A Community Unity Dialogue Page 

by Frank Panzarella, PAR Planning Committee

The PAR Newsletter sees its mission as the bringing together of activists by sharing reports of the events and ongoing work of groups to build a progressive community.

We recognize that within activist circles and the broader population, there are many complex issues that can sometimes divide us and that require ongoing dialogue.

In this spirit, we would like to present a new feature in the PAR newsletter that will act as a place to express differing views on controversial issues. We would like this to be a page where groups and individuals focus specifically on their own positions on these issues, points of possible unity with others, and not as a place to criticize other groups or individuals with whom they disagree.

Some examples of differences within the progressive community include the nature of the Ukraine war, defunding the police, medical assisted suicide, and political violence in Syria. How are our readers analyzing these issues and various current events? Articles should be between 200 and 350 words and sent to [email protected]. Discussion of such issues may help people find common ground and programmatic unity to further the causes dear to our hearts or at least clarify differences.

We hope our readers will take us up this offer and present their analyses in our newsletter. The PAR Planning Committee looks forward to providing a forum for all to sort out controversial issues and build a stronger progressive family.

African American History Month Event Includes Art and Writing Competition for Students 8 to 12

CT People’s World Committee

The 49th annual People’s World African American History Month event will be held this year on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 4 p.m. at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, and also live streamed. The theme is The Power of Youth – The Power of Collective Action:  Equity Requires Revenue. The program will include prizes and recognitions for the high school arts and writing competition, as well as a panel discussion and performances.

When we reflect on the activism of youth over the past 50 years, we see the efforts, the impact, and the legacy of young people and the power of collective action. From the Children’s Crusade and the East LA Walkouts in the 1960s to the Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives Movements of our current moment, young leaders inspire us to be bold, to demand radical change, and to remember that another world is possible.

In 1963 thousands of African American children in Birmingham organized to walk out of their classrooms to protest segregation and demand civil rights. In 1968 thousands of Mexican American students in East Los Angeles organized walkouts to protest discrimination and demand improved learning conditions in their schools.

The Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives Movements continue to engage young people in the organizing and activism we need to demand a better world.

Express in artwork, essay, poetry, rap or song

What lessons can we learn from the youth movements of the past and present? What strategies, tactics, and actions can we use in New Haven or other towns? What role can young people play in the fight to ensure our schools and communities have the resources we deserve? How can young people in New Haven or other towns continue the legacy of youth activism to build a better world?

Requirements: Digital art work, drawings, paintings, collage, prints, photographs, etc. Essay, poem, rap or song – Not longer than 2 pages.

Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023 and include entry title, name, address, phone, e-mail, age, school, teacher’s name (where applicable). Email all entries to: [email protected] Prizes: gift cards ($200 first place, $100 second place, $50 third place) and books.

The art and writing competition is sponsored annually by Connecticut People’s World Committee to remember the lives and dedication of Dalzenia Henry and Virginia Henry to the youth of New Haven and to make a better future.

For more information, email [email protected] or leave a message at 203-624-8664.

CT Green Energy News, Jan. 20, 2023

E-newsletter about clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action, focusing on Connecticut. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected]. To find out more about People’s Action for Clean Energy, go to www.pacecleanenergy.org.

Connecticut homeowner associations can no longer block solar installations

Energy News Network. The provision was added to the 35-page Connecticut Clean Air Act before it was approved by lawmakers last session,” session. Associations may still adopt rules on the size and placement of solar installations.​..​ “This is one of the best-kept secrets from the past legislative session,” said Mark Scully, president of People’s Action for Clean Energy, or PACE.​..​ Condominiums are exempt from the rooftop solar provision.​..​ As written, the law only impacts a small subset of households, probably under 1,000, according to Kim McClain, executive director of the state Community Associations Institute.

