Solarize Harrisonburg!

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Anya Schoolman laying out the plan.

A final Solarize Harrisonburg Information Session will be held on Tuesday, October 21, 6 PM at the Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S. Main St., Harrisonburg. Get your questions answered. Everyone welcome!

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Solarize Harrisonburg Information Session Monday, July 28, 6 PM at the Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S. Main St., Harrisonburg. Everyone welcome!

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Many thanks to Anya Schoolman, Ivy Main, Tom Benevento, and Richard Baugh for their inspiring presentations, and to everyone who came out to the June 2 forum to start learning about how we can boost solar power in Harrisonburg!

Email contactcaav [at] gmail.com to get on an email list to stay informed about how we may continue organizing to make this happen.

Community Power Network has set up a webpage for our Solarize Harrisonburg efforts through the VASUN citizens network site. Sign up to go solar! Bookmark the site to stay informed about our progress!

Check out some of the conservative cost figures based on Solarize Blacksburg provided by Anya here.

Read Ivy’s Where are the Renewables? Wind and solar policy in Virginia, some of which she covered in her presentation on June 2.

“Like” Solarize Harrisonburg on facebook!

See CAAV steering committee member Joy Loving’s Open Forum opinion piece in the Daily News-Record as published on June 19, 2014: It’s Time to Solarize Homes. Joy has agreed to take the lead for CAAV on next steps for our area solarize effort. She is communicating with Anya Schoolman of Community Power Network and reaching out to interested parties. Contact her to get involved with leadership on this project at jal_1998 [at] yahoo.com.

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solarizehburg.585If you’ve been thinking about getting your own rooftop solar panels but have held off because of the high initial cost, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley may have a solution for you. We will be exploring the pros and cons of neighborhood solar cooperatives and other solar bulk purchase programs at a meeting on Monday, June 2 at the Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, from 6-7:30 PM. Speakers will include *Dan Conant of the Community Power Network, Ivy Main from Sierra Virginia and Harrisonburg City Council Member Richard Baugh.

By getting together with others in their community to buy large quantities of the panels cooperatively, residents of Blacksburg and Richmond have been able to cut their purchase and installation costs significantly. Groups like the Community Power Network help educate interested buyers about photovoltaic solar panels and do a survey of each home to determine whether the roof is even suitable for solar. Then they help the group navigate both the bidding for lowest price but high quality panels and installation as well as the necessary arrangements with the local electric utility. All contracts are still between the individual and the installer.

To learn more about this powerful (!) opportunity, please join us to see if we can all help Harrisonburg go solar!

Our forum guests:

*Dan Conant is Virginia and West Virginia Program Director for the Community Power Network, a D.C. based non-profit alliance dedicated to making solar energy accessible and affordable for all communities.

Ivy Main is Chair of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club and an educated voice for renewable energy in VA.

Richard Baugh is a practicing attorney who has served the City of Harrisonburg as Council Member since 2008.

Tom Benevento of the New Community Project in Harrisonburg will provide a brief appeal for the consideration of energy efficiency updates to a home when installing solar energy.

*May 31 update: Anya Schoolman, the Executive Director of Community Power Network and founder of the DC SUN solar co-ops, will be our speaker and representative of CPN instead of Dan Conant. From Dan: “Anya’s a real pioneer when it comes to community solar programs (she was just named one of President Obama’s ‘Solar Champions of Change’). …Anya was going to be passing through Harrisonburg on the way to SW VA on Monday … so we thought it would be good for her to give the solar co-op presentation in my stead.  Don’t worry–she’s an upgrade over me in any case!  She’ll be able to talk about her personal experience forming co-ops all around DC.”

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Protecting the South’s Environment through the POWER OF THE LAW

April8GAforumcropped300“Protecting the South’s Environment through the Power of the Law” is the motto of the Southern Environmental Law Center. SELC is the largest environmental organization in the Southeast, with 60 attorneys working out of nine offices throughout our six states (Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina) and on Capitol Hill.  The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is excited to be bringing Angela Navarro, one of 12 SELC attorneys at the Virginia office in Charlottesville, to our April 29 forum, 5:30—7:00 PM in Ruby’s at Clementine, 153 S. Main St., downtown Harrisonburg.

