Author Archives: Lori Fassman

2018 Candidates for Acton Water District Board of Commissioners

The Acton Water District is an independent government entity, separate from Acton Town Government. As such, it is led by a Board of Water Commissioners, analogous to the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Acton; both serve as the legislative bodies for their respective entities. The three Water Commissioners are elected officials, who serve three-year terms of office. In the upcoming Town election, two candidates will be competing for one available Water Commissioner seat: Len Phillips and Erika Amir-Lin.

The Water Committee of Green Acton posed a set of six questions to the two candidates, intended to help voters make more-informed decision. The questions and the candidates’ answers are shown below.

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Marys Brook Honors Mary Michaelman

Please see attached letter from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names accepting our proposal to make official the name, Marys Brook (apostrophes are not allowed) for the perennial stream that flows from Main Street in Acton, through the Acton Arboretum, joining with Coles Brook near Taylor Road and Route 2 (map attached).

The brook is named for Mary S. Michelman 2/14/1960 – 12/17/2010, Acton citizen, former president of Acton Citizens for Environmental Safety (ACES), founder of Acton Stream Teams, and assiduous environmental activist who fought for clean water in Acton.

Mary gave hundreds of volunteer hours researching and urging EPA and W.R. Grace to clean up the industrial pollution at the Acton W.R. Grace Superfund Cleanup site.

Mary died of cancer in 2010. The non-profit organization Green Acton has taken up the cause of environmental protection and conservation of local resources.

Marys Brook signs and a small plaque can be seen on Minot Avenue near the Conant School, and affixed to a trail boardwalk over the stream that now bears her name in the Acton Arboretum.

 

How does Acton say ‘no’ to Concord’s application to expand their water treatment plant at Nagog Pond?

The dispute over Concord’s application to enlarge its water treatment plant at Nagog Pond seems to be coming down to a question of whether Acton’s elected leaders have the legal authority to say “no” to a development that is opposed by virtually every Acton resident who has submitted either oral or written comments throughout the long series of hearings.   In this post we have compiled lines of reasoning from throughout Massachusetts showing that local authorities have extensive powers to say “no” if they believe that a development will be “injurious.”

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Sign up for 100% renewable power

The Town and Green Acton are preparing various explanatory materials, but if you have been following along and are ready to get 100% renewable power for less than 2 cents more per kWh, you can grab your electric bill, call 1-866-220-5696 and ask to be signed up for Acton Power Choice Green.

You can read all about it at this website.

Green Acton Retreat

Green Acton held its first retreat on Sunday, March 26, 2017, at the Assabet Valley Nature Preserve in Sudbury, MA.  The retreat ran from 10am to 4pm and was facilitated by Sarah Bursky, a community planner who works for the National Park Service.  Sarah has close to 20 years experience in capacity building for nonprofit organizations and networks, in particular in the areas of program management, conservation planning, and community engagement.

Attendees were Jim Snyder-Grant, Sue Cudmore, Lori Fassman, Debra Simes, Steve Long, Franny Osman, Sarah Bursky (facilitator), Debby Andell, Karen Herther, Sue Jick, Danny Factor, and Kim Kastens.

We spent the day identifying our top priorities and brainstorming about how to tackle our long wish list, how to engage new members and raise awareness about Green Acton in the community.

 

Mass Energy Green Drive Promotion

In effect through end of February 2017, there are deep discounts on electric and plug-in hybrid (EV and gas) vehicles. In addition to dealership discounts, there are potential $7500 federal tax credits and $2500 MA state rebates. Although the MOR-EV State Rebate website shows the funds being almost exhausted, the state just announced they’re putting in another $12 million.  http://ngtnews.com/mor-ev-massachusetts-gov-doubles-ev-rebate-funding.  If you’re inclined to buy an EV or hybrid, now is the time. (Bolt has a waiting list.)

https://www.massenergy.org/drivegreen

First Lego League Presentation

First Lego League 6th grade girls’ team presentation: Microfiber pollution of oceans. All from different schools. There are three parts to this team’s competition project: (1) the project they’re presenting today, for which they had to research a problem within the theme of interaction between humans and animals (“animal allies”). They chose how microfibers (tiny plastic shards from fleece clothing) can end up in the ocean, be eaten by organisms, and then move up the food chain. They did a presentation in the form of a skit; (2) a robot game, on the same theme (animal allies), in which robots have to complete missions; (3) sharing their project with their communities. Continue reading

Hosted Sen. Jamie Eldridge – “Green” Initiatives

At the October 2016 Green Acton meeting, State Senator Jamie Eldridge spoke on “green” initiatives and bills pending at State House.

