Showing posts from August, 2018

Americans of Conscience checklist

A couple years ago, Jennifer Hofmann crated the Americans of Conscience checklist . It began as a weekly Google doc of vetted actions to defend democracy and equal rights in America, with some good news and updates sprinkled in. The project has morphed into something bigger with its own website, and Hofmann created a Patreon site to help support her. Today, I donated to Hofmann via Patreon.

Climate Coalition meetings with the City

The Climate Coalition of Somerville has a few meetings with the City coming up, presenting to the Board of Alderman and separately sitting down with the Director of Planning. Today, I sat with another Climate Coalition member to start planning those meetings. Lots to do.

Renters initiatives

The split incentives problem is one that nags climate advocates who are pushing for energy efficiency improvements in buildings. What it boils down to is this: why would a landlord pay to make energy efficiency improvements (think insulation) if the tenant benefits, not the landlord, through savings on utility bills? The split incentive problem persists despite the fact that these efficiency improvements are commonly regarded as the low-hanging fruit, because it’s easy to demonstrate the overall payback (landlord+tenant) in a short period of time. Today, I participated in a sub-committee meeting of Somerville’s Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change focused on renters initiatives that could begin to break down the split incentives problem. There are no magic bullets out there, but we at least came up with a few ideas to address renters and landlords separately.  

Shared Nation voting

Today, I voted in the quarterfinals of the monthly Shared Nation crowdsourcing program, to direct funding to a worthy initiative. My votes tended toward international development this time around, as opposed to US social justice issues or environmental organizations. I actually vote multiple times every month, in an open round, and in quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds. But I only post about it once.

Baby Trump Tour

I was in touch with the Baby Trump tour back in July. They’ve been slow to respond, but a US tour is in the works. So I’ve filled out their tour request form to see if it might be possible to bring Baby Trump to HonkFest in October.    

Taking action on climate

Today, I extended some planning work I’ve been doing for climate actions in Somerville. For one thing, the September 8 People’s Climate rally is coming up. I’m trying to rally a group of Climate Coalition of Somerville and Indivisible Somerville folks to attend. Early accounts of the Boston event, however, are describing “teach-ins, skill-shares, and art-builds,” activities that don’t seem to be inspiring a lot of folks to want to get involved. I have some other ideas, too, to raise public awareness. I’ve contacted the creators of this Kickstarter sticker campaign to see if we could do something bespoke.

League of Urban Canners

The cities of Somerville and Cambridge are urban orchards with mature fruit trees on private property. But most property owners are not interested or able to maintain or harvest the bounties from these trees. Today, I signed up to join the mailing list for the League of Urban Canners , a group of volunteers who work with property owners to harvest fruit, and process the harvest into jams and ciders. This is all done with the consent of owners, who receive a portion of the bounty. I don’t know how I can help yet, but let’s find out this fall, shall we?

Election Day should be a national holiday

Voter turnout in the United States is flagging and trails most other developed, democratic countries . One reason why is that our elections are held during the work week and there’s no federal law that governs time off to vote. Only 23 states require paid time off to vote. Today, I joined with ElectionDay , which is trying to make election day a holiday for most companies. I also signed this petition that calls for a federal law.

Anti-recidivism -- and Wonder Woman

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)  serves more than 450 formerly incarcerated men and women, who commit to living crime-free, gang-free and drug-free; enrolling in school, working, or actively searching for work; and being of service to their community. The majority of ARC members live in Los Angeles County. Today, I made a donation to ARC. And with that donation, I was entered into a lottery to appear in the next Wonder Woman film!

Meet and greet with district attorney candidate Donna Patalano

The ACLU in Massachusetts is in the midst of a eye-opening campaign to raise the profile district attorney races. “ What a difference a DA makes ,” says the ACLU — and I’m convinced. They have an enormously wide amount of prosecutorial discretion that sets the tone for social justice in a county. Today, I went to a meet and greet with a DA candidate, Donna Patalano, in Middlesex County. And she made strong points not only about prosecutorial discretion, but also about transparency in the criminal justice system.

Buy Nothing Somerville "sprout" planning

The Buy Nothing Somerville community is nearly four times larger than when I started as co-moderator, about 13 months ago. It’s reached an unsustainable point so we’ve begun discussions on how to “sprout” the community into smaller and more sustainable groups. It’s going to take a lot of work. Today, my co-moderator and I worked out a few details and next steps for a sprout plan. But some unexpected considerations landed on our desk from the neighboring Buy Nothing Cambridge leaders so we’re considering our options, hopefully with some support from the regional administrators.

