• RSS feed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
 
Author Archives:

Michael Barry

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.

###

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.

 

Composting

How to Keep On Composting

CompostingWe at Solar One are all about composting our food scraps, and we were sad to see the curbside collection program get suspended as the city tries to cope with COVID-related budget cuts. The Sanitation Department’s composting budget was slashed 90% and likely won’t be restored until 2021…but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep composting in the meantime.

Composting can be an accessible waste management tool that has many environmental benefits. It can reduce landfill waste: more than one-third of New York City’s residential waste stream could be composted. It also fights climate change locally by cutting carbon emissions from transporting trash and slashing methane emissions generated by organic waste in landfills. Compost creates fertilizer that NYC distributes to community gardens, urban farms, neighborhood parks, and street tree beds, improving community welfare and the local environment. In 2019, 3.2 million pounds of food scraps were collected in New York City.

But there are still a few ways to continue composting during the pandemic. Some food scrap drop-off sites are still open and can be found on this interactive map or this regularly updated list.

You can read a bit more about this on the NYLCV website here. And you can also check out our GDL webinar next week for more composting and sustainable career info- check out the article below to learn more!

NYC Traffic

Will Post-COVID Congestion Threaten Decades of Air Quality Improvements in NYC?

NYC TrafficAs we ease out of the COVID-19 PAUSE in NYC, one thing is making a comeback that nobody wants: traffic congestion. While businesses continue to reopen and more workers returning to their job sites, most people are leery of using mass transit, which can mean only one thing: More driving…which is putting decades of air quality improvements in jeopardy.

“We avoid 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year because of the MTA,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “If we’re swapping that with cars, which are less efficient to begin with, we are going to have a problem.”

Traffic on bridges and tunnels is down only 18 percent on average from its pre-pandemic levels. The number of vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district is only 15 percent below the volume seen ahead of the public health crisis, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. In early April, traffic was down roughly 60 percent from normal levels.

While subway ridership has rebounded from an all-time low, it’s still down roughly 78 percent from 2019 levels — with just more than one million riders using the system on weekdays. Buses have recovered more quickly, but ridership is still down 50 percent.

While environmental advocates have focused their efforts in recent years on targeting the largest source of emissions — city buildings — they acknowledge transit could become a greater concern in the Covid-19 era.

You can read more about this on Politico.com here.

Ravenswood Plant

From Polluting Peakers to Publicly-Owned Solar: Is This the Future?

Ravenswood PlantWestern Queens is the home of the Ravenswood Generating Station, the country’s 23rd largest power plant. Its gas-powered turbines consume millions of cubic feet of natural gas creating steam and steam-powered electricity. As a peaker plant, it is only supposed to come online a few times a year when electricity demand exceeds the capacity of normal plants, but with the increase in the numbers of visitors and residents to NYC in recent years, they have been needed more and more, especially in the evening hours when so many computers, televisions and other electronic devices are being used. And it is now known that the pollution they cause can create severe adverse health effects for the people who live in close proximity to them.

The impact of peaker plants on air quality, and contributing to respiratory illness, has left residents of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn living in the vicinity of these plants more susceptible to COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted people of color in low-income areas. Living with long-term air pollution is deemed “a threat multiplier,” drastically impacting health outcomes, which also point to the disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19. Residents of the South Bronx, Western Queens, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn in particular have suffered the most from the siting of the city’s peaker plants.

And now solar power is being proposed as a way to mitigate the costs, both financial and human, of peaker plants.

In Sunset Park, Solar One’s Here Comes Solar team is providing technical training for community members as a partner to UPROSE, who are leading the construction of Sunset Park Solar, one of the nation’s first — and New York’s first — cooperatively-owned community solar project, on top of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Community member subscribers to Sunset Park Solar will also be members of the New York City Community Energy Cooperative, and engage in decision-making meetings where they can vote and have a say in the future of the project.

Community organizations across the city are looking at Sunset Park Solar as a potential model for how community solar programs can work with city agencies and multiple types of partners.

You can read more about this on Gothamist.com here.

Page 1 of 3123