Showing posts from November, 2017

Conscious Conversation on engaging stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders, as opposed to solely shareholders, is a means to balance decision-making consideration among the different parties who benefit from an organization’s success. Customers, suppliers, employees are just as important, if not more so, than investors. So, too, should community and ecosystem needs be considered. Today, I participated again in our Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter ‘s Conscious Conversation series. This time, we discussed stakeholder engagement, with Rob Waldron, the CEO of Curriculum Associates as speaker. Curriculum Associates has been very innovative and deliberate in how it’s engineered a balance among its stakeholders, even when dealing with its investors. I encourage you to read more about it, for example, here . Attendance was down, compared with last time, but we were also able to get most of the group to join us for holiday cheer afterwards.

Community Cooks - main dish

Today, I went back to the kitchen to cook a meal for 20 as part of a Community Cooks team, benefitting families in need through local human services agencies. More on the program here . Our team rotates dishes so today I drew the main dish (meat). Those turkey meatballs were delicious if I do say so myself.

Bob Massie, candidate for Governor

Indivisible Somerville is hosting a series of meetup conversations with the candidates for Massachusetts governor in next year’s election. Well, the Democratic candidates anyway. Today, I went to the evening event to meet Bob Massie. Massie has a diverse and accomplished past . He was a key actor in the apartheid activism in the 1980s and went on to found Ceres and Global Reporting Initiative, two important organizations in the fight against climate change. He might also be the most progressive of the candidates, which you wouldn’t expect from a Harvard Business School PhD.

Perthes Disease

Today, I answered a call for help from someone within the Workbar community, the coworking office I’ve been a member of for seven years. Someone within the network, whom I’ve never met, set up a GoFundMe page for her son, who was diagnosed with Perthes Disease. Perthes Disease is a  rare childhood condition that occurs when the blood supply to the femur is disrupted, leading to necrosis.  Surgery is coming up and thus the need for funds. (To make matters more difficult, the boy’s father left to work recovery efforts in Puerto Rico on the day of the diagnosis. He’ll be gone for nine months while he contributes to the island’s infrastructure rebuilding.) The long-term prognosis is reasonably good. I hope my donation helps to bridge the gap toward the long term.

Boston #StandsWithImmigrants

Twenty percent of Massachusetts entrepreneurs are foreign-born and they collectively employ nearly 135,000 workers, according to a study by New American Economy. Immigrants also account for significant portions of entire job categories in Massachusetts: housekeepers (65%), medical scientists (59%), head chefs (44%), software developers (35%), doctors and surgeons (34%), and manufacturing workers (34%), according to the most recent census data. Their role in shaping the region’s culture is equally important. Today, I donated to another crowdfunding project, this one called Boston #StandsWithImmigrants on Indiegogo. Here’s what the project creators say about it: Boston #StandsWithImmigrants is a public art project emblazoning our city with the faces of immigrants, highlighting their contributions and showing the world we stand with them in solidarity. We believe the installations are a beautiful and dignified response to an intensifying climate of fear and exclusion – one that will enco

iRatify the Paris Agreement

#ImStillIn is a rallying cry for Americans concerned about the federal government’s retreat from its climate obligations under the United Nation’s Paris Agreement in 2015. The enterprising team at Greenometry has come up with the  iRatify campaign , to allow individuals, small businesses, schools, clubs or any other group to “ratify” the agreement on their own. Basically, the idea is to make it easy to calculate a carbon footprint, set a target and measure progress against that target. Today, I donated to the iRatify campaign. I have to say, however, that the campaign is on its last hours and it looks like a long shot for the campaign to be fulfilled. It didn’t help that it wasn’t a very well structured crowdfunding campaign.

Giving more thanks

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and I used the day to send my thoughts of gratitude. Today, I sent a letter to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, as part of a Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts campaign, to thank him for signing the Contraceptive ACCESS bill into law. (To be sure, it was overwhelmingly passed by state lawmakers.) The law will ensure access to no copay birth control for women in Massachusetts. Today, I also sent a letter of thanks to Planned Parenthood nurses, doctors, and other Planned Parenthood health center staff. Many work under tough conditions, not given the respect that health care workers should be given, because of political reasons. They deserve our thanks.    

