Greening the Holidays: a virtual public meeting for all ages

Green Newton Student Group presents Greening the Holidays, a virtual public meeting for all ages on how to celebrate a sustainable holiday season.

Newton student leaders are offering this unique opportunity for us to make plans to celebrate a more sustainable holiday season. The program will include great gift ideas, trivia questions and easy steps to make an environmental difference. Presentation topics are listed below.

Greening the Holidays
Sunday, December 6, from 4-5pm
Please register in advance HERE

  • Food & Waste, with Kaleigh Yee (NSHS ’19) and Hailey Strickler (Beaver Country Day ‘22) How does food and waste play into the culture of a holiday? How can we make more sustainable choices while maintaining tradition?
  • Fashion, with Ahona Dam (NSHS ’23) and Mia Santangelo (NNHS ‘22) What is fast fashion? How can we consciously avoid supporting it during the holidays?
  • Transportation, with Ava Freeman (NSHS ’22) During a ‘normal’ holiday season, how can we realistically prioritize conscious transportation choices?
  • Gift Giving, with Windley Knowlton (NSHS ‘18) What makes a gift special? What are some  meaningful, environmentally conscious gift ideas?
  • Advocacy, with Coral Lin (NNHS, ‘21) Why is advocacy important to prioritize during the holidays?
  • Taking Action!, with Clara Dutton (NSHS ‘21) How energy efficiency steps can be considered a gift?
  • The 4C Tree Project, introduced by Elizabeth Sockwell (NSHS ‘16) and Jojo Parks (BC ‘24) What is the ‘Capture Carbon Commemorate COVID-19’ project all about? How can one incorporate volunteering experience into a gift?

With gratitude to Esther Zhang (NNHS ’22) for designing the graphic for this Green Newton event!

REGISTER NOW

 

Greening the Holidays

Tip of the Week: Arts & Crafts Supplies Exchange

Tip from the Countryside Green Team

If you have arts and crafts supplies that you can no longer use but are in good shape and can be enjoyed by others, or if need more supplies for your kiddos but want to avoid buying brand new items at the store, there’s a Facebook group for that!  ZWB Arts & Crafts Supplies Exchange – Boston Area is the Arts & Crafts Supplies subgroup of Zero Waste Beginners – Boston Area (which is a zero waste discussion group) and can be found at here. In this group you are invited to:

(1) offer up FREE arts & crafts supplies!,
(2) discuss and share Do It Yourself (DIY) projects, and
(3) talk about how to cut down waste in the community.  

There are several other ZWB subgroups for exchanging items, and a list of them can be found here.

Energy: Solar Panels Update – October 2020

From the October 5, 2020 Facilities Update

Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – Update

    • All of the Macquarie solar projects will be scheduled for next spring and summer 2021.
    • The projects are likely to be phased as follows:
      • Phase 1 – Early Spring- Roof projects at Cabot, Carr, Angier, Williams.
      • Phase 2 – Carports at Ed Center, Memorial-Spaulding, Mason Rice, Pleasant Street Parking lot.
      • Phase 3 – Summer- Carports at Wheeler Road, Brown, Oak Hill.
  • Two Ameresco solar canopy projects at North High School are on schedule. Solar canopies were installed in the two parking lots this summer and the contractor is now completing the electrical work. Four Electric Vehicle charging stations will be included as part of this project, two at each lot.
  • Ameresco rooftop projects at the Ed Center, Zervas, and Fire Station #3/HQ have been on line and providing electricity to these buildings since June 2020.

Water fountains and sinks

  • Water Bottle Refill Stations – Installed at Lincoln Eliot and Horace Mann. Every school now has at least one.
  • Additional Sinks – Installed at Horace Mann as part of a previously planned project. Portable sinks installed in schools identified as needing additional hand washing stations.

