February 27, 2008

PioneerValley Sustainability Network February 27 2008 Meeting #4 Notes

Project Staff: Erin Baker-Industrial Engineering UMASS, Catherine Miller-Sustainability Planner PVPC, Rick Taupier-The Environmental Institute UMASS

Members Present: Paul Lipke-Sustainable Step New England (SSNE), Dan Finn-Business Alliance for a Local Living Economy (BALLE), Lynn Benander-Co-op Power, Eric Weiss-Hilltown Resource Management Cooperative (HRMC), Craig Marden-HAP Green Affordable Housing Prog, Tina Clarke-Clean Water Action, Doug McDonald, City of Northampton Stormwater program, Jono Neiger-Permaculture Guild and Conway School of Landscape Design, Tom Benjamin-VHB Consulting, Larry Ely-Pioneer Valley Relocalization Network, Jeff Brown-Ridebuzz, Karen Riberio-Bank of Western MA and Sustainable investment summit, Pam Cargill-Solarwrights, Nancy Hazard-Worldsustain and Greening Greenfield, Hugh Harwell-Five Rivers Council, Joanne Sunshower

Each member present shared a brief overview of their organization and work on sustainability—see pvsustain website for background information. If you have not yet submitted your information to the web developer, please email Katy@positronicdesign.com for a member input form

Initial meeting and discussion by the Pioneer Valley Sustainability Committee (PVSC)

Newly chosen Network Chair, Eric Weiss called the meeting to order and explained that he had revised the agenda that was originally mailed out to make sure the Network had ample time to discuss what it wants to do with itself aside from assisting UMASS and PVPC to fulfill the obligations of their contract with EPA. Catherine clarified that part of the work EPA is funding is to create and staff the Network and that the hope is that the Network will define its own role and persist long after the project is over, i.e. that it will be sustainable…

Eric Weiss explained that he can’t “do this alone as Chair” and asked for volunteers for an Executive Committee—or Coordinating Committee as it has come to be called.

Lynn Benander summarized the notes from the previous meeting—explaining that this had been the decision previously and that a few people had volunteered to serve in that capacity.

She clarified that there had been a robust conversation about the network with the conclusion that the network should be project based, using CISA as a model.

Tina Clarke suggested the network should focus on public consciousness raising and public policy.

Others suggested a sustainability clearinghouse—to comment on proposed projects in the region.

Others suggested sponsorship of educational workshops-on energy conservation etc.

Jono Neiger threw out a different frame—pointing out that the group is full of organizations—and that we are not so much an umbrella—as a basket. Jono pointed out that in his permaculture and Conway school “world” he has a whole network of individuals and organizations—and that he can take whatever messages the pvsustain network comes up with and get them to his network, and vice versa. He sees the pvsustain network as a support for him in his work.

Paul Lipke offered a slightly different notion of a network-based on his experience with the Green hospitals work he is doing in Boston—he offered to bring a speaker on networks to the next meeting to help the group understand and determine how it wants to grow. Paul will recruit his colleague, Roberto to do a “Networking 201” training at the next meeting. He will also ask Roberto for some basic reading material that all members can read before the meeting.

Members reiterated their desire to “break the tofu curtain” and asked that we hold the next meeting at El Mercado in Holyoke.

Members asked staff to create a monthly calendar of events that will be emailed to all members. People should submit events to Catherine.

Lynn explained the Google groups initiative she tried to create following the last meeting. Members explained their difficulties in signing on, and pointed out that there is a local web-hosting collective in Shutesbury that is an alternative to Google groups. It is called Gaiahost. Members chose to NOT switch to Gaiahost because of the limited functionality v. Googlegroups.

Lynn, Larry, Paul, Jeff, Jono, and Catherine volunteered to serve on the Coordinating Committee.

Tina suggested the need for a sub-group working on what is meant by sustainability. Hugh pointed out that the group has a definition—but Pam noted that the group needs one “that my mother can understand”. Is it “local first”, carrying capacity, …

And so a working group on “Messaging” was formed—members include Dan, Craig, Tina, Larry, Tim, Karen, Eric, Catherine and Pam will chair.

