Speak up for local land conservation

You can help protect 70+ acres of open space land in Greenwich!

by Laura McMillan, CFE/Save the Sound

For several months, CFE/Save the Sound has been working closely with the Greenwich Land Trust and the Town of Greenwich on an agreement to protect 72.27 acres of forest and wetland currently owned by the Aquarion Water Company. Without the intervention of these local partners, the land would have been incredibly vulnerable to development and Greenwich would have lost a beautiful landscape and all the ecological and human benefits it gives.
But there are a few more steps before the protection deal is complete. You can help!

You can send official comments to the Public Utility Regulatory Authority from home:
1. Email your comments to PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov by March 24.
2. Put “Docket 20-01-58” in the subject line.
3. Tell PURA you support Aquarion’s application to dispose of 80 acres of land, including 72.27 acres to the Greenwich Land Trust, and why preserving open space in Greenwich is important to you.
There is a public hearing scheduled Tuesday, March 24 at 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., in the Cone Meeting Room, Greenwich Town Hall, 101 Field Point Road. Given the current public health situation with COVID-19, the hearing is subject to change. Please check Town of Greenwich’s website and PURA Docket 20-01-58 for updates and be mindful of minimizing transmission risk.

CT Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound
www.ctenvironment.org | www.savethesound.org
900 Chapel Street, Upper Mezzanine, New Haven, CT 06510

Speak Out Against Environmental Injustice | Save the Sound (formerly CT Fund for the Environment)

Environmental injustices are a national problem, and our state is no exception. Connecticut’s less prosperous neighborhoods face unfair pollution and public health threats.

For example, the combined asthma hospitalization rate for Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury is 3.4 times greater than for the rest of the state.

In 2008, Connecticut passed its first environmental justice legislation into law. It recognized the unjustly frequent placement of power plants, sewage treatment plants, waste incinerators, and landfills near low-income communities and communities of color. These toxic sites spew pollution into over-burdened neighborhoods and cause disproportionately high rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases.
The proposed bill strengthens this existing legislation by:

  1. Changing existing law from a voluntary to a mandatory requirement for polluting facility developers to conduct public engagement like notifying neighborhood and environmental groups of their plans in writing.
  2. Adding a new clause to invalidate any application for a new power plant, etc. if the applicant does not abide by the rules of public participation.
  3. Proposing the creation of a wellness clinic, and ongoing asthma screening, air monitoring, an ongoing traffic study, and watercourse monitoring to track impacts.

Let the Environment Committee hear your thoughts on this proposed bill! You can call (860) 240‑0440, e-mail https://www.cga.ct.gov/env/ or write the Environment Committee, Legislative Office Building, Room 3200, Hartford, CT 06106. Also, contact your local representative and senator to let them know you think this is important.

Net Zero Energy Schools in CT: Major Retrofits and New Construction

by CT Energy Network & People’s Action for Clean Energy

We are excited to invite you to a special gathering of the Connecticut Energy Network (CTEN). This event is on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Rockfall Foundation, 27 Washington St. in Middletown. The program will focus on what we can all do in our towns to transition our schools to zero energy.

Topics include:
How holistic energy efficiencies – the first consideration!
– strengthen the benefits of solar and other renewables/
local clean energy generation;
How demand reduction and building science relate to
state energy goals and to school districts’ bottom lines;
What financial and planning resources exist today in CT
to help school districts minimize energy costs while
improving student performance and well-being.
All-electric HVAC technologies for schools.
Our keynote speaker is John Balfe, Buildings and Community Solutions Expert at Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP). Lunch is provided. Seating is limited and registration is required. Please attend with a school representative. To register and for more information, contact Patrice Gillespie at patricegillespie@mac.com.

Book Review-Transitioning to a Vegan Diet by B.W. Leete

by Owen Charles, environmental, peace, and community activist

There is a new book out from local author Brad Leete, an animal rights and vegan activist who hails from Guilford. Transitioning to a Vegan Diet is his first published book, available at Amazon. It offers practical information and advice to new vegans and those thinking of transitioning to a plant-based diet. As he states in cover notes, “Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan!”

