Showing posts from June, 2018

Together & Free: Rally Against Family Separation

Today, I joined the Boston rally, part of a national movement , to raise awareness and fight back against a federal immigration policy that separates children from families. Estimates of the Boston crowd ranged up to 15,000 and plenty of local politicians showed up. (It’s an election year, after all.) The rally was hosted by March Forward Massachusetts and more than 20 other organizations. Today, I also did another shift at the Mystic Lakes Dam as a herring monitor. No fish went up stream on my watch.

Letter to the Editor

I’m surprised that I haven’t done more writing as part of One Civic Act, seeing that I’m a communications consultant. I intend for that to change in the near future. Today, I drafted a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe , in response to this article on climate resilience for the Mystic River. I’m trying to follow through on the guidelines put out by the 350 Mass Cambridge node, which has an amazingly organized team that sources articles to respond to, edits letters and helps writers  submit them. Ultimately, however, I never really finished my letter. There’s a certain rhythm to good letters to the editor that I haven’t quite captured yet and I ran out of time. (Letters are best submitted same day so it wasn’t something I could go back to.) But I’m probably over-thinking it, too. It was a good exercise and I’ll get the next one done for sure.

Reporters Without Borders

There was another shooting today, this time in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette , a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. The paper was founded in 1727, making it one of the oldest newspapers in America. This is breaking news, so the motives of the suspect, who has been taken into custody, are not yet known. But the attacks on press freedom in the US over the past two years make it easy to jump to conclusions. “Is what happened in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, the equivalent of the Charlie Hebdo killing or of the last bombing against journalists in Kabul?” asked Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “In any case, this is a new tragedy for journalism, which is the victim of increasing violence globally–even in democracies.” For what it’s worth, the US ranks only 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s press freedom index. We were 32nd in 2013. Today, I made a donation to Reporters Without Borders , an NGO that helps to protect and def

Letter to state senator

The Massachusetts Senate passed its energy omnibus bill, S.2545: an Act for a Clean Energy Future, two weeks ago. It packs on all kinds of powerful measures, such as raising the amount of renewable energy that utilities are required to provide, the beginnings of a carbon price, and a ban on the “pipeline tax” that the Governor has proposed as a way for consumers to pay for new natural gas infrastructure. Today, I wrote a letter of thanks to my Senator, Pat Jehlen, because of her support and advocacy for the bill. Indeed, she’s the one who pushed for the ban on the pipeline tax.

More Than Words

More Than Words is a non-profit social enterprise in Boston that empowers youth in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school, by giving them a role in a bookselling business. That’s right, it’s a youth-run bookstore, which generates over $2 million in revenue per year. Today, I supported More Than Words, not directly (to be sure, I intend to do that in the future), but rather through a Shared Nation vote . They reached the quarter-finals this year, so hopefully they’ll win and get crowdsourced funding. What they’d like to do is take over the first floor of their building and transform it into a youth center, programmed around books.

Conscious Capitalism Activator

I’ve been involved in the Conscious Capitalism movement for over a year now, because I believe more-conscientious management in general is important for us all. The original book was thoughtful and told good stories but it still took some effort to actually put in practice. The recently published  Conscious Capitalism Field Guide: Tools for Transforming Your Organization begins to close that gap, giving some specific tools for companies that would like to start their journeys. But the value of a book is limited by its length of course. Today, I attended a webinar about the Conscious Capitalism Activator, which was developed by a few chapter leaders. It’s online tool with handouts that helps any organization hold workshops and put practices in place to move toward conscious management practices. It’s still a pilot, but it shows a lot of promise.

Energy Democracy at the CommonBound conference

The New Economy Coalition held its CommonBound conference this weekend, highlighting different ways that the solidarity economy is coming to life. I couldn’t make it to St. Louis, though there were interesting sessions. Today, I watched the live webcast for the “ Clean Power to the People ” session, which renewable energy and energy democracy , the idea that distributed energy (think solar panels) turns energy consumers into energy citizens who have agency over their “power.” Discussions covered issues like community solar and community choice aggregation programs. and cooperative energy businesses. And while the discussions weren’t particularly deep, they collectively got across how much effort and creativity was being applied across the country.

Herring Monitor

Today, I returned to the Mystic Lakes Dam for another shift as a herring monitor, as a volunteer for the Mystic River Watershed Association. I didn’t spot any fish, as the migration is just about done. But the water was still and beautiful and the birds were enjoying life: A whole family of 13 ducks floated by me, as I was face down watching the fish ladder.


A year ago, I attended a fascinating public arts event, an interactive arts experience called  Public Trust , which began last fall. Artist Paul Ramirez Jonas took a team of ambassadors to three locations around the Boston area and collected promises from individuals, promises that were made very public, on a marquee. The project was run by a Now+There , which curates public art around Boston. Today, I made a small donation to Now+There. Really looking forward to some projects coming up this year.


