Showing posts from November, 2018

Senator Ed Markey at MIT

One of my senator’s, Ed Markey, has his share of climate bona fides. He was the author, when he was in Congress, of the Waxman-Markey bill, otherwise known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 . Among other things, that bill proposed a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions — putting a price on carbon. It passed the passed the House but was never brought up by the Senate. Today, I listened in a talk that Senator Markey gave to the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative. (I intended to attend, but got tied up so I listed to the live stream instead.) Does he have any new ideas to bring forward? Watch the talk and Q&A, and decide for yourself: .

Somerville Climate Forward launch

I’ve been participating in developing Somerville’s climate action plan, called Somerville Climate Forward, over the past year and a half. It’s finally launching today. Today, I volunteered to man a table at the Somerville Climate Forward launch event, talking specifically about the climate action plan process and about building-specific climate solutions. Oh, and the campaign’s video launched, in which I say a few words.

Giving Tuesday? Getting Tuesday

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been adopted as Giving Tuesday. The idea is to encourage philanthropy for survivors of the consumption bacchanal of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Today, I joined in Giving Tuesday not through more philanthropy, but by making calls for the Brattle Film Foundation to encourage donors to continue their support. Many people are “end of year” givers, meaning that December is when they make their donations for their year. That’s why reaching out to them now is so important.

Conscious Capitalism Boston: Thanksgiving is over edition

The Monday after Thanksgiving weekend is always a tough day to get back into the groove. Today, I went over some marketing plans with the Conscious Capitalism marketing committee (ahem, marketing person) and later had a call with the programming committee to keep our momentum for the new year.

7-Eleven's immigration raids

As with many franchise organizations, 7-Eleven has a topsy turvy relationship with its franchisees, the owners of its actual stores. In recent years, as BusinessWeek documented , that relationship has led many franchisees to organize and push back together against 7-Eleven’s recent mandates, which they claim are hurting their businesses. And 7-Eleven is fighting back with a shameless strategy: They’re calling immigration authorities on their own stores (at least the ones owned by franchisees they’d rather push out of the business). Many of 7-Eleven’s franchise stores are owned by immigrants. It’s a part of the company’s origin story and a major factor in the company’s growth and success to date. So, for 7-Eleven to use ICE as a tool in its beef against its own business partners, undermining the immigrant communities that have been so important to the company, it seems like the company is shooting itself in the feet. Today, I wrote a letter to the CEO of 7-Eleven, telling him what I tho

Club of Rome's Climate Emergency Plan

The Club of Rome is a rotating group of accomplished leaders that first came to prominence in 1972 with its publication of  The Limits to Growth .  They continue to sound the alarm on climate change. Today, I joined in on the global live webcast called the Climate Emergency Plan (aka #WeDontHaveTime). It was disappointing, to be honest, with a very homogenous group in a room, giving dry lectures to one another. Nothing particularly new, and I only made it about an hour into the 2.5 hours.

Institute for Social Engagement

The Institute for Social Engagement is a non-profit spin-off of Indivisible Somerville. It’s signature initiative is Vote Remote, which allows voters, particularly college students, to register to vote and request a mail-in ballot from their home towns. Vote Remote also active supports and encourages those young voters to fulfill their civic engagement. Today, I made a donation to the Institute for Social Engagement.

Our Stories, Our Stuff, Our Somerville

The Somerville Museum has a community curation model, in which community members submit their ideas and curate their own exhibits. An upcoming exhibit, called “ Our Stories, Our Stuff, Our Somerville ,” aims to “celebrate the people of Somerville and their life experiences as expressed through their prized possessions and personal stories.” Today, I submitted an idea to the curator for a possession my wife and I could contribute. (h/t Melissa, who agreed to the donation and sent the actual note.)

Indivisible on offense

The mid-term elections this month led to a flip of the US Congress from Republican to Democratic controlled. Democrats also picked up seven governorships,  flipped six state legislative chambers and picked up more than 300 state legislative seats, leading to a net gain of six state legislative trifectas (that’s when one party has control of governor, house and senate). All this has emboldened the Indivisible movement. Indivisible quickly put out new Indivisible guides, which they call “Indivisible on Offense.” Today, I read the two new Indivisible on Offense guides.

MIT Annual Fund

Today, I made my annual contribution to the MIT Annual Fund. My gift isn’t even a rounding error for the $16 billion endowment. But I’m appreciative of what MIT is doing in the world so it’s worth it.

Green Consumers Alliance

The Green Energy Consumers is a non-profit that helps people make sustainable choices, particularly regarding clean energy. So, for example, it runs programs to educate consumers and sign them up for renewable energy, and coordinates among solar installers to reduce the misinformation in the market. Today, I attended their fall meeting, with guest speaker, President of the Boston City Council, Michelle Wu . We had some very poignant remarks about trust in American society. She’s a real rising star.

Immigration legal services

I’ve supported immigration rights in about a dozen civic acts to date. The work of immigration lawyers is an important aspect of upholding immigration rights. Today, I supported an immigration lawyers work in Kansas City through a Kiva loan .

