Showing posts from March, 2020

Reconnecting with climate orgs

Today, I spent some time reconnecting with several climate groups I’m involved with that have gone quiet, to different degrees, during the coronavirus shutdown. That includes the City of Somerville’s Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change, the Climate Reality Project Boston Metro chapter and the Climate Coalition of Somerville.

MCAN board meeting

Today, I joined my first board meeting for the Massachusetts Climate Action Network. And it’s trial by fire, of course, with the organization not only adjusting to the coronavirus crisis, but also looking to hire a new executive director.

Charlestown Face Shield Project

Protective equipment for health care professionals is in high demand right now. One effort to fill that gap is being led by a Dark Monk, a Charlestown shop that has retooled its manufacturing business to produce face shields and donate them to Massachusetts hospitals. Today, I donated to Dark Monk’s effort to produce 4,000 or more face shields.

Earth Hour

Coronavirus has put a brake on a lot of climate advocacy. And while there a lot of lessons to be learned from the public health emergency that can be applied to the climate response, it might not be the time to push them right now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any wide efforts at outreach on the climate crisis. Today, I joined with many around the world in highlighting Earth Hour , a one-hour period from 8:30pm to 9:30pm (whatever your local time) during which we all shut off our lights at home.

MCAN board briefing

Today, I had a follow-up call with MCAN’s board president to discuss joining the board. This is of course a period of turmoil for all organizations, and I hope to be of value at some level.

Sustainability in real estate

Today, I joined a follow-up call with Craig Foley, the chief sustainability officer for LAER Realty Partners. Craig is active with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Sustainability Advisory Group in 2019 and with the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, advocating for more sustainable building practices. We had great learnings on pushing the real estate industry to better value more sustainable buildings.

Brattle Development Committee

The Brattle Theatre has gone dark for the coronavirus crisis. It’s an existential threat, to be frank. But the community has really come out in support, donating about $38,000 in just a week or so. Today, I joined a Development Committee call to talk about opportunities to continue the momentum.

Massachusetts Decarbonization Roadmap

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is doing planning cost-effective and equitable strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and achieve net-zero emissions. It’s not enough. Today, I signed an MCAN letter on behalf of the Climate Coalition of Somerville telling the Governor to move faster and think bigger.

Somerville Homeless Coalition

For the Somerville Homeless Coalition, the coronovirus has a dual impact. On the one hand, demand for its services has gone up, because so many people have found themselves out of work. On the other hand, they had to cancel their gala, a major fundraiser for their operations. So more work to do, with less money. Today, I made a donation to the Somerville Homeless Coalition .

Harvard's coronavirus response

As the coronavirus forces a shutdown of the U.S. economy, many large corporations have vowed to keep paying workers , rather than laying them off. One exception so far is Harvard University, whose endowment was last valued around $40 billion. Last week, Harvard announced that it was laying off dining services workers. Today, I signed a petition asking Harvard to reserve that decision .

Labor-climate summit

Today, I participated in a labor-climate summit planning meeting organized by Somerville Stands Together. Actually, today was supposed to be the summit itself, but the Covid-19 ban on gatherings turned that into a digital gathering. And it was important to regroup and think about what we could achieve through digital collaboration tools.

Protect grocery workers from Covid-19

Grocery workers — and actually the entire food supply chain — are among the most vital workers in enabling a Covid-19 response that asks residents to stay at home as much as possible. Many of them are not adequately protected by their employers, however. Today, I signed a petition asking for grocery stores to, among other things, allow their workers to wear masks and gloves while at work to reduce the chances of community transmission that would shut down our food system.

We The People amendment meeting with Congressional rep

Today, I joined a video-conference with our Congressional representative, Ayanna Pressley, to advocate for the We The People constitutional amendment, which would establish that companies are not granted the same constitutional rights as people, and begin to add transparency on corporate influence in our democratic processes. It’s something I’ve been working on for awhile.

Climate advocacy under the coronavirus

Today, I had two different check-in calls with climate advocacy organizations, which centered on sharing how we’re all coping with the coronavirus’s influence on our lives and our health. First thing in the morning was the Mass Power Forward coalition and in the evening there was a call with Climate Coalition of Somerville members. Today, I also had a call with two Columbia Law School students who are spending their spring break researching how municipalities in Massachusetts can use zoning or other tools to place limitations on fossil fuel combustion.

Mobilizing Art: Pots On Wheels

Today, I supported Pots on Wheels , a truck that brings ceramic arts to kids in disadvantaged communities, through Kickstarter. Pots On Wheels received a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, so my donation is doubled.

