Showing posts from September, 2018

Carbon offsets to London

I spent the last four days in London, enjoying a few days off and flying back today. Today, I bought carbon offsets from Terrapass to offset my air travel, adding up to 3,174 pounds of carbon.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

For the past half century, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has protected community spaces in nearly every county in the U.S., making it one of the most successful and accessible parks programs in America. It does this without using any taxpayer dollars – it is funded with revenues paid to the government from offshore oil and gas drilling. It’s set to expire tomorrow. Today, I joined with the Environmental League of Massachusetts in urging members of Congress to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

Be a climate voter

There were some breathless news stories last year about how 2018 was going to be the year of the climate voter. With the mid-terms now about five weeks away, I’m not so sure. But it’s a litmus test issue for me. Today, I took a pledge for the YEARS Project that I will be a climate voter .

Shared Nation voting - Faith in Florida

Monthly voting for the Shared Nation crowdsourcing platform closes today, with the finals for democracy related projects. Today, I voted for Faith in Florida . Here’s what they do: The program will activate and align 175 churches in a high commitment level of voter engagement participation practices (church in-reach + community outreach), and engage another 150 churches in a low commitment level of voter engagement participation practices (church in-reach). Through the participation of these churches a minimum of150,000 conversations with (mostly) Black voters will be conducted about the importance of voting and the possibility to restore voting rights for 1.5 million Floridians.

City of Boston Environment & Sustainability Committee

I’m not just active in Somerville’s climate change efforts. Today, I met with the Chair of the City of Boston’s Chair of Environment & Sustainability Committee, alongside one of my Climate Reality Project collaborators. We wanted to hear straight from the source particularly about efforts to improve Boston’s tree canopy, in response to the Boston Globe’s reporting on the underwhelming results against former Mayor Menino’s pledge to plant 100,000 trees by 2020. (They’ve planted on net something like 5,000 trees.) And we came with possible solutions, including bringing some important partners to the table. The City’s new mayoral administration is starting over, planning a new tree census, rather than pushing forward against a seven-year old target that never had a plan behind it.

Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum consistently has consistently distinct exhibitions that stand apart from the many world class museums in London. With a focus on decorative arts and design, the V&A loves to bring its take to telling the story of modern artists, whose possessions and fashions tell the story of their lives. The David Bowie exhibit several years ago was a great example. And a Frieda Kahlo exhibit is running right now. Today, I became a member of the V&A Museum, even though I live 4,000 miles away, so I can support its curatorial approach.

Series of meetings

Rather boring update, but I’m involved in a number of organizations for which I’ve committed to care and feed. Today, I had a prep meeting for the Climate Coalition of Somerville’s upcoming presentation to the Somerville Board of Alderman. I won’t be at the presentation, but I helped frame some of the content. Today, I also had a speaker briefing for the Conscious Capitalism Boston chapter’s upcoming event on October 1. The event is coming together too slowly and very late, but it’s happening. Today, I capped off my day with back to back calls with the Climate Reality Project, first to prep for a Wednesday meeting with a Boston City Councilor and then to hear the latest from the Business Working Group.

Walking tour of Union Square

I’m using this project to get to know my city, Somerville, a little better. Today, I took a walking tour of Union Square . The tour was led by the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission . And it was a quite to tour, with tidbits of architecture and history dating back to the incorporation of Somerville. There was even amazing secret view of the ivy-covered steeple and sanctuary of a former episcopal church, which someone needs to tell Atlas Obscura about. I somehow neglected to take a photo of the church, but I did take one of our tour guide speaking to our group, which was about 40 or 50 people, in front of a hidden mural down a dead end street.

Somerville Climate Forward comments

I’ve been involved with the development of Somerville’s climate action plan, called Somerville Climate Forward, from the outset. I’ve participated in three committee meetings (for the Economic and Community Development committee). And now, a year later, a near-final draft has been distributed for final comment. Today, I went through the draft, all 130+ pages of it, and pulled together my final comments. Overall, it’s a great plan — the trick will really be to make sure it doesn’t sit on a shelf and languish. It will take a sustained effort from all City departments, the Mayor and the Board of Alderman to bring this to life.

Clean cooking for the Lawrence, Mass. disaster

I wrote last week about the natural gas infrastructure explosions across the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Everyone is finally back in their homes, but most won’t have gas for another three months. Today, I made a donation to a Gofundme project that will buy and distribute induction cooktops to Lawrence residents. Induction cooktops are much more efficient than resistance electric cooktops, and they behave like gas cookstoves, so they’re just a much better option.

