Week 6 Progress Update

Jul 22 2014 • Posted by

I haven’t had much of a chance to work on my sustainability goal this week because I’ve been super busy. I’m going to make a real effort next week to work on that. I thought I would take this time to update about my progress with the internship so far this summer. This week has been very busy for all of us, and we’ve had some awesome events to attend.

My first event was a little rough this week. It was the Fall River Farmer’s Market. It was raining and it was pretty small. Other vendors also didn’t show up because of the weather. People wanted to get out of the rain and really didn’t want to listen to my pitch. But things turned around in the middle of the week when I attended the Wareham Book Sale. I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. Most of the people who attended were senior citizens, so they weren’t in as much of a rush as most people at other events, which was nice. I even got a couple of the librarians to sign up. Since I was by myself it ended up being great practice for me. I was able to get 11 leads altogether, which really made up for my event earlier in the week. Then on Saturday Jen and I attended the Holistic Health and Wellness fair in Westport, and got to talk to a lot of cool people. Although there weren’t quite as many people as I expected, almost everyone we did speak to signed up. We were each able to get 7, most of which were solar leads since Westport doesn’t have NSTAR or National Grid. I got to practice my solar and solar hot water pitches quite a bit and feel a lot more confident about that. I found that people responded really well to the idea of solar water, since basically every homeowner is eligible and it’s so much less invasive than full blown solar. People were really open-minded and nice and we fit in well with the crowd.

Overall this has been a good week for me, and I’m sure for others as well. Next week has some great events to attend as well, and I’m excited and hope to keep up the good pace.

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Every Lead Counts: A Reflection on the Success of the SouthCoast Energy Challenge

Jul 16 2014 • Posted by

On the 4th of July, I tabled for the Southcoast Energy Challenge at the Charles Morgan Event in New Bedford. In light of what was forecasted as an impending hurricane, many New Bedford residents had opted to stay indoors, and in any case, the event was pretty empty. For the first few hours I stood with my clipboard, bored with inactivity and grumpy because I wasn’t getting any signups. But then I realized something. Whenever we attend another event, we always end up with at least one more signup, which translates into one more person taking energy saving actions. All we have to do to get someone else on board with environmental initiatives is go to another event. Without overwhelming interest it wasn’t always obvious, but in the world of non-profits, we’re successful.

So what makes our program so effective? As anyone who has worked in an environmental-related field can attest, it’s difficult to get people to care about the inherent value of the natural world. People are moved by nothing more than they are by self-interest and short-term consequence. The crucial point to remember is that everything we do to the environment eventually comes back around to us. Through provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services we are either directly or indirectly connected to every ecosystem on Earth. When we translate environmental issues into terms of human benefit, especially when those terms are specific, getting people to care is a whole lot easier. This is what we do as purveyors and advocates of the Southcoast Energy Challenge, and it is what makes the program so great.

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Week 1 Struggles

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

This was my first week at trying to achieve my sustainability goal of driving less. For the most part it did not go as well as I thought it would, mainly because I was working a lot so I was forced to drive. Even when I wasn’t working, I had to run little errands at the bank and the supermarket. You would be surprised though at how far you drive from your home to these places that are in your town. To the super market it is a short drive, but it’s like an eighteen mile round trip which I never noticed until now. I have to start debating whether I need to go out and get it immediately or if I can wait until when it’s convenient.

On the plus side, I did start doing things to my car that will save on gas when I’m driving. I finally discovered the great invention of cruise control, allowing me to stay at a constant speed while on the highway. This way, I don’t waste fuel accelerating or decelerating. I can’t believe it took me this long to actually use it, highly recommend it to everyone who uses the highway. Another thing that helped me work on my sustainability goal was that I was allowed to work from home one day since I was only doing event research. I didn’t have to drive the 35 minute commute to work that day which saved me plenty of gas. I also looked up some ways to help save gas while driving and I plan on using those actions for the rest of the summer.

Next week, I may attempt to bike to my other job which is in my hometown and about a 10-15 minute drive by car. It will be a challenge, but it will definitely help me lower my carbon footprint and it will be a good workout. I plan on also checking my tire pressure this weekend as well to make sure it is at the optimal level since not only will it lower my carbon emissions, but also increase my safety when driving . The tires are one of the most crucial parts of the car and it is vital to the efficiency and my safety that they are properly inflated. Plus, this action is totally free of cost and will save me an estimated 332 pounds of CO2 emissions and will allow the car to operate closer to its highest fuel efficiency.

