Showing posts from June, 2017

Arthritis Foundation

Recently, a good friend wrote to me, “in recognition of your birthday and in memory of your mom, I’ve donated $50 to the Arthritis Foundation . [His employer] will match this donation 100%.” I’m incredibly touched by the gesture, and by his remembrance of my mother, whom he had actually never met. She suffered from the debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis for over 40 years, with strength, defiance and never a compliant. Thanks, Chris. Today, I matched his contribution to the Arthritis Foundation, in memory of my mother.

Climate Reality Leaders training, day 3

Today, I completed my training for the Climate Reality Project . Great sessions today, with climate reality leaders telling stories of what they’ve done, as well as breakouts on industry impact and strategic messaging. An action oriented day and we left energized to do more. The Massachusetts chapter is hundreds strong and soon to divide into smaller regions. I’m looking forward to staying active and I’m really looking at State and City level actions as something meaningful that I contribute to.

Climate Reality Leaders training, day 2

Today, I went back for day 2 of the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps training. Remember that two-hour slide show I mentioned yesterday? Well, Al Gore delivered a 10-minute version of it in the morning. Gore also introduced a trailer for the upcoming Inconvenient Sequel , opening at a theater near you on July 28, and it got a standing ovation. I thought that only happened at Comic-Con. [youtube] We got to hear Gore give that 10-minute presentation, heard from an Indivisible organizer, and listened to panels of scientists and public health experts. (They also organized for some direct action here in Seattle/Bellevue, but I had to duck out to do some work.) The tone is shifting toward how to be an activist. Climate Reality Project also got us up and running on their “hub” – an online forum they use to keep us connected and active. Best of all, Gore’s presentations are available on the hub, so we can download them and

Climate Reality Leaders training, day 1

Today was the first day of the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps training. It was a long day, but pretty inspiring. Among other things we did today, I got to experience Al Gore run through his continuously updated Inconvenient Truth deck. His goal was to address three questions: 1) Must we change, 2) Can we change, 3) Will we change. His answers of course were yes, yes and yes. He spent 90 minutes on question 1, 20 minutes on question 2 and 10 minutes on question 3, which felt unbalanced but was still amazing. And, yes, the thought of sitting through a two-hour PowerPoint presentation seems daunting; Gore’s got it down. There were 800 participants in the room and when this training is over, there’ll be over 12,500 trained climate reality leaders. I don’t feel like I’m trained to give a two-hour presentation but I’ll take a few talking points away. And I’ll feel honored to be among this group. I met folks from all walks of life from teachers and students, to firefighters and emer

Letter to the EPA

Methane emissions are 84 times worse for global climate change than the same amount (by mass) of carbon dioxide emissions. While major methane leaks have occurred, they’re also a stealthy emission, occurring at different points of the oil and gas industry supply chain. It’s in the best interest of the industry to limit those emissions, of course, because each pound of methane that’s emitted is a pound of methane they can’t sell as natural gas. And it’s in the best interest of the environment. So limiting methane emissions is a win-win, right? It defies economic and environmental logic to hear that the administration is halting its rules to reduce methane leaks from oil and natural gas drilling wells. Today, I wrote a letter to the Scott Pruitt, the EPA head, asking him to reconsider his reconsideration and put the rules back in place. I responded to a request from the Environmental Defense Fund , but I used my only language to stress the economic importance of the move to America.

Bonus shift as a herring monitor

It’s getting to the end of the herring monitor season, for the Mystic River Watershed Association . Today, I happened to be in town today so I picked up one last shift this morning. I counted zero fish during my shift, which was to be expected.They’ll keep counting for another week just to be sure, but the herring have pretty much all migrated back out to be sea by now. It was a beautiful day.

The legacy of Vincent Chin

Thirty-five years ago yesterday, Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit, at his own bachelor party. His killers were white American autoworkers who hunted him down outside a bar and yelled, “It’s because of you <bleep> that we’re out of work.” He was Chinese, not Japanese, as if that should have mattered. What does matter is that the killers admitted to the murder, yet they served no jail time and were sentenced to three years probation. “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail,” the judge said . The case was a rallying point for the Asian-American community to advocate for protecting Asian-Americans in hate crimes legislation. One of the killers is still alive and a peaceful candlelight vigil was organized last night outside his home. I couldn’t make it to Henderson, Nevada. But I did make a donation to Asian Americans Advancing Justice , an organization that formed after the Vincent Chin murder.