What we are reading in June

Green Matters, 06/04/20 – New Jersey Now Requires Climate Crisis Education for Grades K-12

Washington Post, 06/03/20 – I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet

NPR, 06/03/20 – The Winners Of The NPR Student Podcast Challenge

Our Children’s Trust, 06/15/20 – A message from Juliana v. United States youth plaintiff, Isaac #youthvgov

Grist, 06/04/20 – Why racial justice is climate justice

The New Yorker, 06/17/20 – How Public Opinion Changes for the Better

Boston Magazine, 06/15/20 – Marty Walsh Declared Racism a Public Health Issue. Here’s Why

Yes!, 06/15/2020 – There Is No Climate Justice Without Racial Justice

Hartman Group, 05/28/2020 – Sustainability in Everyday Life: Plastic and Packaging Waste

Grist, 06/16/20 – 5 board games for a world that’s falling apart

Climate Education Survey 2020 – first results

In an effort to promote more Climate Education in Newton schools, earlier this year we created a survey for teachers. We wanted  to find out what is already being taught in the district and what can be done to strengthen climate literacy and justice for our students. 

The survey was launched in March and due to Covid-19 and the closures of schools we didn’t promote it as much as we had originally planned. We hope to build on this effort once school commences in the Fall. For now, these are the initial results.

Given that many survey respondents expressed interest in training focused on climate education, we compiled a list of low-cost, flexible summer professional development options.

If you have not taken the survey yet, please take it here: CLIMATE EDUCATION SURVEY 

 

Climate Education Survey 2020

Survey data from 03/09/2020 to 04/03/2020
Number of respondents: 84

We found a few patterns in the answers:

  • Climate Change is not part of the curriculum and it’s hard to find time/resources to incorporate the topic and space/time to teach it.
  • Many are interested in learning more but lack time, knowledge, resources, ideas for activities, projects, etc.
  • Some teachers bring up the topic in passing or in a few lessons, ranging from statistics and environmental poetry to music and the Industrial Revolution.
  • It never occurred to teach it.

Sample comments:

  • Interested in ways to support the staff and facilitate trainings.
  • It is difficult to fit in anything more to the required curriculum.
  • I try to practice energy conservation and recycling habits with students in the classroom – concrete steps they can understand to contribute to efforts against climate change.
  • Climate change is a politically charged topic.
  • Kids are already cynical about being preached at.
  • Indirectly it is taught in terms of how we treat the environment, our spaces.
  • It doesn’t often apply unless a given project connects to it.  
  • I have not made it a priority to incorporate climate change into my lessons (though I am interested in finding ways to do this).
  • This topic is dear to me.
  • It’s a topic on many kids’ minds.  
  • Students bring it up for discussion depending on what is in the curriculum.
  • It relates to health of our people; health of our planet.
  • I don’t have a lot of knowledge on how to teach the topic, the current curriculums are pretty packed as it is.

Green Newton Statement on Black Lives Matter

Original post from Green Newton, June 8, 2020 – 

Green Newton stands with organizations here in Newton and across the country in reaffirming that Black Lives Matter. We are outraged, like so many others, by the recurrent murders of Black people by the police and vigilantes in our country — most recently, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

It is clear to us that institutionalized racism has been the underlying cause of the deaths of many people of color in our country and around the world.

Climate justice and racial justice are inextricably linked. The ravages of polluted water, land, and air, leading to illness, injury and early death are far greater in populations of people of color. Racially insensitive policies have long negatively impacted housing, education and medical care in Massachusetts.

We aspire to think globally and act locally as we work to better understand the pervasive, systemic nature of injustice within all of our institutions, including our schools and police departments. We strive to bring that understanding to our work to help heal the planet and make our community safe and welcoming for all.

Reduce & Reuse School Supplies

From the Bigelow PTO, June 13, 2020 – 

The Bigelow PTO invites you to think about school supplies in a sustainable way.  

