Webinar: Environmental Injustice and the Crisis of Environmentalism

Join us at 7pm on Tuesday, January 12 for a virtual session about climate change and the ecological crisis, as well as issues of environmental and climate injustice.

Register Now

Students, educators, and parents are invited to participate in the discussion!

Dr. Daniel Faber, Director of the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative, will discuss how we must embrace a more transformative politics of environmental justice that addresses the root causes of the ecological crisis, as well as an inspiring vision of a new and better world.

This free program is co-sponsored by Green Newton and the Newton Free Library,
and is a part of the Green Newton Library Series.

Register in advance for this webinar.

Congrats to All Who Submitted Essays About “Students Taking Climate Action”

In February, Green Newton invited Newton high school students to write essays on the theme “Students Taking Climate Action” and they were asked to submit them to Green Newton by the end of Earth Week. We saw this as an opportunity for students to voice their concerns and inspire others to make a difference by suggesting solutions that can benefit our environment.

Three essays were chosen to be published:

In a raffle drawing, two students were chosen to each receive a $50 gift certificate from Green Newton to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice: Aidan Lieberman and Esther Zhang. 

Thank you to each of the students who participated in this Green Newton activity to honor our organization’s 30th Anniversary!

“Newton students, teachers lead the push for a more sustainable district”

Original post from the Boston Globe – 

By Andres Picon, Boston University journalist, Updated March 25, 2020,

It takes more than just a few recycling bins here and there to truly make a school district environmentally sustainable.

That’s the message from members of Newton’s School Sustainability Working Group — a cohort of students, parents, teachers, administrators and others who since the group’s foundation in June have been advocating for more comprehensive measures to reduce Newton Public Schools’ impact on the environment.

“These are important steps that must be taken to tackle the climate crisis here in Newton and set an example for other school systems in the state and country,” Coral Lin, a junior at Newton North High School, said at a school committee meeting on Jan. 13. “My generation is increasingly anxious about the world’s future, but many feel paralyzed into inaction … This problem could be solved if students were educated not only on the causes and effects of climate change, but how we can work together to find and implement solutions.”

Each of the working group’s initiatives for promoting sustainable practices within the school district falls under one of four broader focus areas: recycling and waste diversion, food services, energy, and transportation. Group members work closely with the nonprofit Green Newton, as well as other stakeholders like the city’s Department of Public Works and the district’s food service management company, to coordinate and realize their objectives.

In its first nine months, the group held monthly meetings, launched a webpage through NPS to communicate its goals and ideas to the community, and pushed for the city to apply for a School Recycling Assistance Grant through the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, according to a report on the district’s sustainability efforts presented at the Jan. 13 school committee meeting.

But perhaps the group’s most significant achievement was to have sustainability included as one of the key steps toward achieving the district’s systemwide goals for 2019-2020, as part of a plan to improve school facilities.

“We want sustainability efforts to be institutionalized in the schools. It has to be something that the schools and the district champion,” said Joana Canedo, chairwoman of Green Newton School Connections, a forum for members of the NPS community to discuss sustainability needs and goals, which works in collaboration with the working group.

There are two critical steps the district can still take to further its commitment to addressing climate change, advocates say, and both of them would empower students to take the lead in the effort to mitigate the effects of the ongoing climate crisis.

The first step would be for the district to formally include climate education as part of its curriculum for all students. In January, students launched an online petition to try to do just that.

“We don’t have the standardized, encompassing curriculum necessary for such an important topic,” says the petition, which had garnered more than 1,000 signatures by mid-March. “Some students grow up knowing about our deteriorating environment, others do not. Some teachers focus heavily on ecology and biodiversity, or the environmental movement and sustainability laws, others do not. Our schools should have a standard curriculum, bridging learning gaps to help all students reach the same level of knowledge.”

Bolstering the district’s curricula at all grade levels by encouraging and even requiring a greater emphasis on environmental literacy would help provide the impetus the fight against climate change requires right now, Canedo said.

“If climate education becomes a goal or a priority, the agenda can be pushed further in many ways,” she said. “We invite [student] engagement because we think they are what’s moving the world forward. We want not only to hear what they have to say, but also to help them do some of the things they might not know how to do — to navigate the system.”

Other smaller moves district administrators could make to facilitate a transition to a “greener” future could include allocating more of its budget toward sustainability initiatives, offering professional development focused on climate education, or simply stating that sustainability is a priority for the district, which it has begun to do through the establishment of the working group and by including sustainability as part of its systemwide goals, Canedo said.

But in order for meaningful change to take place, the district must develop a more effective and permanent system for planning and carrying out sustainability initiatives, Canedo said.

The second critical step the district needs to take, advocates say, is to hire a full-time sustainability coordinator who would work with students, educators and administrators at each Newton school to help them organize and execute their ideas for making their schools more sustainable.

