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Michael Barry

NYC Sunset Image

Solar One Statement on the 2020 Election

NYC Sunset ImageIt seemed like it would go on forever, but the 2020 U.S. election is finally over. However the work of restoring and repairing our democracy for the future is just beginning.

Many of us had hoped for a more decisive end to the division that has roiled our body politic for the last few years. We hoped that the face that we would show to the world would be one of reconciliation, healing and a recommitment to our oft-stated values of peace, justice and equality. But after four years of bitter disagreement, we are perhaps even more bitter and divided towards those who see the world differently than ever before. The damage caused by deceit, authoritarianism, racism and cruelty, especially toward immigrants, women, and BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people, along with the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus on our communities, over the past four years will not be fixed or disappear in an instant.

At the same time, these election results show that the future is not bleak. On Inauguration Day, women will be closer to the highest office in the land than ever before. Kamala Harris will take her place as the first Black woman, as well as the first person of South Asian descent, to serve as Vice President in our government’s 244-year history. And BIPOC and LGBTQ+ candidates made record gains in Congress and in state legislatures, winning elections where no one thought they could compete. Even more interestingly, these gains were made on both sides of the aisle, proving that groups of U.S. citizens are not as monolithic as we used to believe. That brings us one step closer to the Enlightenment ideal of truly seeing every single person as an independent individual regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic.

The heart of the work we do at Solar One, across every single program and activity that we are involved in, is education. Oftentimes we may imagine that education just means memorization and getting the right answer. But education encompasses far more than that. It means expanding our worldview in directions we never conceived before. It means opening up to the possibility that we may be mistaken in the ways that we have approached the problems inherent in just existing as humans in a complex world. It means using our imaginations to the fullest to find the best answers, not just the ones we’d prefer to be the best, and it means finding ways to communicate those answers that make people feel respected and seen, instead of insulted and ignored. That is what Solar One has been doing for the past 15+ years, and that is what we will continue to do for as long as it takes to get it done.

No matter who you may have supported in this election, our hope at Solar One is that we can all move forward by listening, learning and pushing each other toward more understanding, more shared values and more opportunity than ever before to prosper and thrive in a world that we all have to share. There is no other way.

Got questions about the incoming administration’s plans for climate action? The NY Times has the answers!

Youth Vote Photo

First-Time Voters Could Make Climate Change A Pivotal Issue

Youth Vote PhotoScientists have been ringing alarm bells about our changing climate for decades, and the last few years have seen teenage activists turn up the volume. From protesting pipelines to organizing school climate strikes, these young leaders are among the loudest, angriest voices demanding solutions. Now, many of them are speaking up for the first time through a fundamental part of democracy: by voting.

More than 22 million Americans have turned 18 so far this year. Studies show those newly eligible voters are overwhelmingly concerned about the existential threat of a warming planet, and that people born since 1981 will make up the largest segment of the electorate within eight years. That promises to radically change public policy, which is one reason leaders of the youth climate movement are urging their peers to show up at the polls — and cast a ballot with the Earth in mind.

Check out what three youth climate activists have to say about how they feel about casting their first votes this year.

Delaney Reynolds, 21, is the founder of the Sink or Swim Project, a Miami-based nonprofit that educates and engages youth on solutions to sea level rise. Jamie Margolin, 18, co-founded Zero Hour, an organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of climate activists. And Jerome Foster II, 18, started OneMillionOfUs, which aims to register and empower young voters in the 2020 election.

You can read their remarks at Grist.org here.

Marsh with city

Scientists Recommend Rewilding to Mitigate Climate Change

Marsh with cityRestoring natural landscapes damaged by human exploitation can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to combat the climate crisis while also boosting dwindling wildlife populations, a scientific study finds. If a third of the planet’s most degraded areas were restored, and protection was thrown around areas still in good condition, that would store carbon equating to half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution.

The changes would prevent about 70 percent of predicted species extinctions, according to the research, which is published in the journal Nature.

Scientists from Brazil, Australia, and Europe identified scores of places around the world where such interventions would be most effective, from tropical forests to coastal wetlands and upland peat. Many of them were in developing countries, but there were hotspots on every continent.

You can read more about this on Grist.org here.

Census image

There’s Still Time to Participate in the US Census

Census imageCensus taking for 2020 ends on September 30th, and it’s vitally important that communities report their numbers as accurately as possible.

Why is counting community members important? Because census data is used to allocate resources, pay for community services and even determine how many representatives are elected to Congress. The U.S. Constitution mandates that the country count its population once every 10 years. The results are used to adjust or redraw electoral districts, based on where populations have increased or decreased. These results will impact communities for the next decade.

