The annual Wake Up the Earth Festival is Saturday May 2 and BostonCAN will be there in force! We are going to march in the parade with wild art, staff a table to get out the word about gas leaks, and lead mini-gas leak patrols to street leaks near Stony Brook T station where the Festival takes place. We need your help to make this a success, and you’ll enjoy the Festival! Contact us today if you can parade, table, or learn how to lead a gas leak patrol.
Boston’s environment/energy chief Austin Blackmon and two dozen guests toured the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle (TNT) Eco-Innovation District on April 3, 2015 and saw a neighborhood that is using climate tools to create community stability and good jobs. The tour was organized by the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC), Talbot Norfolk Triangle Neighbors United, and Greenovate Boston’s Neighborhoods Committee, which BostonCAN chairs.
TNT residents are confronting displacement, rising rents, and scarce jobs. In response, some are starting to save money by retrofitting their homes; planning energy-efficient, affordable housing; creating community gardens, playgrounds, an urban agriculture site; and checking out community solar installations to keep money and generate power in their neighborhood.
A recent study by Boston University and the NDC found that the TNT and surrounding area is under growing pressure from Boston’s voracious real estate industry. Families, there since the 1980s and linked by family and neighborhood ties, are hitting retirement age. The scarcity of good jobs makes it hard for children and neighbors to buy them out. Suburban realtors are moving in and offering cash for homes. Absentee owners and foreclosure speculators are raising rents to levels people can’t afford. With South Station now 12 minutes away on the new Talbot Ave stop that the community fought for on the Fairmount commuter rail, TNT’s residents could rapidly be priced out of their neighborhood.
The NDC, on the tour, framed its Eco-Innovation efforts as part of its community stabilization strategy. The need for money-saving energy efficiency and housing rehab, along with good green job training and jobs, became more and more obvious as we traveled down New England Avenue with its vacant lots lining the train tracks. Residents insisted that 19 new housing units Codman Square NDC looks to develop on those lots include houses and condos people can afford to buy, not just rent. The NDC is looking for job-generating businesses to be located in a Job Hub on New England Ave in TNT so residents can be employed and afford to live on the street. The neighborhood is seeking stability but it’s developing resiliency, the capacity to shape its future in the face of runaway markets and climate.
We invited community development corporations to tour TNT, hoping they’d pick up on this pioneering project and talk about similar work they’re doing. CSNDC is forging an intra-cultural relationship with the Asian CDC around growing culturally appropriate produce for Chinatown restaurateurs at its urban agriculture site. We invited City staff to see how neighborhoods can lead climate work. The NDC was delighted that Austin Blackmon, Boston’s new environment chief, came. The Talbot-Norfolk Triangle is a great place to show that climate work moves forward when the initiative comes from the bottom up.
For more information on Greenovate Boston’s Neighborhoods Committee contact Mike Prokosch at firstname.lastname@example.org and for more information on the TNT Eco-Innovation District contact Dave Queeley at email@example.com.
Dear BostonCAN friends, our April newsletter features:
- ways you can help our 2015 campaign, whether you have a minute or more
- an urgent call for help to block the West Roxbury gas pipeline (and an initial victory!)
- Stand Up for Solar! next Tuesday, the Rootskills conference April 10-11, welcome to BostonCAN’s new coordinator,
- and a terrific column on natural gas by ex-DPU Commissioner Anne Berwick.
A record 48 people turned out for our Gas Leaks Campaign kickoff meeting (see photos here), and – even more exciting – almost a dozen community organizations want to work with BostonCAN and stop gas leaks.
This is a rare moment of opportunity when we can reach out and build the broad climate movement we need in Boston. And it will take dozens of us. Please get in touch if you can help:
-Work with our new community partners in Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, Roslindale, Grove Hall, across Boston and help them organize their own gas leak campaigns.
-Table at farmers’ markets and other community events this spring and summer, starting with Wake Up the Earth on Saturday May 2.
-Make art that makes gas leaks real.
-Take on limited but crucial campaign coordination tasks: managing materials, lists, gas leak data…
-Call the Department of Public Utilities, our state legislators and city councilors when needed.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you want to do.
Stop the West Roxbury Pipeline
This month the bulldozers are scheduled to move in and start building a gas pipeline and metering station 200 feet from an active blasting quarry in West Roxbury. SWRL (Stop the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline) is urging elected officials to oppose any fracked gas pipelines or fossil fuel infrastructure in this state until health studies prove they’re safe.
