CT Environmental Rights Amendment Featured at Climate March in Hartford Feb. 2

by Kimberly Stoner, Director of Advocacy, CT NOFA

On Friday, Feb. 2, about 200 people from over 20 organizations marched in Hartford to demand immediate action on climate change by the state legislature, the Lamont administration, and utility and insurance companies in the state. The theme of the march was “Keep CT’s Climate Promise.”

There’s a lot to do. In the Global Warming Solutions Act, Connecticut promised by 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below levels in 2001. We would have to make some dramatic reductions in the next 26 years to meet that goal — and given the rate of climate change, that goal may not be enough. Indeed, one of the demands of the march was to set a more difficult target of reaching net zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

Kimberly Stoner photo

The CT Environmental Rights Amendment was one of the key demands. This amendment to the state constitution would include a safe and stable climate among the human rights of the people of Connecticut, along with clean and healthy air, water, soil, ecosystems, and environment, and would safeguard those rights for present and future generations. Right now, we are calling on the co-chairs of a key committee of the state legislature to bring this amendment forward in the coming legislative session. You can sign a petition at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/we-want-our-right-to-a-healthy-environment-in-the-ct-constitution.

A great opportunity is coming up to learn more about the CT Environmental Rights Amendment, and to hear about how similar provisions in state constitutions in other states have asserted the human right to a livable environment! Maya van Rossum, the national leader of the movement to put environmental rights into state constitutions, will be the keynote speaker at the winter conference of CT NOFA coming up in March.

There was a broad range of other demands to the CT General Assembly in addition to the CT Environmental Rights Amendment:

  • Setting a target of net zero greenhouse gases by 2050, along with subtargets for electricity generation, transportation, and other uses,
  • Increasing funding for energy efficiency,
  • Rapidly increasing solar energy, battery storage, and clean heat through heat pumps, and
  • Rapidly reducing greenhouse gases from transportation by adopting advanced standards for clean cars and trucks.

When we arrived at the Capitol, state legislators, including State Rep. Joe Gresko from Stratford, co-chair of the Environment Committee, pledged to include many of these demands in a bill they are developing, to be numbered House Bill 5004. It has not yet been introduced, but when it is, all of our organizations will be watching closely to see if the state legislators are ready to meet the urgency of the moment.

African American Women’s Summit: A Sister’s Collaborative March 30

The African American Women’s Summit brings together African American women’s organizations in the New Haven area. It focuses on the issues and concerns that affect the lives of African American families and communities.

The Annual African American Women’s Summit will be held on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dixwell Community Center (Dixwell Q House), 197 Dixwell Avenue, New Haven. The event is free to the public. This year’s theme is “AAWS Rocks the Vote 2024: Let’s Get Out the Vote!” A free continental breakfast and hot lunch will be served.

In addition to adult workshops, we will also have several youth workshops for ages 10 and up.  Please contact Dr. Cynthia McCraven [email protected], Linda Jackson [email protected], or Robin Wilson [email protected] if you have questions.

Over 3,000 Race in IRIS ‘Run for Refugees and All Immigrants’

by Emily Khym, Yale Daily News, Feb. 13, 2024

In the annual Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services’ Run for Refugees on Sunday, Feb. 11, 3,152 people joined in the 5K race. Ahead of the race, pro-Palestine protesters calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza interrupted Rep. Rosa DeLauro, cutting her speech short.

IRIS, a non-profit organization based in New Haven, has hosted the event annually to raise funds for its mission of supporting refugee resettlement and to raise awareness around the issue of refugee resettlement. IRIS raised $168,547, nearly 130 percent more than their fundraising goal. Starting this year, IRIS changed the name of the event from the “Run for Refugees” to include “All Immigrants.” On average, IRIS serves around 1,200 refugees and immigrants in New Haven.

“It doesn’t matter what [government] papers you come with, we welcome you and we are going to try to help you as best as we can,” Executive Director of IRIS Maggie Salem said.

Khuan-Yu Hall photo

Before the race, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker spoke about the vital role immigrants and refugees play in building New Haven’s community. A speech from U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro followed Elicker’s speech.

