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Author Archives:

Michael Barry

Social Justice NYC

New York Announces More than $10.6 Million in New Grants for Environmental Justice

Social Justice NYCAgainst the backdrop of renewed calls for racial justice nationwide in the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the state of New York announced on Tuesday a slate of grants totaling more than $10.6 million to help underserved residents access affordable solar energy. The grants will help offset predevelopment costs to address resource barriers that typically prevent low-income residents — particularly communities of color — from installing clean energy or energy storage in their homes.

The Empire State is set to provide individual grants of up to $200,000 each to affordable housing providers, community organizations, and technical service providers to assist low-income households and install solar and energy storage systems meant to benefit entire communities. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the government agency administering the program, will be hosting a webinar on July 14 to launch the grant opportunities and provide more information on the application process. The state will accept applications on a quarterly basis through the end of 2024.

This initiative is the result of New York’s landmark environmental justice legislation, which helped bring the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to life in January. The CLCPA made headlines for being the most ambitious emissions-reduction legislation in the country, thanks to its promise that the state will reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040. The CLCPA and the accompanying environmental justice bill require the state to make good on its commitments to address environmental injustice and invest in underserved and pollution-burdened communities. Tuesday’s announcement is part of that follow-through.

Celebrate Pride!

At Solar One, we are proud of our LGBTQI employees, partners, supporters, colleagues and friends.

 

Happy Pride Everyone. 

 

For more information on virtual events, participation and history, visit NYC Pride.

 

Juneteenth image

Celebrate Juneteenth with Free Online Events & Celebrations

Juneteenth imageAbraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which marked the final chapter of legalized human slavery in the United States. But down in Texas, no one was in a hurry to tell the 250,000 enslaved people there that they were free. They had to endure another two and a half years of forced servitude before General Gordon Granger read the Proclamation declaring them free on June 19, 1865 in Galveston.

Ever since, African Americans in Texas have celebrated Juneteenth as an alternative Independence Day, and the celebrations have now spread across Black America so that what was once confined to communities in Texas is now celebrated everywhere.

Tomorrow is a sobering Juneteenth. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic that has affected families of color disproportionately, and are also grappling with wave after wave of violence against Black people, a reminder that we still have a long way to go before we are all truly free. Even as protests have swept the nation and reforms to police departments are being seriously discussed in many communities, African Americans and other people of color continue to be subject to violence and discrimination based on the color of their skin.

We at Solar One want wish you a good and meaningful Juneteenth. Here are some events that you can join to commemorate Juneteenth from the comfort of your home.

Juneteenth Music Festival: Great lineup of hosts, DJs and love performers. Free global livestreaming event that runs all day on Thursday, into the night. https://www.juneteenthmusicfestival.com/

Carnegie Hall is livestreaming a speech/sermon by Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. of Riverside Church on Friday at 7:30pm: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2020/06/19/Live-with-Carnegie-Hall-Juneteenth-Celebration-0730PM

Juneteenth Jubilee: A Night of Black Joy and Activism: A celebration with comedians, DJs, frontline organizers and more. Friday night starting at 7pm. Tickets are $5-20: https://www.caveat.nyc/event/juneteenth-jubilee-a-night-of-black-joy-and-activism-6-19-2020

Groundswell is hosting “Prepare for Power”, an evening with speeches from environmental justice activists/leaders and a live musical performance by Bartees Strange on Friday at 6pm: https://groundswell.org/prepareforpower/

Juneteenth Virtual Block Party hosted by the Coalition for Educational Justice on Friday at 12pm: www.eventbrite.com/e/juneteenth-action-virtual-block-party-tickets-109210601850

NYC Men Teach Virtual Juneteenth Education is Freedom program, Friday 4:15pm (teach-in) followed by a program from 5-7pm: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nycmt-showcase-education-is-freedom-celebrating-liberatory-pedagogy-tickets-104976597830

 Celebrating Juneteenth, Centre for Social Innovation, a musical performance and dialogue with Malik Work. Please note that this event is intended exclusively for Black People. Friday, 3-4pm: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrating-juneteenth-tickets-109699494140

The History of Juneteenth and Systemic Racism and Solutions, a discussion between Dr. James C. Anyike, Lead Servant/Pastor of Scott United Methodist Church and Tammy L. Cooper, Black History Educator and College Professor. Friday 12-1pm: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-history-of-juneteenth-and-systemic-racism-solutions-tickets-109006354942

May your celebrations give you joy and strength!

SOLAR ONE’S STATEMENT ON THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD AND ITS IMPACT ON OUR COMMUNITY

June 4, 2020

George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was brutally murdered by the police in Minneapolis. Solar One mourns his death, and expresses sorrow for his family, loved ones, and everyone else who is impacted by this tragedy. We also mourn the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Tony McDade and countless others. We are all affected by acts of violence that desecrate the value of human life. Unfortunately, police violence against Black people, and people of color, is not new. Tragedies like this one remind us that we have a long way to go to realize the ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Solar One stands in solidarity with demonstrators calling for criminal justice reform and greater police accountability to the communities they serve, particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. We stand with our staff, friends, and neighbors whose diversity make us stronger and make us who we are as New Yorkers. We call upon our leaders to take last week’s tragedy, and the demonstrations that have followed, to advance the cause of justice through policies that address institutional and systemic societal racism.

