This past Wednesday the Global Green Team arrived in Milwaukee, WI to provide Technical Assistance to the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. After touring Milwaukee’s larges public housing development-Westlawn, and facilitating multiple meetings with City and Housing Authority staff, as well as many health and community based organizations, we spend some time with the residents of Westlawn. The dynamics in Westlawn have changed drastically over the past few years. One half of the development received the largest investment of Low Income Housing Tax Credits the state has ever seen, and the other remains unchanged from its original 1950′s bunker, garden style housing. During our intimate community meeting of about 15 people one resident summed up her family’s approach to patiently waiting for the second half of the redevelopment. She stressed the importance of living by example and being a steward of the environment by serving as a model to the children in her neighborhood. Needless to say our trip was successful in exchanging ideas and shedding light on the need for public housing in our nation’s growing cities. Check out the video below and ReThink who lives in public housing.
CA Governor Jerry Brown released his revised state budget earlier this week and the results are disappointing. While the budget prioritizes education, an area that has been underfunded and ignored for far too long, we have some serious concerns with the details. Specifically, Global Green wants to see Proposition 39 money (the ballot initiative passed by voters in November 2012 that closes a business tax loophole in California and directs roughly $2.5 billion towards clean energy projects in schools) allocated in a way that schools with the least energy efficient buildings and those in underserved areas are made the highest priority.
The Governor’s proposal to use a per-pupil allocation formula misses the point. The number of students in a school district does not necessarily correlate with the age of the buildings, the need for renovation, or the socio-economic disparities between schools. Using this funding formula will put low-income and energy inefficient schools at a disadvantage. The Prop 39 monies should instead be allocated through a competitive grant process that prioritizes economically disadvantaged schools and schools that use higher than average levels of energy. Funding should also be used to measure and improve classroom conditions that have a direct impact on student (and teacher) health and student academic achievement such as acoustics and indoor air quality.
Furthermore, while the Governor attempts to address concerns about insufficient funding for smaller school districts under his formula, the revised budget does not actually solve the problem. The revised budget proposes a $15,000 funding “floor” for small districts. Yet this is still nowhere near enough money for schools to take on the type of big retrofits that they may need, such as new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), major water efficiency projects or window replacements.
Finally, the UCLA Luskin School with the Los Angeles Business Council recommended leveraging the Prop 39 funds to increase the overall funding pool. The Governor’s budget did not adopt that recommendation which we believe is important.
We commend the Governor for his strong commitment to education, but his approach on the use of Prop 39 funds leaves much to be desired. A successful Prop 39 program will use a competitive grant formula, will prioritize energy and key strategies that address student health and academic achievement and will leverage funds to the greatest extent possible.
Last week, two of Global Green USA’s projects were featured in the May 2013 issue of Plastics in Packaging, which has a circulation of over 6,000 and an estimated worldwide readership of 14,000. Editor Steven Pacitti was in New Orleans for the annual Plastics Recycling Conference, and paid a visit to Global Green USA’s Holy Cross Project while he was in town. Given his interest in plastics recycling specifically, Pacitti also interviewed me about the work of our Coalition for Resource Recovery, a project of Global Green that brings companies together to develop and pilot systems that turn waste into assets. I shared with him some of our findings and ideas with regards to reducing, reusing, and recycling plastics, as well as New York City’s recent announcement that all rigid plastics from residences will now be accepted for recycling. Both CoRR and Global Green’s New Orleans office are currently building on the success of our “Green Growth and Resource Recovery” Conference in New Orleans last year, and will be further exploring ways to work together to improve waste diversion rates in the Big Easy.
We are excited to invite K-12 students to submit posters in the first ever Hands Across the Sand, New Orleans poster contest!
Hands Across the Sand is an international day of unity to raise awareness about the consequences of offshore drilling and promote a green energy economy. In New Orleans, the event will focus on urging changes to prevent another oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico by saying “No” to dirty fuels and “Yes” to clean energy.