This week SWRL met with aides to Senators Warren and Markey, Representative Lynch, Attorney General Healey, Mayor Walsh, and City Councilor O’Malley – and made progress. Yesterday Mayor Walsh, Rep. Lynch, and others called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to revoke its recent approval of the pipeline.
SWRL is returning to elected leaders’ offices on Tuesday April 7 to keep the momentum going. Please contact David Ludlow if you can join this crucial lobbying campaign.
Stand Up for Solar: Solar power is growing fast in Massachusetts, creating thousands of jobs and shrinking our dependence on fossil fuels. But some of our most important solar programs are under attack. Stand Up for Solar at the State House on Tuesday, April 7, from 10 to 2 (in Gardner Auditorium). Sign up at http://tinyurl.com/StandUpForSolar and check out http://solarisworking.org/ to learn more about solar power in Massachusetts.
Rootskills Conference April 10 and 11: Join the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund in New Bedford for two days of networking and skills-building! RootSkills is uniquely focused on the needs and interests of community volunteers working on environmental sustainability and community resilience across New England. http://grassrootsfund.org/tools/training/agenda
Wake Up the Earth: On May 3, BostonCAN and our community partners will unleash our 2015 gas leaks campaign on the world (well, on the Southwest Corridor Park). We are imagining a wild, serious, connecting contingent with maybe giant flames and pipes, vivid costumes, the Utility Billionaires, gas leak maps of your neighborhood… Join our Wake Up the Earth planning team and we’ll let our imaginations run riot!
Welcome BostonCAN’s new coordinator: Becca Tumposky will start in mid-May. Her deep background in urban planning and sustainability, anti-racist work and coalition-building will bring important new dimensions to our challenging and fast-moving 2015 campaign. We’re thrilled!
… and so are we! Check out Monica holding up an end of BostonCAN’s great GAStastrophe sign. If you listen very closely you can hear Stef beating the drum that was featured in the Boston Globe‘s article on the Jan 25 West Roxbury protest against the Spectra pipeline. (photo: Scott Eisen, Boston Globe)
And that’s just the start of it.
On January 22 the Boston Globe reported that Boston’s methane gas emissions are two-and-a-half times larger than experts thought. Our old pipelines and storage facilities are leaking enough gas to heat 200,000 homes and it’s costing us $90 million a year.
Meanwhile, West Roxbury residents are fighting to keep a new gas supply pipeline from crossing their neighborhood, with a regulating station next to a quarry that regularly detonates dynamite. And our new attorney general supports renewable energy and opposes the Kinder Morgan pipeline across northern Mass.
All this adds up to an enormous shift in public thinking about “natural” gas. It’s not clean; it’s methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. It’s not efficient; it’s leaking all over Boston. It’s not a bridge fuel; it’s a bridge to climate disaster. And more natural gas pipelines are not going to solve our energy problems.
Write a letter to the editor of your neighborhood paper and spread the word about unnatural gas. Talking points are below; email email@example.com if you want advice or help.
Stop the West Roxbury pipeline. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to join future actions.
Call your city councilor at 617-635-3040. Tell them the City should getting these leaky pipelines repaired ASAP, and the City should keep new pipelines out of Boston.
Join our Gas Pipe Action Team. Email email@example.com . We will be finding leaky pipes, getting them fixed fast, and making sure gas companies don’t build huge new pipelines into our state.
Talking points for letters to the editor
- Leaky pipelines are costing us. National Grid’s ancient pipes are leaking enough gas to heat 200,000 homes. We are paying $90 million a year because NGrid hasn’t repaired its pipes.
- “Natural” gas is a killer. It kills trees and shrubs. It aggravates asthma and other respiratory diseases.
- “Natural” gas is really methane, a greenhouse gas that is 86 times worse than carbon dioxide in the short term. (The short term, the next 10 to 15 years, is when we need to be doing everything possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions.)
- “Natural” gas isn’t a bridge to a clean energy future. It’s a deadly fuel that may be as dirty as coal.
- We don’t need new natural gas pipelines in Massachusetts. Instead, the utility companies need to
- Repair their old, leaky pipelines and stop wasting the gas we have.
- Cut the demand for gas by charging more for electricity during peak demand times – very cold and very hot days. (The problem isn’t us heating our houses, it’s an electrical grid that is too dependent on gas.)