Conscious Capitalism Boston Programming strategy

Today, I went to a planning session for Conscious Capitalism Boston’s Programming Committee. Truth be told, our last few events haven’t been that well attended. So we wanted to rethink our strategy and our ambition. We landed on a good plan for the rest of the year and 2019, as well.

Activists Social

Today, I attended a Somerville “activists social.” It was a nice way to connect Indivisible Somerville with Our Revolution, Cambridge Somerville for Change, Cambridge Area Stronger Together and a host of other related organizations. And we had a surprise visit from Bob Massie, candidate for governor.

Herring Monitor videos

I’ve written many times about my trips to the Upper Mystic Dam, to count herrings migrating up the fish ladder to spawn. The season ends in June, but the Mystic River Watershed Association put a call: “The Mass Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is finalizing the herring counts on the Mystic River. As part of the data review, one question we are exploring with DMF is how the video counts compare with in-person counts. So we want to match up all the in-person counting periods with video counts. To do this we need 500 more videos counted by Monday August 20th!” Today, I spent 20 minutes watching videos and counting the fish that could be seen through the video monitoring.

Crazy Rich Asians

Going to the movies isn’t normally a civic act, but intentionality matters. Today, I went to an opening night screening of Crazy Rich Asians. As Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe wrote today, “We waited a long time for a movie like ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ — and that’s too bad.” She continues, “As Crazy Rich Asians  heads into its opening weekend, Asian-Americans … want to send a message to Hollywood: Asian-American stories are as universal and enduring as anyone else’s, and the proof will be at the box office.” And so I made sure to add to the box office totals on opening weekend, the most important weekend of a movie’s run. And it even made the cover of Time magazine. And here’s what the movie’s star, Constance Wu, had to say: #CrazyRichAsians opens August 15th. Read below to understand why it means so much to so many people. All love. @CrazyRichMovie @FreshOffABC @WarnerBrosEnt — Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) August 1, 2018  

A Free Press Needs You

The Boston Globe put out a call to newspapers across the country to defend the importance of journalism to American democracy. Journalists are not the enemy, is the point the Globe asked all newspapers to address in editorials to be published today. As they point out: There was once broad, bipartisan, intergenerational agreement in the United States that the press played this important role. Yet that view is no longer shared by many Americans. “The news media is the enemy of the American people,” is a sentiment endorsed by 48 percent of Republicans surveyed this month by Ipsos polling firm. That poll is not an outlier. One published this week found 51 percent of Republicans considered the press “the enemy of the people rather than an important part of democracy. More than 350 news outlets answered the call, and the Globe has mapped them out . As the New York Times points out, “ A Free Press Needs You .” The editors there conclude their editorial by saying, “If you haven’t already, pl

Sharing Cities

Shareable is an organization that promotes more sharing among community members, or “activating the urban commons,” as they call it. There really are some interesting initiatives that have taken place across the world, things we can learn from. Today, I read Sharing Cities , a compendium of case studies that Shareable has put together. It’s filled with fascinating ideas across 11 domains of city life: housing, mobility, food, work, energy, land, waste, water, technology, finance and governance. I dog-eared many pages to have a closer look and have already sent some ideas to other community members.

Conscious Capitalism Boston board meeting

Today, I dialed into the Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter ‘s quarterly two-hour board meeting. We had important things to cover in administrative- and governance-related details, and also in programming and particularly membership. We’re also planning a strategy session in the near future.

Wellfleet Shellfish Promotion and Tasting

I love oysters. Here I am vacationing on Cape Cod, which once had one of the world’s great oyster beds. A non-profit called Shellfish Promotion and Tasting, Inc. (SPAT) runs tours of oyster farms but the tours are sold out this week, unfortunately. SPAT also runs Wellfleet’s OysterFest, and helps to sustain Wellfleet’s shellfishing and aquaculture industries. Today, I made a donation to SPAT.

Pledge Against Hate

Yesterday, I wrote about the “Unite the Right” follow-up rally in Washington DC. Well, it’s happening. Today, I made a further donation, pledging a small amount for every alt-right that shows up to the Unite the Right 2 Rally in Lafayette Square.

Denounce White Supremacy

This weekend is the one-year anniversary of the violent Charlottesville rally . Another “Unite the Right” rally is planned for tomorrow, promoting the same white supremacist ideology. Today, I signed a  petition organized by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to demand that Congress denounce the event and take concrete action to fight white supremacy.