At noon on May 18th, supporters of this cause will join hands along the Mississippi River Levee near the Andry St. Wharf. This will be followed by a gathering and tours of Global Green’s Holy Cross Project located at 409 Andry St., New Orleans. Poster contest submissions will be displayed during the event and the winning poster from each grade will be highlighted on the event sponsors’ media pages; including Facebook, Twitter, websites, and/or blogs.
All community members—including staff, faculty, parents, and students—are encouraged to join us at the event.
All students in New Orleans public, private, and charter schools and youth organizations.
- · 8 ½ x 11, white paper
- · Must say “Hands Across the Sand 2013” somewhere on the front of the poster.
- · Choose one or more of the following themes to inspire a drawing:
- o Join hands to protect the Gulf Coast.
- o Join hands to say NO to dirty fuels and YES to clean energy.
- o Join hands to preserve our oceans, drinking water and food from dangerous, dirty fuels.
- · Specify the chosen theme either on the front or back of the poster.
- · Write name, grade, school, and teacher on the back of the poster.
Entries can be mailed or delivered by 4pm on Friday, May 17th to
Global Green, USA
Attn: HAtS Poster Contest
2705 S. Broad St.
New Orleans, LA 70125
Entries can be hand delivered to the event by 11:45am on Saturday, May 18th.
409 Andry St.
New Orleans, LA 70117
Entries will be judged by representatives from each sponsoring organization; Global Green, USA, Gulf Restoration Network, the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED), and SouthWings. One winner from each grade level will be chosen and announced at the succeeding gathering.
See www.handsacrossthesand.org for more details.
Facebook event to RSVP and share: https://www.facebook.com/events/132039026988557/
Mayor Bloomberg announced the launch of a Commercial Food Waste Challenge initiative yesterday at the New York Times “Building Sustainable Cities” Conference. More than 100 participating restaurants have pledged to reduce 50 percent of the food waste they send to landfills through composting and other waste prevention strategies.
The initiative was hailed by a broad spectrum of industry and environmental groups. Lily Kelly, Interim Director of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery, praised the Mayor’s efforts. “When more businesses recover their food waste it benefits all New Yorkers by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging investment in local processing infrastructure,” she said. “We are delighted to be working with the Mayor’s office to support this program.”
Food waste comprises one-third of the city’s more than 20,000 tons of daily refuse. When food waste decomposes in landfills, it releases methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. This initiative will help New York City toward its larger PlaNYC goal of diverting 75% of solid waste from landfills by 2030.
The bombings of the Boston Marathon are a reminder of the unpredictable, insecure, and violent world in which we all live today. I’m a Boston native, and live in Cambridge, just across the Charles River from the state capital. My wife and I were also in “lockdown” and “shelter-in-place” last Friday as the early morning shootout and subsequent massive manhunt for the second alleged bomber went forth in our neighboring town, Watertown.
As all of my fellow Bostonians will attest, it was an eerily silent city on Friday as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick ordered all residents in the Greater Boston area to stay at home while the second suspect was still on the loose. I had flown out of Boston’s Logan Airport to our office in Washington DC on Wednesday, two days after the Patriot Day bombing, and was surprised to see the large police presence at the airport. Both uniformed and plainclothes detectives were questioning most passengers about their knowledge of the bombing, the possibility that they had taken photos or videos, and any other possible information they might provide. So it was clear, even before photos of the alleged bombers were released the next day, that the pursuit of the bombers was taking on enormous proportions.
When flying back to Boston on Friday, the day of the lockdown, I realized that it could be difficult just to get from Logan Airport to Cambridge. All public transportation and taxicab service had been shut down, but my wife was able to drive into Logan and pick me up. The streets were empty, businesses closed for the day, and Copley Square where the bombing took place was still a crime scene. It was clear that this bombing was taking a very large toll on the local economy.
It was a relief to all residents to see the alleged bomber finally captured Friday evening in Watertown, just a half mile from our home, thanks to an astute Watertown resident who noticed a “body” in his boat stored in the backyard. I was also glad that he was captured alive, even after apparently suffering several bullet wounds from the earlier and final shootouts with police.