Giving thanks at the Woods-Mullen Shelter

Thanksgiving Day is a day of sitting down for too much food with family, and giving thanks. But not everyone has the opportunity to share in that bounty of food and family. Today, I volunteered at the Woods-Mullen Shelter. Woods-Mullen is the City of Boston’s women’s shelter, with 200 beds. We spent three hours there this morning, helping to prep for service, and then serving meals to about 150 women. Oh, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh showed up; I almost ran him over with an industrial size bag of garbage.

Letter to the Massachusetts DoT about RGGI

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative coordinates Eastern states from Maryland to Maine on a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions in the power sector. It’s considered a success, contributing to a decline in electricity-related emissions in the participating states without affecting the local economies. The nine participating states recently announced intentions to more aggressively lower the cap from 2020 to 2030 by 3% per year. And both New Jersey and Virginia, now with Democratic governors, are likely to join the alliance. But the transportation sector is a bigger pollutant, responsible for 40% of emissions in Massachusetts. And it’s of course more complicated as well. Still, applying RGGI to the transportation sector should still be possible, by applying a carbon fee at the fuel pump. Today, I write the Massachusetts Department of Transportation a letter, urging them to consider advancing RGGI to the transportation sector. The DoT is on a listening tour right now and taking

Final Factual Democracy Project call of the year

Today, I listed in on the final Factual Democracy Project conference call of this series.  This time, they covered: The effects of sustained disinformation campaigns on a population over a sustained period. As Americans learn more about how their social media is being manipulated by Russia and other hostile actors, this call will focus on the effects of such manipulation. From Ukraine to the US our panelists will discuss the effects of sustained disinformation and what those seeking to inoculate themselves should be on the lookout for. I hope this series comes back next year, because it’s been really enriching for me.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on America's climate future

Today, I attended a talk held by MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. The crux of his talk was on the cottage industry of corporate-financed climate deniers, whose “product is doubt.” Their intent is to create the illusion of controversy, in his words. And it really rings true. What can be done? A few thoughts: Daylight helps, particularly tracing the sources of funding for denialist “think tanks.” Multi-state actions, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative can help a lot. So can an emphasis on carbon pricing. Public statements in support from CEOs of, for example, oil majors are meaningless. The lobbying efforts of those same organizations are not aligned with those public statements. Lobbying organizations with big-name corporations that represent companies presumably involved in the fight against climate change rarely include climate change among their lobbing priorities. The oceans are witness to climate change in ways that

Ban on elephant "trophies"

Three days ago, the administration announced it would lift the ban on importing from Zimbabwe elephant “trophies” – essentially tusks that hunters take from their kills of an endangered species. This comes completely out of the blue; what lobby was out there calling for more elephant carcasses? To be sure, one day later, the administration reversed course , but kept the issue under review. Today, I signed a petition asking the Department of Interior to keep the ban on elephant ivory. It’s gotten nearly 280,000 signatures in just a few days.

Fight Supremacy 2.0

If at first you don’t succeed… Back in. August, a group of fascists tried to demonstration in Boston Common under the rubric of a “free speech” rally. It didn’t go well for them. But now they’re back again. Today, I joined the fight supremacy counter-rally again. And again, the “free speech” (fascist) organizers had a lot of trouble getting any of their messages out. Police presence was very visible and the barricades kept the parties apart. Way apart. Which is personally a good thing given the number of antifa in the crowd.

Carbon offsets for November 2017

I had a long-haul business trip a couple weeks ago – to London and Oxford, and then off to Tallinn for a tourist visit. Today, I bought offsets for the 1.32 metric tons of carbon for those flights, through Terrapass.