Cartooning for Peace

“How will they explain this to the world? I am being taken into custody for drawing cartoons,” Turkish cartoonist told reporters last year, while his newspaper, Cumhuriyet, was being raided. Today, I read a fascinating report, Report on the Situation of Cartoonists Worldwide 2016/2017 ,  published by Cartooning for Peace. And the situation isn’t great. The report goes into press freedoms in countries from the Americas to Europe to Asia to Africa. And everywhere, it seems, press freedom is under pressure, which includes political cartoonists. Indeed the profiles of cartoonists in exile make for good reading. And I love the samples of cartoonists in the report. I wanted to feature a few here, but I also want to respect their copyrights, so I suggest you read the report yourself. I’ll also make a donation to Reporters without borders, though I’m in the air right now, so that will have to wait.

Climate Diplomacy Week

This week is Climate Diplomacy Week , an annual occasion during which there are convenings around the world to discuss the importance of including climate considerations in foreign and defense policy. Because climate isn’t an issue for EPA and environmental ministries; it’s a diplomatic and security matter. While I highlight Climate Diplomacy Week, there actually aren’t many ways for ordinary citizens to participate. Bummer. Today, I signed up for the Climate Diplomacy Week newsletter. Ho hum. But I also completed some onboarding work for my Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps work in Seattle next week. Looking forward to it!

Thunderclap for Planned Parenthood

I’ve written before about Planned Parenthood, the $1.3 billion non-profit that provides reproductive health services as well as primary care. Recent legislative moves have put into doubt access to primary healthcare for 2.4 million Planned Parenthood patients. That’s larger than the population of 15 states, including New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia and Maine. Today, I joined in a Thunderclap campaign in support of Planned Parenthood, lending a timed Twitter post to the campaign with a “Pink Out Day” message. The idea is to join in a show of force that lawmakers can’t ignore.

World Refugee Day

June 20 is World Refugee Day. More than 65 million people have been forced to leave their homes and start over. But those circumstances shouldn’t define who they are as individuals. Each has a story to tell. Today, I donated my Facebook profile through the Western Union Foundation, to give the opportunity for a refugee to tell his story. Refugees aren’t statistics; they’re people. Jackdar’s story, how we ended up in Mexico, is now on Facebook. You can do the same here: . The Western Union Foundation will make a donation for every Facebook profile that is given over.  

Climate bill on carbon pricing in Massachusetts

Two weeks, ago I wrote to the Massachusetts House chairman for the   Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy to advocate for two climate bills. There’s a hearing on one of those bills (S.1821/H.1726), which covers carbon pricing in Massachusetts. Today, I wrote the Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee, urging for support for the bill. I hope my testimony will be read in the hearing and that the committee will push the bill along.


“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said. What I’m doing doesn’t make me great, but I’d at least like to play my part.  Today, I finished reading Bill Clinton’s Giving , his paean to public service. “How each of us can change the world,” reads the tagline. And Clinton goes through different approaches to how citizens can serve, from giving money and giving time, to giving things and giving skills.  I was hoping to find further inspiration from the book. Truth be told, Clinton spends too much time talking about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Bono, Carlos Slim, Ira Magaziner and the like. Not very accessible or inspiring to us normal folk. He recognizes the disconnect but just can’t help himself.  Still, the book reminded me of many worthwhile organizations to reach out to, from Kiva to Ashoka to Global Giving and others. So if his aim was to throw a bunch of ideas at me and see if one would stick, then he may have achieved his goal. 

The Mary Wakefield Trust

In nearby Milton, Massachusetts, there’s a little-known gem called the Wakefield Estate. It’s over 22 acres of formal gardens, orchards, woodlands and wetlands, open to the public for is an informal stroll or guided tour. “Polly” Wakefield donated the estate to a trust. She was an outspoken public and legislative advocate of natural spaces in the community, including as a trustee of Massachusetts Horticultural Association and a founding member of the Friends of the Public Garden in Boston. Today, I donated to the Mary Wakefield Trust, which maintains the impressive grounds of the estate and hosts educational programs. I couldn’t be at their fundraiser tonight, but I wanted to make sure I gave.