Many questions remain about this latest deadly bombing incident in the US – what motivated these two bombers to undertake such wanton violence? Why didn’t we identify this threat earlier, especially after Russian officials raised questions with US law enforcement several times? How and where did they obtain the makings for such deadly, homemade bombs? And what lessons can be learned from this incident to help improve the security of all US citizens in the future?
One of the most important lessons for me is that we have got to pay more attention to our most basic domestic needs at home – poverty, food, water, education, public health, crime, violence, infrastructure, environment, immigration – so that we can build a truly sustainable society for all. Boston, Cambridge, and Massachusetts pride themselves on being a welcoming region for all – the true melting pot of the US, beginning with the landing of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. Yet these two suspected bombers, both immigrants from Chechnya in Russia, somehow fell between the cracks, regardless of their integration into the Greater Boston community.
And, at the same time, we’ve experienced poison attacks with ricin in Washington DC, a tragic explosion in West, Texas, and the defeat of a modest effort in the US Senate to strengthen gun control laws. These are all important signs that we are not headed in the right direction now to prevent alienated citizens from being identified and receiving preventive intervention before violence erupts; to establish minimum standards for security and safety at dangerous chemical, biological, nuclear, and other high-risk sites which potentially threaten thousands of innocent citizens with accidents and terrorist attacks; and to help identify and restrict gun buyers who may want to use them for nefarious purposes as we’ve seen all too often now in Newtown, Connecticut and elsewhere.
On behalf of all of our Green Cross International and Global Green USA colleagues, we thank Boston for standing strong and continuing the fight to build a safe, secure, non-violent, and sustainable world. And we send our heartfelt condolences to the many victims of the Boston violence, including the families of the three dead Marathon watchers and of the MIT police officer allegedly shot by the bombers.
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the adoption of the Jordan Downs Urban Village Specific Plan on April 17th to redevelop over 100 acres of publicly owned land in the Southeast LA community of Watts!!
The Specific Plan codifies the community-based vision of an urban village- streamlining the development process, and allowing the distressed post-war bunker style housing that exists today to be rebuilt.
The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) hired LA City Planning staff to write the Specific Plan in consultation with Global Green USA to ensure that the Plan included national standards for green and sustainable development.
Global Green has been working to instill sustainability standards in the Specific Plan for the past three years, and is currently in the process of getting the Specific Plan certified under the first national rating system for neighborhood scale sustainability- LEED for Neighborhood Development.
With the adoption of the Jordan Downs Specific Plan and its LEED-ND certification, the HACLA and its development partners are committing to build quality affordable housing, retail opportunities, walkable streets, and public amenities such as a central park and new community center for current and future residents of Jordan Downs.
The HACLA’s effort is equally focused on the human capital component-making the project about building resident’s capacity as well as building a unique place. The redevelopment of Jordan Down will influence the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the greater Watts and Southeast Los Angeles community which is why Global Green is proud to be partnering in the revitalization effort!
Boarded up, unlivable homes speckle a community that once was home to approximately 15,000 residents who lived in orderly rows of charming single-family homes. The devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina was astounding. Some sections of the Lower Ninth Ward, in particular, sat under 15 ft of water when breaches in the levees of at least four canals caused massive flooding that lasted for several weeks forcing residents to evacuate their homes and relocate to surrounding regions. As of the 2010 Census, only 2,842 people have returned to the Lower Ninth Ward – that’s only 20% of the population that had once called the area home prior to Katrina.
While some residents have returned to the Lower Ninth Ward and rebuilt their homes, many homes still remain vacant, giving crime, poverty, and corruption a stronghold in this community. Here, an abandoned, boarded-up home sits in the middle of two homes that have been rebuilt by returning residents.
Many local groups, including Global Green USA, are working hard to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in an environmentally conscious and sustainable manner that also focuses on local economic growth. As part of its Holy Cross Project, Global Green has designed five single-family homes, an 18-unit apartment building, and a community development and climate action center that serve as an incredible catalyst to influence and educate homeowners, developers, policy makers, media and the public at large.
