Environmental Justice is Economic Justice!

December 18, 2014                   CONTACT: Adam Flint 607-761-8337  flint@igc.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BRSC & NY Energy Democracy Working Group respond to Governor Cuomo’s Economic Development challenge after the Fracking Ban Announcement.

Binghamton, NY. The Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC) and our NY Energy Democracy Working Group partners across the state applaud Governor Cuomo’s ban on fracking that denied a false solution to climate change from taking root in New York. The decision was based on a concern for the health of New York’s residents, the protection of our water system, and the lack of clear and strong economic opportunities that fracking could provide given the social costs.   And it is a lesson we hope resonates across the nation –any supposed solution to climate change or economic development that would compromise our health and wellbeing is no solution at all.

Within this ban, Governor Cuomo charged New Yorkers with a critical task: Find the alternative economy that can help build and sustain communities that have long-faced economic disinvestment and depression – from the Southern Tier to environmental justice communities in New York City.

The good news is, New Yorkers already have the answer. Residents and communities across the state are clamoring for a climate resilient, racially equitable, and economically just energy system that is rooted in locally owned renewable energy projects. From district-wide energy efficiency and solar projects led by people of color in the Bronx to community-owned wind projects in Tompkins County and green development zones rooted in low-income communities in Buffalo, New Yorkers have the models that can help spur innovation and investment in local economies.

To bring all of these projects to an impactful scale, we need to invest in community capacity to move the work and advance policies and funding that prioritizes efficiency and renewable projects in climate and economic vulnerable communities. We must create a pathway for communities left behind in our current energy policy — those with the highest energy insecurity and the last access to the state’s current regime of energy programs — by creating an integrated pathway from energy efficiency retrofit readiness to community controlled on-site renewable generation.

As we celebrate Governor Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking — and the incredibly strong, courageous and uncompromising movement that won it — we need to seize this momentous opportunity to answer the Governor’s task and make these models and ideas a reality. The anti-fracking movement bubbled up from local communities across the state – from towns and cities that declared their democratic right to control their own energy future. The solutions to our climate and economic crises are similarly emerging.

  • We can look for leadership from Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, PUSH Buffalo and the CNY Regional Planning and Development Board, who were among the recipients of funds to help move the state towards community lead solar adoption
  • We can learn from community-based organizations across the state who won the Green Jobs Green New York program and have lessons to teach about how New York can accelerate energy efficiency retrofit programs in low-income communities.
  • We can work with Citizens for Local Power and Vote Solar, whose efforts just last week won key decisions from state regulators that could pave the way for Community Choice Aggregation and Community Solar
  • We can look to the leadership of AGREE to engage with the Clean Energy fund and Reforming the Energy Vision proceedings underway at the Public Service Commission to demand adequate funding for and community involvement in clean energy projects, with some resources particularly earmarked for environmental justice, climate vulnerable, and economically disadvantaged communities so they can shape their energy future with the right capacity and tools.
  • We can use models developed by PUSH-Buffalo and Center for Social Inclusion to demand that local towns and cities create Green Development Zones or Energy Investment Districts that would allow New York’s most vulnerable communities to lead and participate in the planning and financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Today, we celebrate the Governor’s decision. And tomorrow, emboldened by this victory for energy democracy, we will answer the Governor’s call for solutions that protect our health and environment while creating economic prosperity for New York’s most vulnerable communities.

About the Energy Democracy Working Group:

The Energy Democracy Working Group members currently include:

Alliance for a Green Economy: www.allianceforagreeneconomy.org

Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition: http://binghamtonsustainability.org

Catskill Mountainkeeper: www.catskillmountainkeeper.org

Center for Social Inclusion: www.centerforsocialinclusion.org

Solutions Project: http://thesolutionsproject.org

Syracuse United Neighbors: sunaction.wordpress.org

Pratt Center for Community Development: http://prattcenter.net

PUSH Buffalo: www.pushbuffalo.org

For more information on the Renewable NY project, please visit: www.renewableny.com

SUN Offers Snow Removal Service

This winter, SUN is taking calls from folks who need their sidewalks and driveways shoveled! We have names and numbers of young folks in our community who are looking for opportunities to make some extra cash.

  • Featured imageIf you find yourself unable to shovel or know someone who can use some help, call us and we will dispatch someone from your neighborhood to shovel your walk and driveway!
  • If you need some extra cash this winter, call us with your name and phone number and we will call you when someone needs their sidewalk and/or driveway shoveled!

How much a shoveler receives is the discretion of the homeowner. We support a wage of $20 or more per landscape shoveled.

Available only on South and West side of Syracuse!

Call Emily at 476-7475!!

Need extra bucks during the winter? Need your snow shoveled? CALL SUN!

This winter we are offering snow shoveling gigs and a place to call if you need your sidewalk or driveway shoveled!!

If you are a young person on the Southside or Westside of Syracuse that goes door knocking to shovel people’s walks for some extra cash, CALL EMILY at 476-7475. Emily will take your number and if someone calls needing someone to shovel, she will give you an address!