An IT group was also formed including Lynn, Jeff, Pam, Eric and Catherine.

And an ad-hoc committee to organize sessions or tracks for sessions for the Co-op Power Sustainable Energy Summit occurring on June 20-21 2008 at UMASS was also formed including: Larry, Karen, Tina, Joanne, Lynn and Catherine.

EPA Grant Effort Updates

Erin Baker—on decision support tools.

Erin walked through the powerpoints explaining the web-based decision support tool she and her students are developing as one of the deliverables for this project. Powerpoints are posted on the pvsustain website. The first decision support tool will look at green building and energy technology—to help individual decision-makers, in households and at the municipal level. Erin sought advice from the group and Eric, Lynn, Craig, Jono, Tina, and Paul agreed to serve as her ad hoc advisory group. Paul suggested she look at the Building Investment Decision Support (BIDS) tool that already exists to make sure she is not re-inventing the wheel. (article about http://www.aia.org/SiteObjects/files/BIDS_color.pdf ) Others suggested that Erin make sure to look at all “footprint” tools as part of her research in addition to the Global Health Safety Initiatives project http://www.noharm.org/details.cfm?ID=1740&type=document . Generally members were pleased with the decision support tool so far.

Rick Taupier—on indicators.

Rick presented a powerpoint of the indicators identified by the UMASS Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) studio last semester—see www.pvsustain.com

Then the group reviewed each list and added, commented etc. Project staff will prepare a surveymoney survey to administer to all PVsustain members to rank indicators.

Key criteria used in selection of these indicators over others are:

1) keep list short—because it’s expensive to collect data

2) have to be able to collect the information relatively easily

3) have to be relevant

NEW Indicators—old ones are in PowerPoint
–Maximize Human Health and Safety
drug abuse, car crash injuries/deaths,seatbelt use, DWI, Toxic waste generation, Body burden,Elderly care,Asthma rates, Obesity,TV hours kids watch/week,Life expectancy
Death rate, Suicide rate,Cancer rates,Local proximity to pollution, Recreational participation
Organic farms
-Maximize Ecological health
air quality, toxic energy production, Nox, Sox, Mercury emissions, CO2, VMT/Household, Foods—organic percentages available, How much food is provided within communities?
Food miles, % of economy that is ag, water quality, level of persistent biocumulative toxins in water system, invasive species, major sources of air and water pollution, water balance-stream levels and ground water levels, health of rivers and streams, surface water quality, density of compost toilets/area
-Maximize Cultural Vitality

#times individuals attend a cultural event/year, # of events happening, # of groups people belong to ethnicity in marriages, daily interaction—do people meet and interact with strangers? Degrees of separation, Cultural competence, Isolation along class, race lines—how to measure? Existence of cultural societies, How much do people know their neighbors?

-Maximize Social Equity

access to transportation/mobility, barter economy, gift economy, generosity index, lifestyle indicators, quality of life indicators, cost of living, livable wage-% of population below, pay gap/income gap, happiness index, homeownership rate, house affordability
access to open space—show distribution on map,
show all information on maps.

Flaws of indices—we have objective but not subjective
-Social Connectivity and Stability

town meeting attendance, vacationing—how many people stay in place v. travel outside of region?
Singing groups per capita, Dancing groups per capita,

-Maximize Resource Efficiency

BTU/sq. foot built space, BTUs/person, Ridesharing, Access to clean energy, Carbon footprint/person/household, #of gallons of gasoline purchased, cost of energy, foodshed measurement, impervious surface/population, energy conservation efficiency improvements over time, # of fuel imports—oil, natural gas, coal, etc amount of energy coming from outside, efficiency in technology, # of communities in Energy Star, ICLEI, etc other programs for action

Resource: Jim Merkel Radical Simplicity

Art/Invention Contest

There were no comments on the draft call for submissions. Attached on homepage.

NEXT MeetingMay 14, 2008 El Mercado on Main street in Holyoke

8-8:30 am—informal networking with food and drink.

8:30-9-formal networking

9-11 meeting


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