Future CT electric rate increases would be left to legislature under new proposal

CT Insider. ​Representative Christine Conley introduced House Bill 5013 last week. The proposed legislation, if it became law, would give both chambers of the state’s General Assembly the opportunity to vote on any electric or natural gas rate increases approved by Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority… Claire Coleman is Connecticut’s Consumer Counsel and she said Friday she “would caution against adding yet another hurdle in the rate-setting process such as a legislative stamp of approval… I appreciate that the legislature is eager to find solutions for the high price of energy, and I stand eager to work with members on both sides of the aisle,” Coleman said. “Given the stringent process required by the Constitution for setting rates, and the detailed factual and technical record needed in order to meet those standards, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is best suited to set rates for electric and natural gas companies.”

Branford, East Haven Collaborating to Offer Residents Energy Efficiency Programs

Zip 06. In 2023 Branford and East Haven will work together on HeatSmart. They are applying for Energize Connecticut Community Partnership Initiative funding. HeatSmart will reach out to all Branford and East Haven residents, with special emphasis on Income Eligible residents who struggle with utility bills and often live in energy-inefficient dwellings.

Republicans Outline Proposals to Reduce Energy Costs

CT News Junkie. ​House and Senate Republicans called Tuesday for state government to pick up the tab for more than a dozen energy charges and fees normally paid by rate-payers as part of a package of proposals aimed at reducing the cost of electricity in Connecticut…An element of their plan involved sparing ratepayers an estimated $362 million per year by shifting cost of expenses like supply and delivery fees onto the state budget. Based on 2020 energy costs, the change would save the average Connecticut household around $210 per year, they said. “The reality is that government is deeply entrenched in energy and is a partner in energy. There are many costs embedded into our bills that are policies that lawmakers have passed. Some of them are laudable but they are all paid for by the rate payers.”

Graduate and Professional Student Workers Vote to Unionize in Landslide Election

by Megan Vaz, Yale Daily News, Jan. 9, 2023

In a landslide victory, Yale’s graduate and professional student workers have voted to unionize, marking a historic first after decades of organizing on campus. According to the National Labor Relations Board’s final tally, 1,860 of 2,039 voters favored forming a collective bargaining unit under Local 33 – UNITE HERE, the graduate student union that has fought for University recognition since 1990.

Daily Union Elections, which tracks NLRB records, listed Local 33’s election filing as the second largest in the nation in 2022, with 4,000 graduate and professional workers eligible for union representation. Including challenged ballots that went uncounted due to wide vote margin, about two-thirds of those eligible to vote showed up to the polls or mailed in ballots.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for years,” Local 33 co-President Ridge Liu GRD ’24 said in a Monday press release. “Generations of grad workers have organized before us, and I’m really excited to finally win.”

Yale has officially recognized the results of the election and confirmed that it will begin contract negotiations with Local 33. University President Peter Salovey sent an email to the Yale community shortly after the NLRB’s announcement, stating that the University remained committed to the emphasis on “free expression and mutual respect” that preceded the election. “With today’s result, the university will now turn to bargaining in good faith with Local 33 to reach a contract,” Salovey wrote. “As we work with the graduate student union, we will continue to be guided by our commitment to Yale’s educational and research mission and to the success of all our students.”

On Monday night, Local 33’s members and supporters streamed into the Old Heidelberg bar at the Graduate New Haven hotel for a victory party. The Graduate’s staff secured their first labor contract under Local 217 in the summer of 2022, three months after announcing they were filing to unionize at a Local 33 rally.

“One of two union bars in New Haven,” organizer Abigail Fields GRD ’24 observed. “It’s a historic day in New Haven and there have been graduate workers organizing at Yale for decades. And the win today is really the culmination, in a lot of ways, of generations of organizing, and that feels really incredible, and really powerful and moving to be a part of.”

