December 2022 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • Save the Date!
  • Governor-Elect Healey's Plan to Protect Our Forests
  • The State's New Specialized Building Energy Code
  • Building a Powerful Pro-Democracy Movement
  • Banking on Our Future
  • Please Contribute to Our National Organization!
  • Featured Videos
  • Amanda Gorman's Inspiring New Poem, "An Ode We Owe"
  • Our Recent Meetings - Catch Up or Watch Again!
  • What We're Reading: Mini-Forest Revolution by Hannah Lewis
Governor-Elect Healey's Plan to Protect Our Forests
The State's New Specialized Building Energy Code
The state recently finalized two building energy codes: 
  • An update to the current Stretch Energy Code
  • A “Specialized” Building Energy Code

The update to the Stretch Code requires new construction to be much more energy efficient than the existing Stretch Code. For towns that are designated Green Communities (over 80% of the state), the adoption of the updated Stretch Code is automatic and will be phased in over the next 18 months.

The Specialized Code builds on the energy efficiency improvements of the updated Stretch Code to encourage the construction of fossil fuel free new buildings. This is done by adding additional requirements when fossil fuels are used:
  • Rooftop solar is required to help offset the GHG emissions from fossil fuels.
  • The building is required to be pre-wired for conversion from fossil fuels to all-electric heating, hot water, and appliances.

The Specialized Code doesn’t go as far as we would have liked. In particular, it doesn’t explicitly prohibit the use of fossil fuels in new construction. But it does represent a big step forward. Buildings which do use fossil fuels are required to enable conversion to all-electric and, because of the new energy efficient requirements, will use far less energy and generate much lower GHG emissions during the time fossil fuels are used. In addition, the construction costs of all-electric buildings under the Specialized Code will be comparable to or lower than for those using fossil fuels; it is anticipated that most builders will opt to go all-electric.

The Specialized Code is an “opt-in” decision for each community. Unlike the update to the Stretch Code, the Specialized Code is not automatically adopted by Green Communities. Rather, each community will decide whether to adopt the Specialized Code through a warrant article at Town Meeting or through the mayor and city council depending on how the community is governed.
We urge you to advocate for the adoption of the Specialized Code in your community. Your regional Green Communities coordinator can provide guidance; or contact us at

For more information on the Specialized Building Energy Code, you can visit the state’s website here:

-- Arnie Epstein
Building a Powerful Pro-Democracy Movement
Elders Climate Action and our sister organization Elders for Sound Democracy (both programs of the national Elders Action Network) have been promoting voting rights and voter participation since 2018. This work started with ECA Massachusetts, which partnered with the Environmental Voter Project as our first voting rights initiative. This year, our voting rights teams serving Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin reached out to thousands of voters through congregations of faith, educational institutions, community radio, phone banks, and social media. We tried to motivate and inform through messages that reinforce the importance of voting and the relevance to core issues like human rights and climate action.

There was lots to like about the 2022 election for those of us who care about the survival of democracy.
  • There was no red wave. In the face of inflation, Covid, intentionally divisive political rhetoric, low presidential approval ratings and the traditional disadvantage faced by the party holding the White House, the voters held the line by rejecting many of the extreme MAGA candidates who were running for key offices.
  • Younger voters and female voters came out in large numbers and voted their values on women’s rights, environmental action and economic justice.
  • The survival of democracy became a decisive issue, with gubernatorial candidates who identified as election deniers faring poorly.
  • Efforts to inspire, inform and empower voters seemed to work, with strong turnout among the groups traditionally targeted by voter suppression – including minorities, younger voters and single women.
Now that the Georgia Senate runoff is completed, and our voter outreach work is done for this cycle, we can contemplate our next steps toward building a powerful pro-democracy movement among elder Americans. We build on our experience with voter empowerment, and consider how we can push back on some of the underlying problems of democracy - the corrosive effect of money in politics, media manipulation, and the ability to have constructive conversations across ideological and cultural boundaries. Please drop us an email at to learn more about our plans for 2023, and to attend one of our monthly Sound Democracy Community Meetings.

