Inspired by Maine,  taking on Harvard

Inspired by Maine, taking on Harvard

Chloe Maxmin



Faculty coordinator, Divest Harvard

Founder; First Here, Then Everywhere

Chloe Maxmin, who was raised on a farm in Nobleboro, has considered herself a climate activist since she was 12 years old.

Her passion for the environment and career as an activist formed 10 years ago when she learned about a corporate development project that was being planned for Maine’s North Woods. She decided to join a campaign to protect the area from being developed.

Maine is “the largest tract of undeveloped woodland east of the Mississippi,” according to Maxmin. “Plum Creek, which is one of the largest real estate developers in the U.S., wanted to develop the area around Moosehead Lake. I spend a lot of time up there and didn’t want to see that area be destroyed,” said Maxmin, who did research, testified at public hearings and wrote letters to newspapers and public officials in the effort to protect the region.

Now 22, Maxmin is still dedicated to protecting the environment, but in a much larger way. In the fall of 2012, responding to what she called the “frightening power” of the fossil fuel industry, she co-founded Divest Harvard, one of more than 400 campus divestment campaigns in the United States. The goal is to get Harvard, where she is a senior, to divest its $36.4 billion endowment in fossil fuel companies, she said.

According to Maxmin, “each campaign within this movement has that goal, but the larger goal on a more macro level is to stigmatize the fossil industry, weaken political influence by divesting, and open the political space for some sort of meaningful climate legislation.”

Beginning as a small group of people trying to launch a campaign, Divest Harvard, which is in its third year, has gained the support of more than 70,000 people, including students, faculty, alumni and community members, Maxmin said.

At Harvard, Maxmin is majoring in social studies with a secondary in environmental science and public policy.

At her high school, Lincoln Academy, she founded the Climate Action Club, a nationally lauded environmental group that began with small projects, including recycling batteries and doing energy audits on classrooms, eventually launching the largest reusable bag campaign in Maine, said Maxmin. Lincoln Academy also became the first school to install solar panels as a result of a student initiative, she said.

“We raised all the money ourselves,” she said of the project. “We were on the Sundance Channel and people were contacting us from all around the world.”

Maxmin is also the founder of First Here, Then Everywhere, a website where a network of young environmental activists are encouraged to speak out and share stories with other activists around the world – and fight climate change.

“It all started with Maine,” Maxmin said of her efforts. “I do this work because of Maine. It’s what I am passionate about. I love my home.

“No matter who you are, where you’re from, how small your town is, how many people you’re with, you can make a difference and can inspire others to do the same,” she said.

Maine Women October/November 2014Chloe Maxmin, a senior at Harvard University from Nobleboro, is the co-founder of Divest Harvard, a student-led campaign that calls upon Harvard to immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies and divest its $36.4 billion endowment in the fossil fuel industry. 

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