Showing posts from August, 2019

Pollinators of Somerville

Today, I took another photography walk as part of a citizen science project tracking the pollinators of Somerville. I saw far fewer pollinators this time around, although some flies were hanging around flowers more than I’d ever noticed before.

A climate forum for the City Council

In race for the presidential election next year, there have been loud calls for candidates to conduct a climate debate. While it appears that won’t come to pass, at least there’ll be a CNN climate town hall. Why not make that local? Today, I met with two local climate advocates to see whether we could make a climate forum for our city council, which has an election in November. The wheels are in motion.

Davis Square Neighborhood Plan

The City of Somerville is concluding a six-year process of updating its Davis Square Neighborhood Plan. There have been high-level consultants, street-level studies and numerous community consultations along the way. They’ve published a draft report and are looking for public comments, before presenting to the Planning Board next week. Today, I went through the report one more time and sent a long email to the Planning Department, first congratulating them for a comprehensive review, but also adding a few areas of improvement. I don’t expect much of a response.

Gas Leaks Allies

Today, I joined on a call with Gas Leaks Allies , who are releasing a report in a few weeks that is a comprehensive review of the pervasive problem of gas leaks in our statewide infrastructure. The report will be issued on the one-year anniversary of the tragic gas explosions in Lawrence and Andover , which killed one and crippled those cities for months. There are over 50 recommendations in the report, I was told, mostly to be addressed by the state government.

Climate Reality mentoring

Today, I spent a couple hours over lunch mentoring a trainee I worked with at the Minneapolis Climate Reality Project training. He lives in Maine, so he feels a bit isolated, but he’s really gung ho to get started, so I supported him as best I was able.

Climate Reality Boston website

Today, I took a few hours to draft a site structure and copy deck for a simple website for the Climate Reality Project Boston metro chapter. It’s time we had a web presence and I hope to work with the leadership team to get this live in a week or two.

Kiva loan for mushroom farm

I haven’t made a Kiva loan in awhile and enough loan payments have been made for me to be able to make another loan. Today, I made a loan to Zach , from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who is trying to grow his mushroom farm. I’ve lent to other farmers on Kiva and I love mushrooms, so this loan is right up my alley. Today, I also “filled the boot” — made a donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association through the Everett Firefighters’ “ FillTheBoot ” campaign.

Pollinators of Somerville

Today, I spent 30 minutes walking through my assigned block, photographing pollinators on flowers. I’m really enjoying my citizen science assignments and I ended up with some great photographs.

CD Recycling Center of America

There are billions of CDs and DVDs circulating in the U.S. Many will end up in landfills and incinerators, as digital streaming continues to take over from CD and DVD players. But it’s possible to recycle all those disks and their cases. Yesterday, I brought several hundred old CDs to a CD Recycling Center of America dropoff in New Hampshire. Today, I made a donation the center to help keep it running.

Breakfast meeting with City Council president

Today, I had breakfast with Somerville’s City Council president. A small group of us are having monthly meetings with her to talk about environmental priorities and policies that the Council could adopt. The Council was in recess for August, so it’s a good time to reconnect coming into September.

Sierra Club Green New Deal Policy Committee Call

Today, I joined a conference call for the Sierra Club’s Green New Deal Policy Committee Call. This is a group of volunteers from around the country who have convened to advise the Sierra Club on policies related to the Green New Deal. Given my other commitments, however, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay engaged on this one.

Pollinators of Somerville training

Today, I attended a training for a new citizen science project co-run by Green & Open Somerville and others. I was assigned a one block area in which I’ll be photographing pollinators on flowers. The idea is to begin to build a census of the types of bees, butterflies and other insects in Somerville and the flowers that they like most. I’ll only need to spend about an hour per month on it. Should be fun!

Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting

Today, I attended the monthly meeting for the Climate Coalition of Somerville. Normally, you’d expect a summer to be a slow period for a community organization. However, there’s a lot going on in September with a potential event in four weeks, so we spent time getting our act in gear.

Boston Ferments

I went to the Boston Fermentation Festival this morning to learn more about some specialized fermentation techniques. Perhaps, koji isn’t so specialized actually as the talk I attended was filled with people who seemed pretty sophisticated with their own koji already. There was another talk that I was really interested in as well, on “Fermenting Workplace Democracy” — or the growth of cooperative business models in the food industry. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for that one. Today, I made a donation to Boston Ferments, the all-volunteer organization that runs the annual festival.

Raise the minimum wage

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as it’s been for the past decade. Many states don’t believe that’s enough to live on, so they’ve raised their own minimum wages. For Congress, though, the issue has been political dynamite (well, at least a cherry bomb). A careful consideration of the evidence shows there’s a strong case for a much higher minimum wage. Notably, the possibility that companies would respond to a higher minimum by cutting employment has been vastly over-stated (though, not to be ignored). Today, I added my name to a petition to support the Raise the Wage Act — a bill would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over time — in the U.S. Senate.