  • Positive steps, if underwhelming, from last session

  • In Aug., Gov. Baker signed the omnibus energy bill, which included 1,600 MW of offshore wind and 1,200MW of hydropower.

    • Eldridge’s gas leaks language was included in this law., which requires that Grade 3 (low level) gas leaks be evaluated not only for safety risk, but also, for significant environmental impact, and must be addressed.

    • Not in the bill: an increase in the RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard)

    • Not in the bill: a ban on ratepayers funding new natural gas pipelines

  • Solar net metering bill (a compromise) passed and was signed

    • Increased the cap on commercial solar, but not for community solar; helps the well off with big roofs, but not the less–well off.

    • Reimbursement rate was reduced

  • Water

    • Stopped the government from moving wastewater monitoring from EPA to DEP. DEP staff has been decimated, so moving to DEP would have been, de facto, a move to less monitoring.

  • Working on now

    • Zero emission vehicle bill. Will encourage by allowing to drive in HOV lanes and other advantages

    • Plastic bag ban. Didn’t pass, but will be back. Cities and towns are passing such bans, and the Massachusetts Grocers Association may soon prefer a statewide ban to piecemeal bans.

    • Gas leaks. Whenever the roads are ripped up for any reason, the utilities would have to go in and repair/replace old gas lines.

    • Pipeline issue. Prohibit companies from charging ratepayers for costs of new pipelines (Spectra pipeline still alive).

    • Droughts, and measures for response to future droughts.

“Transition” towns initiative

Acton Transition Study Group

Local Resilience & Relocalization

Perhaps you’ve arrived at this page wondering what “Transition” is. Or maybe you already know a lot about the Transition movement, and wonder what it could mean for Acton. Or perhaps you just want to find out how to start pitching in.

Acton in Fall The idea of the Transition movement is to help communities find successful ways to deal with the large and layered challenges of peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis. All three are already impacting us, but we are still in the early stages of those impacts. The rationale of the Transition movement is that responses to these by individuals will likely be too small, even in the aggregate, to change our current trajectory, and responses by governments will almost certainly be too timid. But responses by entire communities, if they happen broadly, will approach the necessary scale of response and offer the best chance of success in dealing with these three enormous challenges.

The methods of the Transition movement rely on home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to create both a shared vision of a positive future at the end of the fossil fuel era, and a path to get there. A key goal is to increase local self reliance and community resilience. We’d like to starting thinking and planning for those here in our community. A discussion group is forming to take up these questions, create connections, and think about how to “relocalize” our lives and boost our resilience in an inevitably changing economic, environmental, and technological landscape.

How can we re-examine our uses of energy, land, water, and renewable resources at the local and regional levels? Can we mount a proactive—perhaps visionary—response to our changing world? Can we approach the future with a positive, creative, collaborative attitude? Shall we begin? Interested? Contact us: mailto:transition@greenacton.org

Hosted Charles Parker, Author of “Concord Energy Master Plan”

Hosted Charles Parker, lead author of “Concord Energy Master Plan.”  Charles talked about Concord’s energy plan, including the wider context that drives the plan (peak oil + climate change), and the specifics of how the plan envisions reducing Concord’s energy footprint via actions in all sectors: town, school, residents, businesses, and the Concord municipal light plant. Includes direct energy reduction strategies, clean energy production, and the secondary forces that drive energy use: land use, materials use, transportation planning, and more.

Link to PDF of plan: http://concordma.gov/documentcenter/view/3527

Link to PPT of slides (19 MB): http://goo.gl/KeWC6