“We have to stop thinking of climate as a movement, or a group or a working group. We have to have a climate revolution,” Underwood Elementary School educator Andy Gluck said at the Jan. 13 school committee meeting. “I think most of us are here to ask you, as a school committee with 12,000 students and the impact that you can make, to number one, hire a sustainability coordinator for the district — full time, nonstop — and be sure that coordinator has a green team captain at each school that can do the work that has to get done.”

Green teams are groups of students and teachers who work together to brainstorm and implement ways to make the schools more sustainable. As of mid-March, 11 of Newton’s 21 public schools had an active green team, and eight of them are registered with MassDEP for this school year, according to Green Newton School Connections records. That registration is an important distinction that provides green team members with more supplies and more opportunities for environmental education than they would otherwise receive.

While Newton schools have closed until at least April 6 due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, sustainability advocates are continuing the work toward improvements throughout the district. Green Newton School Connections is continuing its monthly meetings online, and its workgroups have been working via email, Canedo said.

Other members of the community have also been encouraged to participate in the process remotely, with GNSC distributing to teachers an online survey about climate education and offering both students and teachers additional resources, like online climate education webinars and courses, and even some inspiration, like sustainability success stories from other school districts around the country.

So, despite the temporary closure, the push for a more sustainable Newton continues, and regardless of the ongoing pandemic, Canedo said, that transition is going to be led by students and teachers.

“In order for things to work, everybody needs to be involved and active and make the changes that are needed,” she said. “We cannot just pass a resolution and say Newton is going to accomplish this by whatever date if we don’t establish a foundation, and the foundation is the schools.”

Andres Picon can be reached at [email protected].

The content of this article was reproduced from the Boston Globe with permission of the Boston Globe; ©2020 Boston Globe. All Rights Reserved.

Student Voice: Lessons to Take on Climate Justice from the Coronavirus

By Elie Berman (Newton South), March 2020 – 

Coronavirus is creating fear from Newton, Massachusetts throughout the entire world. International communities are coming together to fight a pandemic. Coronavirus is affecting every country across the globe, and it draws an eerie parallel to climate change. So what could happen if the world banded together in the same way to fight it?

The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is any situation where individuals selfishly take more than they need from a shared resource, depleting it, and hurting everyone. Walking into a Whole Foods on March 15, canned foods are gone and Clorox wipes fill the garbage can. Customers take more than they came for, fearing there may soon be nothing left. As they overstock their own cabinets, they steal from those who come in to buy their regular share but find every shelf empty. This is one example of the tragedy of the commons. Climate change is another.

Climate change disproportionately affects lower economic communities. While developed countries continue to pollute the air, fill landfills, and emit millions of pounds of CO2 every second, they are also the places less affected. Simultaneously, villages in developing countries are in drought or floods and don’t have the money or power to respond. Some people are displaced and others die.

Recently, the extent of our globalization has become exposed. Disease spreads rapidly, and loved ones phone from thousands of miles away. In reaction to coronavirus, countries mandate the closing of schools and businesses in order to respond to current needs and flatten the curve. Similarly, we need to care about the lower economic communities that are currently seeing the effects of climate change. We must also shift our daily lives, understanding that if we continue the way we are, those effects will soon be hitting everyone. Wherever you are: take fewer flights. Reuse what you already own. Take precautionary measures. You can fight two crises at once.

Newton students are invited to submit essays on the environment in honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary. Like Elie’s essay, selected works will be published on the Green Newton and GN School Connections websites and in the Green Newton e-news. Click HERE for more information on how to submit and essay.

Newton students are invited to submit an essay on “Students Take Climate Action”

In honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary, we invite all high school students who live in Newton to write essays to voice their concerns and inspire others to make a difference by suggesting solutions that can benefit our environment.

The essay topic may be chosen from the list below or it can be an environmental topic of your choice. Students can write how they and others they know are learning to cope with the current challenges we face, while taking positive steps at home and in our community to conserve energy and protect our natural resources.  

Selected essays (300 words max) will be published on the Green Newton website, in our e-news bulletins, and on the GN School Connections website. Green Newton reviewers will determine on a weekly basis how many essays will be selected for publication.

There will be a raffle drawing on a date yet to be determined, in which all students who submit essays will be eligible to receive one of two $50 gift certificate prizes to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice.

How to submit the essay? Send it by email by April 27 to [email protected]. Please include a title, your full name, school and grade. 

