Showing posts from January, 2018

Air source heat pumps and Fossil Free Somerville

I haven’t written about this before, but we had a new heating and cooling system installed in December. Through the City of Somerville’s Heat Smart Cool Smart program , we installed an air source heat pump system in our house. To be sure, our existing heating system was working fine and we already had central air conditioning. But I had a strong preference to electrify my heating, in other words, to stop burning home heating oil. And there are additional benefits, notably that we have five separate zones, instead of just one thermostat for our whole house. Air source heat pumps aren’t that easy to understand, unfortunately. Today, I presented the program and the technology to Fossil Free Somerville , with a member of the City’s housing office. Added bonus, of course, is that I got to sit in on their meeting and learn more about their divestment campaign in particular.

Indivisible Mass conference call on climate

Indivisible chapters have popped up across Massachusetts. While many activities are local, there is so much activity that needs to be pushed by the state, particularly when it comes to climate policy. Thus, it makes sense to coordinate our actions so we can be more efficient and have greater impact. Today, I sat in on an Indivisible Mass conference call, hosted by Indivisible Acton, bringing together perhaps 5-10 chapters to discuss climate legislation before the state.

Conscious Conversation on Investors

Financial capital serves an indispensable role in free-enterprise capitalism. For free-enterprise capitalism to evolve successfully, financial stakeholders must become conscious and reconnect with their higher purpose. – Conscious Capitalism Today, I co-hosted a panel on conscious investing as part of our Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter evening panel series. We had speakers from Trillium Asset Management, Zevin Asset Management and MSCI. Our speakers were great but as usual our breakout sessions were even richer. It’s clear how many investors are trying to incorporate broader thinking into what was once purely financial decision-making.

Daring Democracy

Democracy in America is fragile at the moment, and the cracks in our political systems are growing obvious to all. Today, I went to a talk by Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen, authors of a book called Daring Democracy . They offer a critique of moneyed interests in politics, which was rather ho-hum. But they also pointed to a constellation of efforts, many at the hyper local level of democracy coming back together. They call it the Democracy Movement, and include such things as ranked choice voting and cooperative businesses as representative. The talk is part of the Be the Change series that Porter Square Books has been running for over a year now.

Tardigrade Stage

The Tardigrade Stage  brings arts to activism. Here’s what they say: “Tardigrade Stage creates artistic events designed to lift the spirits and to support local groups working for climate, environmental and social justice. Events may center around live music, storytelling, dancing, poetry, visual arts, or more. Each event will shine the spotlight on neighbors that are taking action, raise money to support their organization, and give us all a chance to pitch in.” Today, I went to the Tardigrade Stage’s “Arts for Climate” event, which included musical performances and storytelling in support of  350 Mass , the state chapter of, an important climate-focused activist movement.

Net neutrality petition

Last July, I submitted comments to the FCC in defense of net neutrality, the basic principle that internet service providers should not be able to give priority access to some internet traffic over others. As I wrote at the time, “prioritizing, say, streaming video packets over reddit comments might seem innocuous, it in effect grants ISPs the ability to make their own decisions over what content gets prioritized. And those decisions can be colored by politics and money. Net neutrality is a means to maintain equal access.” Well, the FCC ignored public sentiment and went ahead and repealed the net neutrality ban last December. States are fighting back. And the Senate has 50 members currently siding against the repeal. Just one more member needs to be convinced of the importance of net neutrality. Today, I signed a petition , in hopes that the weight of public sentiment would help convince that one Senator to support an open internet.

