350 Phila Face to Face with SEPTA and the gas industry

From the 350 Philadelphia blog, authored by Meenal Raval –

“Yesterday,  8 of us met with 12 people to discuss SEPTA’s gas power plant project at the Midvale Bus Depot. We expressed our frustration, that our concerns have been ignored for 6 months. We referr…

Source: Face to Face with SEPTA and the gas industry


Thank God: for once, Bill McKibben is wrong!

Let’s face it. The identity politics that was so glowing and triumphant when Obama got elected has, eight years later, gnarled into a political dynamic about as joyous as waterboarding.

This transmogrification (and the simultaneous rebirth of America’s long-lost class consciousness) has masked the fact that identity politics still exists because it’s still relevant. It’s not fun, or charming, and especially when it comes to gender, it leads to an inordinate amount of bitter, personal divisiveness.  Like most other women in this country (and around the world) I am as thrilled to be electing the first woman president as I am eager for this merciless election to be over.

But there’s something that happened this week that made me realize just how wonderful it is to be voting for Hillary Clinton for president. I’ve been a 350.org organizer in Colorado and I generally agree with everything Bill McKibben says – except for this week. This week, McKibben, who has to be a professional optimist despite overwhelming odds, said that electing Hillary Clinton isn’t going to do anything for the climate movement. This I have heard repeated by angry non-participants or frustrated Sanderistsas about a number of other policy areas – but they’re wrong. Clinton may not have much value as a corporate Democrat, but she has almost atomic value because she’s a woman.

Regardless of Clinton’s future performance as a policymaker, having a female President is going to be a seismic shift in consciousness for this country. The impact of having visible female leadership – the most visible leader in the world – for four or eight years is going to dramatically shift the ground under American politics (and society.)

More women will indeed run for office because of her, and more women will take leadership positions in their organizations, their lives, their companies. Clinton knows this, and has said often in interviews that she is running so that women who come after her can see what is possible. We all learn by example – that is the basic nature of human identity. The election of Clinton as president will lead to the empowerment of millions of women, some in the subtlest of ways, because of sheer symbolism.

And what could our world possibly need more than millions of empowered women? All the traits required to transform our brutal, mechanistic, and terminally-ill society – empathy, compassion, self-sacrifice, service, kindness, connectedness – are just those traits that women have for so long been told disqualify them from leadership. Whether Hillary Clinton herself exemplifies these traits does not matter – although it’s a miracle that she, a Democrat from suburban Chicago, got there before a Margaret Thatcher conservative. What matters is that more women will be leading – in the environmental movement, in education, in business, and elsewhere. That will change everything.

We have two weekends left to campaign in Philadelphia – please come knock on doors or make phone calls if you haven’t already.

You can sign up here:


For questions, please call organizer Zach Taylor at 404- 862-0200 or email ztaylor@paforvictory2016.com.And let me know when you are coming so I will be there!

Here are the shifts:

Saturday, October 29th






Sunday, October 30th






Saturday, November 5th






Sunday, November 6th






Monday, November 7th






ELECTION DAY: Tuesday, November 8th








I Don’t Ask/For Much These Days

Hey Hey, My My.

Went to a panel on Design and Social Change last week at Moore College. It was the triptych of what people think of as design – probably what students are taught – graphic design, tech, consumer goods. Moderator Jeremy Avellino is a sustainability expert and part-time hero, and wore a t-shirt crying ‘RESPECT THE LOCALS’ – a product of Philadelphia Print Works, whose president Maryam Pugh sat on the panel. It was lovely, a underpopulated room of rabble-rousers.

“The first time I saw someone spraying foam into a building I’d designed, I freaked out! I said, “I BUILT THIS?!” and never did it again,” said Jeremy. “Now I am a spray-foam abolitionist. How boring is that. People on city council get really excited about ending spray foam, and then also immediately say it’s completely impossible.”

I’d run into Jethro Heiko there – the only word for this is the Chinese syllable translated as ‘auspicious’ – and, sitting next to each other, we just rolled our eyes. Jethro helps people confront death and dying for his day job. Compared to that, zoning disputes are merely fun, but as I am beginning to understand, they shape the city for hundreds of years.

Design is more than furniture, more than buildings. Design is the whisper through every field. Through most of the panel I sat thinking about Fish 2.0 and water innovation and Farm Hack and how to apply biomimicry to human political systems.

Anyone troubled by the divergence of “solving for poverty” from “solving for environmental destruction” can rejoice in that when it comes to food, they are often the same solution. It’s different here in Amerikkka, of course. “I think when we solve for poverty, we will solve for sustainability,” says Jeremy. But solving for poverty in Philadelphia often means buying plastic kitchenware at Family Dollar. What we need designers to do is figure out how to grow soybeans in the desert with 2 percent of current resource use.