- Get the electrical system off gas and onto renewables – wind and solar power.
- And most important — talk about your own experience and how you feel about gas leaks, climate change, and our future.
BostonCAN’s message of taking action at personal, neighborhood, and political levels to build a movement for climate justice was echoed by about 400,000 people on New York City on Sept. 21. The People’s Climate March was timed to coincide with a United Nations Summit on Climate Change. According to the UN, “Climate change is not a far-off problem. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
“There is a sense that change is in the air. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 this 23 September to galvanize and catalyze climate action. He has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. Climate Summit 2014 provides a unique opportunity for leaders to champion an ambitious vision, anchored in action that will enable a meaningful global agreement in 2015.”
While it’s too soon to know what effects the march and related organizing efforts will have, many national organizations collaborated to build a more diverse coalition than at previous national environmental and energy organizing efforts. Signs and banners throughout the march for resilience, justice, and sustainability created an impression of a significantly more inclusive and diverse social movement.
A large number of BostonCAN’s allies organized their members to attend the march, including MassEnergy, Bikes Not Bombs, ACE, City Life, Clean Water Action, Boston Climate Action Network and JPNET. Many BostonCAN members also attended. One of the youngest marchers, baby Lula Pearl of Jamaica Plain with , got a personal greeting from 350.org leader Bill McKibben.
Three BostonCAN members headed to Fall River this past Monday, September 8th, to support climate activists Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, who were arrested after using a lobster boat to block a shipment of coal to the Brayton Point Power Plant last May. Here is more from Reita about her experience:
When Suzette, Lauren and I arrived at the Fall River Courthouse where Jay and Ken were to begin their trial, Quakers were already sitting silently in a half circle, with other small groups appearing, including the principles, their attorneys, members of the press and activist supporters and their leaders.
I sat through the brief trial procedure, mostly chatting with people next to me during the frequent recesses.
On the elevator ride up to the courtroom, Ken chuckled about singing the Folsom Prison blues, but he and Jay and their families were pretty subdued. There were only 32 seats in the Courtroom that were available to the public. The other 32 seats were to be reserved for the possible jurors. Later, as it became clear that there would be no jury trial, these seats were filled. The judge was tough and fair. Near the end of the proceedings when the courtroom was packed, he asked if people were in the outside hallway. When he was told there were, he had the doors to the Courtroom opened, noting that the Court was open to the public. I liked that.
Earlier, Tim deChristopher who sort of acted as manager, set up a system for us to shuttle in and out of the Courtroom without disturbance. We were reminded of appropriate court behavior–no cheering or booing.
After the details of the surprise withdrawal of criminal charges had been worked out, and the settlement of civil charges with a $4000 fine for reimbursement to the Town of Somerset , we left the Courtroom and gathered outside to celebrate. I’m not much for speeches, so I was kind of on the edge of the crowd when I heard the D.A. Sam Sutter make a statement supporting activist efforts opposing climate change. Then he was holding up a Rolling Stone Magazine with a recent McKibben article in it and saying he was going to the Peoples Climate March. Wow, what a guy!
After the excitement of this pronouncement, we sang some songs together, and walked to a nearby church where 350MA had set up a generous lunch. Then back home. It was a grand day.
To hear Ken and Jay on Democracy Now! and learn more about the blockade, trial, and post-trial media coverage, click here.
The company Kinder Morgan’s plans for a new natural gas pipeline in Massachusetts couldn’t get worse. Not only are they trying to clear cut their way through 45 Massachusetts towns to build this dirty pipeline, but new evidence shows that they are working to force all electricity ratepayers to help pay for it through a tariff – an unprecedented and creepy measure that would allow private interests to empty our pocketbooks without democratic process. Come join us to rally at the State House this Wednesday, June 30th, 10:30am – 1:00pm, in Downtown Boston.*
Governor Patrick has signed into law some of the strongest environmental laws in New England. We’ve made huge progress on expanding clean energy, such as solar and wind, but this is a step in the wrong direction. It’s time to push forward for clean renewable energy and conservation.
When BostonCAN members came together in June to reflect on our successful spring campaign on natural gas leaks, we decided we wanted to spend the summer re-framing our work more broadly, targeting the natural gas industry in general and particularly this pipeline.
* A smaller contingent of rally goers will lobby their representatives at the State House between 9 and 11 am. If interested or with any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.