Rainbow Railroad

The governments of many countries have stepped up their persecution of “other” people. That includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people. Today, I made a donation to support the Rainbow Railroad , an organization that supports for LGBTQI people as they seek safe haven from state-enabled violence, murder or persecution.

More gun safety

Last week, I took action to support more common sense gun regulation nationwide. Today, I took more action. I signed a petition asking Visa to use it’s sophisticated transaction to identify and report erratic gun and ammo purchases to law enforcement. I also signed two petitions asking Wal-Mart to halt gun sales. ( They halted video game sales, instead? )

Climate Reality follow-ups

I’m still on vacation this week. But just one week following the Minneapolis training, I still have quite a bit of follow-up to do, with mentees from the training, with the Boston Metro chapter and with the national organization. Today, I spent about an hour keeping up; more to do when I’m back in Boston next week.

The Provincetown railroad story

I’m on vacation this week and I like to learn more the civic life of the places I visit. Today, I attended a talk at the Provincetown Library called, “ The Provincetown Railroad Story .” If you’ve ever been to P-town, you know there’s no train service there. But that wasn’t always the case — it turns out the trains started running from Boston to Provincetown in 1873. Passenger trains continued to run only through 1933 and freight train service ended in 1960. Sadly, the right of ways for the track were sold to private parties so there’s no chance of a revival. That’s a shame; given how crowded the room was at the library, there’s clearly a lot of interest still in train travel.

Letter to the Boston Globe

Today, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, in response to Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley’s op-ed on net-zero buildings . O’Malley is right to stress net-zero buildings but Boston will need help from the State, I point out, which regulates building and energy standards.

Massachusetts Green Budget Coalition

The Massachusetts Green Budget Coalition has been advocating to raise the state’s funding for environmental programs and agencies for years. This year, it looks like they got what they wanted: All four of their priority line-items are funded above the recommended level! Today, I wrote notes to my state senator and representative thanking them for their support for this important funding.

Groundwork Somerville

Groundwork Somerville is a fascinating organization with programs that build toward an understanding that environmental conditions are inextricably linked to the economic and social health of a neighborhood. And so they work with children and teachers in school garden classrooms (linked to state curricula), provide jobs and leadership training to low-income and under-served youth, and grow food at the South Street Farm – Somerville’s first urban farm – and other sites in the city. Today, I made a donation to Groundwork Somerville, a program that I’ve long admired.

Climate Reality Boston chapter check-in

Today, I had a check-in call with other members of the Climate Reality Project Boston metro chapter leadership team and our chapter coordinator from the Climate Reality Project. It was a good opportunity to set our expectations for the rest of the year, since we’ve been a little bit dormant over the past few months.

Catching up for the Climate Coalition of Somerville

Today, I had four hours of meetings with others from the Climate Coalition of Somerville. It was a good opportunity to catch up on a lot of different threads going on in the community and some next steps in organizing in our community.

Stop the gun violence

This past weekend, there were mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton , just a few days after a mass shooting in Gilroy, California . It has to end. Today, I signed petitions to Congress through Sandy Hook Promise , Everytown for Gun Safety and MoveOn . to pass commonsense federal gun laws. I know those just petitions, but they’re just the start. I’ll ramp up engagement in other efforts to effect change as they emerge.

Carbon offsets

Today, I purchased carbon offsets for my roundtrip flight to Minneapolis through Terrapass . Aviation is a big source of carbon emissions and I suppose it’s doubly important to offset that emissions given that I traveled to the Climate Reality Project training. With that said, I believe Climate Reality also offset those emissions, so the offsets may have been doubled up.

Sharing & Caring Hands

I had an extra day today in Minneapolis, so I got to see a bit of the city. And I used some of that time for a civic act. Today, I donated some excess from the conference – a couple liters of bottled water – to a social service agency called Sharing & Caring Hands . I also donated a book to a used bookstore.

Climate Reality training day three

Today was my third day as a mentor at the Minneapolis Climate Reality training. The emphasis today was on experiences giving presentations and tailoring them for specific audiences. And I had a special honor today, to take the stage on a panel moderated by Al Gore.

Climate Reality training day two

Today was my second day as a mentor at the Minneapolis Climate Reality training. There was an emphasis on storytelling and I think all the participants were deeply engaged with the process, which will only serve to improve how they’re able to engage with others about the climate.

Climate Reality training day one

Today, I was a mentor for day one of the Minneapolis Climate Reality training. I got to meet 17 mentees who are being trained this weekend. It’s an awesome group and I’m looking forward to helping them out.

Climate Reality training prep day

I’m spending the weekend in Minneapolis, serving as a mentor for the Climate Reality Project’s latest training. Today, the 60 or so mentors had a training workshop to get a sense for what program looks like and what our roles would be. It was also a great opportunity to meet the other mentors and learn what they’ve been working on.