Strategic planning and retreat

Next week, I’m on vacation. But as soon as I get back, I’ll be heading to a retreat for the Climate Reality Project Boston chapter and a few days later for a strategic planning session for the Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter’s programming committee. Today, I drafted and circulated agendas for both those meetings, so I could get ahead of it.

Old Oak Dojo

Today, I took a tour of the Old Oak Dojo , a Jamaica Plain studio space that is fascinating for both its function and its form. It serves as a space for yoga, tai chi and other wellness-related events. And the retreat and event space is made available as a gift to grassroots groups and nonprofits involved with advancing social justice and equality. But the building itself is fascinating because it is certified as a Living Building Challenge building. The Living Building Challenge is an attempt to build in restorative fashion, not just minimizing a footprint but actually restoring the material and spiritual worlds. For energy, it needs to be more than net zero and actually generate energy; for water, it needs to harvest and reuse rainwater and utilize indoor composting toilets. The materials aspect are a real stretch, because all materials — I mean, all of them — need to be locally sourced and/or salvaged. And that is a true challenge. Hearing about the process, and about the difficult

Bob Massie birthday party

As I wrote last November, Gubernatorial candidate Bob Massie has an 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.” He’s a systems thinker, as opposed to his Primary opponent, Jay Gonzalez, who is practical and touts his working knowledge of Beacon Hill institutions. Today, I went to Bob Massie’s birthday party and made a donation to his campaign.

Debate: Capuano versus Pressley

  I live in the Massachusetts Seventh Congressional District. Since 1998, Mike Capuano has represented the district in Washington (if you include the redistricting in 2013). He has has been member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus from its early days, and has a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator and staunch advocate. He’s learned how to deliver for his district, and how to move legislation through Washington. I should add that he’s also the former mayor of Somerville. Capuano faces a primary challenger this year, former Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. She’s an impressive candidate. The candidates acknowledge that they are ideologically similar. Capuano stresses his experience and his advocacy. Pressley wants to bring community organizing to the role and the need for women and people of color to have a voice in Congress. Today, I watched a debate between the two. There’s a recap in the Boston Globe , if you don’t want to watch the full hour. I for one remained convinced

Sierra Club Ready for 100

Today, I attended a conference call held by the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts chapter. It was ostensibly about the Ready for 100 campaign  to move more municipalities to 100% renewable energy. But really it was four activists talking about the things they’ve done in four different cities in Massachusetts. Good people to get to know.

Tornado victims in Massachusetts

Yesterday, I tornado touched down in central Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe , it was third twister to hit Massachusetts within a 10-day stretch. “That may seem like an alarming statistic,” says the Globe. “But so far this year, tornado activity in the state is roughly in line with historical trends.” That’s no consolation to the 43 people displaced by the Saturday tornado in Webster and the Main Street businesses that were pummeled. Today, I donated to a Gofundme campaign for one of the victims. There were at least four other campaigns created to support other victims of the storm.

Medford climate actions

Today, I sat with a friend who is a resident of neighboring Medford, and who is a committed climate activist. We compared notes on what’s happening in Medford and Somerville. Medford is in the early stages of looking into replicating Somerville’s Heat Smart Cool Smart program, for example, so I shared my experiences with that. And Medford is also pushing forward with community choice aggregation , which would catch them up with Somerville, Malden, Cambridge and a number of other towns in the area.

Awesome Foundation

The Awesome Foundation is clever, loosely organized way of funding fun and interesting projects. Basically about 15 people come together and contribute $100 per month into a fund. They then solicit “awesome” projects from ordinary citizens and grant $1,000 a month to one project, seemingly the more bizarre the better, like this one: Tutus for Batman . Today, I went to the Boston chapter’s Awesome hours, where I mingled with a few trustees to hear more about what they’re looking for.

Indivisible Somerville donation

Today, I made a donation to Indivisible Somerville, through their new ActBlue link . It’s about time I gave some money to the organization I’m also giving a lot of time to.

Tree watering

The Mystic River Watershed Association is on a mission to plant 100 trees in Somerville, using volunteers. They’ve planted about 50 trees already (I think). But they need volunteers to help water the trees , because the roots of newly planted young trees haven’t extended deeper into the earth to hunt for water. Today, I signed up to help water some trees, though I’m not sure what kind of commitment I’m getting myself into yet.