After 35 years of being a vegetarian, I made the transition to veganism about 4 years ago, and have read a number of vegan books and seen all the great videos and documentaries, so my initial reaction was “Been there, done that.” But in addition to a lot of helpful guidance on the hows and whats of making the change to veganism, surprisingly Leete brings forth numerous examples of challenges that may confront even the most well-seasoned vegans… such as little-known non-vegan ingredients to watch out for on labels, common household products tested on animals (and alter-native brands), and issues with certain beers and wines. So, while I purchased several books to give to friends and family, I made damn sure to read it through myself and take some notes!

The book will especially hold appeal for young people, those on a budget, and the health-conscious, because while he offers a variety of information about ingredients, foods, commercial products and experiences in making the transition to veganism, he keeps a constant focus on how to make your new vegan diet affordable and healthy while not losing any of the fun. While largely practical, the book also has some humorous touches… and I may just take him up on his challenge to come up with a “vegan Ratburger.”

As the author notes, “I’m in a lot of beginner vegan groups and see the same basic questions asked over and over. I decided to write a book to help ANYONE transition to a vegan diet/lifestyle while making it fun, easy and affordable.” Old or new vegan, this is a worthwhile read!

And for his next book, Leete has just published this month his second book–The Newbie Vegan Survival Guide: Answers to 151 Common Questions.

Other vegan news:

The CT Shoreline Vegans hold monthly potlucks every first Sunday of the month, 5 p.m., at Shoreline UU Society, 297 Boston Post Rd., Madison. In summer the potlucks are held at the Surf Club in Madison.

Saturday, Jan. 4, 6 p.m. is the 1st Annual Vegan Mac & Cheese Cook-Off, sponsored by Compassionfest. UU Society, 608 Whitney Ave. https://www.facebook.com/events/2498756383726550.

Let It Grow! Let It Grow! Let It Grow! Winter Garden Workshop

by Tebben Lopez, NHS

The snow doesn’t have to keep you down. You’d be surprised with how soon in the year you can get started in your garden!

By January, most gardeners start to get an itch to throw their gardening gloves back on. But what they may not know is they can start much sooner than they think!

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven organizes an opportunity for everyone – gardener and hopeful alike – to get a jump-start on the growing season. NHS helps to increase access to fresh, healthy food by offering the classes for a low-cost and free rate to community gardeners.

Advanced Certified Master Gardener Rachel Ziesk teaches six classes that are as accessible as they are informative. A seasoned teacher, who has worked with the UConn master gardening program & Yale University among others, Rachel specializes in organic vegetable gardening.

More information and tickets are available at NHSWinterWorkshops2020.EventBrite.com. NHS wants everyone to have access to these classes and encourages those with means to consider taking them at a help-a-neighbor rate.

The first workshop on soil and composting will be held Saturday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m.-noon at NHS, Building 3, 333 Sherman Ave. (203) 562-0598, Ext. 226.

Update on Green Fund Grants

by Lynne Bonnett, GNHGF

Are you interested in applying for a small grant?  The Greater New Haven Green Fund seeks innovative proposals from committed organizations and individuals for activities that advance our mission to promote environmental quality, public health  and equity in our community by providing grants and other incentives to support initiatives that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future and reduce air, water and land pollution.

We will have an informational outreach session about the grant application process on Jan. 11 at 10 a.m.  Some members of our Board of Directors will help answer questions about our application process and also talk about possible measurement tools that you can incorporate into your project proposal. It will be held at the Whitneyville Cultural Commons, 1253 Whitney Ave., Hamden.  The session will end by noon.

Please RSVP or contact us if you have any questions at  info@gnhgreenfund.org.

We strongly recommend that you complete the paper version of your application prior to coming to the outreach session if you plan to apply for a grant in 2020.  If you are just curious for future reference, you are also welcome to come and please RSVP.

Applications are due by Jan. 24 at 5 p.m.

Football Versus Survival

by Melinda Tuhus, environmental activist

On Nov. 23 about 130 students from Yale and Harvard ran onto the field after the half-time show at the annual playing of a rivalry so iconic it’s simply called The Game. They unfurled banners calling on the two prestigious, almost unbelievably wealthy universities to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies and Puerto Rican debt. I was one of a handful of baby boomers who joined them.

Divestment would help de-legitimize the fossil fuel industry, which is doing everything in its power to obstruct the transition to renewable energy that is so desperately needed to prevent climate disaster. Puerto Rico, still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, urgently needs debt relief. Thus, the overall theme was “climate justice.”

