Showing posts from October, 2018

Combating hate

The past week has been a tough one in America. There was the series of 14 pipe bombs sent out to prominent figures, including former president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker. Then, there was the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, which took 11 lives. How have we come to a place where such violence is literally an everyday occurrence? Today, I took several actions: I signed a petition from Bend the Arc’s Pittsburgh chapter , which calls on the President to denounce white nationalism and cease hostile rhetoric targeting immigrants. I made a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks and calls out acts of extremism and hate . I made a second donation to HIAS , whose mission reads: “HIAS stands for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom.” This is an organization that was specifically targeted by the shooter in Pittsburgh. This has to stop.

Bill McKibben

Today, I attended a fireside chat at Tufts University, with Bill McKibben and Julian Agyeman. Agyeman is a Tufts professor focusing on environmental justice. McKibben is the author of 1989’s The End of Nature and the founder of , possibly the most influential climate activist groups around. They didn’t mince words around the depth of the crisis we’re in or the extreme actions that’ll need to be taken. I also used the opportunity to track down a couple of contacts at Tufts, to see if it would make sense to coordinate activities a little bit more.

2019 planning for Conscious Capitalism Boston

Today, I held a planning meeting for next year’s Conscious Capitalism programming. We’re going to simplify our approach and trim down to monthly, which I hope will be achievable. More planning to come, but I think we’ve got a good foundation for 2019.


T-Mobile  is supporting military veteran-led Team Rubicon’s hurricane recovery efforts. Florence and Michael were big ones this year. The mobile phone carrier is pledging $5,000 per home run hit in this baseball postseason, plus $1 per Twitter or Instagram post using #HR4HR. Today, I added to that total. In the end, over $5.1 million was raised. You helped make this happen! $5.1M goes a long way in disaster relief. — Team Rubicon (@TeamRubicon) October 29, 2018  

Family Reach fundraiser

Family Reach is an organization that provides financial assistance to families with children undergoing cancer. That assistance could cover transportation, housing or utilities, for example, which can be challenging for families that have to shift their resources to cancer treatment. Family Reach also provides financial planning assistance. Today, I went to a fundraiser for Family Reach, at Boston’s Children’s Museum. Today, I also went to a fundraiser for Indivisible Somerville.

Finalizing climate communications

Today, I connected with two other members of the Climate Coalition of Somerville to go over some upcoming communications. Notably, we need to finish up some informational communications for Somerville’s Board of Alderman, and craft a statement for the City’s zoning deliberations. This turned into a three-plus hour meeting!

Groundwork Somerville

Groundwork Somerville proves from little acorns do mighty oaks grow. For this little organization does crazy mighty things, including the turning two abandoned lots into the South Street Farm, which produces some 2,000 pounds of food per year. Much of those crops are “world food crops,” which are meant to be both educational for Somerville born and bred students who come to the farm, and friendly to the immigrant communities that buy food from the farm, through the mobile farmers market and winter farmers market, two other programs that Groundwork Somerville runs. Today, I visited the South Street Farm for their Cider Day Party , made a small donation and went home with some fresh apple cider.

Climate Reality Project Boston call

The Boston chapter of the Climate Reality Project has been a little slow to gain traction, I concede. Today, we had another leadership team call to try and set a baseline level of activity that would appeal to members.

Shared Nation - Preventing relationship violence

This month’s theme on Shared Nation is Preventing relationship violence. The contenders are varied in their scope, from educating men in the United States to inspiring rural African communities to come together against domestic violence. Today, I voted in the quarterfinals of this month’s Shared Nation crowdfunding. We’ll quickly to choose a winner in the next few days.

Environment Mass

Today, I signed a couple petitions for Environment Mass for submission to the EPA. The first is to prevent a rollback of 2016 regulations that would have phased out the use of hydrofluorocarbons as refrigerants due to their potent climate-changing effects. The regulations were an outgrowth of the global Kigali amendment to the Montreal protocol. But this EPA is attempting to pull out of the agreement. The second addresses the rollback of regulations on automobile emissions.

Greenovate Boston planning

Two days ago, I took part in the Greenovate Boston training. Today, they sent through a pile of follow-up material, which I took the time to review. As a Climate Ready Boston leader, I’m obligated to bring at least 30 people together at an event to talk about Boston’s efforts. Today, I also began to start planning what I might do.