Climate Reality Project quarterly meeting

Today, I participated in the quarterly’ish meeting of the Climate Reality Project Boston chapter, where we talked about our strategy. There are a ton of interested folks in the chapter and I think we have a meaningful theory of change that dovetails with other climate activists in the region. It will take more leadership, though, and I have the sense that the folks who are driving right now, myself included, are hoping that someone else will step forward with a little more time and drive to keep things moving. It’s a great group of people.

Brattle Development Committee

Today, I attended a meeting for the Brattle Film Foundation’s Development Committee. They meet monthly and frankly I’ve been away too long. There’s so much going on there!

Can Civil save journalism?

I’ve written before about the crisis in journalism and how it equates to a crisis for democracy. And the crisis in journalism is less about the quality of reporting and more about unfavorable economics. Business models have been eroded. New institutions are needed. Today, I began the process of participating in Civil , a platform with the lofty goal of “building the new economy for journalism.” Civil is building a community of experienced and well-credentialed journalists and technologists to build a new institution that supports trustworthy and economically viable journalism. At it’s core is, wait for it, a blockchain token. I’m convinced that the vast majority of blockchain tokens are, at best, part of a fad that will fade away, and, at worst, scams. I have a more optimistic view of Civil, however. For one thing, it’s leadership team is strong enough to make me believe it’s not a scam. And the tokens themselves are core to both the funding of the news ventures themselves and the gove

Somerville Planning Department

Today, as part of the Climate Coalition of Somerville, I met with Somerville’s Director of Planning and the Senior Planner heading up the City’s zoning rewrite. We are pushing to ensure that the zoning code is aligned with the City’s carbon neutral by 2050 pledge. And the good news is the planning department seems to be right there along with us; they are working on sustainability elements in the code that extend well beyond what they had proposed in the Spring. A new draft will be published in 10 days, so we have a small window to get them even more input.

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is battering the Carolinas and beyond right now. The rain continues and floodwaters are still rising so there’s more misery and tragedy to come. Today, I made a donation to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Florence relief. It was my first use of text donations, for what it’s worth, through T Mobile.

Stone Zoo

I have mixed feelings about zoos. On one hand, they confine animals to small areas that can’t truly capture native habitats. On the other hand, they contribute to research and they also give an entry point to youth who may be inspired by nature and the environment, and to adults who may never have the opportunity to visit different habitats on earth. Today, I visited the Stone Zoo. We went because two snow leopard kitties were born this summer and have recently begun coming out. And they’re worth seeing; the zoomed in iphone photo below doesn’t do them justice. But I also saw just how engaging the zoo is for kids and families, from different walks of life. And there’s some value to that. So I also made a donation.

Lawrence Emergency Fund

Yesterday, there was a series of some 60 house fires and at least 3 explosions in the city of Lawrence, just 25 miles North of Somerville. This was due in some way to the gas infrastructure, though it’s still entirely clear what happened. Hundreds if not thousands of families have been evacuated as power was shut off to entire neighborhoods. Today, I made a donation to the Lawrence Emergency Fund, which is being operated by the  Essex County Community Foundation . I’ll see if there’s more I can do in the days to come.

Passive houses and net-zero buildings

Today, I did some deeper research in understanding how municipal policy can best support net-zero energy buildings. Net-zero buildings are basically an approach that aims to drive energy efficiency as high as possible (for example, through Passive House standards), and then ensuring that remaining energy is consumed without emissions, either through on-site or off-site renewables or carbon offsets. The Climate Coalition of Somerville has meeting with Somerville’s Planning department this coming Monday, and I was tasked with pulling an agenda together, which I did, though it took me all day.

Indivisible Somerville steering committee

Get ready for a new look Indivisible Somerville. Today, I attended a steering committee meeting for Indivisible Somerville. The Institute for Social Engagement spun-out from Indivisible Somerville this summer. With summer over, the organization is ready to get moving again and we’ll come out with some new announcements and activities soon.

Remembering Tuesday's Children

It was a Tuesday. September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. Just like today is a Tuesday. Today, I made a donation to  Tuesday’s Children , which serves communities altered by terrorism and acts of violence. Never forget.

