Showing posts from March, 2018

Revitalizing ecosystems to survive climate change

Today, I attended a conference co-hosted by Massachusetts Sierra Club Greater Boston Group and Biodiversity for a Livable Climate. The conference highlighted the importance of ecosystems in building climate resilience. That includes our forested areas, food systems, watersheds and coastal regions.

Climate Reality outreach

Today, we gathered a team from the Climate Reality Project Boston chapter to get involved with our Outreach committee. It’s quite an accomplished group and I’m happy to be a part of it. Not much to report; obviously it takes a while for these kinds of committees to get organized and find their footing.

Conway Field remediation

Somerville doesn’t have a lot of ballfields. One of them, Lincoln Park, is out of commission while it’s renovated. Now another, Conway Field, has been closed off. Today, I went to a Parks and Recreation meeting when the city and its consultants told the public what happened: Soil testing conducted in preparation for the proposed renovation of revealed PCB contamination in the soil. It seems to be me that the city is taking the right steps in handling the situation. But, to be clear, there were many in the audience who were unhappy with how long it took the city to even start the renovation process.

Knock Down The House: A Documentary

An emerging, and I hope enduring, trend is the record number of women running for public office. More than twice as many women are running for congress in the 2018 mid-term elections than ran in 2016. And they’re finding success: “After two primaries this month — in Illinois and in Texas (which holds primary runoffs if no candidate gets to at least 50 percent) — out of a total of 67 female House candidates, 35 either won their primaries outright or will compete in a runoff,” reported NBC News . They’re also being supported by organizations such as Emily’s List . Today, I supported a Kickstarter for a documentary film called, Knock Down the House , which is following four women in their quest for office this year.

Brattle Film Foundation committee

Today, I dialed into a monthly call of the Brattle’s Development Committee. Actually, it’s a subset of that committee that focuses on individual outreach and major donors. It was really just quick touch for us to chat briefly, but the regular contact helps to keep us on track.

Conscious Capitalism - employees edition

Today, I helped to make happen the next edition of our Conscious Conversation, one of our Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter event series. This time our focus was on employees, more specifically on how companies can be intentional about their employee engagement and how employees can be “conscious” even in companies that might not seem to be. Fantastic panel, once again, and great breakout groups. We had a testimonial from a member who attested to how many connections he’s made through our event series that have directly impacted his new venture. I think we’re on to something here.

100% Renewables

Today, I sent a letter to the Chairwoman of the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Karen Spilka, urging the committee to push forward two bills: An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future (S.2302), which is the Senate omnibus bill covering climate change, and the 100% Renewable Energy Act (S.1849, H.3395). It’s time to put Massachusetts on track to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and 100 percent renewable energy economy-wide by 2050.

March for Our Lives

The horrifying shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was just six weeks ago. Seventeen were killed that day, most of them students. Survivors from the high school have become symbols of defiance, calling out politicians who refuse to take basic steps toward gun regulation. In just six weeks, they managed to organize what might turn out to be the biggest public march and rally since the Women’s March. They’ve become inspirational speakers. Today, I attended the March for Our Lives in Boston. (Check out the Boston Globe’s photo at the link in the previous sentence if you really want a sense for the crowd.) There was a defiance and agenda to this rally that was incredibly powerful. PS, in the morning, I also attended a training for the Mystic River Watershed Association’s Herring Monitor program. I’m looking forward to counting fish again this spring, all in the name of science.

Carbon pricing...and comedy?

Carbon pricing is thought by many environmentalists and business savvy to be the single most effective tool to effect radical change input economic systems and be able to reduce emissions dramatically. It is also a very wonky topic which is hard to get across to people. Today, I went to an event hosted by MIT Climate Action, a comedy show on carbon pricing. Comedian Yoram Bauman is a PhD economist, who calls himself the “ Stand-up Economist. ” Here’s a preview from his act. Right up my alley.

Community Cooks - salad days

Today, I contributed once again to my Community Cooks team, which provides a full meal for 20 to an emergency domestic violence center in Somerville. I was assigned a salad, which I was able to do this morning, before heading to work, instead the night before, as usual. I also went to an Indivisible Somerville working session, which enabled me to catch up on a whole bunch of organizing work.

Climate Reality Boston committees

After a few fits and starts, the Boston chapter of the Climate Reality Project is beginning to shape up. Today, I took part on a conference call with about 20 local climate reality leaders. I had written a few draft committee descriptions last week and we used them today to talk through what out chapter might try to accomplish and assign ourselves to committees. Very efficient call, which bodes well for our chapter going forward. I also signed a petition to ask the state to increase funding for Regional Transit Authorities. Not only are RTAs important for reducing emissions, they also provide vital transportation options for vulnerable populations. We can’t let them languish.