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What A Wonderful World We Live In

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

Well, I would definitely categorize yesterday as a “beach” kind of day. The reason why I say this is because it was a really hot day; at least in the 80s. And so, my friends and I all decided to spend the majority of our day at Horseneck Beach in Westport. In fact, this was the first time that I have ever gone to this beach. I mean, I have always been to Fort Phoenix (because I live right around there) but the Fort does not match anything like Horseneck. This beach was just absolutely beautiful.

Before entering the beach, the first thing that you see are just hills and then after that, just sand around you. There were so many people that were just laying out their towels and relaxing under the sun (they were thinking the same thing as me; just spend the day at the beach). But, the first thing that I did after laying my towel on the sand was jump into the water.

Now, I typically hate going in beach water because I hate feeling seaweed as well as any mysterious critters that lurk the bottom of the ocean. Although it is really cool to see the sea animals, I am just not a fan of feeling things in the ocean. It just freaks me out. But, fortunately at Horseneck though, the only thing that people could see in the bottom of the ocean was sand. Yes, I was in the sand back. Even though the water was pretty cold, nothing stopped me from going out. Unfortunately though, my friends were kind of acting like babies for not going in; they were listing millions of excuses as to why they do not want to go in. But it’s alright, I was having a good time just relaxing and riding out the waves that were coming ashore. Quite honestly, I think the main reason why I just jumped in without ever thinking of scary scenarios of things that could happen in the ocean was because of this internship-Southcoast Energy Challenge.

It just made me realize that life is too short and that we have to sometimes take a step back from society and just enjoy what is around us before it’s too late. We have to act now in order to further preserve the beauty of the world before our future generations reach that “total destruction” path. Yesterday was a great day and I look forward to have more days like that for the remainder of my summer vacation.

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“Crude Awakening”

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

For the past week while I’ve been away I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to work on my sustainability goal. However, I did watch an episode of HBO’s show Vice titled “Crude Awakening”. Although it may not directly relate to sustainability, it does go further into detail about the fuel crisis we are currently facing. It is about the BP spill back in 2010, and the effects it has had on people’s health in the area where the spill has washed ashore. I personally hadn’t known about any of this news and I found it both informative and alarming. Oil spills are notorious for the various catastrophic problems they cause, namely the damage caused to the environment and wildlife. It is just now being reported that it is also causing serious health problems for humans as well. The whole segment made it even more apparent just how harmful the cultivation and use of fossil fuels is, and how both cutting back and the discovery of a safer alternative are becoming more and more necessary.

The segment included many disturbing case studies and statistics. For example, people who volunteered to help with the clean up were contacted and interviewed. Without fail, every single volunteer reported that they suffered from respiratory and other health problems that they would consider to seriously hinder their daily lives. This is due to a chemical dispersant called Corexit, which is 52 times more toxic than oil and has caused respiratory problems, central-nervous issues, and rashes for local residents and volunteers. The chemicals used to clean up the oil caused the oil itself to become even more toxic. Children appear to be particularly susceptible and even become scarred from the rashes they suffer from. Even 4 years later, oil still washes ashore and continues to contaminate the surrounding environment and make people sick. Additionally, the seafood from that same area are also heavily contaminated. Not only is it unsafe to eat, but the animals themselves have a very high rate of deformities.

This show was able to illustrate just how serious the lasting effects of the BP oil spill are. The oil crisis has so many elements to it, and the number of issues only continues to grow. Other news stations haven’t reported on this subject whatsoever, and I feel it is yet another fact that the public should educate themselves about.

I found a link on youtube and encourage you all to check it out!