At the start of DeLauro’s speech, she was interrupted by a group of pro-Palestine protesters standing alongside the finish line. Several of the protesters were holding Palestinian flags and calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, in which — as of Feb. 11 — Israel has killed over 28,100 Palestinians since Hamas’ surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7, in which Hamas killed about 1,200 people in Israel.

“There was a group of people who pulled out loud speakerphones and started protesting about how DeLauro had not acted on the Israel-Hamas War,” Steven Zhang ’25, who was running in the race, told the News. “It lasted for around six to seven minutes … eventually DeLauro ended up not finishing the speech, and the race coordinator signaled the start of the race.”

(Read the article in full here: https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2024/02/13/over-3000-race-in-iris-run-for-refugees-and-all-immigrants)

Senator Murphy Suckered into Defunding UNRWA

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, Promoting Enduring Peace

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has provided food, education, and more for Palestinian refugees since 1948.

Israeli government leaders have tried to weaken or destroy it as a way of pressuring Palestinians into giving up their rights. At the end of January, the Israeli government had an anti-UNRWA propaganda campaign ready for what they knew would be a devastating decision against their actions in Gaza by the International Court of Justice. The Israelis alleged 12 members of UNRWA had taken part in the Oct. 7 attack from Gaza. It sent the charges and names of the 12 to Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general. He tried to appease the Israelis by acting before any evidence behind the charges was given.

Instead of cooling things down, this caused the charges to seem more credible, leading to Biden’s suspension of aid. This seems quite boneheaded on the part of Lazzarini, but he was between a rock and a hard place. According to an interview in The Guardian: “He said an Israeli bank account belonging to UNRWA had been frozen and the agency had been warned that its tax benefits would be canceled. Lazzarini added that a consignment of food aid from Turkey, including flour, chickpeas, rice, sugar and cooking oil, that would sustain 1.1 million people for a month, had been blocked at the Israeli port of Ashdod. He claimed the contractor said the Israeli authorities had instructed the company not to move it or accept any payment from a Palestinian bank.” So his heart was in the right place, but his actions helped produce the disaster.

Republicans and Democrats created H.R. 815 (formerly known as the “Revive Act”) which included a section forbidding any money going to UNRWA from the US government (its biggest contributor). The lead negotiator for the Democrats was U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut. On Feb. 2 he had called UNRWA “indispensable.” Yet days later he made the deal to cripple it. On PBS he said he did it to appease Republicans so they wouldn’t block humanitarian aid to Gaza. He also made the far-fetched claim that other agencies could do UNRWA’s work.

The bill passed the Senate and went to the House, where the Republicans hope to take out all the economic and humanitarian aid. Will they also take out the language on UNRWA? Not a chance.

Rally in Hamden for Ceasefire Resolution

by Paula Panzarella, rally participant

photo: Paula Panzarella

On Feb. 20, from 6-7 p.m., over a hundred people were in front of Hamden Town Hall, rallying in favor of a draft resolution for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza fighting. “Permanent Ceasefire Now,” “Another Jew for a Free Palestine,” “Stop the Killing,” and “Let Gaza Live” were some of the banners held by the crowd.

Shortly after 7 p.m., many people attended the meeting to give testimony about the need for local municipalities to take a stand against the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza. The hearing lasted well past midnight, with more than four hours of public commentary. The Town Council did not vote that night and may take up the resolution at a following Town Council meeting.

Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride Supports Twenty Local Environmental Projects April 27

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven Climate Movement

Rock to Rock is moving ahead for this spring, working with over 20 partner organizations to take real action in response to the climate emergency, and raise critical support for local environmental organizations.

2024 bicycle rides include 5, 12, 20, 40, 60-mile, and two Family Rides in East Rock Park, plus hikes in East Rock Park and West Rock Park.

Join the fun Saturday, April 27. All rides start and end at East Rock Park, with a Green Fair, live music and food trucks.

Register at rocktorock.org.