Drive Green

Today, I sat in on a webinar held by Mass Energy. Mass Energy is a non-profit that runs programs around energy affordability and sustainability. Those don’t always go together, for example, one of those programs is a bulk home heating oil purchasing program. But their sustainability programs really do build state-wide purchasing power around efficiency and renewable energy programs. Their Drive Green program is around acquiring electric vehicles, both battery electrics and hybrids. The webinar gave a great overview of the program, as well as the infrastructure across the state. I’m probably going to run my 15 year old Toyota Corolla into the ground before buying a new car, but when that happens, I hope this program is still around.

Our Community Food Shed

Today, I attended a panel conversation hosted by Green Cambridge and MCAN. The panel was about “Our community food shed and climate change.” I wasn’t sure what to expect and found it fascinating. There were presentations from organizations in different parts of the food production system that are reducing food waste, reducing food deserts,  improving social justice around access to affordable food, and building community around food. I won’t go through them all, because there were, perhaps, eight different organizations, but I was inspired by their ability to fill a range of social needs.

March For Our lives

Next Saturday is the March For Our Lives, a youth-led nationwide rally to drive legislators’ action to end mass school shootings. The epicenter is in Washington, of course, where kids and families who are survivors of the Parkland Florida shooting are leading the charge. Boston is adding its collective voice, as well. Today, I made a donation to the organizers of the Boston March For Our Lives.

Scott Berry Needs Your Help!

Tragic story in the Boston Globe yesterday. Scott Berry was helping out a neighbor in Roslindale during this past blizzard, by snowblowing his sidewalk. Unfortunately, a massive tree limb fell on him as he was passing by, paralyzing him from the chest down. Today, I donated to a Gofundme to help him and his family recover.

Clifford (aka Daniels) v. Trump et al.

One of the more salacious stories that has emerged over the past few months is the case of the pornstar and the president. I almost don’t want to link to the story, but here’s a recent recap from the BBC. Given the president’s litigious history, it’s fair to say that Stormy Daniels is going to face a few big legal bills in the near future. Today, I donated to her legal defense fund, through CrowdJustice .  She makes clear the use of funds: “This money is not going to me personally. Ever. It is only being used to cover the legal expenses and potential damages I describe on the home page. If the money is not needed, it will be used pursuant to the crowdjustice guidelines on unused funds as with all other cases on their site. In other words, I am not going to pocket any money. The money is being controlled at all times by my attorneys in a trust account.”

A solution to the local news crisis

Journalism is on the decline. I’m not just talking about the incredibly low public trust in journalism. Or the outbreak of fake news that is undermining governance. I’m simply talking about the business model of journalism, particularly local news. Somerville, for example, used to have two modest newspapers, Somerville Times and Somerville Journal. Now, the former is barely operational and latter is mostly Gatehouse Media clickbait. There’s little actual reporting going on. Today, I supported an interesting project on Kickstarter, ambitiously called  A solution to the local news crisis . The idea is to create “community information districts” akin to public utilities. Communities would create an information district by passing an ordinance to assess a small fee on residents; those fees would support a public service to provide news and information. The idea is to support local communities that want to publicly fund and cooperatively design news and information services that are accoun

Somerville Commission on Energy and Climate Change

It’s been a few months since I went to a Somerville Commission on Energy and Climate Change meeting. That’s more because of being busy than anything else. Today, I went to the March meeting of the Somerville Commission on Energy and Climate Change. A big focus of the agenda was zoning, with the planning department giving a presentation. And another focus was on shadow carbon pricing — it was very interesting to hear about the capital pricing model they developed, incorporating carbon pricing, to see how it would affect capital projects and municipal procurement. The disappointing answer is not much. It’s better to change a purchase spec to accommodate sustainability in the first place.

Support the Mass. Senate omnibus climate bill

The Massachusetts Senate’s omnibus climate bill is the kind of big-think legislation that could begin to move the needle for the state’s climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. It’s provisions will help transform industry, change behaviors and provide environmental justice. Today, I signed a letter in support of the bill for Environment Mass. They have a good summary of the bill here .

Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting

Today, I convened with the Climate Coalition of Somerville for our monthly meeting. The public hearing on the zoning overhaul is tomorrow, so that dominated our agenda. That hearing will be postponed due to the impending blizzard, but we’ll be ready once the hearing gets rescheduled. I’ll also be posting my comments through their online portal.

