Category Archives: News

Beyond Reconciliation — RVCC Conference April 21, 2017

On April 21, Professor Dan Aronson at Raritan Valley Community College is hosting a conference on the potential for common ground between environmentalists and labor. Entitled “Beyond Reconciliation,” the keynote speaker is University of Iowa Prof. Benjamin Hunnicutt, who discovered articles from labor activists in the 1830s recommending that workers reduce spending/consumption in order to protect time for education and other worthwhile pursuits. 

Hunnicutt is the premier historian on US work hours. He has written for The Wall Street Journal and Politico. His books include Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day, and Free Time: the Forgotten American Dream. He has worked as a consultant to unions and businesses interested in shorter hours and the potential of leisure to improve the community and workplace. He is currently working on a book titled, The Age of Experiences: The Promise of Liberation Capitalism.

Professor Aronson writes, “In our own time, reductions in consumption can be associated with an increase in material well-being. For example, there is a strong and growing market for real estate near transit and energy-efficient buildings. Meeting this demand would reduce spending on automobiles and energy, but the strong demand for walkable neighborhoods/efficient buildings indicates that such amenities are valued.”

To register visit: www.raritanval.edu/conference_register

For more information, download the conference brochure here: P2356_Beyond Reconciliation.

New Directions for 2017

CRCS will be moving in several new directions this year, which we think will be of interest to a wider audience than just those of us interested in financing clean energy. We’ve been focusing more on communities in the past year, and on the values and vision that led to our mission, to assist local communities and neighborhoods to become more resilient in the face of the widening impacts of a changing climate.

We are proposing to work with one or two towns in New Jersey on their revitalization and self-renewal. Culture actually holds the key to greater local resilience, alongside the physical transformation of communities into eco-communities. And organization is what’s needed to transform culture. We are planning to create “civic cooperatives” that will lead these communities into a positive self-generating future. Many communities are today experiencing decline, or struggling to ignite a self-renewal, within the broader context of the need for a world for a world that shifts carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. The cooperative model has proven itself to be more enduring, more beneficial, and often more valuable to communities than the conventional marketplace business model.

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Acknowledging Our New Jersey PACE Sponsors

After 3 years of working to bring PACE to New Jersey, and close to a real launch, we have scheduled The New Jersey PACE Summit – the first of its kind event for PACE in NJ. We are seeking Founding Sponsorships and Event Sponsorships, a schedule of which you can view at NJPACE-Sponsorship.

From the Sponsors’ perspectives, they’re passionate about being able to award dollars for something they believe in and want to support, while gaining recognition and acknowledgement far beyond what they could get through paid advertising.

Our goal in recognizing our Sponsors is therefore to convey something significant about them, and about their support for us.

MSL-LogoHeaderSM2Our first Founding Sponsor is an out-of-state company — MSL Group — that’s been doing PACE projects in other states. It’s ironic, perhaps, that no local company or firm would jump into the water as a Founding Sponsor. But it’s an indication of what energy services firms who are operating in states where PACE is thriving, know, that NJ firms don’t yet know: that PACE is actually as good as it sounds, for every stakeholder.

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NJ PACE 2015 Summit to Focus on What’s Possible for New Jersey

The theme of this year’s New Jersey PACE Summit is “PACE: what’s possible for New Jersey?” The subtitle gives part of the answer: “Resiliency • Clean Energy • Jobs”— these are the major elements of the story, that will be explored at the conference. And there’s more to it as well — PACE can provide regenerative community benefits, support new technologies, and foster new approaches to the global challenges of our times.

PACE, which stands for “Property Assessed Clean Energy,” is redefined in NJ’s new amending legislation to include “the purchase, lease, or installation, or any combination thereof, of renewable energy systems or the energy produced by such systems, energy efficiency improvements, water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects, hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, or safe room projects, undertaken by property owners on properties within a municipality.”

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NY Times Feature on Cohousing

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Steve Welzer, EcovillageNJ.org

There is a featured article today on the editorial page of the New York Times about how cohousing might be a desirable option for single people. It ends, though, by saying: “. . . homes that combine privacy with community and sociability . . . that combination sounds pretty attractive for anybody . . .”

The article should have mentioned that there is no such option, yet, in the whole New York metropolitan area! That’s why we’re confident that, if we can get our ecovillage built, there will be considerable demand to purchase units and become part of such a unique community.

Here are excerpts from the New York Times article:

While many single people are quite happy to live alone, it’s not always easy. When Kate Bolick first lived in her own apartment, she said, “it felt unbelievably exciting to be simply living by myself and master of my own domain. But then maybe at around the seven-year mark it started to feel kind of repetitive and lonely.”

