Showing posts from April, 2019

Transportation and Climate Initiative - Technical Workshop

Last December, nine states, including Massachusetts, agreed to develop a program that would limit carbon emissions for the transportation sector in the region, using a cap and trade system. It’s called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) and it will likely resemble the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) , which has governed over the electricity sector since More simply, what that means is that gasoline and diesel would be taxed at some point in the supply chain, and the price of that tax would be determined by an auction of allowances on the carbon that is embedded in those fuels. The devil is in the details, of course. Today, I attended a workshop on the TCI, hosted by the Georgetown Climate Center. It was an interesting workshop but what it really highlighted is how much work still needs to be done to make it happen.

Somerville Sustainability Tour Day

I’ve had numerous posts about the Somerville Sustainability Tour . Well, the day has finally arrived! Today, I helped to make the Somerville Sustainability Tour happen. I started early morning, when I visited nine tour stops before the tour began, to drop off packets of material for the tour hosts. I then helped to setup one of the stops, a little-known solar farm in the heart of Davis Square, and helped to setup the climate coalition of Somerville’s tables at the after-party Bike Month Kick-off event. I then visited another eight stops during the tour to check in with the hosts, before returning to the after-party, where I said a few words of thanks to all the tour-goers. It was a pretty long day. Shout out to @laryu who spoke at the #SustainabilityTour at @AeronautBrewing today! He’s been a steady, active voice in the community about environmental issues and we are so humbled to have him on our team!! — Indivisible Somerville (@indivisiville) April 29, 2

Somerville Community Summit, follow-up

I attended the Somerville Community Summit back in February, where the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and the Somerville Media Center (and others) convened community members to pitch stories that would help end the news desert in Somerville. Today, I attended a follow-up event, where I pitched an environment-focused media channel to BINJ and SMC and got to add my two cents to five other proposals brought by other community organizations. Today, I also did my weekly shift as a herring monitor, counting fish coming up the ladder at the Mystic Lakes dam once again.

Somerville Sustainability Tour Prep

The Somerville Sustainability Tour is in two days and there is a lot of material we need to distribute to the tour hosts. Today, I spent a few hours finalizing material and organizing folders for all of the hosts. I also delivered a couple of those folders to hosts.

No fossil fuel money pledge

Money from fossil fuel companies have corrupted our political system and blocked bold action on climate change. Fossil fuel companies spent more than $260 million in campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in the 2016 cycle. Many politicians have said they would no longer accept money from fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists. But not all of them. Today, I went to Rep. Katherine Clark’s office with a few other activists to ask her to sign the no fossil fuel money pledge .

Somerville Sustainability Tour drafting

The Somerville Sustainability Tour I’ve been working on is four days away. Today, I spent a few hours finishing a map for distribution to tour-goers, and drafting and finalizing language for different pieces of collateral on our website and social posts.

Puma comes to Somerville

Earlier this year, Puma announced it was moving its North America headquarters to Somerville. They won’t move in until 2021 but they’re beginning to do some community outreach to understand how to be good neighbors. Today, I went over to Puma’s current offices with a group of other community members to talk about the issues facing Somerville and the things Puma might consider getting involved in.

Why Divestment?

Harvard, among many universities, has an active student-led group calling for its endowment to divest from fossil fuel investments. What sets Harvard apart, of course, is that it’s endowment is nearly $40 billion, the largest of any university. Today, I attended a panel as part of Harvard’s “Heat Week” to learn about fossil fuel divestment as a tactic, with some great panelists in the divestment movement and a experienced asset manager in sustainable investment.

Sustainability Tour planning meeting

The Somerville Sustainability Tour is just one week away. Today, I attended the last in-person planning meeting for the tour organizers. There’s a lot to do, but it’s pretty manageable.

Herring monitor shift

At the Mystic River Watershed Association training session for herring monitors a few weeks ago, an old hand told me I was brave for taking the Saturday, 7am shift. But I really enjoy starting my mornings that way, in a quiet and peaceful outdoor setting. Today, I did my shift as a herring monitor in a cool light rain. No fish yet, but I understand that pulses of herring have been coming through the fish ladder all week.

Sustainability tour prep

Today, I drafted some material for our upcoming Somerville Sustainability Tour, just a week away. Today, I also drafted a description for an upcoming webinar we’ll be hosting at the Climate Reality Project Boston chapter.

Road to the Green New Deal Tour

The Sunrise Movement has been extraordinary at mobilizing youth and adults to support the Green New Deal. That includes getting Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey to launch the Green New Deal resolution , which now has 103 co-sponsors. Today, I attended the Boston tour stop of the “Green New Deal tour,” during which sunrise will convene gatherings around the country to continue to build energy, gain new allies and raise some money. The speaker list was impressive, including Senator Markey, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the Reverend Mariama White-Hammond and Boston City Council President Michelle Wu. But I couldn’t help taking this picture of Varshini Prakash, the young co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement.

The Great Climate Race

Today, I attended a reception hosted by EDF. It included a talk from an EDF scientist and an EDF economist on the “The Great Climate Race,” with a long and interesting Q&A afterward. Today, I also spent three hours in a planning meeting for the Somerville Sustainability Tour, which is in ten days, so there’s not much time left.

Corporate Giving in the 21st Century

Today, I hosted a fireside chat for Conscious Capitalism Boston . The topic was “Corporate Giving in the 21st Century” and my guests were from YouGiveGoods , which has an interesting platform to facilitate in-kind donations to charitable organizations, and Fidelity Investments, who spoke about their different levels of community engagement. Trends are changing how corporations are approaching their community engagement, we found, but the age-old problem of measuring outcomes is still uncracked.


