January 2009 Green Economy Task Force newsletter

North Quabbin Green Economy Task Force

Quarterly Newsletter

January 2009

The draft mission statement of the North Quabbin Green Economy Task Force is:

To establish an inclusive group of active citizens to develop, support, promote and coordinate initiatives that lead to a locally sustainable clean/green economy for the North Quabbin region

Since the Task Force’s first quarterly meeting on September 9, 2008, forty people have taken some kind of action to help move this mission forward:

· They have developed a draft vision, mission and principles statement.
· They have started to create an organizational structure consisting of four committees: (1) Strategic Planning; (2) Mutual Support Network; (3) Public Education; (4) K-12 Education.
· The committees have began to carry out seven different projects
and activities
The Hands Across North Quabbin Network (HANDS) catalyzed the formation of the Task Force. HANDS’ current role is to incubate the growth of the Task Force until the point it can stand on its own. For a description of how the Task Force got started and what HANDS is all about, please see the Background section at the end of this newsletter. To see the draft vision, mission and principles statement, please see the section following the Background section.

Summary of the Task Force’s Dec. 2 Quarterly Meeting
Twenty people representing fifteen organizations (14 of which are local) met on December 2, 2008 at St. Mary’s Church in Orange for the Task Force’s quarterly meeting. At this meeting, representatives of the four Task Force Committees reported on their activities over the last three months:

1. Strategic Planning Committee
John Jackson, head of the Athol Town Energy Committee, reported that the Task Force’s Strategic Planning Committee is sponsoring a community dialogue to determine how the North Quabbin region will position itself to meet our energy needs in ways that are:

· Sustainable
· Will provide local jobs
· Will take advantage of promising federal/state economic development support for new jobs and services in the renewable energy arena, such as incentives for household solar and wind generation.

More specifically, how can our region’s individuals, organizations and town governments work best together to encourage the development of green manufacturing jobs in our area? How do we reach out to academic and technical resources in our area or the state to partner in creating more jobs and to produce new local energy initiatives?

The discussion will be held on Wednesday January 14, at 4:00 pm in the library of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in Orange MA. Steve Raymond, Executive Director of the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce, and State Representative Chris Donelan will moderate the discussion.

Among others, the agenda for the Jan. 14 meeting will focus on questions such as:
1. What would an ideal method for supporting the growth of green manufacturing jobs in the North Quabbin look like?
2. What are the next concrete steps needed to complete the design of the method?
3. What action steps need to be taken to put this method in place?
4. Which local organization is best positioned and willing to take responsibility for coordinating green job development in our region?

In addition to John Jackson, members of the Strategic Planning Committee are: Reza Namin, Superintendent, Ralph C. Mahar Regional School; Jeanette Robichaud, Executive Director, Athol Area YMCA; John Jackson, Chairman, Athol Town Energy Committee; Scott Maslansky, North Quabbin Woods Project Director; Mick Huppert, Faculty, Departments of Family Medicine and Community Health and Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

At the quarterly meeting, John reported that the outcomes that the Strategic Planning Committee hopes for from the January 14 Green Jobs meeting are:
1. To identify a group of people willing to commit to organizing and participating on a green jobs committee; and,
2. To identify a local organization that is willing to commit to overseeing the work of this green jobs committee.

2. Mutual Support Network Committee
The Mutual Support Committee has three Sub-committees

A. Resources and Needs Website Sub-committee:
Karen Warner, Director of the North Quabbin Time Bank, is exploring the possibility of creating a “one stop shopping” web site where residents can list their resources and needs and the different terms under which they are willing to exchange them (i.e. for cash, barter, “time dollars” or for free). At the meeting Karen presented a mock up of this website. Orange resident Carol Bradford is volunteering to help Karen publicize the time bank and its related activities. In a Los Angeles Times article reprinted in the September 2008 Boston Globe, Jessica Guynn writes:

“As the financial crisis makes cash and credit increasingly scarce, the ancient custom of bartering is booming. Cost-conscious consumers are getting creative to make every dollar count.”