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NJ Appleseed: Embedding Sustainable Development & Land Use into Public Policy – March 23, 2015

CRCS and New Jersey PACE Executive Director Jonathan Cloud will be one of the speakers at the NJ Appleseed event on “Embedding Sustainable Development & Land Use into Public Policy” on March 23 at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, NJ. The day-long event, featuring Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop along with a line-up of other prominent speakers, will address a variety of timely issues related to sustainable development in New Jersey:

Development in New Jersey is a hot-button issue, with strong feelings on both sides. Some believe it is out of control, and cite strip malls springing up almost overnight, and mass numbers of townhomes covering the once-pristine suburban hillsides. Others argue that development brings jobs and other tangible benefits, and is key to the State’s economic future. Like it or not, development in New Jersey is here to stay. But can development be a force for good? Can we lessen the environmental impact, or better yet, reinforce overall sustainability and resiliency in New Jersey communities, create more affordable homes for our citizens, and stabilize neighborhoods? At this New Jersey Appleseed Public Policy Forum we will explore efficient and ethical land use policies, discuss private sector concerns and ways to address opposition, focus on how implementing ‘green’ can impact the bottom line, look at the ways that affordable housing can help create sustainable, safe, and strong communities, and examine strategies to reduce risk from new policies, among other important issues.

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NJ Ranked 34th State in Terms of Wellbeing

As noted in NJSpotlight (Feb. 20, 2015), New Jersey was ranked 34th out of 50 states in the most recent State of American Wellbeing index of the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Index report. The study takes into account how people feel about their life’s purpose, social and financial life, physical health, and community.

According to the NJSpotlight story,

The two areas in which New Jersey severely underperformed the rest of the country were purpose and community. Purpose was defined as liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve goals. In this area New Jersey only ranked 43rd. And New Jersey’s leaders should take serious note of the ranking of 48 for community. This element was defined as liking where you live, feeling safe, and taking pride in your community.

This clearly underlines the need for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” that we’re seeking to foster through our nonprofit. And it also shows how poorly NJ’s economic and political class are doing in serving the needs of the state overall.

Global Climate Deal and the Missing Link

The climate deal fleshed out in Lima, Peru, is that all countries can set their own climate goals [1,2,3]. But will this be effective in preventing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions? Very unlikely, writes Delton Chen (Geo-Hydrologist, Civil Engineer):

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During the past 250 years of industrial and technological revolution, the primary catalyst for innovation and the fundamental driver of economic growth has been the availability of fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil and gas). To avoid extremely dangerous climate change, the global economic system must be re-organised at a fundamental level, and the new order must include a social transformation that grows exponentially; otherwise the required mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be too slow to avoid a climate catastrophe.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was put into effect in 1994, and civilisation officially acknowledged that it was ‘addicted’ to fossil fuels. The ultimate aim of the UNFCCC is to prevent “…dangerous human interference with the climate system”[4]. The recent UNFCCC’s meeting in Lima, Peru, provides the latest update on civilisation’s de-carbonisation program, but the results of the Lima meeting signify global action will be further delayed given that nations are only obliged to make voluntary commitments. 

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PACE Legislation Moving Forward in New Jersey

The latest version of A2579 — amending legislation to the PACE statute approved in 2012, which has proved unworkable — has been passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and is now headed to the floor for a vote. An identical version is being shepherded through the NJ Senate by its passionate sponsor, Senator Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), with the full concurrence of its Republican Co-Sponsor, Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerville).

Here is a portion of the “Statement” accompanying the release of the bill:

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Global 4C Proposal Wins in MIT Competition

CRCS-MIT-CoLab-Award-2014A proposal authored by Dr. Delton Chen, and sponsored by CRCS, has won in the 2014 MIT Climate CoLab Competition. The Global 4C proposal was not the winner of the final prize, but it was a winner and very well received and recognized at the conference.

The conference itself — or at least the part we were present for — was itself quite fascinating, and remarkable for the variety of entries, the keynotes, and of course the conversations in the halls. We were unfortunately detained in New Jersey for a crucial meeting on Thursday morning (which turned out well, advancing the cause of PACE financing in New Jersey), and then set off for Boston in drenching rain, poor visibility, and at least four major accidents along the way. Harrowing. We finally made it around 3:45 to the venue, and got to the breakout room for your presentation just as you were answering the last question.

People felt the proposal was serious and well thought-through, and were happy to speak with us about it. The videos, and above all the new radio interview, linked below, have made the idea very clear and accessible, so we no longer have to spend much time clearing up misconceptions.
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