SELC chooses its work for maximum impact—to set important precedents or to strengthen and enforce far-reaching policy—but it also pursues dozens of site-specific cases and projects to protect places too special to lose, like George Washington National Forest.  Angela has particular expertise in two areas of great interest to Harrisonburg/Rockingham County: Energy Efficiency: the cleanest, cheapest energy resource, and Solar Power.  CAAV has been working with others in the HR/Green Network to support the city in increasing the energy efficiency of municipal buildings and has often partnered with other groups to get Dominion Power to increase its renewable energy resources and encourage, not discourage consumer solar panel installations.  SELC pursues the same goals but in ways that we don’t often get to hear about.

We invite you to join us in Ruby’s to find out how SELC is working to lower Virginia’s carbon emissions and to protect our environment.  Come early and enjoy food and drink from the bar, then learn about clean energy and ask questions of an expert.

The General Assembly and Us

Many thanks to Chelsea Harnish and Emily Heffling for traveling here from Richmond to deliver their hopeful and positive messages of work in the General Assembly and the power of grassroots organizing on Tuesday evening, April 8.

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Emily, left, and Chelsea field questions from the audience as Les looks on.

Among the almost three dozen people in the audience was Jonathon Shacat, journalist for the Daily News-Record. His article covering Chelsea’s presentation at Ruby’s Lounge was printed in the April 10, 2014, edition of the Daily News-Record and is in pdf format here: A Really Good Session.

Next up: Angela Navarro of the Southern Environmental Law Center: April 29, 2014, 5:30-7:00 PM @ Ruby’s at Clementine | Join us!

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April forumsWhat Did the General Assembly Do for Virginia’s Future?

So. The 2014 General Assembly regular session has ended. What did our legislators do to protect Virginians from the effects of current and future climate change? What did they do to help prevent it? Will Virginia support an energy efficient 21st century powered by non-fossil fuels or are we going to continue down the “business as usual” path we were following in the last century?

The Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) and Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) constantly lobby the General Assembly to do what

As of halfway through the legislative session, we've seen some positive outcomes.

needs to be done to save the energy we have, produce energy that doesn’t pollute, and recognize the risks of climate change. Join Chelsea Harnish of VCN and Emily Heffling of CCAN in a discussion of what worked and what didn’t, who our allies are in Richmond, and how we can help change the hearts and minds of those who don’t yet understand the urgency of this critical problem.

This event is free and welcomes our entire community. Please come! Share it through facebook here.

April 8, 2014, 5:30-7:00 PM @ Ruby’s at Clementine, 153 S. Main St., Harrisonburg

Then plan to join us again on April 29 for Angela Navarro of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). She will be visiting here from Charlottesville for a presentation and discussion about the wide scope of SELC’s advocacy for and protection of our natural world through law and policy.

April 29, 2014, 5:30-7:00 PM @ Ruby’s at Clementine, 153 S. Main St., Harrisonburg

Letter Writing Workshop on March 18, 2014

lettersClick on the image at right for Pete Bsumek’s slide presentation on letter writing.

Dr. Bsumek recommends this resource for letter writers: Writing and Submitting an Opinion Piece: A Guide. It is also available on The Earth Institute, Columbia University webpage here along with more resources.

Also recommended is James Hoggan’s book Climate Cover-Up.

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is holding an exciting workshop: “What to do when the newspaper makes you mad—or glad”  on March 18th from 6—7:30 PM at the Massanutten Regional Library.

Do you still read the newspaper despite the misinformation on many subjects?  Bring an example!

Do many editorials and opinion pieces upset you?  Bring an example!

Do some of the letters to the editor mystify you with their illogic or ignorance? Bring an example!

Do some of these also entertain, educate, or inspire you and would you like to know more about how to write Letters to the Editor and OpEd pieces with the same impact?