Greenovate Boston

The City of Boston runs a program called Greenovate , which is the City’s way of connecting with its residents over the City’s climate change efforts. One element of the Greenovate outreach program is to empower residents to connect with their own communities. Today, I participated in a Greenovate training to get involved with Boston’s climate response, which is ramping up significantly .

Food for Free

Americans lead the world in food wastage, amounting to one pound per person per day. That’s astonishing. And yet there is a significant population with no access to food in America. One organization trying to close that gap is Food For Free , which simply recovers donated food that would otherwise go to waste from restaurants and distributors, and distributes that food to vulnerable populations in different ways. Today, I went to a fundraiser for Food for Free.

Board retreat for Conscious Capitalism Boston

Today, we had our all-day annual retreat for Conscious Capitalism’s Boston chapter board. It was a good exercise that confirmed our mid-term goals and set our priorities for 2019. Now to make it all come to life.

Somerville zoning released

A new version of a proposed zoning code for Somerville was released a few weeks ago. And yesterday, there was a presentation by the planning commission to the board of alderman on the new zoning code. I couldn’t make that meeting. But I heard from someone on the Climate Coalition of Somerville who did attend the meeting and she also forwarded the presentation from the meeting. Today, I went back to read sections of the code I hadn’t looked at before and I was excited to see some revisions that included provisions that amount to density bonuses for developers who decide to build highly energy efficient buildings. Similar to what we discussed when we met with the planners a few weeks ago. We’re digging further into the details but it looks promising.

Bicycle pods in Somerville

One of the barriers to bicycle uptake in Somerville is secure storage, particularly for renters. Many renters don’t want to leave their bikes outside, exposed to the elements and at risk of theft. Likewise, they don’t want to lug their bikes up and down multiple flights of stairs and store their bikes in tiny third-floor apartments. In some cities, there are lockable bicycle pods for rent, like Delft in the Netherlands. So it is rainy in Delft, Netherlands. Look what they have. Must be a city that looks out for cyclists. — Kyle Minogue ?? (@kyle_minogue) May 1, 2018 That’s one of the projects the renters committee is looking into for the Somerville Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change. Today, I reached out to a friend and former Somerville resident who lives in Delft, to see if she knows more details on the program there.

Climate Coalition of Somerville

Today, we had a special guest for our monthly Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting: two architects from Icon Architecture who are experts on Passive Houses , the ultra-efficient building standard that we hope will become a big part of Somerville’s future. We had an hour long presentation and discussion about the technicalities before turning our attention back to Somerville’s newly released proposed zoning code.

Sister District postcards

Today, I wrote 15 postcards to likely Democratic voters in support of Jenn Alford-Teaster in New Hampshire’s 8th District. Here’s the strange and wonderful gaggle of various activist groups who assemble on Sundays for Activist Afternoons.

Climate change campaign for bros?

This month, I’m in Seth Godin’s altMBA program. (Not an MBA, by the way.) It takes up maybe 20 hours per week, but the rhythm is constant, with daily actions, and so it tends to occupy a lot of mental bandwidth. Today, I worked on a project for altMBA that is particularly interesting for me. We were assigned to develop a climate change campaign directed at a particular “persona,” as marketers like to call stylized audience segments. So I worked on a specific audience I hadn’t thought of before: bros. I’m looking forward to the all-day session tomorrow that I’ll have with my learning group, where we develop the campaign together.

Making Democracy Count: Changing U.S. Voting Culture

Today, I attended a Hubweek session called “Making Democracy Count: Changing U.S. Voting Culture. It was moderated by Archon Fung, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who presented data from Princeton’s Martin Gilens about the lawmakers’ lack of responsiveness to public opinion — except when it comes to the opinion of the wealthiest 10% in America. Fascinating. Kathryn Peters, Co-founder and COO of Democracy Works , and their TurboVote tool, had some really interesting things to say. And reps from Lyft and Patagonia talked about how they are supporting the public and their employees to vote on election day.

Hub Week sessions on diversity and corporate activism

This week is Hub Week, a weeklong celebration with conference sessions, demos, cultural events and social gatherings, hosted by Harvard, MIT, the Boston Globe and TK. Today, I attended some Hub Week conference sessions that were particularly interesting to me. One session was on inclusion — I was struck by how the speakers together agreed that Asian-Americans didn’t need support from diversity and inclusion programs. Shame on them. A second session was much more interesting, on corporate activism. It gave same interesting perspectives at a general shift toward corporations taking more pointed stances on issues of social and environmental relevance.

