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

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:


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New Interns Start with Energy Challenge

Feb 18 2014 • Posted by





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:

apples (apples everywhere!)
green beans
pumpkins (of course!)
sweet potatoes

MMMM sounds like a magical soup to me!

see the full list here:

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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Gratitude Harvest Festival

Sep 05 2013 • Posted by

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Forever Green

Mar 25 2013 • Posted by

Girl Scouts Forever Green


I took the Girl Scouts Forever Green pledge. The girls have pledged reduce waste, save energy, and build rain gardens. Additionally, the Girl Scouts official website encourages people to “Take Action”, just like the SouthCoast Energy Challenge does!

The Girl Scout “pledges” in Eastern Massachusetts have eliminated 2,536,973 pounds of CO2, which they calculate is equivalent to emissions from 226 cars per year. I love the way these statistics are converted in an easy to understand way.

Join the girls and pledge HERE

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February 17,2013 NO to Keystone XL Pipeline

Feb 05 2013 • Posted by



Across the country on February 17th there will be a massive uprising, standing up to big oil. Thousands will gather in Washington, DC for a monumental action lead by, The Sierra Club, and the Hip Hop Caucus against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that will extend a pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast . Will you be there? It is time to stand up to big oil and special interests once and for all. The American public does not need decades more of investment in foreign oil and dangerous extraction projects that will only lead to more spills, destruction of the natural environment , and natural disasters.


We must stand together and tell Obama, Congress, and anyone else who hasn’t rejected the pipeline’s plan that drilling for MORE oil and endangering MORE of the natural environment are not the solutions to the energy crisis. The solution is investing in renewable energy like solar, wind, rain, geothermal, waves, and tides. We must take greed and corporate lobbying out of the discussions about the future of energy and change the conversation to include what is most sustainable, renewable, and environmentally sound for generations to come. Will you be there?


*When: February 17th, at 12 Noon
Where: The National Mall, Washington D.C.
Who:, The Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus

Why: To tell Barack Obama it’s time to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. 

For more information about rides, housing and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit




“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ” -Margaret Mead



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Ice Dam Prevention Workshop!

Jan 18 2012 • Posted by

Icicles formed on New England HouseWell, it seems that “actual winter” is finally upon us, with all that it typically brings: snow, cold, and, of course, ice. One of the iconic winter images is of picturesque icicles dangling from roofs across New England. But have you ever paused to consider what those icicles actually signify, and what they might be doing to your home?!

This Tuesday at 6:30 pm, join the Energy Challenge and Next Step Living for a short, informative workshop on Ice Dam Prevention. Learn just what those dangling beauties are doing to your home, and how to stop them from forming! Plus, learn more about home weatherization opportunities, what to expect when expecting a home energy assessment, and how to best navigate the Mass Save program to your advantage.

We hope to see you all there! Download the PDF flier.

WHAT: Ice Dam Prevention Workshop

WHERE: Southworth Public Library, 732 Dartmouth St., Dartmouth, MA, downstairs meeting room.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 6:30 pm.

WHY: Learn some do it yourself techniques for preventing ice damming, and much much more!


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Holiday Efficiency: Tips for Saving!

Dec 19 2011 • Posted by


Keep up with Energy Challenge news on hard copy and online! Keep your eyes open for our weekly energy savings action in the Standard Times and! This week’s action: Deck the Halls with LEDs!


Closup picture of LED christmas lightsSAVINGS ACTION 15: When the holidays roll around, families across the region pull out boxes of tinsel, plastic snowmen, garden gnomes, and, of course, lights. As you’re testing those endless strings of tiny lights, replace broken models with LEDs. A Consumer Reports study showed that LEDs cost slightly more than incandescent holiday lights, but cost far less to operate, and use a tiny fraction of the energy. The study showed that a 50-foot string of LEDs in the C9 size used only 3 kilowatt hours of electricity to produce 300 hours of light, compared with 105 kWh for incandescents of the same size, saving $11. Additionally, LEDs are brighter and more durable, last longer and operate at a cooler temperature.

For added energy & CO2 savings this holiday season, wrap your gifts in recycled wrappings. Wrap gifts in reusable fabric or cloth bags, or use newspapers, magazines, or old phone books. Reduce that post-holiday mound of discarded wrappings: reduce, reuse and recycle for very happy — and efficient — holidays.

Difficulty: Medium
Cost: $10 to $60 per string of LEDs depending on length and variety
Savings: Up to $11 per 50-foot string of lights per 300 hours of use.
Environmental Impact: An emissions reduction of about 154 lbs. of CO2 this holiday season alone!

How: Go to to take the challenge and to learn more!
Read the original article here:

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NB Energy Now Hits the Ground Running!

Dec 16 2011 • Posted by

Less than a week after the official press conference for NB Energy Now, the new 3-in-1 umbrella energy program in the City of New Bedford, the phones are ringing off the hook. The program is essentially: Energy Challenge meets targeted goals for home energy efficiency and weatherization, as well as residential and small commercial solar installation! NB Energy Now truly has something for everyone, from students to seniors to community groups and small businesses.

Mayor Lang served as the Master of Ceremonies at the NB Energy Now Press Conference last Wednesday at New Bedford City Hall.  Pictured right, from left to right: New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang; DOER Commissioner and Fairhaven resident, Mark Sylvia; Penni Connor,Vice-President of Customer Care at NSTAR; and Norman Rebeiro of the New Bedford POWER Project. Our own SEEAL Director, Jennifer Marshall Grantham, and John DeVillars of BlueWave Capital also spoke at the event.

The message is clear: New Bedford as a city, a community of people, and an emerging sustainability leader in the SouthCoast, is taking action to improve the efficiency and comfort of local homes and businesses, and everyone is getting involved. What makes this program so special is the incredible partnerships, cooperation, and goodwill that has been fostered in a truly unique public-private team. The program is a joint effort by the City of New Bedford, local solar businesses Beaumont and Real Goods Solar, as well as key community partners including Green Jobs Green Economy Initiative/POWER, Old Bedford Village, and SEEAL and the SouthCoast Energy Challenge.

The result is a one stop shop for energy solutions. Through a combination of careful planning and incredible teamwork, NB Energy Now offers residents the full range of options for energy efficiency, conservation, and solar opportunities, as well as support to help folks navigate the process.

SO, if you live in New Bedford and you have not yet: gotten a home energy assessment, considered going solar, or ‘taken the Challenge,’ there’s no time like the present! Contact us, and register today!

Call: 1-855-626-6948, or visit online at:

Find more press for NB Energy Now launch here.

And here!


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