Following Hurricane Katrina, these markings made by search and rescue teams are still quite prolific in the Lower Ninth Ward today thus holding the loss and devastation close to the hearts of those who have since returned to the neighborhood. The spray painted graphic with alphanumeric markings decorates the outside walls of local homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship, and welcomes both visitors and residents alike with the stigmata of immense loss and unexpected death. In reality, the markings can be deciphered as follows: A single slash indicates search operations currently in progress. A crossing slash indicates personnel exits from the structure. Distinct markings are made inside the four quadrants to indicate time and date searched, search and rescue team identifier, personal hazards, and the numbers of dead victims (human or animal) that remain in the structure.
This corner establishment advertises itself as a super market, but it is really just one of two venues (unfortunately liquor stores) that sells “fresh” produce for the families that have returned to the Lower Ninth Ward. In reality, residents of the Lower Ninth Ward have to travel more than 3 miles into St. Bernard Parish to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at the Wal-Mart in Chalmette.
The most heartwarming part of our tour of the Lower Ninth Ward was seeing that children are extremely resilient. Childhood games continue in neighborhood streets where laughter and play permeate the air to add comfort to this physically shattered area.
These homes were built as part of Phase I of Global Green’s Holy Cross Project. Completed in 2010, Phase 1 has been heralded by the local community and Global Green’s partners. Global Green’s objective for Phase I was to bring back residents who had emigrated to surrounding neighborhoods and regions following the devastation that Hurricane Katrina left behind, and helping to restore the City’s historic vibrancy and strength. With these five LEED Platinum single family residences now complete, Global Green is giving returning families the opportunity for home ownership in residences that not only provide a healthy and sustainable environment, but that also are economically beneficial for each family.
Global Green recently broke ground on Phase II of the Holy Cross Project following years of red tape from local and city government. The journey has been full of obstacles, and learning opportunities, all of which have positively influenced green building and green affordable housing in the Lower Ninth Ward and throughout New Orleans. Thanks to Global Green’s leading edge efforts, the cost of green building has been significantly reduced.
Once complete, Phase II will be the centerpiece of the Holy Cross Project and will anchor Global Green’s ongoing presence in New Orleans. The Community Development and Climate Action Center will advance the green rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, making sustainable development the new standard for the region. The Center will also help export knowledge to other cities—especially those in endangered coastal areas or otherwise threatened directly by climate change—to create a unified front on the adaptation to and mitigation of the dangers of climate change. Locally, the Center will create new jobs, provide job training, incubate small business, and provide ongoing outreach and education on green building and renewable clean energy to daily visitors.
The massive flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward following Hurricane Katrina was caused by significant breaches in the levees of at least four canals. Pictured here is one of the canals that flooded the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward causing it to remain under 3-5 feet of standing water for weeks. To help mitigate future flooding, Global Green USA is working on coastal and wetlands restoration efforts. Its wetlands outreach extends along the entire coastal zone of Louisiana and involves government officials in order to incorporate a policy component (including carbon offsets) in restoration projects. These efforts also engage and empower as many wetland owners as possible to connect them with project developers to launch carbon offset projects that will reverse wetland degradation and create a more resilient coastal Louisiana.
New Orleans as a whole, has a complex relationship with water, and recent weather events (including the Hurricane Issac) have made it clear that we must dramatically revamp our water paradigm. Locally, Global Green USA continues to play a key role in nurturing and supporting sustainable water practices through its Holy Cross Project as well as through its involvement in local and regional groups promoting sound water efficiency and management.
The Global Green USA team is working really hard to transform the Lower Ninth Ward, an area where residents are still living the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. You’d think that local, state and federal government (with all the money that was poured into the area) would have much more to show, but unfortunately, it takes citizen entrepreneurs like us to really make an impact on the lives of those most in need.
The #quote shared at our staff mtg is from: The Poetry of Edward Abbey (1994), Earth Apples: “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds”