Showing posts from January, 2019

Letter to the Boston Herald

Today, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Herald. The Herald’s published “flood the zone” coverage lobbying against congestion taxes as a means to reduce grid lock in the city. It deserved a response.

Green Line Extension meeting

The Green Line Extension extending rapid transit lines through Somerville is getting real. Construction has actually begun, after what seems like a decade of delays. Today, I attended a Green Line Extension meeting where the MBTA discussed the new stations, the tracks and the community path that will extend all the way through Somerville. There was so much interest that the school gym was packed.

Globe letter to the editor

Today, I wrote another letter to the editor. I had a sneak peak online at an editorial in today’s paper, so I started to draft it today. It’s about the Globe’s coverage of, you guessed it, climate change. meet the entrepreneurs

Businesses organized as cooperatives are reaching new levels of sophistication. Don’t picture long-haired hippies on a farm commune; coop founders are more likely these days to be business-school trained and technology enabled. I should know because I just met some of them. Today, I attended the launch event for , a new accelerator program for coop entrepreneurs. And while these coop entrepreneurs looked nothing like 60’s-era stereotypes, they did share their emphasis on social equity among members/workers/owners. It’s a promising way of organizing a businesses to address inequities.

350 Mass LTE team

I’ve been ramping up my newspaper letter writing about climate policy over the past few months, filing four in the past two months. They’re really fun to write and the support from the 350 Mass letter to the editor editing team is amazing. Today, I went to a meetup of folks who participate. There were about 20 people in the room giving tips and talking about their experiences.

Buy Nothing team

I’ve diligently been working as a Buy Nothing Somerville co-admin for a year and a half now. It’s time to bring on some more help. Today, I met with two new co-admins to answer some questions and brief them on my experiences. They’re awesome so I’m excited to reduce some of my attention on Buy Nothing Somerville, although I’ll continue to stay involved.

A new Nobel for the fight against climate change

In his will, Alfred Nobel specified that the prizes to be awarded in his name would be for work that was “for the greatest benefit to humankind.” What greater benefit to mankind is there than the fight against climate change? Today, I signed a petition  asking the Nobel Foundation Board to create a new Nobel Prize for the Fight Against Climate Change. Today, I also wrote another letter to the editor, this time to Wicked Local: Waltham. I won’t win a Nobel for it, but hey every little bit counts.

State House and City Hall

Today, I spent the middle of the day at the Massachusetts State House, lobbying for a series of climate bills, as part of the Mass Power Forward coalition. 100+ climate activists at Mass Power Forward lobby day at State House to see legislators abt #climateaction ! #EnergyJusticeNow #MApoli — Carolyn C. Barthel (@carolyncbarthel) January 24, 2019   Today, I also spent my evening at Somerville City Hall, to hear the city’s Office of Sustainability and Climate present the Somerville Climate Forward plan to the Board of Aldermen.

Mass Power Forward lobby day prep

Today, I spent my evening on a conference call prepping for a lobby day tomorrow, organized by Mass Power Forward, with its legislative agenda for climate action.

Mass Divest campaign

Fossil fuel divestment from pension funds is of growing interest, not only because of the moral imperative of moving capital resources toward renewable energy value chains, but also because it is financially prudent. Coal companies have been hammered in the markets over the past five years. There’s growing opinion that oil and gas is next. Today, I attended a webinar held by Mass Divest that outlined the legislative path to enable (but not require) independent public retirement boards in Massachusetts, with $86 billion in assets under management, to divest from fossil fuel investments.


I last donated to World Central Kitchen after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. World Central Kitchen’s ability to mobilize chefs and provide food in regions affected by natural disaster is really quite remarkable. Now, of course, we face a more artificial disaster — the federal shutdown that is now in its 31st day. Today, I donated once again to World Central Kitchen, to support its ChefsForFeds program that providing food to furloughed federal employees.