-- Paul Dryfoos
Banking on Our Future
Elders Climate Action is ALL IN on encouraging our members to TAKE MONEY OUT of financial institutions that finance fossil fuel infrastructure. That’s is why we will be supporting Third Act’s Banking on our Future campaign this winter. 

Without the trillions of dollars of financing from the nation’s biggest banks, the Fossil Fuel industry could not continue to build fracking wells, gas terminals, and pipelines at a time when rapid decarbonization is required. We, as older Americans who possess a relatively large share of the nation’s savings and retirement accounts, can help change the banks’ behavior, but we must act in unison, and with clear purpose.

That is why Third Act is organizing a campaign to get the largest culprits – Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo – to stop the money pipeline. First, individuals write letters to tell their banks to stop the loans to the fossil fuel industry. If they don’t we will remove our funds from those institutions on March 21, 2023, to make the loudest statement possible! 

To learn more about the campaign, and to access letter templates to send to your bank, and a toolkit of other actions you can take, please visit the campaign website:
Please Contribute to Our National Organization!
ECA Massachusetts is one of a number of Elders Climate Action chapters across the country. Our chapter directly benefits by being part of the ECA community. ECA provides support, resources, actions, campaigns, programming, and educational opportunities for our chapter members and members across the country. 
Members of the Massachusetts Chapter participate on the ECA Council of Chapters and other national committees, attend ECA's national calls, workshops, and special programs, and take action through ECA national alerts and newsletters. With ECA's coordination, our members are encouraged to work at the national, state, and local level, and collaborate with other ECA chapters and partner organizations to maximize our impact.  
This year, our parent organization, the national Elders Climate Action, needs our help to raise more than $25,000 between before the year end to meet its 2022 expenses. We are calling on our chapter members to help ensure ECA can fulfill its budget and enter 2023 ready to meet the growing challenges of the climate crisis. 
Can you help? Making a contribution is easy. Please visit: to make a donation of whatever amount is comfortable for you.
Featured Videos
Amanda Gorman's New Poem, "An Ode We Owe"

As we plan a new year of advocacy, we look to our young people for inspiration and hope on climate. American poet Amanda Gorman issued a stirring challenge to us all, at the 2022 United Nations General Assembly, with her poem, "An Ode We Owe." Watch her presentation:
What We're Reading
Mini-Forest Revolution:
Using the Miyawaki Method to Rapidly Rewild the World
By Hannah Lewis (Chelsea Green Publishing, paperback, 2022)
With all the controversy these days about how much carbon big old trees can sequester and whether planting lots of trees can be effective in mitigating climate change, it's been a wonderful surprise to learn about ways to grow a forest that matures much more quickly than we ever thought was possible. Would you believe that we can raise a forest that looks like it's been there for decades - in less than one decade?

Through the class I've been doing with Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, I've been delighted to learn about the Miyawaki Method of planting and nurturing forests which grow astoundingly quickly! The method involves researching what native forests were in an area before civilization changed them, and planning which species of potential natural vegetation to nurture. Dr. Akira Miyawaki of Japan has developed specific and dense planting methods, and now Miyawaki Forests are thriving around the world. These forests are grown as environmental buffer zones around industrial sites to protect schools and other community resources, and to protect coastlines from storm damage and rising oceans. Mini-Forest Revolution is a detailed guide to many of those successful projects and a handbook for how to do it in your own area on amazingly small plots of ground - as small as a tennis court or six parking spaces! 

Author Hannah Lewis worked closely with Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, who were key in planting the first Miyawaki Forest in our area, at Danehy Park in North Cambridge, Massachusetts. With the book’s resources and practical how-to Field Guide chapter, you may well be inspired to plant a Miyawaki mini-forest in your own backyard! 

Hannah will join our Deep Dialogue next month on January 23, so take a look at the book, give some thought to potential sites around you, and come with your hard questions on how to really DO THIS! [Order the book from the Publisher Chelsea Green]
-- Maiyim Baron
This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of the
Elders Climate Action - Massachusetts Chapter
ECA Massachusetts is a chapter of the national Elders Climate Action. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. JOIN ECA MASSACHUSETTS AND STAY CONNECTED! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements. Fill out our subscription form.