Nearly 50,000 Americans per year are dying from opioid overdoses. That’s a big number that highlights the need to educate drug users, support those with addiction, prevent drug use disorders, and advocate for better treatment and legislation. But numbers sometimes aren’t as persuasive as stories that bring the opioid epidemic close to home. Today, I went to a screening of Runnin’ — a film about a circle of friends in Somerville who struggled with addiction until it took most of their lives. The screening was hosted by the City of Somerville and it was followed by a panel discussion on prevention, treatment and other responses.

Climate catch-up

After three weeks traveling, with only a few days back in Boston, I’ve been falling behind on a number of fronts. Today, I caught up on dozens of emails related to my climate activities, for Climate Reality Project, Climate Coalition of Somerville and other organizations. And I wrote up a few reports and listened to a webinar for those organizations as well.

Herring Monitor shift

Today, I did my first shift of the year as a herring monitor, counting the herring migrating up the Mystic River dam. My count was zero fish, which is expected this early. But we need to start counting well before we expect the migration to begin, so we can be sure we catch the start of the migration.

Carbon offsets for Lisbon and Venice

I’m on my way back from a trip, speaking at a conference in Lisbon and taking a few days to visit Venice. Today, I purchased carbon credits from Terrapass to offset my air travel, which is a unfortunately a pretty significant amount of carbon for this trip.

Somerville's community preservation priorities

Under the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA), cities and towns can raise a dedicated fund for open space, preservation of historic resources and affordable housing. Somerville overwhelmingly approved adoption in 2012. And the city periodically reviews its prioritization of the three pillars under the act. Today, I took part in a survey to voice my priorities to the City’s Community Preservation Committee .

Venice in Peril

I’m visiting Venice today, a remarkable city built on an infrastructure of canals and walking paths instead of roads. It’s also a city uniquely exposed to climate change. Indeed, last year’s historic floods were a real eye opener. Today, I made a donation to Venice in Peril . The organization works to restore Venetian monuments, buildings and works of art. It isn’t tied to climate change linked flooding; it’s been at its mission for 40 years, long before the effects of climate change began to be clearly documented in Venice. But the encroachment of the sea has made the organization’s great work all the more poignant.

Relief for the Great Plains Tribes

Last month, a blizzard swept across the Great Plains, leaving two feet of snow in some places. One community that was hit hard we’re the Great Plains Tribes, 16 Native American communities in North and South Dakota and Nebraska. Two dams broke and many livestock were lost. Today, I donated to a relief fund for the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association.

Supporting a climate activist

Flooding caused by a blizzard in the Midwest has devastated several states, including Iowa, where over levees have failed. Entire towns have been flooded out, including Council Bluffs, Iowa. Today, I donated to a relief fund for one Council Bluffs resident, John Davis, who happens to be an active climate activist.

Three billboards

Last month, the Senate voted to end a presidentially decreed “national emergency” in a bipartisan move to reassert congressional control over presidential powers. However, it wasn’t a unanimous decision, with some senators voting avians t the measure. Three of them—Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina—are up for re-election next year. Today, I made a donation to a campaign that will launch billboards in Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina calling out the senators as they campaign.

Letter to the Somerville Times

Today, I wrote a letter to the Somerville Times , in response to Mayor Curtatone’s data download on the city of Somerville’s climate action progress. It’s mostly good news, but I wanted to remind him that there’s a long way to go.

Better buildings and Climate Reality

I’ll be traveling for the next week, but I’m still connected to climate action back in Massachusetts. Today, I connected with MCAN on its better buildings campaign to try to improve state building codes. Today, I also dialed into a call with the leads for the Climate Reality Project Boston Metro chapter.

Sludge: Journalism to follow the oil money

It would be hard to overstate the fossil fuel industry’s influence over politics. Influence Map published a report last month that pointed out, “The five largest publicly traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total) have invested over $1 billion of shareholder funds in the three years following the Paris Agreement on misleading climate-related branding and lobbying.” The same five companies have contributed over $16 million to the most powerful oil and gas trade groups. Today, I donated to Sludge , a reader-funded investigative journalism project exposing fossil fuel lobbying. They intend to follow the money and report on how politicians are funded and how lobbyists push corporate agendas. Because more transparency is desperately needed.

Nashville carbon offsets

I spent the past weekend at the amazing Unrig Summit in Nashville, returning early this morning. Today, I bought carbon offsets for my flights through Terrapass to make up for the high carbon footprint of my air travel.

City Councilor fundraiser

Today, I attended a fundraiser for Somerville’s City Council president, Katjana Ballantyne. It was nice to chat with her and meet her family, as well as meet other civically engaged neighbors.

Frist Art Museum

I’m still in Nashville, after the awesome Unrig Summit over the weekend. So I wanted to see some of Nashville, in addition to the music, which I’ve been enjoying every night. Today, I visited and made a donation to the Frist Art Museum . It’s a small museum with no permanent collection. But the exhibits were outstanding, from a number of Mellon artworks — and a super docent who gave a really interesting tour — to an amazing Dorothea Lange collection. I hadn’t really appreciated the full breadth and power of Dorothea Lange ‘s photography before. Incredibly powerful depictions of the human condition from the Great Depression through the Japanese internment. I want to respect copyright and not post a reproduction of the works that most moved me.