So if you haven’t gotten around to it, take the easiest step you can take to help your community and fill out the census form. Your answers are completely confidential, whether you give them to a live census taker, send in a written form or do it all online from the comfort of your home. Today is a great day to stand up (or sit down) and be counted!

Climate Change Will Be On Voters’ Minds Come November

Climate Change ProtestersThe number of Americans who feel passionately about climate change is rising sharply, and the issue appears likely to play a more important role in this year’s election than ever before, a new survey shows.

What’s more, despite the turmoil caused by overlapping national and global crises, support for action to curb climate change has not diminished. Backing for government to do more to deal with global warming, at 68 percent in May of 2018, was at the same level in 2020, according to the survey, issued Monday.

Many social scientists might have predicted a different result. A hypothesis in psychology called the “finite pool of worry” suggests that when people’s level of concern about one issue rises, concern about others tends to fall. Climate change, under such thinking, appeared to be a “luxury good” issue, the sort of thing that’s nice to have if you can afford it, but which gets pushed down the list of priorities in tough times.

The survey, the latest in a 23-year series, suggests that, instead, climate change has become important enough to Americans that it remains prominent despite the global coronavirus pandemic, with its rising death count in the United States, as well as the related national economic crisis, the pressures of self isolation brought on by the pandemic and a never-ending rush of other news.

You can read more on the NY Times website here.

You can also test your climate emissions knowledge with this short quiz, also from the NY Times. It’s trickier than you might think!

green goats

Due To Covid-19, Twenty Goats Will Soon Be Eating Lower Manhattan

green goatsStuyvesant Cove Park, New York NYNew York City’s parks are proving to be yet another unwitting victim of the pandemic crisis. Short staffing, budget cuts, and reduced volunteer opportunities have left many of our green spaces to their own devices, and the weeds have been having a (literal) hay day. Compounding the issue is the fact that as New York residents have needfully turned to parks as safe outlets for socialization and recreation, they have also, sadly, left excessive trash and trampled plantings in their wake.

“It’s just a lot for our two person team to handle”, says Candace Thompson, the manager of Stuyvesant Cove Park in lower Manhattan. “Mother Nature really got the jump on us with the weeds this spring and I feel like we’ll never catch up on top of everything else.”

Which is why that particular park has decided to hire some help of the non-human variety. Starting September 8th, 20 goats from Green Goats of Rhinebeck will be taking a Manhattan mini-vacation within a fenced off area of “Stuy Cove” Park, a 2 acre native food forest on the East River. During their tenure, the goats will be charged with a simple task: eat everything in sight. Solar One, the environmental education non-profit that manages the space, hopes this will assist park staff in minimizing excessive plant biomass while also fertilizing the soil for next season, all in just a few short days. While goats may seem an unorthodox fix to a weed problem, foraging animals have long been used in sustainable agricultural practices to manage overabundant species, and Green Goats in particular have been lending their services to public spaces and institutions across the greater New York area for over 15 years.

“When Larry and I first started our goatscaping company, my family back home in Guayana all teased me.” says Annilita Cihanek, co-owner of Green Goats of Rhinebeck. “Now we work full time on contracts for city, state and national parks, we travel constantly, and get lots of press. Let me tell you, my family isn’t laughing any more!”

Over the past three decades goatscaping has become increasingly popular as an herbicide-free way to manage invasive species. Goats have been used for weed control both on Chinese tea plantations and in California forests for brush control and wildfire prevention. Now they’ll be taking a stab (or nibble, as it were) at Stuy Cove’s bindweed problem.

Interested in being a part of the action? You can sign up to volunteer, support Stuy Cove’s GOAT FUND ME, or follow along with these walking weedeaters from home via the park’s Instagram. With remote and in-person learning starting the same week here in NYC, students and teachers alike can visit the park’s ‘Goat Cam’ to check their progress, or take a Zoom break and come watch sustainable land stewardship in action.

Solar One (CEC Stuyvesant Cove, Inc.): Solar One is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to design and deliver innovative education, training, and technical assistance that fosters sustainability and resiliency in diverse urban environments. We empower learning that changes the way people think about energy, sustainability, and resilience by engaging and educating a diverse set of stakeholders and beneficiaries. Our programs help individuals and communities explore new ways of living and working that are more adaptive to a changing world.

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For more info contact Candace Thompson, Stuy Cove Park Manager at candace@solar1.org or Michael Barry, Solar One Communications Manager at (646) 741-5225 or via email at barry@solar.org.

 

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