Corporate interests in government are powerfully represented by lobbyists. Some of those lobbyists are smart and dedicated. But of course they’re there to represent their clients and not necessarily public interest. Can the madness of crowds have a lobbyist of its own? Today, I supported a Kickstarter project called CrowdLobby , which aims to do exactly that: hire a lobbyist to represent whatever the crowd directs it. I have questions about how it would actually work in practice, and whether it could itself be co-opted by special interests. But its an experiment worth examining.

Writing a Net Zero Plan

Today, I attended a roundtable put on by Mass Climate Action Network, Mothers Out Front and Sierra Club, on Net Zero plans. Net Zero is the idea that the energy consumed by a building — or a municipality — minus the renewable energy that it produces, is zero. That generally drastically increasing energy efficiency, while adding some solar panels or perhaps buying renewable energy. Interesting discussion, particularly covering passive house standards and their application to affordable housing.

Somerville Climate Forward - Community and Economic Development committee

Today, I went to the final (of three) committee meeting for the City of Somerville’s climate action plan process, called Somerville Climate Forward. Our committee was tasked with discussing Community and Economic Development, but we were tasked with a narrower discussion — assess environmental equity of three solutions. We looked at non-car transportation (essentially bikes and buses), creating a culture of climate, and existing building strategy. Focused discussion for 90 minutes. Glad to have participated.

Homework for Somerville Climate Forward

Tomorrow, we have our third meeting of the Economic and Community Development committee of Somerville’s climate action planning process, called Somerville Climate Forward. Today, I read through three particular solutions that we’ve been asked to comment on, in particular, focusing on issues of equity. A lot of interesting work went into this; I submitted my comments and I’m looking forward to a full discussion tomorrow evening.

The city lives of bees

Urbanization has costs for ecosystems. From habitat loss to pollution to predation, dense human populations push out most other species. But bees are surprisingly resilient in urban environments and can even thrive in them. “Vacant land and urban agriculture are rejuvenating wild bee populations,” says this article . “Bees love cities. What can cities do to love them back?” Today, I went to a discussion held at the Somerville Community Growing Center on “ The City Lives of Bees.”  It was one of the most interesting talks I’ve been to in quite some time. I learned quite a bit about how the monoculture crops on big farms are terrible for natural pollinators as well as for migrant honeybees. And about how some cities are mapping pollinator highways to ensure a diverse native bee population. I might even install a bee hotel in my yard.

Herring monitor

Today, I did another shift as a herring monitor, at the Mystic Lakes Dam. It was a beautiful morning. I counted no fish going up the ladder, unfortunately; I think the migration is mostly complete for the season. But I did see one fish fall victim to this egret.

Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas

The shooting in Las Vegas last October 1 killed 58 people and injured over 500 others, all simply trying to enjoy a music concert. I don’t think I’ve acknowledged that shooting in this blog, but it’s not because it hasn’t been on my mind. It has to end. Today, I bought a graphic novel from Image Comics called Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas . All proceeds from the book will go to survivors of the shooting. Here’s what the curating editor writes: What happened here in Las Vegas that awful night does not have to say here in Las Vegas. There have been so many deaths and wounds from gun violence across our country to make us all sick. We have to ask ourselves as a society ‘how many Sandy Hooks or Sutherland Springs or Las Vegas or Parkland incidents have to occur befe we say enough is enough?’ … But yet, we somehow have found ourselves living in this nightmare of our own making. I often hear it referred to as the ‘new normal.’ I’m sorry there is nothing ‘normal’ abo

Recap of the Conscious Capitalism national conference

Today, I organized and attended a recap of the Conscious Capitalism national conference , which took place last month. I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but was quite interested to hear more, both in terms of the content of the conference and the people who attended. So I made a chapter event to get a recap, from one of our members who did attend.

Brattle Film Foundation development committee

I’ve been a little out of touch with one of my regular volunteer activities, supporting the Brattle Film Foundation, which operates the historic Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. Today, I attended a monthly development committee meeting, and we discussed progress on annual fund and membership drives, as well brainstormed ideas for an event for leadership giving.

Earth Night

The Environmental League of Massachusetts has been around as an advocacy organization since 1898. I’ve been getting to know their leadership over the past few weeks, in part because of their reputation as the practical ones, the ones who understand how legislative processes actually work and can work within the systems. Today, I attended their annual Earth Night fundraiser, held at the New England Aquarium.

Climate Coalition of Somerville strategic planning

Today, I went to the Climate Coalition of Somerville’s monthly meeting. All that planning I’d been doing for the past week – those posts you were tired of reading – were to help drive this meeting forward. Although only a handful of folks showed up, it was a great meeting. Progress.