If you are elderly, disabled, or just don’t have time to shovel, CALL EMILY at 476-7475. Emily will send someone to shovel your walk and driveway! You will need to tell Emily how much you can pay so the shoveler knows how much to expect.

This is the first time SUN is offering this service so please let us know if you have ideas, suggestions, or comments!

Letter to Syracuse University Chancellor and Board of Trustees

Last week, we sent a letter to Syracuse University Chancellor and the Board of Trustees in regards to our solidarity with some of the demands of THE General Body, a group representing the various student groups at SU that are advocating for a more diverse and transparent university.

November 14, 2014

Dear Chancellor Syverud and the Board of Trustees at Syracuse University,

Syracuse United Neighbors has been prompted to write you after paying close attention to THE General Body and their demands. Our concern is in regards to the draft Vision and Mission Statement that has changed drastically from the previous version and our community’s experience in changes since Chancellor Syverud joined Syracuse University.

Particularly, we agree with section 1.8.6.2 of THE General Body’s Needs, Solutions and Demands Document, “The new University Mission/Vision Statement”.

As a community organization that advocates for residents of the South and West sides of Syracuse, we are appalled that the Board of Trustees would consider removing:

  • “sustained engagements with our many constituent communities”,
  • “public and non-profit”,
  • “where collectively we address the most pressing problems facing our community”,
  • “Serving the public good in these ways pervades our daily decision making and connects us… with our immediate community”.

Our neighborhood has already seen a pull back of community support from the University, particularly funding for 601 Tully, listed in THE General Body’s document as section 1.7. The University announced that it would not contribute the yearly sum of $200,000 to 601 Tully any longer, in an area of the city that is one of the poorest areas in the country, which has provided a summer camp for youth since 2011. We are saddened and frustrated that in a city that provides a place for your students to live, learn, and thrive, that Syracuse University would take away this project that allows our youth to do the same.

We are extremely disappointed that the Board of Trustees would allow this to happen. Through the funding cuts to programs on the Westside and the removal of the language mentioned above from the Vision and Mission Statement, it appears that community support from Syracuse University will decrease.

We hope that the Board of Trustees will consider the larger Syracuse community and maintain your engagements with the city, especially through the channels of public and non-profit organizations. In order that we can collectively address the pressing problems facing our community, we encourage that you continue to allow your daily decision making to be influenced by the University’s supposed dedication of serving the public good within our immediate community. We hope that you will maintain the Vision and Mission Statement that once promised the greater Syracuse community that we too, are SU.

Please note, we have also signed the solidarity statement that was drafted by the Syracuse Peace Council.

Regards,

Maria V. Johnson

Chairperson Board of Directors

Letter to Congressman Elect John Katko

Last week, we sent a letter to John Katko introducing ourselves and some of our expectations of him as our new Congressman Elect.

November 14, 2014

Dear Congressman Elect John Katko:

We are Syracuse United Neighbors, comprised of residents who live on the South, Southwest and West sides of the City of Syracuse. Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN) is a grassroots community organization, established in 1977 and dedicated to improving the lives of families living in the neighborhoods on the south, southwest and near-west sides of the city.

SUN members are active, knowledgeable and involved citizens, working for neighborhoods that have:

1) homes that are affordable and in good repair.
2) equal access to quality public services.
3) crime and drug-free streets.
4) access to fair credit and decent bank lending.

As our newly elected representative in Congress, we wanted to share a few of the things that we advocate for. We hope that you will consider our work and the conditions of the City of Syracuse during your term so that we may continue increasing the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

To begin, we encourage you to hire a diverse staff in Syracuse that is representative of our communities and to hold community forums in low-income neighborhoods to hear our breadth of concerns that we hope you will advocate for in Syracuse.

Of those things, we can tell you that Washington continues to short change Syracuse in Community Development Block Grant, HOME and other housing programs for low-income residents. We encourage you to strongly advocate for these benefits to our community in Congress.

Sincerely,

Maria V. Johnson

Chairperson Board of Directors

SUN Victory!

During our South and South West Side Meeting, we demanded that Code Enforcement and the City of Syracuse start the process to demolish 259 W Matson. SUN made an original complaint in July for this house to be demolished but nothing occurred.

259 W Matson has been abandoned since 2006 and suffered from a fire in 2012.

The property has been on the city’s “worse” properties list and has been on the Deputy Commissioner’s “demo pipeline” for almost a year now.

The taxes have been accumulating since 2006 and to date have reached $27,665.

The morning after, Code Enforcement Director Ken Towsley, wrote SUN an email explaining that the city would start the seizure process immediately and we should expect a demo mid-march!

Thanks for the residents of Matson St coming out and sharing how it impacts your neighborhood. And thanks to all the SUN members who advocate to bring down unlivable homes!

Lets hope that the coming year brings more demolishings and even more repair of vacant homes so that we can fill them with people!

259 w matson

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#REV & #EnergyDemocracy: today’s tweets from the NYS Public Service Commission Technical Conference on utility reform.

The conversation on twitter today as the #REV technical conference went down with the NYS Public Service Commission & Co.

Mostly the #EnergyDemocracy working group calling out the lack of public participation… among other insights!