On June 3, 2019, over forty people met at the Greenfield Public Library to discuss the book, Drawdown--an event organized by Greening Greenfield.

 After a brief discussion of the content of the book, its purpose and organization, the book discussion participants gave the facilitators, Doug Selwyn and Jan Maher, those topics that were of most interest.  

                                          

There were eight topics selected and individuals then broke away from the main group and joined eight smaller groups to brainstorm local actions that might be possible around these selected topics.  The notes from these working groups can be found below.

            

Discussion Group Notes, Drawdown discussion, Greenfield Public Library, 6/03/2019

BIKING AND WALKING:

DISCUSSION / RECOMMENTATIONS:

  • Research “Vision Zero”
  • Need more benches
  • Physical barriers for bike lanes
  • Improve bike/pedestrian infrastructure
  • Connect with FRCOG
  • Improve safety and connect Turners Falls and Greenfield
  • Park ‘n Ride (Free)
  • Commuter bike maps and routes

 COMPOSTING AND WASTE REDUCTION:

DISCUSSION:

  • Policy for food from farms that is less than perfect for consumer markets (fruit with small bruises, for ex)
  • Gleaning projects with farms
  • Discussed what we know about what does and doesn’t happen currently at various food stores
  • Food Recovery hierarchy (upside down pyramid) of
    • Source reduction (top priority)
    • Feed hungry people
    • Feed animals
    • Anaerobic digestion or composting
    • Landfill or waste-to-energy (last resort)

According to Drawdown, some idea of scale of issue is that

  • Globally, for more than 1/3 of the labor force, food production is their job
  • 1/3 of food produced is not eaten

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Join existing gleaning group or start others
    • Temple Israel coordinates
    • Drop off at various places, including
      • James and Andrew (for Monday Second Helpings community meal
      • Center for Self-Reliance
      • Stone Soup
    • More gleaners could add more locations
  • Support new compost initiatives, like
    • Montague Drawdown group, and consider joining forces.
    • Compost Cooperative

 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND ELECTRIC GENERATION:

DISCUSSION:

  • Nuclear energy—Is safer advanced nuclear technology possible? Are there safer and cheaper methods of power production?
  • Offshore Wind Farms—Support for Vineyard Wind project and other off shore projects, including money for decommissioning and/or repair.
  • Onshore Wind Farms—Careful siting can utilize existing roads and power lines without cutting down many trees or impacting wildlife, etc.
    Need to plan for decommissioning or repair if companies go bankrupt.
  • Solar—Placing large arrays on large rooftops, marginal land, existing parking lots, industrial areas, or brownfields, saves forests and farmlands. Continuing incentives are important.
  • Biomass—Uses scrap wood and construction debris and could cause a net increase in both air pollution and CO2 release due to the fossil fuels needed to cut and transport wood to the facility. Health impacts: asthma. NH and ME want to get into this to get rid of waste wood. Healthy forests help sequester C02, so why damage them? Should biomass be considered a clean energy source or avoided?
  • Biogas—Produced in anaerobic digesters on farms, cut methane and CO2 release, enable larger dairy farms to generate power to the grid, heat to greenhouses & farm buildings, receive money from food processors who can longer dump their food wastes, and produce organic fertilizer that is methane free. How much could this be expanded in our region?
  • Electric Vehicles—Could the expanded use of all kinds of electric vehicles help use extra solar or wind power when production is greater than use? Can existing technology help us position and create solar vehicle charging equipment for maximum efficiencies? (e.g. panels on vehicle parking garages, covering parking areas for school buses and cars instead of garages).

PROPOSALS:

Encourage:

  • Electric power storage systems (Are there cheaper ways to store energy than batteries?)
  • Salt mine storage and other ideas to pump water at Northfield and Bear Swamp uphill to reservoirs and release it when there is a power shortage
  • Existing hydropower and tidal energy experiment in Cape Cod Canal

Educate:

  • Self and others on ways to use power more efficiently and wisely in homes and businesses
  • Public Utility Commissioners, politicians, schools, investors about offshore wind and bio-gas.

 

HEALTH AND WATERSHEDS

DISCUSSION:

  • CT river watershed à Local à Very important
    • Challenges
      • Recreational (Green River Swimming Pool)
      • More animals hardier to pollution: mollusks, snails, more larvae stages, stone flies
      • Trash: soaps, deodorants, hormones, etc. are kinds of pollution
      • Acid rain – effects PH of water
      • Storm water carries pollution from roads into water
      • Factories can still buy licenses to dump waste
      • Repairs would take solid $$$
      • Ground water overwhelms the sewage treatment plant
        • Sewage treatment plant not in compliance, would take two years to fix; trying to put this problem into the budget
      • Fertilizers, domestic animal feces, cow feces, pesticides, algae blooms, a lot of farms upstream of Green River
      • Dog poo bags down storm drains
      • Things that get through system into river: pollutants such as soaps, medications, from house drain water; microbeads

PROPOSALS / SOLUTIONS:

