Monday, June 20, 2016

Reimagining Scott’s Yard

Photo by Alice Apley

By Alice Apley

Know you want to make changes in your yard, but you’re not sure where to start? Tend to buy plants on a whim or overplant an area and only realize afterwards that you could have planned things a bit better? Not sure what makes sense for your space and for you and anyone else who uses your yard? Paralyzed by what to do first?

Whatever your goals – support pollinators, invite wildlife into your backyard, grow pick-and-eat fruit, improve your neighborhood’s streetscape, or simply make your yard a more comfortable place to spend time – planning is essential. GreeningRozzie’s Garden Design Maker Mob met on June 12th for the first of three sessions to learn a hands-on, step-by-step process for making your garden dreams reality.

Photo by Alice Apley
Using Scott’s yard a couple blocks south of Roslindale Village, landscape designer Laura Smeaton walked the group through the first stages in a design process: Goal Setting and Gathering Data & Observation. Scott had already identified his priority areas as well as his goals. For the unsightly border in the back yard he wants to hide the unattractive rocks, break up the right angles of the yard and create a pollinator and bird-friendly environment. For the narrow, shady side yard that previously was covered with asphalt, his goal is to liven up the dead zone and create a space that invites visitors into the back yard.

As part of the Gathering Data and Observation component we discussed sun, wind, rain, soil, elevation, stakeholders (children, neighbors, or others who might also use or shape the yard), existing hardscape (fences, paths, building structures) and existing plantings.

And then we got our hands dirty, measuring the spaces, and mapping the different components on separate base maps. By the end of the session we had created a complete set of base maps showing: 1) terrain, landscape and soil; 2) sun; 3) wind; 4) hardscape; 5) wildlife and animals; and 6) existing plantings. And in doing so, we realized that Scott was already on his way to meeting his goal of a wildlife-friendly yard. Throughout the session, the small birdbath in the yard was visited by thirsty honeybees from a neighbor’s hive.

Photo by Alice Apley
The biggest take-away for the participants was the importance of mapping each of these factors on its own map. We only realized the importance of this in the doing, because simply describing existing fences, walls and rocks was a challenge to organize in a clear way. Also, by creating separate maps, when something changes, you don’t have to start from scratch. For instance, if that big tree in the corner of your yard comes down, you only need to redo the existing plantings and sun maps, but hardscape, soil types and other features won’t change.

And while the focus was on Scott’s yard, each of us could relate to his challenges and the process was easily transferable to our own spaces. So while we were helping him block out and map his space, I couldn’t help but start to imagine the goals for my side yard (part composting work area and part zen garden?).

The next session will be Turn Imagination into Plans: Learn to Make Scale Drawings! Hope to see you there. If you’re interested in joining us for this session, sign up on this form.

Photo by Alice Apley

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Honoring my father’s memory in a green way

By Eric Smalley

My father passed away last fall and since then I’ve been doing my best to honor his memory. I’ve shared old photos on social media and delivered a eulogy at his memorial service. GreeningRozzie’s Memory Tree Project has been a wonderful part of this process.

I’ve claimed a street tree in his name. It’s a public remembrance of my father, a living thing to care for in his memory, and it contributes to the city’s vital effort to maintain our street trees.

If you’d like to care for a street tree in honor of a loved one, sign up on the Memory Tree Project page.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Drink responsibly

reusable cups
Heading to Green T Coffee House or any of the other fine beverage-serving establishments in Roslindale? Think green and bring a reusable cup!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Court puts state’s feet to the fire on carbon emissions

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that the state is not doing enough to comply with the Massachusetts' Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the state to make meaningful and measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The ruling, in response to a suit brought by the Conservation Law Foundation and the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, could result in stricter emissions controls for vehicles and power plants.


State not doing enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions, court rules

Global Warming Solutions Act Background

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

West Roxbury pipeline battle heats up

Construction has resumed on the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline. Find out about the latest developments in the ongoing efforts to stop the pipeline.

The urgency of stopping the pipeline was underscored last week by an explosion of another Spectra pipeline:
Company promising safe gas pipeline in West Roxbury has Pennsylvania pipeline explode; house destroyed, resident burned

Here’s how some people are stepping up:
Four more arrested in West Roxbury as pipeline work resumes

Maker Mobs for 2016

Spring is here, which means it’s time for Maker Mobs! Think barnraising but on a smaller scale: raised-bed gardens, garden sheds, etc. Learn how to use tools, build things, and make our community more sustainable by cultivating and passing on skills.

If you’re interested in participating as a helper, project organizer, project leader or recipient, sign up here.

We’re having a planning meeting on Wednesday, May 11. If you’re interested in participating in the planning process, let us know on the sign-up form.

These photos are from a maker mob last year where we built three raised-bed garden boxes and learned carpentry skills.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Carbon tax: the only way forward on climate change

Without a carbon tax, we're on course to pour more carbon into the atmosphere.
By Eric Smalley

Activists and researchers have long known that putting a solid price on carbon emissions is critical in the struggle to put the brakes on human-caused climate change. Thanks to a research paper by some of the country’s leading energy and environmental economists, we now know that a tax on carbon emissions is not the best tool we have. It’s the only one.

The paper, “Will We Ever Stop Using Fossil Fuels?,” published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, makes the case that the dropping prices of renewable energy sources are being outpaced by the dropping prices of fossil fuels, and absent new taxes on carbon emissions the world will continue to use fossil fuels.

New extraction methods have made fossil fuels cheaper and increased the amount of oil and gas we can access. U.S. oil reserves expanded 59 percent and natural gas reserves expanded 94 percent between 2000 and 2014. We have consistently had about 50 years’ worth of accessible oil and natural gas reserves over the last 30 years. Global consumption of oil rose 7.5 percent, coal 24 percent and natural gas 20 percent from 2005 through 2014.

The authors of the paper are Christopher Knittel of MIT and Michael Greenstone and Thomas Covert of the University of Chicago. Greenstone was President Obama’s first Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

“You often hear, when fossil fuel prices are going up, that if we just leave the market alone we’ll wean ourselves off fossil fuels. But the message from the data is clear: That’s not going to happen any time soon,” Knittel told the MIT News Office.

To learn about getting a carbon emissions tax passed in Massachusetts, come to a presentation by State Senator Michael Barrett at the West Roxbury police station at 7 pm on Monday, April 11.