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Tabling Experiences 101

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

There is not much going on in my life at this point besides going to outreach events and resting at home, meaning sleeping in. Since you are probably in a rush, I am going to make this post short and sweet. This is my first week doing outreach and my first time doing this, so I am giving you what I learned from this, along with progress on the plants. Going to events this week and trying to persuade people to sign up, I realize it is harder than you think because some people are just persistent to say no immediately even without knowing that they could definitely save money as well as save energy. I had to try different approaches in order to appeal to the larger crowd and find what works for me and give people some room to take in the information and have a conversation with me. So, I noticed that going up to people and handing them a clipboard and emphasizing on the idea of the no cost home energy assessment is the best way to convince a person to sign up. With lots of practice, memorizing the script and watching the lead interns who have done this before, I am positively sure that I will get much better and learn to just speak confidently to people, even those who deny the home energy assessment.

For my sustainability goal, I have started the first step, which is digging a hole in the soil and planting the seeds into the hole. Every other day, I must water the seeds and watch them grow, documenting the height once the shoots start to sprout. The progress will be slow, but hopefully it will be worthwhile in having a fresh grown tomato to eat. Don’t worry, I will keep working on perfecting my skills and keep track of the tomato plants. See that wasn’t so bad and I am still growing from the experiences.

 

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SouthCoast Rail – Something Worth Supporting

Apr 14 2014 • Posted by

during this past wee, Lucas and I attended a local community event in support of the South Coast Rail project.  I have  never been to a meeting like this and I tough it was going to be comedically bad, perhaps due to the  amount of Parks & Recreation  that I watch.  I was so glad I was wrong. The sense of community in the room and support of the local project, the police, and the state representative, was off the charts. I learned so much about the projects underway and how crime had dropped in the area due to increased patrols.

The Rail project itself has high hopes for bringing in much needed revenue to the South Coast areas like Fall River and New Bedford. We have so much to offer on this side of the state that no one up north seems to be aware of. The area itself will grow exponentially once the project is complete.

To learn more about the actions of the South Coast Rail, visit www.southcoastrail.com

Next week I will be updating with more info on it after I have thoroughly researched it.

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Local Environmental Action’s 2014 Conference

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

On March 2, 2014, I attended the Local Environmental Action Conference which was held at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Both the Massachusetts Climate Action Network and the Toxics Action Center hosted this event. The Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN) is an organization that coordinates the work of locally organized groups across Massachusetts fighting the climate crisis. The Toxics Action Center’s mission is to “work side-by-side with communities, providing you with the skills and resources needed to prevent or clean up pollution at the local level.” This event occurs every year and this was my first year attending, but certainly not my last.

We started the day with our first keynote speaker, Teri Blanton, a fellow of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She explained the issue of mountaintop removal in Kentucky which she has been working on for over 30 years. I had never heard of mountaintop removal before this conference. To explain it in layman’s terms, it occurs when coal companies run out of coal underground and under the mountains, so they resort to utilizing the small amounts of coal in the top of the mountain. There are only thin strips of coal located in the mountain tops, but if the coal companies see coal they’ll do anything to harvest it. They clear cut all the trees and shrubs off of the mountaintop, then burn it. Using explosives to blow off the top of the mountain causes toxic particulates to end up in the air. The coal companies use harsh toxic chemicals to separate the coal from the soil. These chemicals end up in the water, making the water toxic for people in the surrounding communities to drink, bathe, cook with, etc. After listening to Teri Blanton, I learned what an atrocity the people of Kentucky and ultimately the entire country is facing. Teri Blanton is an amazing woman who has the charisma that everybody in the room could feel and it was good to know that she will continue with her amazing work to end mountaintop removal.

The first workshop that I attended was entitled “Mission Possible: Zero Waste Communities” and was presented by Brooke Nash, branch chief of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and Christin Walth, project manager for Toward Zero Waste Newburyport. Brooke Nash emphasized that if a product can’t be reused or recycled, it should have never been made in the first place. I definitely agree because it really brings up the issue of plastic bags and Styrofoam products. She went on with a very technical breakdown of waste production in Massachusetts. She talked about how effective Pay As You Throw (PAYT) trash programs are and how there is a direct correlation to an increase in recycling among towns. She went on to explain all of the benefits of the Pay As You Throw program in towns. Christin Walth spoke next and she focused on organic waste disposal. She opened a lot of our eyes by explaining how food waste accounts for 25% of the waste that we produce. Given this, she explained how our state legislation recently passed an Organic Waste Disposal Ban which will be implemented in October of 2014. This would ban businesses and institutions from throwing more than one ton of organic waste per week in the trash. It was made very clear that organics are the key to living a zero waste lifestyle. To sum up their presentation, they stated that moving towards zero waste is “an evolution, not a revolution” which was a great way to conclude.