  • Reduce Organic pesticides and fertilizers – homeowners/farmers
  • Plant plants along river that consume certain pollutants
  • Use plants that repel animals in yards
  • Offer grants for farmers to transition infrastructure
  • Fines to get people to care. Enforce it. Stop littering. “Big Picture” propaganda
  • Fishing and Estuaries
    • Striped bass
  • LOCAL issues - Green River
    • RE: Sewage treatment plant not in compliance dumps sewage into river when it rains (groundwater/stormwater/aging pipes issue) educate people so $ to fix the problem is in the budget.
    • RE: Dog poo bags down storm drains – educate not to throw…artwork around drains?
    • RE: pollutants that get through system into river: (such as soaps, medications, from house drain water; microbeads) – more education

Environmental Police: Necesitamos más

 

PLANT-BASED DIET 

DISCUSSION:

  • High school lunches not very vegan friendly
  • Need to safeguard cultural values and small family farms
  • Realistic meat substitutes that appeal to meat eaters makes plant-based food more accessible
  • How do we reconcile plant-based died with medically recommended/necessary diets high in animal protein?
  • Eating locally is an important concern: not just plants, but local plants; local meat/dairy/eggs from small local family farms
  • How to emphasize the “more” rather than “all” approach for those who can’t/won’t be entirely plant based?
  • Cost/accessibility of plant-based food/diets
  • Eliminating food deserts

PROPOSALS / SOLUTIONS:

  • Local event(s) to promote plant-based foods:
    • Competition re:
      • Cooking with local food; budgeting to eat local foods
    • Community Challenge to switch to more plant-based/local eating
      • Share recipes
      • Support each other in reaching goals over 10 weeks or so
      • Competition for best recipe? Most local? Most economical? (Involve area chefs?)
    • Support for local farms/gardens/distributors such as Just Roots
      • Could include adding high school as a distribution point
    • Compiling resource list of local restaurants, groceries that feature local foods

 

POLICY CHANGES:

DISCUSSION:

  • Individuals advocating Green New Deal
    • Voting elected officials who support this
    • Local view: What can we do here?
      • Start from the bottom
    • Job Creation
      • Green Banks/Green Buildings
        • In 14 states; not yet in MA
        • Attract capital via divestment
        • Return of investment!!!
      • How can we fund this?
        • Carbon tax plus Carbon cap—taxing American corporations on carbon emissions, NOT the American people
          • Not much of a problem for wealthy corporations, e.g. oil companies
          • Very hard on low-income people
          • Generates $$$
            • We can fix our infrastructure, add lots of jobs

ALREADY DOING:

  • Having a town staff member specifics to implementing sustainability practices in town
  • State legislation raising $ for sustainability officer in each municipality

NEXT STEPS / PROPOSALS / SOLUTIONS:

  • C-PACE by Town of Greenfield (Commercial Property)
  • Draft a local Green New Deal to attract investments
  • Fair Share Amendment (MA State level) – taxing at higher rate any income over $1 million
    1. Tax $ going back to support schools and transportation
  • Advocate to legislators that more $ be given to rural areas
  • Pass HB 2894 – Commercial Green Bank for State of MA

POLICY GROUP ADDENDUM:

CAPITALIZING (UP FRONT $) A GREEN TRANSITION:

14 States now have Green Banks

  • They make reasonable long-term loans ONLY to projects/rehabs that are cheaper than buying fossil fuel!
  • How? Bank collects investments, provides match to reviewed projects that do not use fossil fuel and lower greenhouse gas and carbon (mostly current technology).
  • $ raised from foundations, insurance companies, other banks, donors, university endowments, churches, etc. (They all get a return on their investment.)
  • In NY State: $1 Billion in tax $ used to attract $3:$1; CT State: $18:$1 PRIVATE capital. They now have $17 billion working; last quarter up $522 million (4/2019)
  • C-PACE FINANCING – Attach the loan to the building, not the building owner. Functions like a sewer bill/”betterment”

 

TREES: PRESERVATION & REGENERATION

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Support house bill 897 from state senators and representatives
    • Petitions 
  • Chapter 61c: invest land into carbon storage
  • Carbon trusts (regional)
  • Use FRCOG: meet with directors, lobby, push for carbon trusts

 

WOMEN AND GIRLS

DISCUSSION:

  • Women under-represented in science and climate change
  • Educating young women – more representation
  • Women look at things differently
  • More respect for women and they will be heard
  • Girls in STEM education/UMass Camp/Science camps for girls
  • Safe environments for women in science and to learn
  • Affordable school – free
  • Opening society so girls and women can participate fully
  • Women’s health needs to be prioritized not stigmatized
  • Options for pregnant girls and women – child care, abortions, birth control, health education
  • Affordable/free women’s health needs
  • Make towns safer for women and girls to get to and from school/work

PROPOSALS:

  • Girls’/women’s issues group in Environmental Club (GHS) or a new after school group
  • One day girls’ STEM workshop starting with Ms. Wilkins and other teachers—Spring 2020
    • Need funds for equipment?
    • Planning time -get interests of girls in GHS and other schools involved?
    • Certificate for college applications
    • Involvement with middle and elementary schools
    • Involvement of college students and/or faculty

 

 

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