B. Ride Sharing Sub-committee:
Donald Flye of Petersham has volunteered to help get a ride sharing service started in the region. Donald arranged a meeting last month with a representative of Mass Rides (a program of the Mass Dept. of Transportation), which offers a software program that makes it possible for people commuting to the same place or area to contact each other confidentially. Donald’s next step is to find a local organization that is willing to sponsor the ride-sharing service

C. Energy Conservation Youth Community Service Project:
Another part of the Mutual Support Committee’s work is to engage students in doing community service for people in our community needing help getting through the winter. Director Manuel King and students from the Athol YMCA’s Youth Reaching Out Program, Adult leaders Theresa Berquist and Richard Pierson and young people from St. Mary’s Church Youth Group in Orange, and Brian Nugent of the North Quabbin Energy Group, have joined together to design and carry out a youth community service project focused on energy conservation. The goal of the project is to help someone in need, as well as to provide youth with a hands-on experience that leads to an understanding of the reasons for and what’s involved in weatherizing a home. The youth groups will pick a home needing weatherization and then go through an energy audit with the homeowner. The Athol Area YMCA Youth Group will build and install low-cost window inserts designed by Brian and manufactured at the Athol Middle School’s woodshop. The St. Mary’s Youth group will do other low cost/no cost energy conservation work on the house. A way to track energy savings will be designed by Brian and reported on in the newspaper. It is hoped that this project will be replicated in the other towns of the region and be the start of what might become a “Youth Community Service Green Corps” for our region.

3. Public Education Committee
The Public Education Committee held its first meeting on January 3 at the Athol YMCA. People attending were Maureen Blasco and Donna Caisse from Royalston, Marie MacDonald and Hal Gillam from Athol, and Mary King from Orange. An inital workplan was developed that focuses on writing a column for the Athol Daily News, articles for a wide variety of local media oulets, and producing TV spots for A-O TV. Maureen Blasco, Chairperson of the Committee reported at the Task Force’s quarterly meeting that “As members of the Public Education Committee, we anticipate that the Green Economy Task Force will generate ideas and take actions to bring green industry and jobs to our region. As this happens, we think people will begin to understand what “going green” means in a practical way, and will want to get more information about these issues. Also, as people learn about the possibilities of a green economy, there will be new questions to pose, and new ideas to think about. Our Committee is working to establish a column in local newspapers, written by various North Quabbin residents, that will give the people of the region this kind of information.”

4. K-12 Education Committee
The mission of this Committee is to answer the question of, “How do we weave green issues into the curriculums of our region’s schools?” A group of prospective Committee members has been identified and their first meeting will be held in the beginning of January. Reza Namin, Superintendent of the Ralph C, Mahar Regional School, is Chair of this Committee. Tony Polito, Superintendent of the Athol-Royalston Regional School District, is Vice Chair of the K-12 Committee.

Other business conducted
· The Task Force is trying to figure out how it can operate to make
good and fair decisions without having any more meetings than is absolutely necessary. This question was raised at the Dec. 2 meeting but then put off for more detailed consideration at the next quarterly meeting.

· A draft vision, mission and principles statement for the Task Force—worked on by Manuel and Mary King and Deb Habib–was presented. People were asked to comment on this statement before the next quarterly meeting in preparation for voting. This draft statement is attached at the end of this newsletter. Please send me your comments on this statement within the next 14 days.

Other news: Pat Larson of the North Quabbin Energy Group let us know recently that her organization will be doing two workshops on how to construct low-cost window inserts. They will be held Jan 31 and Feb. 14 from 10-12 at the Millers River Environmental center in Athol.

To conclude, it’s important to emphasize that HANDS does not in any way “own” the Task Force or control and make decisions for it. As Coordinator of HANDS, my role is to provide a range of support to the Task Force (e.g. recruiting people to Committees, facilitating discussions that lead to project ideas and work plans) until the point that it can operate without assistance from HANDS.