I'm Still In

The Climate Reality Project is running a campaign to demonstrate the multiple levels of support among Americans for the Paris Climate Agreement, including at the regional, state and city levels, as well as among businesses. Today, I pledged my support on as an individual to # ImStillIn . 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights way back in 1948. We take some things for granted, such as Article 4: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Yet, so many others remain part of the political discourse in the United States, like Article 16: “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family,” or Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…” [ emphasis mine ]. Today, I supported this Kickstarter to create an offset printed booklet of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The prints are amazing and beautiful, which is an added incentive to read and embrace them. Indeed, Article 29 is close this project’s h

Georgia Sixth Congressional District

There’s a special election coming up in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District (vacated when Tom Price became Secretary of Health and Human Services) and the entire country is paying attention. “Money and volunteers are pouring into the district,” wrote the Boston Globe . Indeed, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has raised $15 million – with over 96% coming from outside of Georgia! The New York Times describes Ossoff as such: “At 30, he has an underwhelming résumé and occasionally callow air.” And yet Democrats around the country have put their hopes in him, not only to turn one seat blue, but also to send a message to moderate Republicans who are up for re-election in 2018. He certainly doesn’t fit the mold of the Democratic base and I am perfectly fine with that. Today, I donated through CrowdPac not to Ossoff’s campaign directly, but rather to My Ride to Vote. My Ride to Vote is funding free roundtrip rides to the polls for the runoff election. Here’s what the campaign says: “Our

Li-Fraumeni Syndrome

Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it before, either. It’s a hereditary disorder that greatly increases the risk of developing multiple types of cancer. It’s also pretty damn rare, with about 400 reported families diagnosed since it was first characterized in 1969. (To be sure, its actual population incidence is unknown because it is widely screened.) That’s no solace to those who actually are diagnosed because it’s kind of a big deal. Today, I attended a fundraiser for the  Li-Fraumeni Syndrome Association . A friend sits on the board, because a close friend of hers is afflicted. That’s enough for me to want to contribute to advocacy and a cure. [ Edit: This post was in draft yesterday, but apparently never posted. Sorry about that. ]

Mass Bike fundraiser

Today, I went to the annual Redbones fundraiser for the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition . Mass Bike, as they’re known, promotes a bicycle-friendly environment in Massachusetts through advocacy and community building. I’m not a biker, but I’m all for orgs that take more cars off the roads. This is a street party that basically takes place on my block. And I would have gone anyway to see friends, including the team at Redbones , which is a very neighborhood-friendly, civic-minded restaurant. Seriously, they even snowblow our sidewalks in winter. I bought a few raffle tickets to boost my impact, but I didn’t win anything. And that’s perfectly fine.

Eighth shift as a herring monitor

Today, I returned for one more shift on the Mystic Lakes Dam, counting herring running up river into the Upper Mystic Lake. My shift was 7am on a beautiful day – that’s a view of the Upper Mystic Lake this morning. It’s going to heat up to the 90s by mid-afternoon so I’m glad I had an early morning shift. I counted 17 herring in my 10 minute shift. This is probably my last shift and I’m a little sad about it. The count will continue to the end of June, but I have some travel coming up, so I won’t be able to do any more. The herring are also starting to return down river. Of course, they don’t need the ladder to do that. They can come down the spillway. The danger is that the spillway is very shallow and the seagulls like to hang out and pick them off. The gulls were feasting when I arrived, but they seem to have backed off by the time I left. If you look closely below, you can see the fish being swept down the spillway.  

The Chinatown Library

Boston tore down its public library branch in 1956, to make way for a highway. It remains the only neighborhood that lacks a library branch. Bear in mind that East Boston has a gleaming new library and Jamaica Plain is re-opening its library this year after a $10 million renovation. I’m hopefully optimistic that the city will act. The City commissioned a feasibility study and Mayor Walsh highlighted the need for a Chinatown library in his State of the City address in January.  He also wrote an op-ed in Sampan , in which he was unequivocal: “There is one community that has been without any library services for far too long and, after much discussion and planning, I am proud to announce that we will finally be bringing library services back to the Chinatown neighborhood.” Then again, his predecessor, Mayor Menino, also commissioned a feasibility study and nothing ever came of that. Still, the city at least intend to be build a temporary library in the China Trade Center, pledging to ope

Seventh shift as a herring monitor

Today, on a beautiful Friday, I went back to the Mystic Lakes Dam to count herring running up river into the Upper Mystic Lake. I counted 46 in my 10 minute shift. Beautiful view of the Lower Mystic Lake.

Massachusetts climate bills

With the federal government backing down from its climate pledges, attention is turning to the states. In Massachusetts, there are a number of bills being debated. Today, I wrote to the House Chair and Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, which are considering two particular bills: H2700 , which would double the rate of increase for the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard – the percentage of electricity that utilities are required to provide from renewable energy. Granted, it would just change from 1% per year to 2% per year. But it’s something. H1726 , which would implement a statewide carbon price, arguably the only way to truly transform into a low-carbon economy. I asked the Joint Committee to push the bills along, after giving them due consideration. Hopefully, they’ll listen to the voice of the people.  