The Institute for Social Engagement

Indivisible Somerville just spun off the The Institute for Social Engagement as a 501(c)3 organization that will continue Indivisible Somerville’s work in incubating new tools for activists. One of the headliners is the VoteRemote tool, which makes it easy for college students to register to vote and obtain absentee ballots in their home times. This is a particularly interesting initiative in the Boston area, which has so many students from so many parts of the country. And VoteRemote has a college ambassador program to keep the wheels greased. Today, I went to a board meeting for ISe, and got to learn the plans for the summer and fall, heading into the interesting mid-term elections this November.

South Bay Children's Health Center Champions for Children

Today, I donated to the South Bay Children’s Health Center Champions for Children 5K Trail Run/Walk . That’s a mouthful. But it boils down to this: The South Bay Children’s Health Center provides dental and mental health services to low income children & families in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County. They’re having a fundraiser event later this month. I gave. You should, too.

Protecting NASA

NASA is the ultimate example of why government agencies rely on science. After all, the agency that put men on the moon — and brought them home — could do accomplish that with an unwavering dedication to the scientific method. Today, I signed my name to a letter addressed to NASA head Jim Bridenstine. The letter asked him to commit to NASA’s role as an earth science agency, prioritize research that investigates the impacts of climate change, and protects data to encourage research. This was sent through the organizers of the March for Science . Today, I also voted in the monthly Shared Nation poll to allocate donations from the crowdsourcing network. The theme this month is youth. As the organizers say: Younger people still struggle to have their voices heard. Empowering and cultivating youth is often an afterthought; 1 in 6 adolescents still don’t have access to education. In response, this month’s Shared Nation funding round focuses on fueling youth-led organizations whose work in

The Well Coffeehouse

The Well Coffeehouse , located in South Station, isn’t just another hipster joint for $5 lattes. It’s actually a nonprofit organization, run by volunteers, which supports other nonprofits in the Boston area. This month, for example, proceeds from the coffeehouse will benefit the Big Brother Big Sister Association. Today, I bought my breakfast from the Well, on my way to a train, and padded the total to make a donation to the Well.

Climate Coalition of Somerville agenda discussion

Yes, another day another few hours spent planning for the Climate Coalition of Somerville’s upcoming meeting. Today, I had another conference call to go over our plans to facilitate next Monday’s meeting. That should be it for this week.

Presenting on climate to Fidelity

Fidelity Investment’s Merrimack, New Hampshire campus is on a sustainability journey. There are some active initiatives already, many led by the real estate team, to install solar panels and an onsite industrial composter. It’s nice to see, although it’s not clear whether the entire organization has a sustainability strategy. There is also a team of staff members who are volunteering time as part of their “sustainability committee” and that team has its eye on all the little things happening in the office that add up to a big impact. They discovered, for example, that the campus is on track to dispose 1 million coffee cups this year, because the kitchen is not set up to allow staff to use their own mugs. The Sustainability Committee has also organized a Green Week, to correspond with World Environment Day. This is the first time they’ve done it, and they have a broad range of activities planned. Today, I visited the campus to deliver a Climate Reality Project talk in one of their flex

Climate Coalition of Somerville agenda setting

As I wrote yesterday, a couple members of the Climate Coalition of Somerville are getting together to do some strategic planning. Today, I pulled together an agenda for our meeting next Monday, including some team exercises to hopefully help us get on the same page regarding our mission and activities for the coming year.

Climate Coalition of Somerville planning meeting

The Climate Coalition of Somerville is about a year old now. And it’s time to take our first steps toward growing up a little. Just a little. Today, I sat down with Leigh, another member of the Coalition, who represents Somerville Climate Action, and started to talk about how we would use our next Coalition meeting to do a little strategic planning. This will be a busy week of planning for the meeting, which is in eight days.

More herring

Today, I did weekly shift at the Mystic Lakes Dam counting herring as they make their way upstream to spawn. I counted over 1,000 in my 10 minute shift! They were flying through the fish ladder faster than I could accurately count, to be sure. Beautiful morning on the water and the swans were out.

Prova! - a Brockton pop-up

Brockton is a city of about 100,000 in Southeastern Massachusetts. It’s known by some as the “City of Champions” because Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler are both from Brockton. The city has been down on its luck for some time, but there are signs of revival underway. Today, I donated to Prova!, a pop-up park that will use food, beer, and multi-cultural entertainment to bring diverse life back to Brockton’s downtown. I used the Patronicity platform , which has also arranged for matching grants from Mass Development, if the fundraising hits its goals. [vimeo 271087922 w=640 h=360] PROVA Brockton from Patronicity on Vimeo .