[Article can be read in its entirety at https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2023/01/09/graduate-and-professional-student-workers-vote-to-unionize-in-landslide-election]

27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Social & Environmental Justice

Join the Yale Peabody Museum and CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for the 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Social and Environmental Justice with two days of free, hybrid events open to all. Come Sunday, Jan. 15, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. to 114 Whitney Ave. and Monday, Jan. 16, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. to 260 Whitney Ave. Space is limited. Virtual and in-person registration is strongly recommended. Free parking is available in Yale Lot 22 at 260 Whitney Avenue.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, 12:30-3:30 p.m. there is Family Story-telling and Dance at the New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Avenue. The New Haven Museum and the Peabody are teaming up for an afternoon of inspiring family programs celebrating Dr. King’s life and legacy. Storytellers Joy Donaldson, Waltrina Kirkland and Clifton Graves will share stirring fables, anecdotes, and stories that honor King’s work and testify to his impact on the justice movement.

Ms. Hanan’s Dance and Beyond will present an interactive performance of cultural dance and drumming from the African diaspora and you’ll discover kid-friendly activities throughout the Museum offered by our program partners, including the CT DEEP, the Black Caucus American Library Association, and the Amistad Committee. Peabody scientists will introduce attendees to fascinating specimens from our Paleobotany collection.

Masks are required in the New Haven Museum and space is limited. To register, please go to peabody.yale.edu/events/mlk-celebration.

Monday, Jan. 16, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. features the Z Experience Poetry Slam at the Yale Science Building, O.C. Marsh Lecture Hall, 260 Whitney Ave. Join influential poet performers Croilot and Ngoma, in-person for the first time since 2020, as they emcee an electrifying spoken word experience, honoring Poetry Slam founder Zannette Lewis, in one of the largest auditoriums on Yale’s campus. Spend the day with us or tune in live and online as our hosts kick things off with a high-energy group performance and a curated open mic. Those talented storytellers will be followed by a slate of renowned featured poets competing in the poetry slam.

Visit tables hosted by the National Council of Negro Women and New Haven African American Historical Society to hear from their members about the work they are doing in the community. And museum staff will be on hand to offer the latest information on the Peabody renovation.

This event is appropriate for adults and young adults with the discretion of a parent or guardian. For current Yale University vaccination and mask requirements and to register, please go to peabody.yale.edu/events/mlk-celebration.


Fair Haven’s PhotoVoice Project

Xóchitl García, Save the Sound Community Leader

This past summer, Xóchitl García led a photovoice project in Fair Haven. She recruited 13 neighborhood residents to document environmental assets and hazards through photography.

Residents took over 100 photos throughout the season, but only 50 were showcased in the final exhibit. Xóchitl identified five socio-environmental themes: Green and Blue Spaces, Abandoned Buildings, Trash Travels, A Safe Place, and The Homeless. To gather more perspectives and ideas on solutions to address these issues, Xóchitl, Melissa Pappas from Save the Sound, and New Haven Neighborhood Housing Services hosted two community charrettes at the Fair Haven Public Library. They then presented community-derived solutions from these charrettes in conjunction with the results of the PhotoVoice project to leaders, policy-makers, and city representatives at the final presentation hosted at Junta for Progressive Action at the end of September 2022.

Xóchitl and project participants plan to hold organizations and local authorities accountable for implementing these solutions through creative campaigning and a mini-series of workshops to further develop the ideas into proposal-ready projects. Ideally, an organization or a partner will commit to addressing these solutions in their capacity. At the same time, Fair Haven residents continue to be the source of inspiration and can hold organizations and decision-makers accountable for those commitments. Realistically, there will be one concrete solution as a first communal step toward environmental justice in Fair Haven.

Now, Xóchitl is establishing a strategic plan for community outreach and creating a winter workshop series next year. She wants to improve resident attendance in the spaces where people will make decisions. She believes representation is more important than ever in environmental justice. BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] cultures and non-English languages need the voice, the space, and the flexibility to communicate their matters that have been systemically disregarded.

To see the virtual exhibit of the Fair Haven PhotoVoice project, please visit: https://www.savethesound.org/urban-waters-initiative.

[On Thursday, Jan. 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m., see the PhotoVoice presentation in the Program Room of the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave.]