Come and find out how to do it from  Dr. Pete Bsumek,  an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies at James Madison University.  He is director of the MA program in Communication and Advocacy and coordinator of the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies minor.

Dr. Bsumek earned a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Utah, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Pittsburgh.  His research and teaching focus on rhetoric and the processes of advocacy and decision-making in social change, with a specific emphasis in environmental communication.   He is currently working on a collaborative project investigating public controversies surrounding coal.  Prior research focused on the rhetoric of the wilderness movement, processes of debate and deliberation, and greening the public relations curriculum. He is also currently serving on a grant funded research team investigating means for reducing greenhouse gases through low cost energy management and community based social marketing in university residence halls.

Valley readers deserve a steady stream of accurate, informed, compassionate, and literate information and opinion on fighting and dealing with climate change.  Each one of us can help.

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Dr. Bsumek recommends this resource for letter writers: Writing and Submitting an Opinion Piece: A Guide. It is also available on The Earth Institute, Columbia University webpage here along with more resources.

Energy, Innovation, and Stewardship on Valley Farms

Joni's Oct. forum flyer2.400While some urban dwellers can avoid going outside for days if necessary, the Valley farmer is outdoors facing the elements every day of the year, rain or shine, drought or flood, snow or heat wave.  And when he/she comes inside, it’s to plan how to reduce the risks and uncertainties of not only the weather but the markets, government regulations, the cost of energy, and the changing climate, with better ways to improve resiliency and productivity.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is hosting a forum to address these issues on Tuesday, October 15th at 6:00 pm at the Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S. Main St, Harrisonburg.  Well acquainted with the problems Valley farmers face, our speakers will include Eric Bendfeldt, Extension Specialist in Community Viability with the Virginia Cooperative Extension; Dr. Maria Papadakis, ISAT professor at JMU; and Mike Phillips, a farmer and a soil conservation technician with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Council.  Bendfeldt will talk about the innovative ways farmers are working as good stewards of the land to keep agriculture a viable part of Valley life, everything from growing forage radishes and drought resistant feed crops to co-ops and the Produce Auction.  Papadakis will speak about Valley farms, energy, and climate change: how energy conservation can help with greenhouse gas mitigation, and the increased demands on energy consumption that Valley farmers will face adapting to a changing climate. Phillips will offer us his point of view as a farmer and government worker implementing best management practices.

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See the Daily News Record‘s October 17, 2013 coverage of the forum here by Alex Rohr. (Note that Firefox’s built-in PDF renderer might not display this correctly; right click here and choose “Save Link As…” to download it instead.)

Les introducing Mike Phillips _Converted

Les Grady introduces Mike Phillips with a screen photo including Mike’s father as a young plowman in the background.

Joni with Mike and Eric

Joni Grady with presenters Mike Phillips and Eric Bendfeldt

Maria Papadakis

Maria Papadakis fields a question from the audience

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Lush forage crops planted by Mike on August 10, 2013, harvested October 15.

post forum discussion

Post forum conversations

Courageous Leadership: Civil Disobedience and Climate Disruption

A community forum preceding the screening of Bidder 70 at CST on Earth Day

Who: Sponsored by the Virginia Sierra Club’s Shenandoah group, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, and iMatter: Kids vs Global Warming.  Special guest speaker will be Allison Chin, President of the Board of the National Sierra Club.

What: A panel discussion held in conjunction with the showing of Bidder 70.  The film follows Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, who on December 19, 2008, in a dazzling act of civil disobedience, derailed the outgoing Bush administration’s illegal Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction.  The panel will address the history of civil disobedience in the United States in general, and the reasons for its recent adoption by protestors against the forces behind global warming, particularly the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands crude oil and mountain top removal coal mining.

When: Before the 9:00 PM showing of Bidder 70:  7:30 – 8:40 PM
Introductions by moderator, Les Grady
7:35-7:55 PM Allison Chin, President of the Board of Directors of Sierra Club
7:55-8:00 PM  iMatter youth climate activist Grant Serrels
8:00-8:10 climate and mountain top removal activist Lara Mack
8:10-8:40 Q&A, moderated by Les Grady, Chairman of Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
8:40-9:00 Break and networking.