Climate Coalition of Somerville monthly meeting

Today, I attended the monthly meeting of the Climate Coalition of Somerville. We had a great meeting this month, with a special guest, Carol Oldham from the Massachusetts Climate Action Network , of which we’re a member. We got excellent validation of our efforts from Carol, and learned a ton about how other organizations operate as well as about zoning and net-zero buildings, which is a particular focus of ours right now.

Operation Underground Railroad

I gave to Operation Underground Railroad  last year, to help combat child sex trafficking. It’s a powerful story: Operation Underground Railroad has rescued 1,500 victims and assisted in the arrests of over 570 traffickers around the world in just four years. They send ex-special forces to coordinate operations with local enforcement, and they travel around the world to extract children caught up in these circumstances. This year, my donation is so much more personal, however. This one’s for you, Alex .

Boston RISE for Climate, Jobs, Immigrant Rights & Justice

Today, I attended the Boston RISE for Climate, Jobs, Immigrant Rights & Justice rally, in East Boston. The objectives were two-fold: 1. To protest the proposed Eversource electric substation that threatens the low-income neighborhood, and 2) To build connections across social and environmental justice movements. So a coalition of over 20 faith, labor, racial justice, immigrant rights, youth, climate action, and environmental justice groups came together in East Boston Memorial Park. That includes some of us from the Climate Coalition of Somerville:

Carbon offsets to Cleveland

I was in Cleveland this week for a conference and just returned home. Today, I bought carbon offsets for my flights, through TerraPass , as I normally do when I travel by air. Air travel is a huge emitter, so it’s important to offset that part of my footprint.

Crowd Lobby and an Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future

I supported a Kickstarter initiative two months ago called Crowd Lobby , whose intent is to crowdsource ideas and the hire lobbyists to push for them. They recently put out a call for ideas from their supporters. Today, I sent them details on the current state of the Massachusetts Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future. Which is to say, it’s nowhere, having been passed by the Senate but ignored by the House. Perhaps in infusion of lobbying activity can get it moving for the next legislative session.

Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute

Last year, I saw the Oscar nominated documentary called Knife Skills . It’s about Edwins, a French restaurant in Cleveland. But it’s not an extraordinary story because the restaurant is French. It’s extraordinary because everyone who works there was formerly incarcerated and recruited to go through Edwins re-entry program. It’s a movie about training and leadership for men and women finding their way after prison. Today, I visited Edwins. Twice, actually. First, I visited for an open house at noon. We toured the facility and met the owner (and star of the movie), but also visited the Leadership Institute, which has a dorm and offers an amazing range of support structures for Edwins trainees. Soon, they’ll have a butcher shop, too. Then, I went back for dinner. The food was great and the service even better.

Primary election

The Tuesday after a holiday weekend is an awkward day for an election, but that’s Massachusetts for you. Today, I voted in our statewide primary. There are at least three races that I’m particularly interested in: the Democratic candidate for Governor (Massie vs. Gonzalez), the intriguing Democratic congressional race between Mike Capuano and Ayanna Pressley, and the District Attorney’s race, which the ACLU has thrown light on for its importance in its “What a difference a DA makes” campaign .

Climate organizing

Today I drafted invitations that I’ll hopefully use to get more activists to come out to the Boston RISE for Climate, Jobs, Immigrant Rights, & Justice climate rally next Saturday. There’s one detail that I have left, but they’re just about ready to go. Today, I also drafted statements for Indivisible Somerville and for the Climate Coalition of Somerville, for when we meet with the Board of Alderman on September 13. Unfortunately, I won’t be there, but hopefully the drafts will be useful.

East Boston environmental justice

The Eversource utility is seeking to build a new electrical substation in East Boston, dangerously close to the flood-prone Chelsea Creek, next to 8 million gallons of jet fuel. This is of course a majority Latino immigrant community; a very typical environmental justice problem is the siting of dangerous facilities in the midst of low-income and vulnerable populations. Today, I signed a petition , asking Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to halt the construction. Today, I also signed up for the Boston Rise climate rally next week.

Contact! Baby Trump tour

Last week, I reached out to the US Baby Trump tour organizers to see about bringing the big blimp to Somerville for Honk Fest over Columbus Day weekend. Today, they reached out and I had a great conversation with them. This is definitely in reach. So, today, I also reached out to the Honk Fest organizers to follow-up. They’re enthusiastic about the idea, but we can see a few logistical challenges. I’ll know more in a few days.