Meeting Minutes – March 2015

Present: David, D.C., Lori, Jasmin (Mayor’s Ward 4 liaison), Khalil (Mayor’s Ward 4 liaison), Rob, Basav, James, Lisa.

OPEN ASKS (we need volunteers for these):

  1. NEED NEW TREASURER TO TAKE OVER FROM D.C., WHO’S MOVING TO BELGIUM!
  2. Need a volunteer to work with Catherine on the Groundswell spring clean energy purchase, including joining the conference calls (4 between now and May).
  3. Need a volunteer to be a pointperson for communications between Green Neighbors and the Celebrate Petworth organizers.

FOLLOWUP TASKS:

  1. Basav will ask Anya Schoolman how Green Neighbors can help on Community Solar.
  2. Basav is representing GN on Power DC calls and will update the group on how we can plug in on upcoming action on Exelon.
  3. D.C. will redesign the Local Resources brochure.
  4. Rob will research next steps on Walter Reed.
  5. Everyone will send book suggestions for proposed Earth Month at Upshur Bookstore to D.C., who will compile a list of candidate books to highlight and pass them on to the bookstore.
  6. Catherine will work on Groundswell spring purchase with another volunteer (see asks above).
  7. D.C. will find out dates for the Columbia Heights farmers’ market, how to apply to have a table there, etc.; Lisa (?) will do the same for Petworth farmer’s market.
  8. Everyone will research similar groups in other neighborhoods.
  9. Rob will create agenda for next meeting, everyone will send him agenda suggestions.

A. Reportback on solar event

Everyone agreed it was a great event, Anya was an excellent and highly informative speaker, discussion was productive.

Outreach was very successful, about 25 attendees, 16 were new faces.

“Multichannel” outreach (multiple e-mail lists, Eventbrite, Facebook, website, flyers, announcement on WPFW, inclusion in Free in DC calendar of free area events) appeared to have worked. Eventbrite, in particular, is very effective tool.

Things we learned about at the event (other than Exelon):

  • Community Solar: initiative that allows tenants, low income people, anyone who either does not own a property to put solar panels on, or can’t afford the upfront costs, to own a share of solar panels on someone else’s property. (For example, a landlord could put up solar panels on a apartment building and allow tenants to own shares in the solar panels, so they get a prorated portion of the utility bill credits in proportion to their shares.) This allows people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to benefit from residential solar to benefit from it. DC Council passed the legislation in 2013, but PSC regulations implementing it took a very long time to issue, and the regs provide for only 50% of the credit amount, instead of 100% as intended by the legislation. DCSUN is trying to get legislators to send a letter to the PSC instructing them to follow the law. QUESTION: Can’t Council’s General Counsel just send a strongly worded letter to the PSC to ask them to follow the law? Not clear. FOLLOWUP: Basav to ask Anya how Green Neighbors can help.
  • EnergySmart DC solar incentives for low income homeowners: DC Dept. of Environment and DCSEU have a joint program in which solar installers put solar panels on houses free of charge, if the homeowners qualify as low income. (See http://ddoe.dc.gov/node/9342)

B. Update on Exelon-Pepco merger

Power DC Coalition is currently working on:

  • Petition campaign to get Mayor and City Council to not settle with Exelon and to come out publicly against the merger: http://www.powerdc.org/take-action.html
  • Leveraging allies such as supportive ANC Commissioners to meet with Mayor and Councilmembers on the issue.
  • Continuing to get ANC resolutions against the merger.
  • Intervention in the Ward 4 and Ward 8 special elections to raise the profile of the merger as an issue.
  • Some kind of demonstration/public action, date and location TBA.

FOLLOWUP: Basav is representing GN on Power DC calls and will update the group on how we can plug in.

C. Brochures

D.C. brought the redesigned Energy Saving Tips brochures. They’re beautiful – yay!

FOLLOWUP: D.C. will redesign the Local Resources brochure.

D. Walter Reed

Green Neighbors has submitted testimony to the Walter Reed Community Advisory Committee advocating for more open/green space in the design.

FOLLOWUP: Rob will research next steps.

E. Upshur St. Books

Several ideas were discussed – requesting the store to highlight environmental books for Earth Month, cosponsoring book readings with local (or touring) environmental writers, requesting the bookstore to host an environmental book club, etc. For starters, we will pursue the Earth Month idea.

FOLLOWUP:

  • Everyone will send book suggestions to D.C., who will compile a list of candidate books to highlight and pass them on to the bookstore. (By giving them a long list, we’ll give them the opportunity to pare down based on what they don’t have in stock and can’t easily obtain, etc.) Especially we must include environmentally-oriented children’s books!
  • Once they make their selection, we could highlight on our website and plug Earth Month at Upshur Books.

F. Groundswell

Groundswell is launching its spring clean energy group purchase. They have a few requirements of partner organizations:

  • Send out 4 e-mails between March and May to recruit group purchase participants;
  • Post 4 times to external lists/Facebook.
  • Host one event or set up a table.
  • Join 4 conference calls.
  • Share one tip or best practice.

We tentatively decided to be a partner organizations, but no one can commit to being on the conference calls. We will ask on the list for a volunteer to be on the calls. Post-meeting update: Catherine can join at least some of the calls if we don’t get another volunteer.

FOLLOWUP:

  • Catherine can send out e-mails.
  • We can all hand out literature/sign people up at tables (see G below).
  • Still need someone to post on Facebook.

G. Information tables

Now that spring is (almost) here and outdoor tables at farmers’ markets, street festivals, etc. are a possibility again, we should start thinking of tabling opportunities.

Celebrate Petworth is on Saturday June 6, we had a very successful table there last year. James filled out our form so we’re entered again for this year. We will ask on the list for someone who will be a “pointperson” for communications between us and the Celebrate Petworth organizers. We will figure out about volunteers and literature for the table closer to the date.

FOLLOWUP:

  • Ask on the list for a pointperson volunteer.
  • D.C. to find out dates for the Columbia Heights farmers’ market, how to apply to have a table there, etc.
  • Lisa (?) to do the same for Petworth farmers’ market.

H. Supporting similar efforts in other neighborhoods?

Rob raised the issue that we should engage with and support similar efforts in other neighborhoods, as that could eventually lead to a citywide network of neighborhood-based sustainability groups. Everyone loved the idea, but of course it is subject to there being more such organizations out there.

FOLLOWUP: Everyone to research neighborhood sustainability groups n DC.

I. Bank account

D.C. to leave for Belgium at end of April. (Did I get the date right, D.C.?) We need a new treasurer!

FOLLOWUP: Ask on list for new treasurer.

J. Next meeting

Monday April 20, 6:30 p.m. Rob to facilitate.

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