Indivisible Somerville energy lab

I’ve been representing the Indivisible Somerville energy and environment lab at the Climate Coalition of Somerville for some time now, but I’ve felt a bit disconnected from Indivisible Somerville. Today, the two of us who are still active with the energy and environment lab met with Indivisible Somerville leadership to talk about how we can help to mobilize IS on climate issues. Looks like we’ll be brought closer in, folded into the existing the action lab and trained on processes that will help to connect us better with IS.

Launch event for Climate Reality Project Boston chapter

The Climate Reality Project is changing its strategy to bring more grassroots action at local and state levels. So it’s trying to get local chapters started. Today, I helped to organize the launch event for the Climate Reality Project Boston chapter. We had about 30 trained climate reality leaders together at Workbar Arlington to meet one another and talk about our goals. This is a diverse and super-talented group; I’m so glad to be connected with them. And we have big plans for 2018, particularly given the upcoming International Conference of Mayors, to be held in Boston. Rumor has it that we’re going to play a key role there, but we’re going to have to get moving if we want to pull it off.

Sister District post-election debrief

Today, I listened to the recorded post-election debrief from Sister District. The organization got involved in 15 state elections last week, and managed 14 wins, all in tight races. The 15th race is in a recount. So they are feeling pretty good. And so should the publics in Virginia and Washington state. It was particularly interesting to hear their theory of change, that electoral wins on the state level turn into pilot legislation in the states and create the next generation of national candidates. That’s why they focus exclusively on state races. And they’re getting ready to scale…

Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting - Nov 2017

Today, I attended the monthly meeting of the Climate Coalition of Somerville. We’re advancing toward hosting an event in January that brings together all of our Alderman, many of whom are new to the role following the election last week. And we might look to systematize our partnership a bit more, but we left that mostly to next month’s meeting.

One word: plastics

Plastics are a self-inflicted wound on our environment. We’ve created a total of  8.3 billion tons of plastic . That’s 8.3 BILLION TONS. That’s the equivalent of, say, 1 billion elephants. None of it is biodegradable – 79% of it has gone to landfill. Today, I signed a Greenpeace petition asking the CEOs of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble and McDonald’s to stop packaging with single-use plastics. It would such a simple thing for them.

Veteran's Day and the USO

Veteran’s Day is when we honor those serving our nation. Today, I made a donation to the USO . We still have thousands of active-duty service members serving in conflict zones (notably Iraq and Afghanistan), not to mention hundreds of thousand posted overseas. The USO gives them moments of escapism, bringing them a entertainment, arts and culture. The big-name acts who make visits overseas are important – but so, too, are the USO centers, where service members can connect with families back home, watch a movie or play a video game, or just relax for a moment.

The clean trucks rule

There’s a little known loophole that allows for certain trucks to skirt the rules on tailpipe emissions. So-called “glider trucks” are essentially new trucks outfitted with old engines. And glider trucks had been held to an older standard for emissions. Think smog. Under the Obama administration, the EPA cracked down on glider trucks, forcing them to comply with the same rules that apply with new trucks. But the EPA’s new leadership is seeking the reverse that ruling. Here’s what the Union of Concerned Scientists had to say about it. Today, I wrote the EPA to ask them to reconsider their dangerous decision. Airborne pollutants are a significant risk factor for a number of diseases including respiratory illness. I joined the Environmental Defense Fund in its mobilization here .

Climate organizing

I’ve written a lot about the local climate organizations I’ve been involved with. Today was no exception. I touched on a number of different projects: I arranged a space for next week’s Climate Reality Project Boston chapter inaugural meeting. I worked with my coworking office, Workbar, to find a location that would work for 30 of us. I was in touch with Indivisible Somerville’s leadership about the reorganization of its energy and climate lab. Looks like we’re going to meet up on that next week, as well. I exchanged notes to set the agenda for the Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting — you guessed it, also next week.  

Somerville Commission monthly meeting

Today, I attended another monthly Somerville Commission on Energy and Climate Change meeting. Good discussion, as usual, with some thinking toward what priorities might be for 2018. Spoiler alert: carbon pricing. But I really like the thinking they’re putting in on internal carbon pricing; they’re breaking new ground as I don’t think there are any municipalities doing an internal carbon price.