To me this action was right in line with my involvement over the past five years with Beyond Extreme Energy, which has been fighting to stop the expansion of fossil fuels, especially fracked “natural” gas, which the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) routinely approves, and to call for FERC’s conversion to FREC – the Federal Renewable Energy Commission. Gas leaks methane at every stage of production and use, which makes it not a “bridge fuel” to a clean energy future as industry and politicians have touted for years, but actually a dirty fuel than can be worse for the climate than coal.

Since becoming active in the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, I have participated in an untold number of protests, but this was perhaps one of the most impactful. Time will tell if the global media coverage will help move Harvard and Yale to divest these holdings from their endowments ($39 billion for Harvard, $29 billion for Yale). But the action has already had an impact on me.

After we sat down in mid-field and prevented the second half of the game from starting, hundreds more students (and some others) flooded onto the field to join us. It was a beautiful sight. We chanted ’til we were hoarse: “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now! If we don’t get it, shut it down!” The game announcer pleaded, “Out of courtesy to the players and the fans, please leave the field. The game must go on.” The absurdity of prioritizing a football game over the survival of life on earth as we know it was not lost on us. I wonder how many people in the stands noticed.

Climate scientists say we have until 2030 to reduce the emission of global warming gases enough to prevent irreversible climate chaos. The students know they are facing a changed, diminished and very scary world. Despite the exuberance and joy we all felt in accomplishing our goal of reaching the field and unfurling our banners, the overall feeling is one of trepidation. But also a fierce resolve.

I love these young people with all my heart. I love their commitment, their love for each other, their welcoming elders like me into their bold, creative actions. I love that one of the organizers said we might have to run onto the field and asked me if I could run. You betcha I could.

After 45 minutes, police threatened to arrest those who didn’t leave the field, and most did. Fifty of us stayed and were detained, charged with disorderly conduct. Our court appearance was the morning of Dec. 6 – the same day as another round of powerful and well-attended youth-led climate strikes. How fitting.

Let a Thousand Actions Bloom | Melinda Tuhus

By Melinda Tuhus

I’ve been arrested several times in DC doing non-violent direct actions (NVDA), protesting FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) as a rubber-stamp agency that is contributing mightily to the cooking of the climate and destruction of local communities and landscapes, but Nov. 5 was my first arrest in the Capitol. It was at a Senate hearing of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee to consider the nomination of James Danly to be the third Republican member of the five-member FERC.

The hearing room is small, so we had to get in line two hours early to guarantee our spots. (We took a break in the women’s bathroom to video record our statements, which is why it sounds sotto voce.) We took our seats and observed some of the senators greeting the nominee, at least one – ranking member Joe Manchin (supposedly D-WV) declaring his support even before the hearing began.

As I sat in that ornate room, each side of the aisle alternating in their questions and comments to the nominee, I felt viscerally that the plodding pace of the Senate is all out of whack with the scope and immediacy of the crisis. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I stood up and declared, “We’re in a climate emergency, and FERC is fanning the flames of the crisis. We need to convert FERC into FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission.” I was taken out of the room, but let my demand echo down the hall, and I know they could hear me inside.

After being handcuffed, I was escorted down the stairs very gently by two officers who said they didn’t want me to trip. I don’t know if that’s because I have gray hair, or I’m white, or a female, or if they would have treated any other arrestee the same. (Somehow I doubt it.) I asked the young arresting officer what he thought of the climate crisis, and of course he didn’t answer, but he smiled seemingly sympathetically.

I loved that I wasn’t taken to a freezing cold holding cell! I was held for maybe an hour to 90 minutes before being released after paying a $50 fine.

There are many ways to raise the alarm, and disrupting a staid Congressional hearing is just one of them. We often don’t know what impact our actions will have until more time has passed. I’m hoping some of the senators, their young staffers, or some audience members – including the mom and three-year-old girl who were relatives of another nominee – will consider my plea for climate justice.

Update: Manchin was the only “Democrat” to join all the Republicans in approving Danly’s nomination and moving it on to the full Senate. Even though there is an opening for a Democratic appointee, and the Dems have what looks like a good candidate, Trump has so far declined to make that nomination. Minority Senate Leader Chuck Schumer had earlier pledged to hold up all legislation coming out of this committee unless they gave the Dem FERC nominee a fair hearing. Stay tuned.