Where: Court Square Theater, 61 Graham St., Harrisonburg

Cost: Included with $6.00 admission to film showing

Why:  After endless and unsuccessful lobbying, demonstrations, and marches, many climate activists have begun to wonder if civil disobedience is the only way to get the attention of legislators and a public too distracted by other matters both large and small and reluctant to make necessary changes. In the long list of historic reasons for civil disobedience in the US, which range from an unjust tax on tea to slavery and Jim Crow laws, civilization-killing climate change looms larger than all the rest.  The stakes are too high and the time for action too short.

Questions?  Contacts:    Ralph Grove, Sierra Club, 540-433-1323
Joni Grady, CAAV, 540-209-9198
Cathy Strickler, CAAV, 540-434-8690
Valerie Serrels, iMatter,  540-405-9201

Find this event on facebook here.

The Daily News Record’s Candace Sipos reported on this forum in an April 26, 2013 article: Environmental Panel Discusses Civil Disobedience, JMU Alumna One of 12 Arrested in Protest  A DNR subscription is necessary to view this article.

 

Extreme weather: Who Plans, Who Pays?

April forum flyer.5

Everyone is invited to CAAV’s next FREE public forum!

On Thursday, April 11, at 6:00PM at the Massanutten Regional Library, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) invites the public to consider the necessity of regional planning for the increased likelihood of extreme weather brought on by climate disruption and the costs that result from both adaptation and inaction.

Over the past several years we’ve seen an increase in weather-related disasters, from named storms like Katrina and Sandy to widespread droughts, floods, and wildfires. While the direct connection to climate change can’t be proved in each instance, the trend toward more of the extreme weather events that climate scientists have predicted is being realized, along with a dramatic increase in claims on both private and federal insurance. In fact, the Government Accountability Office has for the first time included climate change in their annual High Risk Report, calling on Congress to limit the federal government’s fiscal exposure by better managing climate change risks.

The program will begin with a review of the GAO report by CAAV Chairman Les Grady and a short video illustrating the risks facing the Virginia coast from sea level rise and extreme storms. Following this, two experts representing local insurance and planning groups will address our increasing vulnerability to all the costs of severe weather and how we can all work together to create climate change resilience in the Valley.

Neal Menefee is President and CEO of the Rockingham Group of insurance companies whose predecessors have been insuring valley properties for over 150 years.
Rebecca Joyce is program administrator for Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission where cooperative solutions to problems are addressed through regional efforts and partnerships with local jurisdictions and other stakeholders.

There will be time for discussion and questions at the end.

Forum Discusses Faith-Based Responses To Climate Change

reprinted with permission from the Daily News-Record
posted March 4, 2013
by Alex Rohr  DNRonline.com

HARRISONBURG — God made man, according to the Bible, and He gave him dominion
to till the Earth.

People the world over have used these words from the Bible’s first book, Genesis, to justify resource consumption, but some Harrisonburg clergy say these words have been
misinterpreted.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley assembled two clergy members, a philosophy
professor, a representative of the Islamic faith and an audience of 65 recently to discuss
why and how mankind should respond to climate change. The event, titled “Can Ethics and Faith Guide our Responses to Climate Change?” was held at the Massanutten Regional Library in Harrisonburg.

The Rev. Ann Held of Trinity Presbyterian Church asserted that the confusion originates
from a few key misinterpretations of biblical text.

She said the word “dominion” or “radah” in Hebrew has been interpreted as “to have rule or to hold sway.”

“[It’s] not that we have dominion in that we own the Earth,” she said.

Held explained that radah refers to the point at the top of a plant’s root, or its “center of
strength.” It’s the point where one grabs a weed to uproot it cleanly from the ground, she
said. This in turn, Held said, means that the passage is really saying that man is supposed
to be the piece of creation that holds the Earth together.