Elections 2017

Today, I voted in Somerville’s municipal election. There’s not much being contested in my Somerville ward, just a mayoral decision and six candidates running for four slots as alderman at large. However, as I’ve said before, local elections can turn on a single vote, so turnout is important. More importantly, voting is a right and a privilege. I choose once again to honor that privilege to its fullest extent. Oh, and I also listed to another talk in the Factual Democracy series that I’ve been glued to, this time on “Combating Hate Online & Off.” This was the least interesting of the series so far, mostly because the speakers went on for too long, without allowing for dialague.

Conscious Capitalism national

Today, I joined the Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter leaders on a conference call with the national Conscious Capitalism organization. The idea was to get a better sense for the national chapter’s new model of working with local chapters. I won’t say much more about it, but I’m happy to see national take substantive actions to help kickstart their chapters.

Computational Propaganda

I’m finding the Factual Democracy project to be really, really interesting. I’ve posted about it here and here . Today, I listed to a recording of the first conference call, on “Bots and Computational Propaganda.” As Jonathan Morgan, CEO of New Knowledge AI, has pointed out, “I think that’s there a sense on the left that this is a right/left issue, that this is somehow about one political candidate above another. … We now know that Kremlin-backed organizations were specifically inciting anti-immigrant sentiment [which] speaks to the fact that this is more about destabilizing our democracy and pitting us against each other, to limit our participation on the world stage. From a strategic position, this is almost similar to the kinds of activities that terrorist organizations might engage in.” And yet, as the panelists on the call pointed out, we don’t have a policy framework or even a policy department yet to deal with these kinds of national security threats.

Kiva loan for recycling and composting in OK City

I’m continuing to make a loans to entrepreneurs, roughly monthly, through the Kiva platform. Today, I made a loan to help expand a commercial recycling and composting service in Oklahoma City, by providing funds for marketing and working capital. It’s a worker-owned cooperative that provides environmentally sustainable services. [ Edit: As is increasingly the case these days, I’m posting this one day after I made the actual act, in this case the loan through Kiva. ]

World Central Kitchen

I had the pleasure of meeting chef Jose Andres two months ago at a conference. He’s a nice man and a dynamic speaker who brings passion to his desire to use his platform to spur social enterprise and cultural connection. It’s all the more poignant to read about his efforts in supporting hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico. Indeed, the ability of chef’s to mobilize food supplies and prepare food in bulk and under pressure can contribute to aid in the right circumstances. José Andrés is amazing. Really impressed by what he’s accomplished. — Larry Yu (@laryu) October 30, 2017 Today, I donated to his World Central Kitchen , because I believe not only in its mission to mobilize a network of chefs to empower people in health, education, jobs and social enterprise, but also in its ability to actually carry out that mission on a meaningful scale.

Nicholas Stern public lecture

Lord Nicholas Stern is held in high regards in climate circles, because he literally wrote the book on the economics of climate change. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change , published in 2006, is the most significant and most influential report out there. Today, I went to a public lecture from Lord Stern on, you guessed it, the economics of climate change. It’s stirringly persuasive, though comes from a completely different than the Al Gore presentation that I’ve become accustomed to. [ Edit: The next day, Lord Stern came to a workshop breakout that I moderated at the conference I’m currently at. ]

Putting a price on carbon transportation

I’ve said it before (for example, here ): Putting a price on carbon emissions would be the most effective way to bring about a transformation to a sustainable future. There are some implementations out there right now, but they’re often limited. Case in point: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is  cap-and-trade program covering the power sector in the Northeast. RGGI covers fossil-fueled power plants 25MW and larger within the nine-state region. It’s well functioning, but it’s limited, and analyses have concluded that it by itself hasn’t driven any emissions reductions.   But the fact that it’s been functioning for well over a decade means that it’s still a potentially powerful platform to drive change. Today, I signed a petition with the Sierra Club to ask Governor Baker to expand RGGI to the transportation sector. As the Union of Concerned Scientists points out , the transportation sector is larger than the power sector, in terms of its emissions. Expansion of RGGI to c