ORGANIZING NOTES

April 2, 2024

        When We Organize We Win

Join Community and Labor Struggles That Make A Difference

 

 

Why Trees Matter for Green Development –

“Green” Building Infrastructure Isn’t Enough!

On Sunday, April 21, 2024 from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm the Trees as a Public Good Network (founded by ORMA and its allies) will host a forum on this timely and critically important topic. 

 

Our webinar (via Zoom) will discuss how to make development truly climate friendly and “green” by preserving the crucial climate services provided by trees in urban areas and in wild forests. To ensure a livable future for all of us, we need trees and the watersheds they sustain alongside development of solar energy, denser and more affordable housing, and other necessary infrastructure. Register here to be kept informed and receive the Zoom link.

 

Scientists and local activists will discuss the challenges of encouraging development that supports and encourages a fossil-fuel-free future while preserving the natural environment that ensures human habitability.  

 

Prof. William Moomaw of Tufts University presents the scientific evidence on why large-scale solar must be responsibly sited. Meg Sheehan, with Community Land and Water Coalition, will present a case study from southeastern Massachusetts where hundreds of acres of endangered forests (the Pine Barrens) have been clear-cut for strip mining silica sand used in the production of solar panels, followed by the placement of large-scale solar panels. This project has been falsely labeled a “green” solar project, despite its destructive impact on carbon sequestration.

 

For urban trees, we will have Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski of the New School and the University of Connecticut present scientific evidence on why denser housing development needs to accommodate existing mature trees or risk heat islands, flooding, and increased air pollution. Mimi Turchinetz of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association will discuss local residents’ concerns over zoning that encourages greater housing density without requiring allowances for green infrastructure (trees, waterways, etc.). Aalana Feaster of the Environmental Health is Wealth Coalition will highlight the struggle of residents in the environmental justice community of Dorchester fighting the clearcutting of four wooded acres to put in an artificial turf field.

 

Register here to be kept informed and receive the Zoom link.

 

Our goal with this webinar is to educate people about how to make development truly green. We need solar energy, denser and more affordable housing, AND the crucial climate services provided by trees in urban areas and in forests. The science shows that if we cut trees for large-scale solar and for wall-to-wall-density housing, the net result is not green. With some basic requirements to accommodate existing green infrastructure, we can ensure that much-needed development lessens—rather than provokes—climate change. 

 

Social Housing in Paris, Vienna and Montgomery County, Maryland: Why Not Massachusetts?

The fascinating diversity of people and the infinitely varied streetscape of Paris, a destination for honeymooners and magical vacations, does not rely on market forces to maintain its charm. The city government owns and manages a real estate portfolio of about twenty five percent of all housing properties, charging rents according to income. The city also owns nineteen percent of retail spaces and carefully protects the independent artists and businesses that give Paris its famous allure. Conservative and Left housing officials agree that without a ‘social housing’ policy and curation of businesses, Paris would become exclusively the domain of the rich and corporate chain stores. (NYT,3/24/24)

Across the Pond we are beginning to produce our own ‘social housing,’ or housing owned by local governments. Recently in Maryland, Montgomery County financed social housing construction with its own funds rather than paying developers of affordable housing who borrow funds from expensive financial markets. As tenants replenish county funds more social housing will be built. (NYT, Aug 25th, 2023)

Here in Massachusetts Governor Healey has included $100 million to launch a revolving fund for social housing in her Housing Bond Bill. Representative Michael Connolly has proposed a Bill, H.3873, which would provide funds to build social housing that would remain in permanent public ownership, outside of the ‘market’, rent-restricted for at least 99 years, and regulated by the state.

The primary program for new “affordable” housing nationwide relies on private corporate investors who build equity through tax breaks. When the tax breaks expire, usually after 20 years, higher market rents are charged, and a mad scramble ensues to find housing for the elderly, disabled, and otherwise income-restricted

There is no evidence that the free market produces affordable homes; the theory of supply and demand simply does not apply in any meaningful way to the production of the housing we need in the United States. Vienna, Austria gave up on market forces as far back as 1923, and currently, 43% of housing in that city is insulated from the market. (NYT, 5/23/23)

To support Representative Michael Connolly’s Bill H.3873, An Act establishing the Massachusetts social housing program, send a letter to the Joint Committee on Housing requesting that they vote to approve.

 

Join others with Progressive MASS to take action with our partner organizations to protect democracy and promote civic engagement, in the company of your friends and neighbors. You will write postcards, make phone calls, and take other actions on a range of issues ranging from voter registration, voter turnout, and progressive state policy.

                 SIGN UP HERE

 

Please join Ranked Choice Boston for a panel discussion on Why the Climate Movement Should support Ranked Choice Voting. Our panelists include Bill McKibben of 350.org, Hessan Farooqi of the Boston Climate Action Network, Rev. Vernon K. Walker of Clean Water Action, and Cabell Eames of the Charles River Watershed Association.

 

The activities of No Coal No Gas, grassroots organizations, and numerous public interest groups has led to a shut down date for New England’s last coal-fired power plant. On March 27th, Granite Shore Power announced they will transition Merrimack Station away from coal! GSP’s post-coal plan is “renewable energy parks” at both Merrimack and the previously shuttered Schiller station in Portsmouth. They have publicly committed to a 2028 shutdown date. More details can be found by following these links to NHPR’s initial reporting or No Coal No Gas’s press release.

 

While this is a victory, there is more work to be done to accelerate the transition and ensure the commitments made are held. No Coal No Gas will be holding a call April 4th at 7PM to celebrate the victory and offer more details of the work needed going forward.

 

      If you would like to work with ORMA Members on

  • Climate Change
  • Community-Based Alternative Emergency Response Teams
  • Ranked-Choice Voting
  • Housing For All       

ORMA depends on your support to continue Bernie’s Political Revolution to create a society, a politics, and an economy that works for everyone, not just billionaires, corporations and the political elite.

If you value Organizing Notes and its twice a month distribution schedule, please make a donation to ensure its continued existence.

Invest in Change Now!

 

Please send requests for action items, articles or upcoming events

for the next Organizing Notes to 

beccobrien.orma@gmail.com by Thursday, April 12th

We’d love to have you send us your favorite pictures of Bernie here in MA!

 

Campaigns End, Movements Endure


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