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.
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.
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.
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:
Asking for money is one of the more challenging things that every charity has to do. The first question we need to answer, however, is “Why are we asking?” If we don’t have a clear and compelling answer, we’re handicapping ourselves from the start.
So here’s why.
- It’s to give people the opportunity to contribute to the world they believe in.
- It’s to give us the ability to keep working on creating a world that works, by providing “regenerative community solutions,” i.e., practical ways of restoring and building communities that last and become self-reinforcing and self-sustaining.
- Ultimately, it’s to empower the world of generosity, the you-and-me world, rather than the you-or-me world.
In The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist, who has raised more than $150 million in individual contributions, tells the story of her own first monetary contribution:
We’re committed to a future that has New Jersey PACE as a local success story in the making. Working back from this future, what will this look like, and what will it mean for New Jersey?
Let’s imagine what New Jersey might look like in ten years with PACE. Continue reading
Cities across the US are competing to install 10,000+ rain gardens as part of community-wide campaigns — Seattle is looking for 12,000 near the Puget Sound; Kansas City, Mo is creating 10,000; and Sustainable Jersey City thinks 11,000 is about the right number for Jersey City.
What’s even more interesting is that these are being seen as community engagement and revitalization projects. Jersey City’s is indeed “crowd-sourced”: Continue reading
The challenges we face in New Jersey as a result of climate change are significant, and so therefore are the opportunities. The experience of Superstorm Sandy showed us just how ill-prepared we are for the more frequent recurrence of extreme weather; and how important it is that we set an example for taking action to mitigate our own greenhouse gas emissions, as other states are doing around us. And there’s also no doubt about the urgency of it — as you can see from this remarkable video:
Developing our crowdfunding campaign is giving us an extraordinary opportunity to explore using PACE to revitalize New Jersey communities. By itself, PACE is an innovative business model that creates jobs and economic development while providing the ultimate tool to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on private properties. But leveraging PACE for community development is where the real payoff is, that is to say, for the benefit of the community as a whole.
New Jersey PACE is proud to be partnering with the upcoming Intersolar Summit – New Jersey taking place on March 20th at the Sheraton Edison Hotel. Through our partnership we are able to provide Discounted Registration to NJPACE Alliance members and CRCS supporters.
Under the slogan “80% Renewable Electricity by 2050 – What does it mean today?”, the Intersolar Summit New Jersey will thoroughly assess the current business climate, future market prospects and feasibility of the aggressive renewable energy targets recently announced. Moreover, delegates will gain an in-depth understanding of the latest policy updates presented by local opinion leaders and receive insights on most up-to-date solutions and technological innovations for the PV market.The preliminary agenda can be found here.
Confirmed high-level speakers include
- New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith
- New York State Senator Kevin S. Parker
- Honorable New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula
- Richard Lawrence, Executive Director, Executive Director, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)
- Dennis Wilson, President, Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA)
- Lyle Rawlings, Vice President New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA)
- Michael Trahan, Executive Director, Solar Connecticut
- Tom Thompson, Board Member, Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE)
- Darren Hammell, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Princeton Power Systems
- Dr. Richard Perez, Professor, University of Albany
- Thomas Plagemann, Executive Vice President of Capital Markets, Vivint Solar