CT NOFA Winter Conference on Gardening, Farming, Land Care, and Advocacy

by Kimberly Stoner, Director of Advocacy, CT NOFA

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) is proud to present our 42nd Winter Conference, featuring a series of virtual workshops on March 20–21 in the lead-up to our full day, in-person gathering and celebration on March 23, 2024, at Eastern Connecticut State University, in partnership with their Institute of Sustainability.

Among the workshops in the virtual schedule on March 20:

  • New Haven’s own Lori Martin of Haven’s Harvest will present a workshop on a “new model for food systems” to get food to the people and not into the waste stream,
  • Ana Legrand on “Insect Pest Management When Transitioning to Organic Production,”
  • Anne Hulick of Clean Water Action on “PFAS Contamination in CT and What Can Be Done.”
    And among the workshops virtually on March 21:
  • “A Beginner’s Guide to Funding Opportunities with the CT Dept. of Agriculture, UConn Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Farm Services Agency,”
  • Yonghao Li of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven will present “Biological and Organic Control of Plant Diseases,”
  • Kip Kolesinskas on “Creating a Climate Adaptation Plan for Your Farm or Garden.”

On the big day, in person on March 23, the keynote speaker will be Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeeper and national leader of the movement to get Green Amendments into the constitution of every state and eventually into the US Constitution. And there will be an abundance of workshops all day, including starting a community farm, sustainable cannabis and hemp production, making quality compost with New Haven’s Domingo Medina, and bridging community and diversity with experiential farming programs with New Haven’s Nadine Nelson.

One ticket will get you into all three days of workshops, plus lunch on Saturday, and a great opportunity to gather with people from across the state who love the Earth.

Registration is open! Get your tickets at this website: https://ctnofa.org/winter-conference/2024-winter-conference.

CT Man Cleared of Murder After Three Decades of Witness Lies, Years in Prison

Edmund H. Mahony, Hartford Courant, Feb. 1, 2024

One of the state’s most bewildering cases of wrongful conviction finally ended Thursday when a Superior Court judge dismissed murder, robbery, and conspiracy convictions against George Gould for killing a bodega owner 30 years ago….

As the case crawled from trial through decades of appeals, each more confused than the last by successive recantations, Gould was imprisoned, released, returned to prison and finally freed.

Codefendant Ronald Taylor, who Gould met the night before the murder, had been released earlier so he could die of cancer at home with his family in 2011.

“George’s mother had always hoped that he would be released from prison while she was still alive and her wish was realized,” said attorney Richard Emanuel, whose work with colleague Joette Katz succeeded in winning dismissal of the case….

Over the next quarter century, Gould and Taylor — until his death in 2011 — experienced a series of heart-stopping legal wins and losses, all based on the state’s vacillating star witness. Gould was freed in 2010 by a judge who decided he was innocent, but imprisoned again a year later when the Supreme Court disagreed. He was freed for good in 2021 when Harmon reduced his sentence to time served and the ordeal approached a conclusion….

(Read the full article here: https://www.courant.com/2024/02/01/ct-man-cleared-of-murder-after-three-decades-of-witness-lies-years-in-prison.)

Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline—You Can Help Right a Wrong

by Melinda Tuhus, local environmental activist

The time is long past to be building more methane gas pipelines. The clean energy future is here. But thanks to Bank of America, construction continues on the Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline (MVP), which stretches 303 miles through West Virginia and Virginia and would carry 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day if completed. Last spring Congress, at the insistence of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, included a section in the debt ceiling bill requiring that the MVP be completed, overriding many judicial and regulatory decisions that had left it almost dead. Local people along the route have been fighting it for 8 years, and the terrain itself has presented so far insurmountable obstacles.

Bob Congdon photo

It is poised to cross the Appalachian Trail, the iconic 2,193-mile Georgia to Maine hiking trail that is a national park. It is a danger to residents due to destruction of land, contamination of air and water, and, if completed, due to leaks and potential explosions – and to everyone due to its climate emissions.