For more information, please email us at [email protected] 

(Information updated on March 20, 2020)


SUGGESTED ESSAY TOPICS

  • How can an education in climate science impact your future career possibilities?
  • Write about the benefits of one of the goals in Newton’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Create testimony is support of a climate-related bill that is being considered in the Massachusetts Legislature. (Resources for legislative priority lists: Mass Power Forward, Mothers Out Front, 350, Our Climate, Sunrise, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Water Action, MassPIRG, MCAN)
  • Describe how the Sunrise Movement or Greta Thunberg has inspired you to get involved in Climate Action.
  • Write a review of a movie/book by Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Al Gore or Rachel Carson and describe how it inspires you.
  • What are the most important steps for Newton residents to become more sustainable in their commutes to school, work and other locations?
  • What are the benefits of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and is Massachusetts making progress in this transition?
  • How does climate change impact lower economic communities?
  • What are green building principles and how can they benefit proposed building projects in Newton?
  • What is pump technology and how is it being used in Newton’s homes?

Essay Competition: “Students Take Climate Action”

March 20 UPDATE: Instead of a competition, we are inviting students to write and be published on our websites. More on the update HERE

Green Newton invites all Newton high school students to enter our 30th Anniversary Celebration Essay Competition “Students Take Climate Action”. 

What is the competition? We are asking high school students to write an essay of up to 300 words related to student climate action in Newton or in the world. Suggested topics below. Students may also submit videos of up to 2 minutes that pertain to any of the topics. 

Who can enter? The competition is open to any Newton (MA) high school student in grades 9-12. Students can write individually or in teams of two. 

When is the competition? Entries should be submitted from February 24 through April 27, 2020. The chosen essays will be announced by May 18, 2020

What is the award? Two essays will be chosen to be read by students at our 30th Anniversary Celebration event at Lasell University on June 9. The essays will be published in the Green Newton and Green Newton School Connections websites and distributed to our members. 

Is there a prize? YES! Winners will  receive a $50 gift certificate each to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice.  Update: There will be a raffle drawing, in which all students who submit essays will be eligible to receive one of two $50 gift certificate prizes to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice. 

How to submit the essay? Send it by email by April 27 to [email protected] . Please include a title, your full name, school and grade. 

For more information, please email us at [email protected] 


Suggested essay topics

  • How can an education in climate science impact your future career possibilities?
  • Write about the benefits of one of the goals in Newton’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Create testimony is support of a climate-related bill that is being considered in the Massachusetts Legislature. (Resources for legislative priority lists: Mass Power Forward, Mothers Out Front, 350, Our Climate, Sunrise, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Water Action, MassPIRG, MCAN)
  • Describe how the Sunrise Movement or Greta Thunberg has inspired you to get involved in Climate Action.
  • Write a review of a movie/book by Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Al Gore or Rachel Carson and describe how it inspires you.
  • What are the most important steps for Newton residents to become more sustainable in their commutes to school, work and other locations?
  • What are the benefits of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and is Massachusetts making progress in this transition?
  • How does climate change impact lower economic communities?
  • What are green building principles and how can they benefit proposed building projects in Newton?
  • What is pump technology and how is it being used in Newton’s homes?

Take Action Against the Climate Crisis at School and at Home

Are you interested in doing something about the climate crisis but not sure what? Green Newton welcomes concerned people of all ages to an open discussion on Tuesday, November 19 from 7-8:30pm in the War Memorial Auditorium of Newton City Hall (1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton). Meet and chat with like-minded people and take part in developing Green Newton’s new Green Action Teams, including:

  • Education & Schools 🙂 ♥
  • Activism & Initiatives
  • Home Efficiency & Heat Pumps
  • Transportation & Electric Vehicles
  • Food & Composting 
  • Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

School Connections will be there discussing  Education & Schools Join us!

Refreshments will be served (please bring your own reusable beverage container). RSVP to [email protected] to help us plan, or show up on November 19. We hope to see you there!

Day of Fun and Sustainability for the Whole Family at the GreenEXPO on October 20

School Connections will have a booth at the 2019 GreenEXPO. Come join us!

Original post from Green Newton –  

The GreenEXPO is less than a month away! On Sunday, October 20 from 10am-4:30pm in the Newton Center parking lot, over 40 businesses and community groups focused on sustainability will show how we can make a positive impact on our homes, communities, and the world. Bring family and friends for a day of fun and inspiration!

  • Take a drive in an electric car.
  • Take a spin on the Magic Energy Bike and make your own electricity.
  • See the electric race car.
  • Feel the cool and hot of an induction cooktop.
  • Talk to electric car owners.
  • Find out how to save Thousands of $$$ on an electric car
  • Find great products to help make your life more green.
  • Find out about solar panels for your home.
  • Try a Lime electric bike or an e-scooter.
  • Learn about the ease of a home composting service.
  • Ask your recycling questions.
  • Kids will find plenty to do and learn at the exhibits.
  • Get a free reusable drinking straw and cleaner set when you sign up for a Green Newton membership!

Go to www.greennewton.org/greenexpo2019 to see the list of exhibitors.

Volunteers needed: email [email protected] if you can help for a few hours at the GreenEXPO!