100% renewable energy

I’ve been working on the best way to green my power consumption for a couple years now, since my utility, Eversource (or is it Nstar, I can’t remember which name they go by now), got rid of its clean energy option. Along comes the City of Somerville, who put together a community choice aggregation program , which will go live in July. They sent out mailers to all residents last weekend. Basically, the city arranged for a bulk purchase of power at a fixed price for 30 months. The default choice buys power with 5% more renewable energy than the state mandates. But the state’s mandate is fairly modest, something like 12% now and 20% by 2020, rising one percentage point per year thereafter. That portfolio doesn’t become 100% renewable in the year 2100. Even Somerville’s 5% above the state mandate gets to 100% pretty damn slowly. Today, I upgraded my electricity supply to the 100% renewable option. It locks me into slightly higher rates for the duration of the 30 month program. But it creat

The Jubilite - STEM skills for girls

Just one in seven engineers are female, per a CNN story , only 27% of all computer science jobs are held by women, and “women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000” reports Forbes . Imbalances start young, as girls and boys adopt social norms that are reinforced by the toys they’re exposed to. Today, I donated to this Kickstarter: the Jubilite , which is aimed at girls: Jubilite is an inspiring craft and engineering kit that lets kids create a working lamp that projects beautiful light patterns on the walls of their rooms. Kids assemble the housing, connect the simple electronics, and decorate with colorful, reusable ornaments, stickers, and dry-erase markers. …  Imagine the look on a child’s face when the lamp she built lights up for the first time! Not only will she have assembled and decorated an amazing lamp, she will have gained confidence in herself and her abilities in the process. And she might not even realize that she has gained valuable STEM (Science, Techno

Somerville climate change coalition

You might not be surprised to hear that Somerville has a number of activist groups involved in climate change. Each with its own agenda, but not particularly rivalrous as far as I can tell. Today, I attended a meeting of the “Somerville sustainability coalition,” attempting to get everyone aligned. I was nominally representing Indivisble Somerville, although I made it clear that I was way too new to Indivisble to speak for them. Also present: Somerville Climate Action, Fossil Free Somerville, Mothers Out Front, Inman Square Climate Action, Our Revolution, and at least one other. Interesting time to get involved, too, because the City of Somerville is about to launch into its Climate Action Plan planning. So having the groups aligned now is important. More climate coordination meetings to come for me, most likely.

Environmental Defense Fund

Pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement creates an existential crisis. I’ve taken a lot of small steps to get involved and I’m certain I’ll be taking lots more. Today, I made a small donation to the Environmental Defense Fund , whose policy and advocacy on climate has been unwavering. The kicker: they have a challenge match going right now, where donations “will be matched by generous EDF donors like Meg Whitman, Tony Fadell, Matt Rogers, and others!” The challenge match ends on Monday.

March for Truth

There was a series of demonstrations across the country today, calling for independent investigations into Russian interference in the US presidential election last year. I’m in full support of getting the full story. And I’m refraining from rushing to judgment without full knowledge. Today, I joined a demonstration on Boston Common, the March for Truth. I signed the banner that would lead the march around the Common and listened to the first speaker, Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman. Klarman reviewed a litany of legal issues facing the administration and got everyone fired up. Truth be told, however, the gathering wasn’t that large and the attendees were, shall we say, homogeneous. And a bit entitled, too. They quickly called police to march away the homeless who were present on the Common, for example, without an ounce of compassion. I decided not to stay for the duration.

Sixth shift as a herring monitor

Today, I returned once again to the Mystic Lakes Dam for my sixth shift counting herring swimming up the the fish ladder. It was a beautiful day and I spotted 68 fish in 10 minutes.

Town Hall with Senator Markey

It was a tough afternoon, with breaking news that the US would pull out of the Paris agreement, the global deal to address climate change. Though the withdrawal was long foreshadowed, it’s still tough to swallow that any form of leadership could ever take such a reckless tack. There are, quite literally, no winners politically, economically or socially. Today, with Congress in recess, I attended a Town Hall meeting with one of my Senators, Ed Markey, who sits on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He put out the statement today: “Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement Is a Betrayal of Scientific Fact, Economic Opportunity, and Moral Leadership.” I wanted to hear what he was going to do about it. (Special bonus: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Congressman Mike Capuano got everyone energized.)  It was clear just how much he and the Democratic Party are on the defensive, not really interested in putting forth a vision, but rather fighting solely to resist. I suppose that’s