We at Solar One believe that all New Yorkers play a meaningful role in efforts to protect the environment and to build a more sustainable and resilient City for future generations. The murder of George Floyd is a symptom of the same callousness and institutional racism that allows polluting industries to site facilities in communities of color, and that allows underinvestment in education and housing in these same communities. Solar One seeks to honor George Floyd’s memory by dedicating ourselves to racial justice as our environmental programs continue to evolve to meet community needs in these challenging times.

-Staff and Board of Solar One

Manahatta photo

When Manhattan Was Mannahatta

Manahatta photoBefore the first Dutch colonists sailed through the Narrows into New York Harbor, Manhattan was still what the Lenape, who had already lived here for centuries, called Mannahatta. Times Square was a forest with a beaver pond. The Jacob K. Javits Federal Building, at Foley Square, was the site of an ancient mound of oyster middens.

Eric W. Sanderson is a senior conservation ecologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo. In 2009 he published “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City.” The book geolocated old maps onto the modern city to reimagine a cornucopia of hills, beaches, fields and ponds.

In this virtual tour, NY Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman goes on a virtual tour with Mr., Sanderson, starting at the Staten Island Ferry terminal and imagining a September afternoon in 1609, around the time Henry Hudson sailed into NY Harbor.

Michael Kimmelman Aside from Hudson’s ship, what do we see?

Eric W. Sanderson Whales and porpoises. One of the earliest sketches we have of Manhattan shows a whale in the Hudson River. The charter of Trinity Church includes a provision specifically saying dead whales found on beaches in the province of New York are property of the church, which could use them to make oil and whale bone. So whales were clearly a meaningful part of the local economy and ecosystem.

What was the ecosystem?

Ecosystems, actually. Manhattan is something like one percent the size of Yellowstone. Yellowstone is 2.2 million acres and it has 66 ecosystems. Mannahatta had 55.

It’s an interesting thought exercise to imagine what might have happened had the United States been colonized from the West, instead of from the East. We might have decided to make Manhattan a national park. We would be coming to New York for an entirely different sort of wildlife.

You can read the rest of the interview/tour on the NY Times website here.

Park Spring Flower

Solar One in the Time of Coronavirus

Dear friends,

On behalf of the staff and Board of Solar One, I sincerely hope this email finds you and your families well and safe. In these unprecedented times, communication and continuity are more important than ever, and it’s in that spirit that I want to check in with you about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, as it now seems likely that this pause in normal life is not going to end anytime soon.

Like other organizations, our entire staff is working from home, having regular team and staff meetings via teleconferencing, and are working up plans to continue serving the communities that depend on us while keeping our staff, our students and trainees, and our partners from falling ill.

Like virtually every nonprofit in NYC and around the country, many of our programs have been cancelled because they require in-person delivery.  While this has had an effect on our budget, we are adapting and trying to transform our programs to meet a new reality: remote delivery.  This is particularly true of our Workforce Training and Green Design Lab programs, both of which serve populations (public school students and workforce trainees) who often bear a disproportionate brunt of hardship in a severe financial downturn.  To continue providing high-quality, practically useful information, education and training despite inhospitable conditions is a central part of Solar One’s mission.

Here are some of the ways we’ll be continuing our programs during this time of social distancing:

Our Green Design Lab team had been ramping up for our busiest Spring season ever with the delivery of our programs in classrooms throughout the city; understandably, those classes have been cancelled.  As the New York City Department of Education transitions to distance learning, our team of K-12 Educators is working to modify our hands-on lessons for a virtual learning environment. The GDL team hopes to be able to provide online environmental STEM curriculum and resources for NYC teachers and students that explore energy efficiency, climate change, and solar. Our Educators are also developing webinars and other interactive content to share with our networks.

At the same time, Stuyvesant Cove Park staff are also working with the GDL team to create virtual field trips, webinars and other topics that complement current school science and nature-based programming, while continuing to virtually manage our high school internship program, and creating and sharing free content on Instagram, with a focus on nature-based solutions to climate change, organic gardening and pollinator insects.

As with our GDL program, our Workforce Training program had classes fully booked for March, April and May.  Now that those classes have been cancelled, our Workforce team is working with our partners to establish ways to deliver webinar-based training for already scheduled April/May classes. We have already created an online curriculum for one of our NYSERDA projects and hope to be able to do this for other courses like OSHA (occupational safety) and NABCEP (certifications for renewable energy practitioners). Additionally, workforce instructors are looking at ways to adapt our regular green construction, building operations and other courses to a virtual delivery system.

Our CECP (NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities) program is continuing its emission reduction work with the NYC Mayor’s Office and Division of Energy Management remotely, helping with policy proposals and consulting with building owners and operators to get their buildings into compliance.

Here Comes Solar is continuing to deliver solar technical assistance services for high-impact solar projects in NYC. Our team is offering clients remote solar consultations, and we are working closely with our partners to modify our community solar outreach strategy to minimize face-to-face interactions. To join a community solar initiative, please fill out the form at herecomessolar.nyc and someone from our team will follow up in 1-2 business days.

As with all of you, we do not yet know when the ground will settle or when we will be able to resume in-person delivery of our programs.  We are planning for a long ride and will continue to keep up our communications with you through our weekly eNewsletter.  But, as you can see, we’re having no trouble keeping busy, and we’ll send out more info on what we’re doing programmatically as the situation changes.

Stay safe and healthy,

Chris Collins
Executive Director

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