Climate Reality presentation prep

Today, I prepped my Keynote deck for a presentation on climate change for Merrimack College. Unfortunately, I’m fairly certain the presentation will be cancelled due to a blizzard that’s on the forecast.

Clean water for India

Today, I purchased a limited-edition Stella Artois Chalice to help provide 5 years of clean water to someone in India. With my purchase, Stella Artois will donate enough to provide five years of clean water for one person in India. Stella has partnered with  to make it happen and it runs through the rest of the year.

Kiva loan to Susan in St. Paul Minnesota

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. We completed some work for clients around a few campaigns related to achieving gender parity in business, but not a personal civic act to honor International Women’s Day. Today, I made a Kiva loan to Susan in St. Paul, Minnesota . Susan is a female entrepreneur, running a business called Mademoiselle Miel, a confectionary business that focuses on honey bon-bons and other treats made with honey. She’s a beekeeper and a chocolate maker! The loan will go toward new packaging for her products.

Brattle development committee

Today, I went to a Brattle Film Foundation development committee meeting. It’s been awhile since I last attended one, which I feel bad about. But I’m excited to be back involved again.

Climate presentation prep

Today, I sat with a friend to go over a Climate Reality Project presentation. There’s a blizzard coming through Boston today, and his presentation to a group at Merrimack College got postponed. Unfortunately, he can’t make the new date, next week, so I’ll be stepping in. I got a good download on what he was planning, and I’ll adjust it a little but I like where he was going. I do need to work on it a bit this weekend, though.

Boston Cooperative Investment Club

Cooperative businesses are jointly owned and democratically operated businesses. They include worker cooperatives owned and managed by the people who work there, housing cooperatives that are managed by the people who live there, and lots of others. They’re interesting ideas and there are places where they have really taken off, to get great effect, notably in Jackson, Mississippi . Today, I attended a monthly meeting of the Boston Cooperative Investment Club . It’s a traditional investment club that pools money to make loans to cooperative businesses that need capital. Interesting idea and I’m thinking of joining.

Meetings meetings

I’ve gotten deeply involved in voluntarism and activism with two organizations: Indivisible Somerville and Conscious Capitalism’s Boston chapter. Today, I led meetings for both, to plan activities for the coming weeks. The good news is that we’re pretty good at not over-scheduling our activities for both organizations. So hopefully this’ll be sustainable.

Oscar night 2018

Today, I went to the Oscars. More specifically, I went to the Brattle Theatre ‘s annual Oscar party, which is a fundraiser for the non-profit Brattle Film Foundation. And we “won” a silent auction item, which I’m looking forward to: a visit to Formaggio Kitchen’s cheese cave. (Special shout out to film critic Tom Meek, who tweeted out the photo from the event.)

A little bit of writing

As a professional writer, I’m a little surprised at myself for not doing more writing as part of One Civic Act. Today, I began to change that by drafting a blog post for the Indivisible Somerville community about some of the wonky details of energy policy. Look for more, because I intend to start submitting op-eds and letters to the editor.

Auto emissions standards

In 2012, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted rules requiring cars and light trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. (Passenger cars reached about 36 mpg in 2014, and light trucks about 26, according to the Bureau of Transportation .) It was an aggressive target, but the industry agreed it was achievable. Until, of course, the new administration came out and said it opposed the new standards. Then, automakers did an about face and called the standards unreasonable. But not everyone in the industry agrees. Yesterday, five groups representing auto suppliers urged the country to stay the course . The suppliers said that it was “in the nation’s best interest” that the United States continue to develop and manufacture “the cleanest and most efficient vehicles in the world.” Today, I signed a letter to Ford Motor Company and its Chairman, Bill Ford, urging them to continue to pursue compliance with the 2012 emissions standards.

Starbucks packaging

Your coffee to go may be a bigger problem than you realize. Starbucks alone sells over 4 billion hot cups and 3.5 billion straws and plastic cups per year. That’s hard to imagine. The dirty little secret is that those “paper” cups that coffee shops use aren’t recyclable because of the coatings they use to keep the cups from getting soggy. There are ways to manage the cups, composting them, for example, but it would take a different supply chain to manage them. They worked with other coffee vendors and MIT back in 2010 to try to find solutions. The truth is that most of the cups end up in our waste stream, instead of successfully recycling or composting. Today, I signed a Greenpeace petition that asked Starbucks to pursue some very sensible objectives: Serve 25% of your hot and cold beverages in reusable cups. Change paper cups’ 100% polyethylene plastic lining to one that is 100% recyclable. Recycle cups and food packaging in all your stores. Incorporate into company’s annual corpora