Then two weeks later I attended an amazing NVDA action 90 minutes across the New York state line in Duchess County, in a last-ditch effort to stop the biggest fracked gas power plant in the Northeast from coming on-line, which would spew 279 tons of nitrogen oxides, 570 tons of carbon monoxide, and more than 60 tons of sulfuric acid pollution, plus a shocking 6 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. People locked down to a tractor, above, signifying support from some local farmers. And four people scaled a 275-foot smokestack that’s part of the plant, and stayed there for almost 12 hours. They got on the property before dawn, and the company called out the few workers on the overnight shift, shutting down the plant for the day. The photo below of the smokestack doesn’t convey its height, except for a tree branch very low for comparison.

One of the protesters explained, “The longer they’re not doing construction the better. But the long-term goal is to hopefully awaken Cuomo’s conscience and get [the plant] shut down.”

The action was enlivened by the beautiful harmonies of the choir of the Church of Stop Shopping, as well as a big brass band.

I read one article saying this plant could replace half the power of the Indian Point nuclear plant nearby, which Cuomo plans to shutter in late 2021, but renewable forms of energy are available and cost-competitive with dirty gas. The plant is due to open in early 2020. Opening gas plants is not the way for Gov. Cuomo to meet his own stated goal of making New York’s grid carbon-neutral by 2040.

Twenty-nine people were arrested, charged with trespass or, for the climbers, criminal trespass. Let’s hope they touched Cuomo’s conscience.

 


 

Melinda Tuhus reported for decades for a variety of national and local radio and print outlets, including Free Speech Radio News, WINGS, the New Haven Independent, In These Times and The New York Times. She is moving toward retirement and spending more time volunteering in the climate justice movement.

Climate Demonstration Took Place New Haven Nov. 12

by Alison Huntley, Sunrise New Haven

Climate activists from around New Haven gathered outside City Hall on Nov. 12 for a rally organized by Sunrise New Haven and New Haven Climate Movement to urge Mayor-elect Justin Elicker to act on climate justice.

New Haven Mayor-elect Justin Elicker addresses climate activists.

The Board of Alders recently passed a Climate Emergency Resolution, and Elicker made campaign promises about climate action. The rally was the continuation of a campaign to make sure Elicker and the city follow through on these promises. The rally highlighted multiple issues that encompass climate justice, such as jobs, immigration, and land use.

The rally’s demands included:

  1. The new Mayor should sign the resolution, which would create a Climate Emergency Task Force.
  2. The Task Force should act with urgency to aggressively reduce emissions, protect New Haven residents from current and future impacts of climate change, create green jobs, and prioritize just, equitable outcomes, particularly for poor and marginalized communities.
  3. The Board of Alders should commit at least 0.1% of the budget to these critical climate actions.
  4. Elicker should do more to pressure Yale to invest in climate action and the New Haven community far more than it currently is.

Mayor-elect Elicker, who attended the rally, said this was the first time he had been a target of a demonstration and that he would take our concerns into account when he starts his term in January.

To learn more about future climate action in the New Haven area, including the upcoming school strike on Dec. 6, follow @sunrisenewhaven or @newhavenclimatemovement on Instagram or go to bit.ly/SunriseNewHaven.

‘Incredible’: Harvard and Yale Students Storm Football Field Demanding Divestment From Fossil Fuels Nov. 23

(Twitter screenshot)

On Nov. 23 at Yale Bowl, over 200 students and alumni from both universities stormed the field at the annual Harvard-Yale football game to demand that Yale and Harvard divest their endowments from fossil fuel corporations and instruct their fund managers to cancel holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt. Many were arrested. The students held banners including, “Nobody Wins: Harvard and Yale Are Complicit” and “Yale and Harvard Students United for Climate Justice.” Reprinted from Common Dreams, Nov. 23.

Funding Requests for Environmental Projects Wanted

The Greater New Haven Green Fund’s Request for Applications (RFA) is now available to be downloaded from their website at: www.gnhgreenfund.org/small-and-large-grants.html.

Our mission is to promote environmental quality, public health and equity in our community by providing grants and other incentives to support initiatives that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future and reduce air, water and land pollution.