Nominations for Boston #StandsWithImmigrants

Last November, I supported the Boston #StandsWithImmigrants project, which is an amazing public art project using projected light and photography to celebrate immigrants in Boston. Here ‘s what I wrote at the time. As part of my support, I was able to nominate someone to be celebrated with the project. Today, I nominated U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, who emigrated from Zimbabwe. I’ve met U-Meleni a few times; I know her husband better. I nominated U-Meleni because of her storytelling; here she tells the story of her immigration. I can’t embed the video on this page; it’s worth the click-through:  

Climate Social

Today, we pulled off our Climate Social, the result of weeks of planning. I represented Indivisible Somerville’s energy and environment lab. We had a decent turnout from IS, and from other climate groups operating in Somerville, including Fossil Free Somerville, which is really hitting its stride. All of Somerville’s aldermen had pledged to attend, but in the end, most were caught up in a contentious committee meeting back at City Hall. But  two brave alderman did show up, which was great. The idea of the Climate Social was to get across the extent that Somerville citizens care about climate. To that end, I said a few words about how many Indivisible Somerville members are concerned about climate and the environment, and how we’re hear to help make climate initiatives happen. It may have been recorded — if I can find a copy, I’ll embed it here.

Community Cooks - January 2018 edition

Today, I once again cooked a dish for 20 as part of a Workbar team for Community Cook s. I’ll deliver the meal on Thursday, where it will make its way to an emergency domestic violence shelter called Respond . In the rotation of dishes, I got “kid friendly” this month. I hope baked ziti fits the bill.

Climate Social final prep

The Climate Coalition of Somerville’s Climate Social is this Wednesday. There was a minor snafu today when we heard that one aldermanic committee had to schedule an emergency meeting to confirm a few appointments. But it looks like that committee should be done by 7:30 or so, so we delayed the Climate Social by 30 minutes. Today, I did some final prep work for the Climate Social, including writing a briefing note for Indivisible Somerville members and chairing one last energy and environment lab meeting.

IS new member orientation

Today, I went to the new member orientation for Indivisible Somerville. I specifically went so that I could pitch the Climate Social, which is coming up this Wednesday. There were probably dozen new members and I met some great people. I’m looking forward to working with many of them.

Catching up on climate action

One year ago, I started One Civic Act at the Women’s March in Boston. And, of course, there’s a one-year anniversary Women’s March rally on Cambridge Common today. I’m heartbroken that I had to miss it, however, due to an important conference call for work. (Yes, on a Saturday.) Not to worry, however, I carried through on my commitment. Today, I caught up on a number of organizational climate commitments. This includes re-connecting with the Indivisible Somerville energy and environment lab — we have our climate social coming up this week, as well as the Climate Reality Project scheduling and following up on some 350 Mass notices. Lots to keep up with.

Carbon offsets for Iceland

Last week, I spent an amazing four nights in Iceland, with three notes in the northern part of the island. With only a few hours of daylight each day, we toured the area around Akureyri and Lake Myvatn quickly, and then settled in with books for most of each day. It was really nice to just slow down. Today, I bought my carbon offsets to make up for my emissions on those flights.

Girl Scouts of the USA

The Girl Scouts of the USA empowers girls in the US through programs that including camping, community service and learning practical skills such as first aid. It’s been around since 1912! Of course, the Girl Scouts are arguably best known for their Girl Scout cookies annual fundraising drive. Today, I bought box of cookies. But I did it for the civic act. No, seriously, the Girl Scouts is a great organization that I wanted to support. I’m really not going to eat all these cookies. Although they are delicious…

Above the Bottom Line

I discovered a blog/newsletter recently called, “Above the Bottom Line” that I really like. Its author, Nikita T. Mitchell, writes a weekly post that wraps up coverage of how the world’s most influential companies are taking a stance on the issues you care about, such as climate, living wages and diversity. Here’s what she writes: In February 2017 I decided that I wanted to keep track of how corporations are taking a stance on important social, political and environmental issues. Within 48 hours, what started as a nagging thought became a full blown side project that now hits hundreds of email inboxes every Tuesday. I get a rush every time the newsletter goes out, and I get an even bigger thrill reading the responses that hit my own inbox.  Today, I supported Above the Bottom Line on Patreon, which is a platform I haven’t used before, but I need to learn more about.