The Rev. Ross Erb of Park View Mennonite Church furthered the semantic argument by
referring to how the word “till” has been interpreted to mean plow.

He said this interpretation has led to discretionless farming practices and soil depletion.

“That same word gets used throughout the scriptures and it’s really translated as ‘serve,’”
Erb said.

“So we are to serve this world,” Erb said. “For me that is an important twist on what God
has set us here to do.”

Held also talked about Jesus’ instructions to love your neighbor, adding that Jesus was not
talking about just the people next door.

“We are to be about interconnectedness,” she said, using the Holy Spirit as an illustration.

Thus, Christians are responsible for the “least of these,” as Jesus said in Mathew 25:40,
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for
me.”

Professor Ehsan Ahmed of the Islamic Association of the Shenandoah Valley explained
that developing nations are being hit the worst by the effects of global warming.

He noted the Republic of Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, whose president
has proposed relocating the country’s entire population as tides continue to rise.

Echoing Held’s interpretation of Christianity, Ahmed said that under Islam, “We’re
responsible for all the creations of God, which have lived or will live on this planet.”

And this responsibility, he said, extends to all one’s actions, big or small, intentional or not, including the actions of one’s society and culture.

Erb added that caring for the Earth should come down to love for God.

“We need to love with all of our being,” Erb said, explaining that Christians should show
their love by loving what God loves, which is all of creation.

“Part of creation care is using less,” Erb said. “What we believe is worth very little if we’re
not willing to put it into practice,” by taking action to at least decrease individual
consumption.

And just to be sure the point got across, the alliance invited a philosophy professor to give
the pragmatic point of view.

Mark Piper, assistant professor of philosophy at James Madison University, explained with
applied ethics that people should take care of the planet, simply because it’s in their best
interest.

Under instrumental value theory, he said, Earth’s ecosystem has worth only in its relation to human interaction.

Humankind needs water and earth to survive, thrive and propagate.

So, Piper said, taking care of these resources is “conducive to our interests,” and thus
worth human devotion.

After outlining why people should protect Earth’s ecosystem, the group discussed how to
do so on micro and macro scales.

They suggested small adjustments, like simply consuming less food and buying fewer
products, something everyone can do.

But they argued that environmental issues have been pushed aside for short-term
economic gains on a societal scale and that these problems require a grander approach.
“Are you all in any of your churches discussing nonviolent civil disobedience?” Cathy
Strickler, who founded the local group, asked.

The answer was a resounding “no,” but alliance members said they had begun to speak
their voice in a public way.

Many had just returned from Washington, D.C., where they attended a climate rally
advocating against the Keystone XL pipeline that would connect oil fields in Canada with
refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Behavior has to change. People have to change,” Piper said. “People have to act
differently.”

Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or arohr@dnronline.com

“Can Ethics and Faith Guide Our Responses to Climate Change?”

flaming chaliceA Panel Discussion on Tuesday, February 19th,     6:00 to 7:30 PM, at the Massanutten Regional Library

With guests speakers:

Ehsan Ahmed, secretary general of the Islamic Association of the Shenandoah Valley

Ross Erb, associate pastor of Parkview Mennonite Church

Ann Held, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church

Mark Piper, assistant professor in the JMU Department of Philosophy and Religion.

During 2012 alone the world saw floods in Japan, Fiji, Venice, the UK, Nigeria, Pakistan and more, drought in Russia, China, and North Korea. Sea levels are rising around the world, affecting the most heavily populated regions on earth. In the United States we have had not only the hottest year ever but our own terrible share of drought and floods and extremely strong storms. Millions of people have been impacted, losing their jobs, their homes, their food sources and even their lives. While our beautiful valley has not suffered that much so far, more severe climate change effects will arrive.  And, with increasing globalization, any disaster is felt around the world.

In the past, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley has addressed the economic incentives of moving to alternative energy sources and building or retrofitting homes that are energy efficient.  On February 19th we will look beyond the dollars and cents and ask a panel to address the moral, ethical, and religious values that might also guide our choices in responding to climate change.

Please join us for this insightful presentation!