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Category Archives:

New York City

Monday is Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Last year, President Biden officially recognized the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrating the cultures and contributions of Native Americans in the US. Formerly known as Columbus Day, the move toward celebrating Indigenous people and culture rather than European colonialism began when South Dakota began observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1989.

On a planet faced with catastrophic climate change, Indigenous people around the world are faced with some of the most extreme challenges (while contributing the least emissions), and have much to offer when it comes to time-tested ways to conserve resources and protect the environment.

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Ravenswood Generating Station to Go 100% Renewable

Ravenswood PlantThe four red and white smokestacks that loom over the western edge of Queens are a familiar sight to New Yorkers, but a plan to convert the Ravenswood Generating station to 100% renewables could mean that their days of spewing smoke are coming to an end.

Ravenswood currently supplies about 20% of NYC’s electricity by burning natural gas and oil, running four large generator, the largest of which is nicknamed Big Allis. As Solar One got to see on a field trip there many years ago, the amount of fuel required to keep the turbines spinning at Ravenswood is awe-inspriing…and terrifying. It also contributes to some of the worst air quality in town; child asthma rates in the three NYCHA housing developments that surround the plant are significantly higher than in the rest of Queens.

Its emissions are also at odds with New York’s ambitious climate goals, which is why the current owner, Rise, Light and Power, is working on a plan to convert to zero-emissions, 100% renewable generation.

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On a Mission to Make Compost Cool

Domingo Morales was a young father living in public housing in East Harlem when he saw a flyer from Green City Force, a Brooklyn non-profit and longtime Solar One partner that trains young people for green careers. He signed up for the program and fell in love with composting. Last week, Mr. Morales and the program he created and runs, Compost Power, were featured in the NY Times.

His story is an inspiring example of how green workforce training and environmental education can have a huge impact on individuals, families and communities.

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Demystifying Plastics Recycling

Hard, soft, colored, clear, film, food safe, medical and on and on- the variety of plastic products in our lives is extensive to the point of being overwhelming. Plastic particles have been found in the middle of the Pacific ocean, in the stomachs of animals, fish and birds, and even in human lungs and bloodstreams. And as oil companies look toward a future with much less dependence on their products as fuel for heat, electricity and transportation, it’s expected that the production of plastics is going to increase over time, at least in the short term.

Even though plastics recycling has been mandatory in NYC since 1989, it can be difficult to understand the rules. Overall, less than 50% of recyclable materials are recovered. Plastic dishware, including cups, plates and utensils, which can be recycled as rigid plastics in NYC, have only a 5% capture rate.

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Non-Profits Partner to Bring Solar Power and Utility Bill Savings to Brooklyn Homeowners

Barrio Solar InstallationFifth Avenue Committee, in partnership with Solar One and with support from Enterprise Community Partners, has launched Barrio Solar, a program to provide financial assistance to low- to-moderate income Brooklyn homeowners to help them install rooftop solar panels. Solar can help homeowners lower their Con Edison bills, lower their property/income taxes, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign is open to all Brooklyn homeowners, and participants will receive free solar consultation from trusted non-profits and discounted pricing through a solar purchasing group. The first 25 low- to moderate-income homeowners that sign up will receive a campaign-specific incentive of $3,500 to apply towards the cost of solar panels or roof repairs, helping make solar affordable to the homeowners who can benefit most from the savings. Barrio Solar is also connecting homeowners who can’t install solar with local community solar projects that provide guaranteed utility bill savings.

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North America’s First Free Black Settlement

February is Black History Month in the US and Canada, and one historical fact that was brought to our attention by FABNYC and the Village Preservation Society is that the very first community of free Black people in North America was established in lower Manhattan beginning in 1643, more than 200 years before the Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in all US states.

To see exactly where the settlement was, you can check out the Village Preservation Society’s Civil Rights & Justice Map here. Based on the research of historian Christopher Moore, the settlement was made up of individual landholdings bequeathed to former slaves of the Dutch West India Company, as a “reward” for years of loyal servitude. Of course, this was not a purely altruistic act; the settlements conveniently served as a buffer zone between the colonial invaders and the indigenous groups they displaced. Sound familiar?

Even though the English subsequently outlawed the settlements when they took over from the Dutch in 1664, demoting the settlers from free persons to “legal aliens” who were not permitted to be landowners, some biographical information about the free Black settlers is still available, as well as the exact boundaries, sizes and locations of their individual properties.

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