Vildarborn: Special Children Travel Fund

Icelandair’s Special Children Travel Fund supports children with long-term illnesses and children who live with difficult circumstances. The fund gives children in Iceland and nearby countries an opportunity to travel with their families. Today, as I flew home from Iceland, I contributed to the Special Travel Fund with all the Icelandic Krona I had left.  

Southern Poverty Law Center

It’s Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King is a truly inspirational hero, to my mind, as one of the most visible leader of the civil rights movement. His legacy is unassailable. Today, I donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center , which is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. It’s an organization that I think Dr. King would be proud of. [ Note: Due to a vacation, I fell a little behind on my blogging. But my daily civic act pledge remained intact while on vacation. You just may be reading this a little bit late. ]

Catching up

After a few days mostly offline, I found myself a bit behind on some of my volunteer commitments. Today, I had to catch up on my Buy Nothing Somerville moderation, my Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter event planning, and a number of climate activism emails. [ Note: Due to a vacation, I fell a little behind on my blogging. But my daily civic act pledge remained intact while on vacation. You just may be reading this a little bit late. ]

Iceland Environment Assocation

I’m spending a few days in Northern Iceland, visiting Akureyri, Husavik and Lake Myvatn. This is a stunning part of the world, otherworldly in that these volcanic vistas are far outside of my experience as a traveler. And the area is relatively undeveloped, neither densely populated nor filled with many other tourists, at least in winter. The natural beauty is quite amazing. So are the Northern Lights, by the way. Today, I made a donation to the Icelandic Environment Association , or Landvernd. Landvernd is a nature conservation and environmental NGO in Iceland, and I hope it’s able to continue its work conserving a natural treasure. [ Note: Due to a vacation, I fell a little behind on my blogging. But my daily civic act pledge remained intact while on vacation. You just may be reading this a little bit late. ]

The Power of Protest: a film

Social movements and acts of resistance have a long history in America, shaping influential moments in its past. Whether its abolitionists fighting slavery, suffragettes fighting for women’s right to vote, prohibitionists fighting for…well, let’s forget that one. The point is that social movements writ large enough become the norm; they are the right side of history. Today, I supported a Kickstarter project to produce a feature-length documentary film on the Power of Protest. It’s a worthy review of how civic acts turn into movements that change history. [ Note: Due to a vacation, I fell a little behind on my blogging. But my daily civic act pledge remained intact while on vacation. You just may be reading this a little bit late. ]

Let's go WSF Rangers

The Wheelchair Sports Federation runs the New York Sled Rangers, a sled hockey program for physically disabled youth ages 5 through 21. It’s one of the very few outlets for physically disabled kids to play competitive sports in New York City. “Mom, I’m finally on a team!” When disabled athletes walk or wheel into their classrooms, and they say they are hockey players, it makes their able-bodied friends look at them differently, it makes their parents look at them differently, and it makes them think about themselves differently. Today, I donated to the New York Sled Rangers, for their fundraiser in Bryant Park next month. The last time they held one, two years ago, Mark Messier was there. This time, two more New York Rangers heroes from that 1994 Stanley Cup team will be there: Adam Graves and Mike Richter. The photo above is from a scrimmage attended last winter, between the New York Sled Rangers and the MIT hockey team. The able-bodied skaters didn’t stand a chance.

Energy and environment meeting

Today, we finalized our strategy for the Indivisible Somerville energy and environment lab. A couple of key contributors were able to make it that missed our last meeting so this was an important validation. We decided that our efforts are going to concentrate on working with other organizations and helping to amplify their impact. Which means a lot more networking to be done…

350Mass Cambridge node

Today, I attended a meeting of 350Mass’s Cambridge node. 350Mass is one of most plugged in activist groups when it comes to legislative processes so it was important for me to plug into what they’re doing. And I already know one participant from my work with the Climate Coalition of Somerville and two others through the Climate Reality Project. So it felt like a fit. The bonus was a presentation at this meeting by a Harvard PhD, giving a pr8mer on systems thinking. Really interesting.