Thanking Rep. Will Hurd

Will Hurd (R-Tex.) represents the 23rd District in Texas, which includes 820 miles of the Mexican border. And he is unequivocal that the real opportunity to enhance border security is by addressing the root causes of migration patterns: violence and lack of economic opportunity. As for a wall, Hurd says a barrier only makes sense where there is “urban-to-urban contact” (think El Paso-Ciudad Juarez). Otherwise, security would be better served by a fiber-optic cables that would support a sensor network but more importantly bring connectivity and economic opportunity to rural communities. Today, I wrote a letter thanking Rep. Hurd for his thoughtful approach to policy.

Women's March 2019

Today, I attended the now-annual Women’s March in Boston. This year’s speaking program was built around the tagline, “until all voices are heard.” And there were speakers present to represent indigenous communities, Latin immigrants, and trans-gender people. (To be sure, that’s still not nearly  all voices.) The keynoter was the newly elected Ayanna Pressley, our new representative in Congress.

Ujima Fund

The Boston Ujima Fund is a new vehicle, supported by the Center for Economic Democracy, that aims to restore local economies, focusing on working class residents in communities of color. The model includes providing finance and technical assistance, but that’s not what’s exciting about Ujima. Rather, Ujima adds layers of participatory governance into the ecosystem, giving voice to workers, activists, community leaders, faith organizations, small businesses and other stakeholders. Today, I invested in Ujima Fund, because I’m excited about the idea and curious about where it will lead.

Somerville sustainability meetings

Today, I had two long meetings to advance sustainability in Somerville. First, early in the morning, I met with a couple Climate Coalition of Somerville members and the president of the board of aldermen to finish going through the coalition’s list of actions that the city could be doing now. Then, at the end of the day, I met with a couple Climate Coalition of Somerville members and the Union Square Neighborhood Council, to give the council some ideas on what sustainability aspects could be worked into a community benefits agreement the council is negotiating.

Libraries as drivers of civic engagement

Today, I attended a talk called “Libraries as drivers of civic engagement.” Public libraries are not only resources for gaining knowledge, but also centers for communities to gather. So I was curious to hear what role librarians embrace as drivers — active participants — in driving more civic engagement. The answer, disappointingly, is not much. The panelists seem to accept only a passive role in allowing civic engagement to happen.

Supercharging your sustainability messaging

Today, I hosted a great talk called “Supercharging your sustainability messaging.” The speaker was Jackie Herskovitz Russell, the CEO and founder of Teak Media , which is a communications agency that will work only with non-profits and conscious businesses. The talk was part of the monthly “conscious conversations” held by Conscious Capitalism Boston .

Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting

Today was the first Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting of the year. And there’s a lot going, with groups running campaigns for divestment and community choice aggregation, tree ordinances and building codes, among other things. It’s going to be a busy year.

Dock congressional pay

The federal shutdown just became the longest shutdown in the history of the United States. Its effects shouldn’t be minimized by those who aren’t federal employees. They affect everyone . To help make that point, there are articles about craft brewers , air travel and entitlement programs . You know who’s still getting paid? Congress. Today, I signed a petition requesting that Congresspersons and their staff forego their salaries until the shutdown ends. It’s only fair after all. Though Congresspersons aren’t known to be fair  when it comes to their own compensation and benefits.

Sustainable Middlesex panel on carbon pricing

Today, I attended a panel discussion hosted by Sustainable Middlesex. The panel featured state senator Mike Barrett, state representative Jennifer Benson, and Michael Green, executive director of The Climate Exchange. They discussed the upcoming legislative agenda and different plans and strategy to pass legislation to put price on carbon in Massachusetts.

Letter to the Somerville Times

Today, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Somerville Times , highlighting — and asking for more of — the emphasis on climate change that the Mayor spoke about in his recent mid-term address.

Climate Reality Boston chapter meeting

Today, I helped to organize and facilitate the first quarter 2019 meeting of the Climate Reality Project Metro Boston chapter. Oh, and I was appointed co-chair of the chapter for 2019, as well.