I want to thank Father Bill Lunney and the Congregation at St. Mary’s Church in Orange for supporting the Task Force through the participation of their Youth Group and by allowing us to use their meeting space. The next meeting of the Task Force will be sometime in early March. To get involved, be placed on the mailing list or comment on the draft vision, mission and principles statement, please call or email me at mark_shoul@communitybldg.org or 978-29-9901. And please be sure to forward this newsletter to those who you think might be interested. (Background section follows)


Mark Shoul, Coordinator
Hands Across North Quabbin Network

Background to the Formation of the North Quabbin Green Economy Task Force

Twenty-five people came together on Sept. 9, 2008 at St. Mary’s Church in Orange to form the North Quabbin Green Economy Task Force. The Task Force’s mission is to develop, support, promote and coordinate initiatives that lead to a sustainable green economy for the North Quabbin region. The original decision to take steps to form the Task Force came at the conclusion of an all day “Action Forum” held on May 3 at Mahar High School that was attended by sixty-five people from across our nine-town area.

To insure that the Task Force does not duplicate services, 22 interviews were held prior to Sept. 9 with key participants in most of the existing North Quabbin groups working on different green activities. At the Sept 9 founding meeting, four committees were formed, which are now actively working to either enhance existing activities or to address critical areas that were not being addressed in the past. The Hands Across North Quabbin Network (HANDS) designed and ran the Action Forum that gave birth to the Task Force. Thirteen local organizations helped pay for the event.

HANDS’ mission is to recruit and support the participation of people of all backgrounds and points of view, in order to:
1. Help develop a civic culture in the North Quabbin region that encourages all kinds of people to work together
2. Encourage and support projects where all kinds of people work together, accomplishing important things for the community, and, in doing so, help to make working together a way of life in the region.

HANDS is sponsored by six local organizations: the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, Athol-Royalston Regional School District, the Athol Interfaith Clergy Association, Orange Ministerial Association, Athol Lions Club and Institute for Community Building.

In addition to designing and organizing the process that led to the formation of the Green Economy Task Force, important accomplishments by the HANDS Network to date include (a) catalyzing the recently completed strategic planning process for the Athol-Royalston Regional School District, which was instrumental in the District’s turnaround; (a) organizing community leaders to speak out publicly about the need for ending the animosity in local politics which has helped produce a new climate of civility and collaboration in our region; and (c) under the leadership of the Athol Lions, raising $30,000 locally to develop the volunteer-built Richard C. Phillips Memorial Community Pavilion at Silver Lake Park in Athol, which symbolizes our community’s commitment to unity through building bridges across barriers of difference.

Carrying out its role of convening community dialogues and supporting the action plans that come out of these, the Hands Across North Quabbin Network will continue to incubate the growth of the North Quabbin Green Economy Task Force until it is able to operate on its own.
North Quabbin Green Economy Task Force
To establish an inclusive group of active citizens to develop, support, promote and coordinate initiatives that lead to a locally sustainable,
clean/green economy for the North Quabbin region.

Guiding Principles:
• Actively seek to involve residents of diverse backgrounds and points of view.
• Do not duplicate what others have done, rather use that information and expertise to merge those accomplishments into an overall effort.
• Be transparent and responsive to the communities we serve.
• Develop multiple paths and opportunities for citizen involvement.
• Pursue short, medium and long-term strategies for success.

We propose a comprehensive effort to work toward the goal of a green economy:
• To increase our energy self-reliance in the North Quabbin Region.
• To reduce our dependence on outside sources for electricity and fuel.
• To conserve and celebrate our natural habitat and to maintain the beauty and ecology of our region.
• To build the social and technological infrastructure to support such an effort.
• To provide education, opportunity and outreach to all the members of
our communities.
• To strive for broad public inclusion in the creation and development of a sustainable future for the North Quabbin.


Back to North Quabbin Energy home.


1 Comment »

  1. Carol Ambrozy said

    Hi Mark:

    I have read, with interest, the above materials. As a trustee of the Athol Public Library, I am involved in the planning stage of a renovation/addition proposal for our library. We have joined LEEDS and wish to work with groups in the area who are promoting green buildings, energy conservation, etc.

    The Task Force goal of “Promoting education, opportunity and outreach to our communities” is such an important part of what our/other libraries do. The work of your group stikes me as an exciting venue for expanding our own efforts to learn more and support sustainable and energy efficient homes and buildings as well as to involve our young people through K-12 curriculum efforts.

    Congratulations to you and your group! If possible, I’d like to learn more and to possibly attend a meeting or two of your subcommittees.

    Many thanks,
    Carol Ambrozy

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