The next workshop that I attended was entitled “Sharing Our Resources: Co-ops, Time Banks and Peer-to-Peer Renting” and was presented by Katherine Fisher, Mike Brown, and Judy Bennett. Katherine Fisher talked about her new three-person solar company that she has been working on for the past few years. She taught everybody about co-ops and explained how they work. Mike Brown is the co-founder of GearCommons, a sharing website that focuses on outdoor equipment. He explained how his business works and what led to its development. Brown also stressed and brought awareness to how important sharing is – environmentally and financially. The last speaker, Judy Bennett, talked about the work that she has been doing for Time Trade Circle. The way Time Trade Circle works is that someone does work for someone else and gets online credits. You can then spend your credits by having someone else work for you.

In the afternoon, we had our second keynote speaker, Robin Chase, the founder and CEO of Buzzcar, co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, and founder of GoLoco. Robin Chase talked to us about how she has shifted her life focus to bringing awareness to climate change. She gave us a bone-chilling statistic that by the 2060s, the earth will increase in temperature by seven degrees Fahrenheit, but on land, it will increase by eleven degrees Fahrenheit. She explained how worried she is for her three children and their future. She also wanted people to remember that climate change is going to affect them, as well as their children. The three key points that she wanted everybody to leave with, and focus on, is the importance of energy, consumption, and community.

The last workshop that I attended was entitled “What we can (and must) do about our massive food waste problem” and was presented by Randi Mail and Elise Vergnano. They presented all of the different ways that organic waste can be disposed of other than in your trash. We found out that residential waste accounts for 60% of all waste and commercial waste accounts for the other 40%. They showed how municipal waste is only the tip of the iceberg since manufacturing waste is seventy times greater than municipal waste. Then we learned how awful incinerators are for our environment. They are more polluting to our environment than coal burning plants. This was surprising to me and made think that we should be shutting down all incinerating plants before coal burning plants. Idealistically, they should all be shut down immediately and replaced with alternative forms of energy. One of their shocking statistics was that 40% of food produced in the United States is wasted: from the source and all the way down to your home. Massachusetts produces one million tons of food waste annually and only 10% of that waste is diverted from landfills. Regarding the Commercial Organics Ban that is supposed to be implemented this October, they showed an ideal form of composting that is being implemented in Cambridge, MA, beginning in April of 2014. Cambridge is starting a curbside composting program where everybody receives totes that they put out every week to be collected by composting trucks.

This was my entire day at the Local Environmental Action Conference. Everybody was able to choose which workshops they went to and those were the workshops that I chose. I would highly recommend that all environmentalists and frankly, anybody that cares about our future, should attend this annual event.

This is the website for the conference: http://localenvironmentalaction.org/

 

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New Interns Start with Energy Challenge

Feb 18 2014 • Posted by

 

 

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2/14/14

Thirteen new interns began their employment with the SouthCoast Energy Challenge on Valentines Day. These new 13 are accompanied by 3 lead interns and 2 former interns who have been promoted. Julia Bartholomew is continuing as the Events Coordinator, and Crystal Cruz is continuing as Assistant Manager. Ken Holloway, Dustin Rodriguez, and Andrew Briter-Wu have been promoted to Lead Interns for the spring.

This team of 18 residents will be out at events around the region as energy efficiency messengers. Their combined goal is to add 3,000 new members by the beginning of June.

Please stop by their tables and booths and say “hi!” If you haven’t gotten your no-cost home energy assessment yet, this eager group would be happy to sign you up.

 

 

 

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What’s growing?

Sep 18 2013 • Posted by

Some of MY favorites:

arugula
apples (apples everywhere!)
beets
broccoli
carrots
cucumbers
green beans
kale
onions
peppers
potatoes
pumpkins (of course!)
raspberries
sweet potatoes
tomatoes

MMMM sounds like a magical soup to me!

see the full list here: http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farms.php?zip=02571

The autumn chill has hit us all, and the farmers markets are winding down, & heading inside, but the Energy Team 2.13 will be out in force this week. Meet & greet our new interns.

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