The Fund seeks innovative proposals from committed organizations and individuals for activities that advance our mission.

On Jan. 11, 2020 we will have an informational out-reach session where some members of our Board of Directors will help answer questions about our application process and also talk about possible measurement tools that you can incorporate into your project proposal. Most likely it will be held in the late morning or early afternoon on the campus at Southern CT State University. We will announce it as soon as we have the exact time and location. You can email info@gnhgreenfund.org to ask about the time/location as we get closer to January 2020.

GNH Green Fund, Care of CFGNH, 70 Audubon St., New Haven, CT  06510

Call for Proposals for SCSU Women’s & Gender Studies Conference Due Dec. 16

PAR readers are invited to send in proposals for panels, workshops or lectures for the Southern Connecticut State University 2020 Women’s & Gender Studies Conference. The theme is “Gender, Race, Community, & Conflict: Pursuing Peace and Justice.” The conference will take place ​Friday and Saturday,​ ​April 24 ​and 25​, 2020. Submission deadline is Dec. 16​, 2019.

The world is right now witnessing the unprecedented destruction of communities—mostly Indigenous—and their habitats, including the ongoing fires raging across the Amazon rainforest, the Dakota Pipeline construction, and the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. Major conflicts have been exacerbated among genders, races and cultural groups, resulting in unspeakable suffering and violence in communities, from the desecration of Indigenous lands and sacred spaces to climate strikes and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit people, and trans women of color.

How do feminists and their communities, Indigenous and settler-colonial, address these problems and heal the breaches that have divided and torn communities apart? How have feminists and activists creatively used the existing power structures to reverse the fragmentation of peoples and break down hierarchies? In the pursuit of peace and justice, what are feminist activists doing within their families and communities to stop the divisions and violence and counter the hatred and demonization against “the other”? How are peace and justice achieved through the intersectional and transnational coalitions across gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, nationality?

Please submit proposals and supporting materials to womensstudies@southernct.edu, with attention to “Conference Committee.” If you have any questions, please call the Women’s & Gender Studies Office at (203) 392-6133. Include name, affiliation, e-mail, and phone number. Proposals should be no longer than one page (250-400 words). Panel proposals are encouraged.

The Women’s & Gender Studies Conference at SCSU is self-supporting; all presenters can pre-register at the dis-counted presenters’ rate. The registration includes all costs for supporting materials and all meals and beverage breaks. For more information, visit the SCSU Women’s & Gender Studies page, or contact Women’s & Gender Studies Program: womensstudies@southernct.edu or (203) 392-6133.

Winter Gardening Workshops at Neighborhood Housing Services

Advanced Certified Master Gardener Rachel Ziesk will teach classes that will help you prepare your garden for the upcoming season. The perfect gift for any gardener (or wanna-be gardener) in your life! 6 sessions for just $100! Scholarships available! Find out more at: NHSWinterWorkshops2020.EventBrite.com.

All classes take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon at Neighborhood Housing Services, 333 Sherman Ave., Building #3.

Jan. 25: Soils and Composting – The most important component for a successful garden is soil health. Learn how to make your own compost and everything else you need to keep your soil healthy for the most productive garden.

February 8: Garden Planning & Season Extenders – Ensure a long and productive growing year with row covers, organic mulch, cold frames and more! Get the most out of even a small garden space.

February 22: Cool Weather Crops – Start your garden as soon as the soil thaws, even in mid-March! This class covers how and when to plant cool weather crops and manage their pests and diseases.

February 29: Warm Weather Crops – Learn how to make the best of our growing season including which warm-weather crops are best started indoors, which can be direct-seeded, what conditions and fertilizers each crop prefers and how to fight their pests and diseases organically.

March 14: Seed Starting – Start your own seedlings! Learn about when to start indoor seedlings, watering, using lights, and dealing with common problems. Everyone will get to plant a six-pack of seedlings to take home. We will also review which crops can be planted directly outdoors and when.

March 28: Weeds: the Good, the Bad, and the Tasty – Some weeds are actually native wildflowers benefitting your vegetable garden’s pollinators. Some are invasive horrors with plans to take over your garden. And some are edible, delicious little morsels that can be harvested and enjoyed.

Scholarships available. Please contact Kathy at (203) 562-0598, Ext. 225, or at kfay@nhsofnewhaven.org for details.

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