A day of climate actions

Today, I rambled through an entire day of climate actions with different groups. I guess they break down to four. First, I attended a two-hour meeting to plan the upcoming Somerville Sustainability Tour, which is really coming together. Second I drafted and sent another letter to the editor, this time to the Boston Herald. Third, I had a long lunch with the current co-chairs of the Climate Reality Project Metro Boston chapter and a representative from the national Climate Reality Project organization. Fourth, luckily for me because I’m tired, the monthly meeting for the Somerville Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change was cancelled.

How to Become a Sustainability Magnet

Today, I went to the monthly meeting of the Boston Area Sustainability Group and heard a talk from the National Network for Oceans and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCI) . They’ve got a really powerful framework for climate change communications; very useful talk. I might even sign up for their trainings. Today, I also attended steering committee meeting for Indivisible Somerville.

Mayor's mid-term report

Today, I attended Somerville’s mid-term ceremonies, featuring Mayor Curtatone’s mid-term address. There was also a reception, which gave me a chance to chat with a few aldermen (soon to be called city councilors). There’s a webcast, if you’re interested.

Cookie Party for Community Cooks and Dark Money

Today, I went to a “cookie party” fundraiser, at the home of a board member of Community Cooks . Community Cooks, you may remember, mobilizes groups of people to offer home-prepared food to vulnerable neighbors seeking assistance from human service agencies. My community cooks team ended up disbanding when our team leader left last year, but it was a great experience cooking for a domestic violence emergency shelter once per month. I made a small donation in cash; does that count as a “dark money” contribution? Perhaps not. Today, I also went to a screening of Dark Money . The documentary was about the corrosive effects of anonymously funded SuperPAC electioneering, focusing on the modestly successful cases of prosecuting the activity in Montana over the past decade.

Our Stories, Our Stuff, Our Somerville and more

Today, I dropped off a contribution to a community-curated exhibit at the Somerville Museum. Called “Our Stories, Our Stuff, Our Somerville,” the exhibit aims to tell stories from the community in a series of of objects and performances. Today, I also attended a talk by Byron DeLear , a historian who studies flags and their meaning. DeLear covered the significance of the first American flag, which was raised for the first time right here in Somerville, at Prospect Hill, on January 1, 1776.

Rename Fifth Avenue

Today, I signed on to a clever MoveOn petition . Per the organizers: The City of Los Angeles recently honored former President Barack Obama by renaming a stretch of the 134 Freeway near Downtown L.A. in his honor. We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president whose many accomplishments include: saving our nation from the Great Recession; serving two completely scandal-free terms in office; and taking out Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind September 11th, which killed over 3,000 New Yorkers. The block to be renamed “President Barack H. Obama Avenue?” Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, otherwise known as the home of Trump Tower.

Welcoming the new Congress

A new Congress was sworn in today. Today, I represented Indivisible Somerville in visiting Representative Katherine Clark’s office. Alongside Indivisible Mystic Valley, Minuteman Indivisible and 350 Mass (Mystic Valley node), we probably stuffed 40 people into their office, and presented three issues for Rep. Clark to focus on: busting corruption, immigration reform and the Green New Deal. Seemed well received by an appreciative staff.

Somerville Tool Library

In planning for the Somerville Sustainability Tour, we’ve touched on a number of different aspects of sustainability. One aspect is related to shared economy, the idea that more things can be shared in the community rather than owned by every other households. Like power tools, for example. Does everyone really need to own sliding compound miter saw? Or biscuit joining. In steps the Somerville Tool Library, a community run lending library for tools. Today, I stopped by Parts & Crafts , which runs the Somerville Tool Library to test their interest in participating in the Sustainability Tour. Bonus: they’re also interested in running a repair clinic.

Letter to the Globe (again)

The Boston Globe published my last letter to the editor . Today, I wrote another letter to the editor, drawing on editorials the Globe published on December 30 and 31.