls Program for New Canaan Lacrosse, the co-President of the Saxe Middle School Parent Teacher Committee, and a Board Member at St. Luke’s School. Prior to leaving the workforce to stay home with her three daughters, Katie served as the Budget Director for two Boston area nonprofits, managing grants from the U.S. Departments of Health and Education. She graduated from Williams College with a BA in Art History.

Rebecca Tribelli

Rebecca Tribelli

Initiatives

Rebecca grew up on a sustainable tree farm in North Central Wisconsin before moving to Milwaukee to earn her degree from the University of Wisconsin in Management Information Systems. Following graduation, she began working for a regional mutual fund company and transferred to New York City to work as a financial analyst. After more than a decade in finance, Rebecca shifted to strategic corporate marketing and market segmentation strategy for a global event portfolio. In 2020, Rebecca chose to pursue a more personally purposeful career path and returned to graduate school to earn her Masters Certificates in Corporate Sustainability & Innovation from Harvard and Sustainable Business Strategy from Harvard Business School. She is currently a Corporate Social Responsibility consultant working with Fortune 500 firms. Rebecca and her husband moved to New Canaan in fall of 2017 and have two young children. Rebecca is also Chair of the Green Team at South School, an active member of the New Canaan Land Trust Events & Programming Committee, is the Troop Leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, a Religious Education instructor at St. Aloysius, and volunteer coaches her daughter’s softball team. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and their two rescue dogs, traveling, hiking, and exploring as many National Parks as possible.

Margot Bright

Margot Bright

Secretary

Margot has been an active member in the community of New Canaan for the past 20 years. In addition to being a founding member of Planet New Canaan, she has served on the Saxe PTC Board, vestry at St. Mark’s, co-chaired the church youth group, volunteered at New Canaan Mounted Troop’s program for disabled children, and served on numerous fundraising projects for causes in New Canaan. Margot has a finance background, with a BS from The Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. She had a career in corporate banking for 10 years and served as a treasurer in the cable and broadband business for 13 years. She is passionate about making New Canaan a sustainable town which can serve as a model for other communities.

Bill Flynn

Bill Flynn

Advisory Council

As Executive Director of the New Canaan Nature Center, a leading not-for-profit environmental education organization, Bill Flynn serves as an advisor to Planet New Canaan. Bill’s experience, environmental expertise, and inspiration serves as a real asset to our team. A graduate of University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Wildlife Biology, Bill has dedicated his career to environmental education, awareness, and advocacy. His tenure at the Nature Center began in 2010 the Director of Animal Care until his appointment as the Executive Director in 2017. In his free time, Bill plays hockey, plays music and loves spending time outdoors

John Kriz

John Kriz

John is a 30 year resident of New Canaan. He is on the Planning and Zoning Commission, a former member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, a member of the Exchange Club, and an officer of the Cannon Grange. In addition, he has been a board member of the Connecticut Farmland Trust, a land trust focused on farmland preservation, for over a decade, and heads its Governance committee. A finance professional in the institutional asset management business, he is also an award-winning amateur winemaker, and is a beekeeper and candlemaker.

Micaela Porta

Micaela Porta

Programs Committee

Miki Porta is a freelance writer, editor, and curator. In 2009, she and her family moved to New Canaan, where she has worked actively on various nonprofit and community initiatives. Miki co-founded Pesticide-Free New Canaan to promote safer, chemical-free lawn care, and is currently president of the League of Women Voters of New Canaan. She works at New Canaan Library in materials management and as project lead on its Design for Freedom pilot partnership with Grace Farms, toward eliminating forced labor from the global construction supply chain.

Julie Smith

Julie Smith

Programs Committee

Julie grew up in the Finger Lakes in upstate NY. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in applied economics and business management and moved to NYC to work in banking. She later switched to the nonprofit realm and worked for PBS WNET until she and her husband decided to move to Old Greenwich, CT to start a family in 1997. They later moved to Riverside, CT, and have resided in New Canaan for the last 9 years. Julie is also a board member for the League of Women Voters of New Canaan and NAMI Southwest. She enjoys spending time with her extended family, travel, and cooking.

Join Our Mailing List

Find Out More