Conscious Capitalism Boston board meeting

Today, we had our quarterly (or periodic?) board meeting for Conscious Capitalism Boston. We have a retreat next week so this was more of a preparation call for the retreat than anything else. Today, I also attended the monthly meeting of Somerville’s Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change. They covered off some of the renters’ initiatives that we had come up with and also the upcoming launch of the Somerville Climate Forward plan.

Martin Luther King Jr. memorial

Boston is where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. studied theology and decided to become an activist, where Coretta Scott King studied at the New England Conservatory, and where the two met and married. So it’s fitting that MLK Boston is trying to hard to bring an MLK Memorial to Boston and develop programs that honor his legacy. Today, I went the Boston Public Library to review five finalist proposals for an MLK Memorial on Boston Common and provided some input to the selection team. 

Central Square mural project

Did you know that the City of Cambridge has had an ordinance in the books for the past 39 years that ensures the arts are commissioned as part of every capital investment project across the City? Amazing. Today, I made a donation to a Central Square mural project , an initiative to put 10 murals on public and private buildings in the City’s heart.

We the Future

The Amplifier Foundation, the artists collective non-profit that launched the We the People campaign last year to coincide with the Women’s March, has a new project out. Today, I supported We the Future , which aims to create and distribute art and teaching tools for 20,000 classrooms across the country. At the center of the project are young leaders who will be at the forefront of change, building organizations and movements all across the country.

Honk Fest 2018

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan HonkFest , the festival of activist street bands that takes over my neighborhood once per year. It’s mostly because I live so close to Davis Square that I hear the bands all day long if I try to stay in my house. Because I also have to admit that when I leave my house and actively participate in HonkFest, I get it. It’s really energizing and positive. Today, I got out of my house and participated in HonkFest 2018, which seems particularly poignant on this charged day when Justice Kavanaugh was sworn in to the Supreme Court. I bought a t-shirt to support HonkFest.

Somerville Central Hill Plan

Somerville’s Central Campus, where City Hall, the High School and the Library all sit, is being transformed. The High School renovation is already underway, to the tune of $250 million. And the rest of the campus won’t be far behind. This will further be improved when the MBTA’s Green Line extension brings a subway stop to the campus. Today, I commented on three designs for the campus , which balance different aspects of sustainability and accessibility.

The Ocean Cleanup

Five years ago, I remember reading about an 18-year-old who was crowdsourcing a  giant floating boom that could clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It was interesting, but I was dubious. Mea culpa, because System 001 launched from San Francisco last month. Today, I made the donation to The Ocean Cleanup , the organization that’s running System 001, that I should have made five years ago.

Climate Reality talk at Merrimack College

Today, I gave a Climate Reality presentation at Merrimack College. We had about 50 students in the room, and I presented for 20 minutes, before they screened An Inconvenient Sequel. I had a great time; I hope the students enjoyed though I know some were there because they had to be. And I made sure to leave them with some ideas on how they can take action on their own. Are you ready?! #EnvironmentalMovieNight begins tomorrow @ 7pm in Stevens Auditorium; Cushing Basement. Come & see An Inconvenient Sequel w/ us (complete w/ snacks)! Larry Yu, trained Climate Reality Leader will introduce the film & explore his work as a #climatechangeactivist . — McQuade Library (MC) (@McQuade_Library) October 2, 2018  

Buy Nothing listening tour

It’s been a dynamic past few days in the Buy Nothing community. Buy Nothing communities typically “sprout” into multiple groups after reaching about 1,000 members, to keep communities more tightly knit. But it’s a difficult process; members are usually not happy about shrinking their groups. The process imploded for Buy Nothing Jamaica Plain, as Patch wrote about . After all, drawing boundaries within communities is fraught with social justice issues. In the aftermath of Buy Nothing Jamaica Plain, I wrote a post for Buy Nothing Somerville asking for input on a potential-pending sprout in our community. Today, I spent a lot of time reading responses and responding to a few of them to get a better sense for how to direct Buy Nothing Somerville forward.

Conscious Capitalism and supplier diversity

Today, I helped to arrange a host another Conscious Conversation , on behalf of the Boston chapter of Conscious Capitalism. We focused on supplier relationships and this was a great panel! We talked specifically about the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Pacesetters program , which creates opportunities for local enterprises of color to work with large and midmarket companies in the region.