The Next System Project's Gar Alperovitz tells Paul Jay that the Federal Reserve should use quantitive easing, i.e. create money, to take Big Oil companies out of the equation and finance a massive green infrastructure program...watch the video here
One of the top reasons that U.S. cities and counties come to STAR Communities is because they are looking for ways to strengthen and support local planning efforts. This document is designed for local government staff and planners and provides guidance on how to use the STAR Community Rating System to integrate sustainability into comprehensive, strategic, and sustainability plans.
Joshua Humphreys, Becky Johnson, Kristin Lang, David Roswell and Sandra Korn
This paper, commissioned by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), explores the relevance of divestment for the Appalachian Transition. The paper provides background on divestment trends as well as insights into the diverse ways that various kinds of investors are approaching fossil-fuel divestment and fossil-free reinvestment. Over the course of this inquiry, which began in late January 2014, we have reached out to nearly three dozen different investors and their advisers, interviewing investment decision-makers from 18 institutions and firms that are grappling with fossil-fuel divestment and are interested in the idea of reinvesting in Appalachia. We focused our outreach primarily on foundations, faith-based investors, financial advisers working with individual clients, and investment consultants and impact investment firms working with institutional investors. Based on this research and outreach, we analyze the potential opportunity that divestment presents for place-based reinvestment into frontline communities in the region. While we found considerable interest in investing in the region to support the transition, numerous obstacles stand in investors’ way. We therefore identify many of the leading obstacles and make several recommendations for overcoming them.
The City of Vancouver's Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU) is a low-carbon urban system that hits a sweet spot of clean energy, local control, and stable prices at competitive rates. The NEU has environmental and economic attributes that could be replicated in other cities (and it is already having an influence in other parts of Metro Vancouver). A key challenge is upfront capital costs, which could be ameliorated by senior government support and through the development of green bonds. But the NEU case also shows how a public utility model can be developed for low-carbon district energy, even in the absence of subsidies.
This case study profiles Verde, an innovative nonprofit organization based in the highly diverse, low- income Cully neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Verde’s mission is to pursue environmental wealth through social enterprise, outreach, and advocacy. It fulfills its mission through operating three social enterprises, developing Living Cully, a neighborhood-wide coalition to fight displacement of low-income residents and residents of color due to gentrification, and advocating for preferential hiring and contracting policies for low-income people and people of color, across public and private sectors.
This new report from TREC, an Ontario, Canada based developer of community-owned renewable energy and member of the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives, assesses opportunities to build community wealth stemming from Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff program (FIT), which provides higher payment rates to renewable energy providers. The report recommends focusing the FIT on cooperatively-owned, First Nations-owned, and municipally-owned enterprises, finding that that every dollar spent on such community-owned energy efforts results in $2 more in additional local economic activity. The authors suggest publically-funded loan guarantees to grow the capacity of these enterprises.
Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Green Careers aims to make Baltimore’s economy more equitable and sustainable by training residents for jobs in the green economy. Residents are trained in brownfields remediation, residential energy efficiency, or solar instillation, and receive hands-on experience through the Center’s social enterprise. The Center also focuses on “high-road business development” by marketing and channeling procurement opportunities to employers committed to equitable hiring and employment standards. Since 2003, the Center has graduated 475 city residents, 85 percent of whom have secured family-sustaining employment, and directed $2.5 million in procurement opportunities to “high-road” employers.
This new paper from Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, a New York-based grassroots organization and member of the Right to the City Alliance, calls for “utilities justice”—the right to have affordable, accessible, healthy, and community-controlled energy. It examines the ways in which communities and families in Poughkeepsie, New York are burdened by energy insecurity and notes racial and income disparities. Recommendations put forth address affordability and access to renewables and weatherization resources, as well as local and common ownership of energy sources. The authors also list strategic advantages for utilities justice community organizing.
Founded in 1970, Operation Fresh Start (OFS) provides comprehensive employment and training services to youth and adults in Dane County. Its core program, Pathways, enables young people to develop green construction and conservation skills by involving them in the construction and renovation of affordable homes as well as environmental stewardship projects. To date, OFS is credited with serving over 7,000 individuals and completing 200 homes for low-income buyers. Read more about Operation Fresh Start (OFS)...
Based in Madison, Project Home provides no- and low-cost weatherization and home repair services to low-income residents in Dane and Green Counties. To help cover those costs, it also provides market-rate home repairs, accessibility modifications, energy efficiency upgrades, and other home improvement projects in South Central Wisconsin. Over the past 20 years, Project Home has made energy improvements to nearly 20,000 homes. It also offers free home maintenance and first-time homebuyer education classes to the public. Read more about Project Home...
Growth Through Energy and Community Health (GTECH) aims to cultivate the unrealized potential of people and places to improve the economic, social, and environmental health of communities in Allegany County. GTECH’s projects are based on the premise that the processes involved in planning, designing, and implementing green strategies on vacant land fuel community development and stem urban decay and disinvestment. Since 2006, GTECH has cleaned up 56 acres of vacant land and installed 23 projects on such sites, including community gardens and green play lots. The organization also works with nonprofits, government agencies, and other policy makers to develop legislation that makes community development easier for neighborhoods.
In this red state, publicly owned utilities provide electricity to all 1.8 million people. Here's our Research Director Thomas Hanna's take on how Nebraska took its energy out of corporate hands and made it affordable for everyday residents.
Compost Pedallers is a for-profit enterprise that relies on 100 percent bike-power to collect compostables from Austin-based homes and businesses and transport them to nearby urban farms and community gardens to support the growth of local food. Through this work, the business aims to build a more vibrant community by reducing waste, strengthening the local food system, and re-connecting neighbors to each other and the places in which they live. To encourage composting, participants are awarded points for each pound of scraps collected, which can then be redeemed for local goods and services at over a dozen local businesses.
The Greater Newark Conservancy helps “cities bloom” through environmental education, community greening, job training, and urban advocacy. Its Clean & Green program provides at-risk youth, as well as adults making the transition from unemployment and/or incarceration to employment, with job training in horticulture and landscaping. Since its start in 2009, the program has assisted over 800 people while converting vacant lots into pocket parks, community gardens, and urban farms. The nonprofit’s Newark Youth Leadership Project has supported hundreds of youths over the past 15 years. This year-round training program relies on mentorship and outdoor and horticultural activities to help high school students develop new skills and prepare for college.