“A farm is a built environment!” as Mat Davis pointed out later, driving home in his dirty, gloriously paint-splashed Tacoma. The architecture firm I work at builds universities, and the architecture firm  next door builds Walmarts. We might as well be throwing bombs at each other across the alley. I tried to read Vitruvius this year and couldn’t get through the fanboy introduction – an ode to Rome’s record of innovation in carnage and oppression. Someday humanity will be building beautiful houses out of reclaimed materials, and they will be both agonizingly unstandardized, and shockingly easy to source. The glory days of “sustainable architecture” haven’t even begun yet. Postmodernism can also be – wait for it… about materials.

PhiladelphiaPrintWorks.com – for all your holiday shopping needs!

I try not to get distracted. I haven’t even figured out what to do about energy yet in my hometown. The pilots of sustainability here are already charting new courses – this is a lively place for green initiatives- but I am still trying to spot the “chink in the armor,” as Mio Culture’s Isaac Salm terms it.

The only thing I am going to do now is look up “human-centered design.” Until Jethro used the phrase to describe what he does, I had no idea this existed: the design of human interaction. This is intriguing. When Mat Davis taught architecture, he’d have his students read a short story, and then draw a zoning map of the plot. I have a quivery feeling, like I’ve graduated to a higher level of magic. In 2007, Casino Free had a bigger volunteer GOTV operation than any of the campaigns -including the mayoral campaigns – for a ballot initiative that was legally nothing. But symbolically atomic.


Your Co-Op Election: Vote for Sun and Wind

Op-Ed written for the Colorado Renewable Energy Society in the North Forty News, Wellington, Colorado:

If you are a Poudre Valley REA member, the last envelope you got wasn’t a bill. It was an opportunity to make history.

It was a ballot, allowing you to choose the elected leadership of the co-op.

In other words, the Board of Directors who will steer the course of PVREA toward a renewable future or keep on with business as usual – and higher rates.

More here.


Colorado State University Should Divest


My op-ed in the Coloradoan:

The oil economy is everywhere. Feb. 14, a “human oil spill” ravaged the downtown Oak Street Plaza, as 350 Fort Collins members lay strewn out over black plastic under scenes of tar sands mining in Utah. The black-clad petroleum impersonators chanted and drummed, all to the point of gathering signatures calling on Colorado State University to divest from fossil fuels.

Divestment from fossil fuels is a global movement and an excellent tactic to transition from destructive fossil fuel mining and consumption to a renewable future powered by renewable sources. The idea is this: holdings of fossil fuels by cities, colleges, individuals, and other institutions — often in the millions of dollars – are sold off so that those industries have less access to capital.

Many diverse colleges have already put their money where their principles are and divested: Stanford, the New School, Naropa University and many more (http://bit.ly/fossilcommitments). Cities can do this as well; Fort Collins certainly could follow the lead of Ithaca, Provincetown or Oakland. We are already leaders in the fight for climate justice.

Read the rest here.

Will Denver Allow Fracking in its city limits?

Cross Posted at Triple Pundit.

After years of local battles across the state of Colorado, the fracking debate is about to come home to roost.

On Feb. 10, a coalition of youth, businesses, community and religious leaders announced their opposition to fracking — which is currently in the planning stages not only in Denver neighborhoods, but also the plateau up in the Rockies that supplies almost 40 percent of the city’s water.

The “Don’t Frack Denver” coalition assembled on the steps of Denver City Hall on Tuesday and warned passionately about the public health dangers posed by fracking. Then, the group delivered letters to the offices of Mayor Michael Hancock and city council, calling for an immediate moratorium on fracking in the city limits. Protesters also asked local politicians for support in the fight to stop fracking upstream in the South Platte River watershed, the city’s chief source of water.

“Fracking makes Coloradans sick, drives down property values, and contaminates our public water and clean air,” said Sam Schabaker, western region director of Food and Water Watch. “Denver’s exceptional quality of life is too precious to risk: Fracking must not take place in our community or watershed.”

Read more at Triple Pundit.

A Powerful Tool for Getting Insight into State Energy Policy

Cross-post from my blog on Triple Pundit:

About 80 percent of energy regulation goes on at the state level, estimates Jeff Lyng, senior policy analyst at the Center for the New Energy Economy in Denver. But until last year, finding out exactly what states were doing was incredibly labor intensive: One had to go to each individual state government website separately.

Last year, however, the center unveiled the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker – a simple, comprehensive, easy-on-the-eyes database of state-level public policy from across the nation. You can check the status of PACE in Arkansas, feed-in tariffs in Hawaii, or gas-tax replacements anywhere: free and searchable. (The kind of thing that the American Legislative Exchange Council has had for a while.)

“Most of the energy business is regulated at the state level. And states are leading. The mission of this center is to work with states,” said Lyng. (CNEE is a part of Colorado State University, with former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter as its director.)

Read more here.