Bank of America is one of the biggest funders of the MVP, to the tune of $1.5 billion. Please contact CEO Brian Moynihan at Twitter: @BankofAmerica, Instagram: @BankofAmerica, and [email protected] to call on BofA to stop funding the pipeline. If you’re a customer, consider closing your account and going to a local or regional bank or a credit union like Connex.

Another thing you can do — sign a petition to make MVP stop polluting the waters where it’s building the pipeline: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/old-folks-demand-virginia-ag-hold-mvp-accountable?source=direct_ link&

On Jan. 31, two dozen people protested in front of the Bank of America branch at 157 Church Street, and demanded that it stop funding the MVP. We were joined by Maury Johnson, a retired West Virginia educator and an organic farmer, whose land was ruined when MVP, LLC took it by eminent domain to run the pipeline across it. Maury is a fierce pipeline fighter and gave an update on the fight.

And we were appalled to learn right after our rally that Bank of America has reversed its pledge to no longer fund coal projects or projects in the Arctic, which is melting four times faster than the earth as a whole. We urge Bank of America to come over to the right side of history.

For more info: [email protected], 203-623-2186.

What Can We Do to Create Peace In the Midst of Conflict? Feb. 14, 2024

Two respected professors have agreed to participate in our third Conversation: Dr. Anat Belitzki, Quinnipiac University and Tel-Aviv University, Israel, and Dr. Jimmy Jones, Islamic Seminary of America. As before, we will have an emphasis on listening, learning, and face-to-face conversations at small tables.

To protect the “safety” of participants and encourage honest conversations, we are once again not sending out press releases.

That means that it depends on each of us to spread word about the event. Feel free to copy the attached flyer, post it, email it to friends, share on social media.

The more participants we have, the richer the conversation.

50th Annual People’s World Black History Month Event Feb. 25, 2024


You are invited to a special celebration on Sunday, Feb 25 at 4 pm (doors open 3:30) at the Peoples Center 37 Howe St. New Haven and live streamed: “Black Voices for Peace – Gaza to Connecticut” marking the 50th annual People’s World Black History Month event.

The occasion will include prizes for the Arts and Writing Competition Grades 8-12, a workers’ rights panel with 1199 and 4 C’s union members, and guest speaker JOE SIMS co-chair CPUSA and lifelong civil rights and peace activist.

Drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and friends will also highlight the program.

The event is hosted by the CT People’s World. Donations will be accepted for the 100th Anniversary Fund Drive.

Please circulate this invitation widely. Attached are the event flier and the arts and writing competition announcement. For more information leave a message at 203 624 8664 or reply to this email at ct-[email protected].








New Haven’s Tiny Home Community Gets Heat and Electricity 

by Abigail Brone, Connecticut Public Radio
January 18, 2024.

A community of tiny homes created to house homeless residents in New Haven now have electricity and heat after months of back-and-forth with the city.

Rosette Neighborhood Village, a community of six “tiny homes” in the backyard of a private residence owned by Mark and Luz Colville, was constructed in October.

For the last four months, Rosette residents and their advocates worked with the city of New Haven to bring the units up to code and get electricity connected. The electricity and heat were recently turned on.

Electricity was approved by city building and fire department officials Saturday, and connected Monday. The development followed an in-person meeting with New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and his team on Jan. 12.

Jacob Miller, son-in-law of the Colvilles, said they’re optimistic about the community’s upcoming Jan. 30, Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

“Doesn’t seem like the type of thing that we’re gonna get a lot of pushback on when again, ultimately, what we’re providing is a privately-funded social service that’s filling a vacuum in a city that doesn’t have nearly the amount of resources to serve this community, ” Miller said….

The tiny homes are under a 180-day temporary permit, allowing them to remain standing. However, the structures are required to be disassembled when the permit expires.

Elicker declined to specify what repercussions Rosette Village residents and owners may face if the buildings aren’t removed by the deadline….

Read the full article at: https://www.ctpublic.org/news/2024-01-18/new-havens-tiny-home-community-gets-heat-and-electricityfbclid=IwAR0oda0Mpta1fhbdGJMO4tiW9_7CA0XzyGOQIySFM9ckXyBA_ayyIUWOe_M.

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