Climate Social party planning

The Climate Social is coming up. This is a special gathering being organized by the Climate Coalition of Somerville, on which I’m representing Indivisible Somerville. The event is only two weeks away, so we’re in the final stages of planning. I spoke to two of the alderman on Saturday at the Indivisible Somerville anniversary party, and they were enthusiastic about attending. So we’re feeling pretty good that we’re going to pull this off.

Save Gawker

Gawker, the irreverent gossip blog cum media giant, wasn’t perfect. It was groundbreaking as a stand-alone digital media presence and every now and again, it actually said something important. Indeed, it broke a number of the stories that are now surfacing in other outlets as part of the #MeToo movement. It also made it’s fair share of mistakes. But that doesn’t mean it deserved the fate that it received: sued out of existence by a billionaire holding a grudge. I’d like to see it live again, but at a minimum, it’s archives should be maintained. So today, I supported a Kickstarter campaign started by Gawker alumni to buy back the domain and its archives from bankruptcy auction.

One-year anniversary for Indivisible Somerville

Today, I attended a one-year anniversary celebration for Indivisible Somerville. But this was no party. It was a great opportunity to meet the growing number of IS activists. And there were four speakers: Charu Verma, Board Member of ACLU Massachusetts and Muslim Justice League Ian Danskin, creator of the “The Alt-Right Playbook,” a YouTube investigative series Ben Echevarria, Executive Director of The Welcome Project Stephanie Hirsch, Somerville alderman-elect Really interesting lineup and an energizing evening.

Pushing climate legislation with Senator Jamie Eldridge

Schoolhouse Rock made it sound easy. But the reality is that the legislative process is messy and complicated, and very much a black box that it hard to understand, much less influence. Today, I sat in a meeting organized by Mass. Power Forward, along with Indivisible Acton, Elders for Climate Action and a few others with Mass. Senator Jamie Eldridge. We got a valuable inside word not only on legislation that is in committee — the committees look at hundreds at bills but few see the light the day — but also on who the key players are once bills do emerge and go before the Senate and House Ways and Means committees. Very informative session that will help guide the coming year, because February 7 is a key date for committees to report out.

The Freedom Agenda

Massachusetts is a leader among states in its approach to individual freedoms. In 2017, we passed the ACCESS Act, a first-in-the-nation law to protect Massachusetts residents’ rights to birth control. And we passed legislation to repeal mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses. But there’s more to do. Today, I added my name to support the ACLU’s efforts to push what it’s calling the Freedom Agenda . The Freedom Agenda is a basket of proposed legislation around women’s equality and reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, defense of immigrants, criminal justice reforms, and governance improvements. The ACLU will be sending postcards to legislators on my behalf, emphasizing this set of bills.

Clean Power Plan

The federal government’s Clean Power Plan – which would require power providers to shift their electricity sources toward renewable energy – is under threat, as I’ve written about before . Today, I wrote a comment to the EPA through , to oppose the EPA’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan. I stressed that, for America to remain a leader in the world, it has to stay ahead of global trends. And renewable energy is certainly one of those trends. Thus, it stands to reason that the Clean Power Plan should remain in place.

The homeless in Boston and...Ai Weiwei?

Spare Change News   is carving out a niche as a newspaper with unique coverage of inequality, homelessness, culture and resistance. It’s also written, designed published and distributed by currently or formerly homeless, or otherwise low-income individuals. It’s been almost a year since I last bought a Spare Change News paper, for some reason. Sorry about that. Today, I bought a copy from my local vendor. Vendors, who buy copies for 50 cents and sell them for $2, are the public face of Spare Change News as they hawk copies on the street. Literally. And it was 10 degrees outside when I bought my copy. What particularly caught my eye was this feature article on Ai Weiwei, in which the artists remarks on the refugee crisis that, “The only conclusion is that there is a lot of inhumanity in us.”

Indivisible Somerville support

Today, made a couple small gestures of organizational support for Indivisible Somerville . Notably, I signed up to participate in a video they’re shooting later this month in which members will tell the world why they got involved. Oh, I also bought a t-shirt, for what it’s worth.