The end of the year is a great opportunity to embrace our sustainable values with our children and show them how they can personally take climate action. Going together with the kids through their books, notes and school materials can be a valuable experience – in economic and environmental terms – and help reducing waste at the end of the school year by practicing the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

There’s a reason reduce & reuse come before recycle – not just because it sounds good, but it’s the order in which we should approach sustainability. Here are some tips to use with your child when cleaning out their school supplies:

  • Empty backpacks, pencil cases, binders, folders.
  • Clean everything (a swipe of rubbing alcohol can remove marker and make everything looks like new).
  • Repair or patch what you can. 
  • Organize pens, pencils, markers, scissors, calculators, etc.
  • Take out the used pages of notebooks and evaluate what can be reused in school or at home.

You will note that you can really reduce the purchase of new supplies because a lot can be reused next year. And we can all celebrate how much energy, water, resources and money we will have saved in our community! 

Check out more resources:

Students Can Take Action Against the Climate Crisis

Small habit changes can make a big difference. And students, as well as parents and educators, can take action and have a positive impact to reduce our carbon footprint.

Download and print flyer: Take Daily Action Against the Climate Crisis

What students can do

What can be done at home

Home heating and electricity account for a large portion of fossil fuel use. Talk to others at home about:

1. Signing up for 100% Renewable Electricity at Newton Power Choice, a really easy way to make a huge difference! Find your homers Eversource account# & call 866-968-8065 or visit www.masspowerchoice.com/newton

2. Signing up for no-cost home energy assessment and insulate/air seal your home. Call 781-305-3319 (select #2 & mention Green Newton) or go to hwe.click/green-newton

Download and print flyer: Take Daily Action Against the Climate Crisis

How to Make NNHS a Leader in Climate Justice

The Newton North High School Climate Advocacy Club is creating a student and teacher organization in order to advise the Principal on climate issues. The Climate Advisory Panel will be formed by a nomination process in Fall 2020 where students and teachers can be both self-nominated and nominated by others.

“Our school is lacking in both the educational side of the issue and physical side of the climate issue, most egregiously on the very important topic of climate justice. Given our position as a school that has traditionally led in academic and social emotional learning, it is our duty to be a leader and an example for ourselves and others in the values and practice of climate justice. ”

The panel’s goals, according to the document developed by the students, are to:

  • Educate peers on climate justice through developing, advising, and observing the revised sustainability curriculum with teachers; organizing Sustainability Day; and more.
  • Oversee and facilitate a strike absence policy.
  • Ensure that Newton North’s infrastructure is as sustainable as possible, specifically by working with the city of Newton and the sustainability director.
  • Incorporate climate justice into all facets of the school.

The panel will be a leader in connecting all the different groups in Newton that work on climate issues: teachers, activists, administrators, and more. If you are interested in being involved with the panel next year in any capacity, please fill out the interest form so we can keep in touch: https://bit.ly/2Byh9gC

Newton North Student Encourages Biking to School

What are the challenges students face when they bike to school? And how can the city improve their experience? These are a few questions that Dina Gorelik, Newton North High School Senior and President of the Newton North Bike Club, answered on May 21, 2020, during the webinar “Transportation after the Covid Crisis: Priorities for moving forward”. 

Watch the FULL program HERE

SEE DINA’S PRESENTATION HERE

When thinking about going back to school, it’s important to focus on sustainable healthy transportation, and that is what the three program speakers brought to the discussion. The program featured several good ideas on how to accelerate efforts to create transportation that is safe and supports our environmental goals to reduce air pollution.

  • Ann Lusk, PhD, Harvard Chan School of Public Health proposed real solutions  for communities to develop new transportation policies and processes by building pilot cycle tracks, testing the designs and counting riders. (See at: 3’49” –  38’38”)
  • Dina Gorelik made a compelling case for students biking to school and how the city can improve road safety (See at: 38’40” – 48’30”) – Her presentation is available here
  • Galen Mook, Executive Director of MassBike, Massachusetts’ statewide bicycle advocacy organization, talked about bicycling amenities in Covid-recovery, how to include schools and achieve safe to school goals (See at: 48’32” – 1 18’46”) 

The webinar was co-sponsored by The Newton Free Library, Green Newton, Bike Newton, and the League of Women Voters Newton.