Do You Have a Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, a Stable Climate, and a Healthy Environment?

by Kimberly Stoner, CT Climate Crisis Mobilization

Of course you have a moral right, but, NO, you do not have a legal right to a safe and healthy environment under the Connecticut or US constitutions.

Our legal system protects some rights, but not the right to clean water and air, a stable climate, and healthy environments. Because environmental rights are not recognized, government decision-makers can disregard them in favor of other political or economic priorities.

Our current system of environmental laws accepts pollution and degradation as something to be managed rather than prevented. All communities suffer when there is pollution, environmental degradation, and an unstable climate; and communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities carry a disproportionate burden.

We need a Green Amendment to the Connecticut state constitution — and ultimately to the US Constitution.

Green Amendments require government officials to put environmental protection first at the start of planning, decision-making, and legislating, and regulate industry, development, and the transition to renewable energy. Green Amendments require government officials to avoid/prevent environmental harm, not simply to manage it after the fact.

Green Amendments in Pennsylvania and Montana have been used to overturn state laws expanding fracking and to stop a destructive gold mine at the headwaters of a major river. A new Green Amendment in New York passed in a referendum with 70% of the vote! For more information on Green Amendments, see www.forthegenerations.org.

The Connecticut Climate Crisis Mobilization (C3M) has made this work a major priority. Join us in putting a Green Amendment into the Bill of Rights of the Connecticut Constitution! For more information, visit the website ctclimatecrisismobilization.org.

Mass Extinction: Art, Ritual, Story, and the Sacred

Yale Institute of Sacred Music

In January and February, the Institute of Sacred Music is hosting a series of four webinars that explore topics relating to Mass Extinction: Art, Ritual, Story, and the Sacred. The talks are all offered via Zoom from 12-1 p.m. Anyone is welcome to join, though registration is required. Please register for each webinar event separately. For more information on each webinar and for the links to register, please go to ism.yale.edu/news/mass-extinction-art-ritual-story-and-sacred

Webinars at a glance

  • January 27: Sacred Lands, Sacred Ecologies: Poetic and Photographic Engagements with Craig Santos Perez and Subhankar Banerjee
  • February 3: Narrating Extinction in History and Myth with Sadiah Qureshi and Nancy Menning
  • February 17: Aesthetics of Extinction with Sugata Ray and Stefan Skrimshire
  • February 24: Remembering Lost Species: Rituals for the Anthropocene with Persephone Pearl, Emily Laurens, and Rachel Porter

Native Plants from Seed: On-Site Workshops

Hamden Public Library

Growing native plants from seed makes it easy to provide important habitat for pollinators while adding color and variety to your garden and landscape.

In January, Hamden Public Library will be offering on-site workshops at all three library locations where we will demonstrate an easy and effective way to propagate many types of native plants, most of which come from seeds that need a period of cold “stratification” in order to germinate. During the workshop you will learn about the importance of native plants to our region, and can start a pollinator haven of your own by sowing seeds in a do-it-yourself mini-greenhouse.

Please register below for one of the workshops. Because attendance is limited, please sign up for only one session. Most materials are provided, including seeds, but please bring a clear gallon milk jug if you have one.

Hamden Public Library’s seed library offers a variety of native and other seeds on request during the winter months. Seeds suitable for winter sowing will be available for pick-up at the library branches in January and February. A list of available seeds (including several CT Ecotypes) and how to request them will be available in early January.

From February through June, we will put out a selection of garden seeds for you to browse and use. Do plan early, as we may well run out of seeds before June’s end. This year the bins were empty before mid-June. We ask that you limit your selections to five types of seed, and only take what you need (plus a little bit more).

We want to thank Diane Dynia, an intern through UConn’s Master Gardener program, who produced an informative brochure of pleasing design to give the seed library more reach in the community. Look at the Seed Library page here: hamdenlibrary.org/seed-library/

Info: [email protected], 203-287-2680.

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