Coronavirus gift cards

The state is about to go on lockdown, due to the Covid-19 crisis. Small retailers and independent restaurants will be the ones most hurt, yet they also make the character of our neighborhoods real. Today, I bought gift certificates from local businesses, in an effort to infuse a little cash into their balance sheets and help them survive the pandemic in some small way.

#ShutDownMASS to minimize the spread of coronavirus

Covid-19 continues to spread and our public health system still has the worst ahead of itself. We’ll be able to able to manage if we can “flatten the curve” — that is to say, delay the worst onset of the crisis until treatment capacity can respond. Today, I signed a petition calling for the State to shut down restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses, to ensure that social distancing is mandated.

Herring Monitor Training

I signed up to monitor the herring run through the Mystic Lakes dam fish ladder for another season. Today, I dialed into a training for the herring run; the trainings are usually in person but the Covid-19 crisis has moved everything online. And there are new protocols to protect herring monitors from transmission, as well.

Climate pledge strategy session

Today, I joined a call with two other Somervillens to strategize how we might have our state representative sign the Mass Power Forward pledge to support clean energy legislation.

Buy Nothing Somerville response to Covid-19

There’s been quite a discussion on the Buy Nothing Somerville forum about how we should respond to Covid-19. There are legitimate concerns about transmission risk in exchanges. And there are potential benefits to help people who will be financially and logistically stretched by the pandemic. Today, I listened to Buy Nothing members, consulted with other Buy Nothing admins around the world, and wrote an announcement to the Buy Nothing Somerville community. We won’t be shutting down but we are asking everyone to be very diligent.

Climate advocacy "breakfast"

Today, I joined a climate advocacy “breakfast” hosted by the Conservation Law Foundation. I use quotes around “breakfast” because it was changed from an in-person breakfast briefing to an online meeting. It was good to catch up a few important bills, but of course we lost the opportunity to network with one another.

Electric Vehicles 101 Webinar

Today, I dialed into a webinar on electric vehicles, hosted by the Green Energy Consumers Alliance. Notably, I wanted to learn what incentives are in place. I had no idea, actually, that the Green Energy Consumers Alliance had significant discounts in place through its Drive Green program .

Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting

Today, I attended our monthly Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting. It was particularly productive, as we made some key decisions. And good thing because it was likely the last in-person meeting in awhile, given so many meetings are starting to get postponed due to Covid-19.

Prep day

Today, I spent time recharging from the Local Environmental Action conference yesterday and prepping for what looks like a busy week, with a Climate Coalition of Somerville meeting tomorrow, a panel I’m speaking on for Passive House Massachusetts Tuesday and a Somerville Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change meeting Wednesday. Assuming all those meetings go forward, of course, with the Covid-19 pandemic growing worse.

Local Environmental Action conference

Today, I attended the all-day Local Environmental Action conference, hosted by the Massachusetts Climate Action Network and Toxics Action Center. I spoke on panel, as well, talking about our experiences at the Climate Coalition of Somerville with Somerville’s zoning code. Despite coronavirus fears, there were 500 or so climate activists together at Northeastern for this one.

Climate Reality Boston leadership call

Today, I attended our monthly leadership team call with the Climate Reality Project Boston Metro chapter. We have a new chapter liaison, so it was nice to get to know her, though we had bad news in that we had to postpone our March events due to the coronavirus outbreak.

LDC Fund campaign and Tufts Pilot negotations update

Today, I attended an update call for our Least Developed Countries Fund campaign . There’s some progress, but it’s not yet clear what the next steps in our campaign will be. Today, I also attended an update meeting on how negotiations are going between the City of Somerville and Tufts University. Tufts, as a non-profit, pays no property taxes. Instead it negotiates periodic “payments in lieu of taxes” — aka PILOT — payments to the City that are far short of what a private landowner would pay. Spoiler alert: negotiations aren’t going well.

Labor-Climate Summit planning meeting

I’ll be taking part in a labor-climate summit in a couple weeks. Today, I sat in on a planning meeting, helping to set the stage for the conversation.

Prep calls

I’ll be speaking on panels for two events in the next week, first at the Local Environmental Action conference on Saturday, then at a Passive House Massachusetts panel next Tuesday. Today, I had separate prep calls for those panels, meeting my fellow panelists and moderators.

Letter to the Boston Globe

Today, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe . There was an op-ed today about the need for mandatory home energy assessments to help homebuyers. I made the case it was even more necessary for renters.

Somerville Dreamers Scholarship fundraiser

Last November, I donated to a new scholarship fund that would support graduates of Somerville High School to go to college if they were “dreamers” — undocumented students or those who have a temporary status. Today, I attended another fundraiser for the scholarship fund and made another donation.