The Climate Crisis and What We’re Doing About It
Financing the Transition to a Regenerative Economy
With the Aim of Restoring the Climate and the Earth
Download PDF version of our year-end letter here
Executive Director’s Year-End Letter 2019
“Being alive right now means rethinking boundaries, pushing on the walls of your imagination. It means feeling around in this world for another one.” (Dan Zak, “Everything is Not Going to Be Okay: How to Live with Constant Reminders that the Earth Is in Trouble,” Washington Post)
Dear Friends and Supporters,
2019 has been a pretty tumultuous year for us, including both substantial achievements and disappointing setbacks. The good news is that Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation is on its way in New Jersey, with both the Legislature and the Governor endorsing some version of this long-awaited financing tool. We expect PACE to be operational in 2020, and it could be as early as first quarter.
The first version of PACE legislation was introduced and passed into law in 2011; unfortunately it was flawed, and the Christie Administration took advantage of these flaws to block any meaningful action. Our organization, operating as New Jersey PACE, has been seeking to amend this law for more than seven years, during which time we co-authored at least three prior versions that were rejected. While in retrospect it seems unreal, there were good reasons to believe that PACE could be implemented in each of these years, despite the resistance of the banking industry and of the Governor’s staff at the time.
Evolving and Expanding the PACE Model
But since PACE is still not available in New Jersey (and many other jurisdictions), we continue to seek demonstration projects for the two alternative clean energy financing approaches that we have developed in partnership with structured finance experts, including a major NJ social impact investment fund. Once successfully piloted, these “PACE/Alternatives,”* as we’ve called them, including our New InterCreditor Clean Energy (NICCE, pronounced “nice”) and Deed-registered Renewables & Energy Efficiency Measures (DREEM), will provide commercial property owners anywhere in the US with access to PACE-like financing, regardless of whether PACE is allowed in their jurisdiction.
Posted in Climate Change, Cohousing, Community, Contribute, CRCS, Energy, G4CM, Global Issues, New Jersey, News, NJPACE, Nonprofit Activities, Regenerative Development, Sustainability, Transformation
You’re invited to our
Join us for community, thoughtful discussion, and the opportunity to make a difference.
Saturday, December 14
@ 8 Revere Drive, Basking Ridge, NJ
Bring something to share / BYOB
Bring your voices, instruments & holiday songs!
Meet people who care about restoring our communities and the climate.
Can’t Attend But Want to Support Us?
At the party, we’ll share our mission and initiatives, and you can contribute to the “mother ship,” Possible Planet, or earmark your donation to one of our initiatives:
Global Carbon Reward
Ecovillage New Jersey
New Jersey PACE / Regenerative Financing
Possible Planet (General Fund)
Attend the Party
CRCS (our full legal name is Center for Regenerative Community Solutions, a NJ Nonprofit Corporation) is now also Possible Planet, and the larger part of our work is maintained and updated at www.PossiblePlanet.org. Apologies to several who have left feedback here but have not received an answer. (I have just discovered these entries, and plan to respond to them.)
Much of what is retained here is of archival interest only. But everything we’re now working on has grown out of the thinking and action, reflected here, about the development of solutions that help to strengthen the regenerative capacity of communities. We have principally focused on innovative financing methods for the transition to a clean economy, an economy that is sustainable over the long term, restores rather than damages the Earth, and provides a better living environment for everyone. This led us to initially concentrate on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and create New Jersey PACE as an alternate identity, and subsequently on the development of “PACE Alternatives” that don’t require state legislation or municipal approval but can be done within existing contract law.
Along the way, we acquired three other projects as a “fiscal sponsor,” projects that represent further approaches to creating a more livable, healthful, and self-sustaining future. Two are related to the development of cohousing and ecovillage neighborhoods, Ecovillage New Jersey, and the Ecovillagers Alliance. The third is a global monetary policy proposal, to address the risk of a catastrophic shock to financial and economic systems (and the concurrent damage to the planet’s life support systems), called Global 4C (which stands for “complementary currencies for climate change”). The basic proposal is to issue a monetary reward for carbon sequestered or abated anywhere in the world, to anyone able to demonstrate that they are reducing emissions or withdrawing carbon from the atmosphere. Issuing such a reward requires only a very modest expansion of the money supply, accompanied by the creation of a greatly expanded economic sector devoted to cleaning up the mess we’ve already created. Currently we’re working on a case study to demonstrate how this can be done in the field of regenerative agriculture, working with various combinations of rock dust, biochar, and compost, to develop the most effective ways of sequestering CO2 in the soil where it supports the natural growth of the crops and livestock we need to survive.
What this leads to more broadly is an examination of what’s needed, ecologically, and how to invest what we need to get there. Financing ecosystem restoration, clean energy, and sustainable human habitation are all aspects of this that offer almost unlimited opportunity for a new generation of businesses, cooperatives, and community financial institutions to create sustainable growth, i.e., economic growth that restores, strengthens, and maintains natural systems instead of trashing them. So follow us, and join us, at PossiblePlanet.org.
Posted in Carbon Pollution, Climate Change, CO2 Mitigation, Cohousing, Community, CRCS, Energy, Events, G4CM, New Jersey, Nonprofit Activities, Regenerative Development, Sustainability, Transformation
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.
Our main focus at this point is building out New Jersey PACE, an open-market platform for commercial PACE deals anywhere in the state. The critical amending legislation (A2579/S1510) passed at the end of June; we are now waiting for the front office review and the Governor’s signature. In the meantime we reviewing and revising parts of our web presence to make them more accessible and self-evident. We anticipate a significant backlog of projects once the law is signed, and we want to make the process as easy as possible for everyone to understand and implement.
At the same time, CRCS as an engine of change is continuing to evolve new projects – some our own, built on or around the PACE model; and some from others, such as Dr. Delton Chen’s Global4C project, which is attracting worldwide attention. We’re gradually getting into various models of “fiscal sponsorship” for organizations and projects that we see as compatible with or related to our mission. In most cases — such as our Regenerative Cohousing initiative — our goal is to bring these projects in-house, under our own umbrella; but in a couple of instances we may support fledgling organizations until they get their own IRS exemption.
Finally, we’re exploring further opportunities for individuals to profit from the transition to renewable energy — from the bulk purchase of green energy, the installation of solar with no upfront cost to the property owner, to the use of PACE in underserved communities and distressed neighborhoods. Stay tuned.
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.”
While we’re working hard on what we expect to be an avalanche of PACE projects once the new law is passed, we’ve been giving serious consideration to where and how we might want to live during this next few years of our lives. Like many others in our age group, we’re officially “empty-nesters,” and are looking to live “more lightly” on the land. We’d also like to be part of a genuine community, where we have deeper relationships with our neighbors, and can work together to bring about more rapid social change.
This has led us to a growing interest in intentional communities, ecovillages, and cohousing. The most practical and least controversial of these is cohousing, where a small neighborhood of 10-35 families share a large common facility, and live in smaller-footprint individual homes around this common space
Cohousing itself is not new; pioneered in Denmark in the 1970s, it was introduced into the U.S. by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett more than 35 years ago. There are more than 700 cohousing neighborhoods in Denmark today, many in other European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand, and close to 150 in the United States, with another hundred or so in various stages of development.
New Jersey is something of an anomaly in having no completed cohousing developments. In our view there is considerable interest and potential for development. And it is a uniquely appropriate vehicle for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” we are seeking to introduce to NJ communities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.