West Branch library open house

Somerville’s West Branch library is closing for renovation. A critical part of the renovation is the addition of community space, for meetings and such, which is sorely missing in West Somerville. You can see the plans here . Today, I attended an open house for the West Branch library. It’s the last day the branch will be open until the new branch finally opens late next year.


A humanitarian aid social network? Yup. Today, I supported ConnectAID on Kickstarter . The idea is to connect people to concrete humanitarian and development actions on one platform, to support nonprofit development projects and respond to humanitarian crises.

Somerville Climate Forward launch event planning

The City of Somerville’s climate action plan, called Somerville Climate Forward, is launching November 28. I raised my hand to volunteer at the launch event. Today, I went to a planning meeting for the event, so I’ll know what to do. It’s my fourth straight night focusing on climate change in Somerville.

Somerville Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change

Today, I attended the Somerville Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change’s monthly meeting. We’re getting close to the launch of the city’s climate action plan, so the launch event dominated the agenda.

Climate Social

Today, we held our Somerville Climate Social event, at the Somerville Museum. The Museum’s current exhibit, called Triple Decker Ecology , is an interesting imagining of the future of Somerville transformed by climate change. It’s worth a visit. Plus, the social brought new and old members of the Climate Coalition of Somerville together.

Climate Coalition of Somerville monthly meeting

Today, we had our monthly meeting of the Climate Coalition of Somerville. We had updates from around the organization, went over plans for our response to Somerville’s proposed new zoning code, and finished up plans for tomorrow’s Climate Social.

California Fire Foundation

This has been a record-setting year for wildfires in California . The Camp Fire in the Sierra foothills alone has killed 23 people and displaced thousands. Add in the fires currently burning in Southern California and the disruption to people’s lives in California’s population centers is immense. Today, I made a donation to the California Fire Foundation’s SAVE program , which distributes emergency short-term financial assistance to fire victims. They’re going to have a busy year.

Focus group for climate activists

The Climate Coalition of Somerville is a member of MCAN (Massachusetts Climate Action Network). MCAN is a connector of local climate activist groups, giving them tools to share information and best practices, and organizing campaigns that groups can sign on to. Today, I attended an MCAN focus group to provide some input on issues and operations, and keep the conversation going on sharing best practices.

National Association of Rail Passengers renewal

Last year, I joined the National Association of Rail Passengers , to support its important advocacy work for rail in the United States. Now, there’s a renewed optimism for infrastructure investment, after the mid-term elections. Today, I renewed my membership to NARP .

Emergency rally

Today, I attended a rally on Boston Common. The rally was called on very short notice (thus it was dubbed an “emergency rally”) by several activist groups concerned by the resignation of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Somerville Sustainability tour

Today, I met with one of Somerville’s aldermen, who approached the Climate Coalition of Somerville to brainstorm ideas for a sustainability tour through the city. the idea is for interested residents the chance to see first-hand different things that homes and businesses have done to address sustainability in their lives. Today, I also met with a couple members of Somerville’s Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change to discuss pulling together a landlord survey. We may have a chance to get more information about landlords to help shape policy initiatives.

Election Day 2018

Today I voted in the mid-term elections. Voting isn’t just a right, it’s a responsibility. In the evening, I also went to three different election-watch parties. That’s not all. Today, I also attended a Boston Area Sustainability Group meeting, focused on plastics (and their recyclability). Interesting to get more of a taste (no literally) of the wide variety of plastics that are commonly used and how failing to design for recyclability is holding back recycling.


The election is tomorrow and turnout is important. In my view, voting should be compulsory, as it is in Australia. It’s a responsibility, not just a right. Today, I spent some time textbanking, to try to improve voter turnout, specifically in Maine in this case.


Biochar is a well-liked soil amendment, that can help raise soil fertility and agricultural production. It’s produced when wood undergoes pyrolysis; essentially, when you put wood under high heat, without oxygen, it will produce bio-oil and syngas, which can be used for energy, and biochar, which can be used as a soil additive. It kind of looks like charcoal, in case you’re wondering, like this: Biochar can also be a carbon sink, trapping carbon in soil for long periods of time. It’s increasingly interesting to find ways of pulling carbon out of the atmosphere as we come to grips with the fact that our emissions are not declining. Biochar is one of those ways. Scale will be a problem, but it’s worth exploring for now. Today, I donated to a kickstarter project that is hoping to build a small biochar facility in Italy.

Carbon offsets to Los Angeles

I’m in Los Angeles for a wedding this weekend. Today, I bought carbon offsets for 2.48 metric tons, to offset my air travel. This is my usual habit when I fly, because air travel has an enormous carbon footprint. I also watched A Plastic Ocean , which is an eye opening movie about our societal dependence on ocean, and it’s impact on wildlife and the environment.

Somerville pedestrian transit advocacy

Today, I joined an advocacy group for Somerville pedestrians and transit users. Bicycle riders have a strong advocacy base, but few people speak up for pedestrians. Hopefully, we’ll be able to give peds more of a voice in development activities.

Brattle Film Foundation development committee

Today, I joined a Brattle Film Foundation development committee call, focusing on major donors. It was a travel day, so it was hard to do much more, but I managed to squeeze this in. And it was an important call, so we could focus on end of the year giving.