March 2022 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • What's Our Legacy? Interview with activist Sayre Sheldon
  • Save the Date!
  • Recent Press Coverage of Elder Climate Activism
  • Let's Talk about Climate Change - Launching New Series
  • ECA Mass Legislative Team Report
  • Local Climate Action: Hudson/Stow Green Teams
  • IPCC Impacts and Adaption Report Released
  • More ECA Mass Updates
  • Our Teams are Organizing - Join the Teamwork!
  • Help Us Name our Newsletter!
What's Our Legacy?
Interview with activist Sayre Sheldon
By Maiyim Baron

Photo: Sayre Sheldon (foreground) with fellow ECA Mass members at 2019 State House hearing

“For our grandchildren, future generations and all life” is the catchphrase of Elders Climate Action nationally, and considering our legacy is a seminal, driving question for all who enter into our work here together. After many decades of activism, one of our most senior members, Sayre Sheldon, who is now 95, is answering this question for herself and her four children with a very active plan she has put in motion in the past year. Sayre is helping add solar electricity generation to their houses, and when that's complete, they will move into updating the house HVAC systems. Sayre’s eldest daughter in Berkeley has finished all the solar work, so now Sayre intends to help her buy a new EV. As many of us may know, it's easy to give up to $15,000 a year to our kids or anyone without complicated documentation or tax implications for the giver or the receiver.

Photo (below): The home of Sayre’s son John near Amherst. Those sleek-looking new roof panels are actually photovoltaic!
Her kids say they are finding a lot of satisfaction in electrifying, and Sayre loves to share her story of their intergenerational family plan. Sayre's daughter who lives near Northampton often tells her Mom she’s thrilled to read the metering of electricity gained from the rooftop mounted panels, which encourages her to keep moving towards further electrification - next to the heating systems! Sayre also wants to implement her plan at the grandchild level, when they come to own their houses. And she keeps in mind the idea of helping them buy EVs too!

Sayre joined ECA Massachusetts early on, but her activism goes back decades to the 1950 Civil Rights Movement. She met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Boston at Senator Ted Kennedy's office and then was in the march to Montgomery in 1965. Sayre was active in the “No Nukes” movement too. She recalls a DC insider friend phoning her during the Cuban Missile Crisis, urging her to put the kids in the car and flee from their home in Cambridge, driving north. (Among Sayre’s books available on Amazon is Berkeley Street Cambridge: Stories from the Sixties.) In 2017, Sayre was honored at the 60th anniversary celebration of Massachusetts Peace Action in Cambridge with an award for her lifetime achievement as a peace activist and for being the first president of Women’s Action for New Directions, (WAND) . And Sayre’s not done yet! She told me she's “frustrated that men can't keep their hands out of war” and plans to go back to DC to support WAND’s current work with legislators. 

Sayre hopes that her family electrification projects will encourage others to take similar action, and she’s sure got me thinking about what more I could do for the house I helped my daughter buy in Oakland. Can you think of anything that would be a more immediate benefit than electrifying homes and vehicles one-by-one, starting with our own kids? Sayre will be happy to tell you more if you want to email her.
Press Coverage of Elder Climate Activism
On February 23, the Boston Globe published a front-page article, “Facing Climate Change and Social Justice Crises, Older People are Getting Back in the Protest Battle.” The story included comments from several activists across New England but focused particularly on Bill McKibben’s new organization: Third Act. It explained that many elders were returning to the activism they knew in the 60s, but this time it was about leaving a better climate legacy. 

Elders Climate Action and similar organizations were not mentioned, but the next day the Globe editorial page featured a reply by ECA Mass Leadership Team member Rick Lent titled, “Elders Already Making a Difference on Climate Change in Massachusetts.” Rick’s letter to the editor pointed out the accomplishments of Massachusetts elders in working to pass climate legislation, particularly the 2050 Roadmap bill last March. Rick noted that this law was passed “with the efforts of Elders Climate Action with its 1000 Massachusetts members working alongside 350MA, Mothers Out Front, the League of Women Voters and other groups.” He went on to note that: “Elders have a unique perspective as lobbyists: the well-being of future generations. Law makers pay attention to what we say because they respect our perspective, and know we vote!”

ECA Mass members at State House Lobby Day for the Roadmap bill:
Do you want to publish your own letter to the editor? Join our ECA Mass Communication Team to find out how. Contact Rick Lent, [email protected].
Let's Talk about Climate Change
The ECA Massachusetts Education Team is launching a six-session pilot program over three months, “Let’s Talk … about Climate Change.”
 
The program is designed for ECA members and other concerned friends who want an opportunity for lively, interactive discussion about a variety of topics related to climate, without minimal presumptions about one’s level of scientific knowledge.
 
The basic format, as the name “Let’s Talk…” implies, will be conversational, rather than a lecture followed by questions and answers. Most of the discussions will be kicked off by a very short introduction and/or video about the topic. (At times, we will suggest a video to be viewed ahead of time.) Discussion questions will be posted, and active participation will be solicited from all attendees.
 
The series is designed for people to “drop in” for a session, with no expectation that they will participate in any other of the sessions. Topics have been chosen that are of great interest, so we hope many folks will want to attend most of our sessions.

All are one-hour sessions, from 4-5 PM ET, on Thursdays.
The dates and topics for the first four sessions, are:

April 7 --- The Importance of Starting Conversations - See info below
April 21 -- The Arctic is Melting - Why It Matters
May 5 ------ I Live in the Eastern U.S. Does Climate Change Matter to Me?
May 19 ---- Take a Second Look: Climate Science in Pictures
ECA Mass Legislative Team Report
By Roger Luckmann 

The Legislative Team has been busy working with our allies on strategies to influence legislators to address in a possible omnibus climate bill as many of our top priority issues as possible related to buildings, transportation, natural lands and environmental justice. The omnibus bill may be crafted in the Telecommunications, Utilities,and Energy (TUE) and/or House and Senate Ways and Means committees from a number of bills still alive in those committees.

A progressive wind energy bill is already moving through the legislative process and may come to a floor vote in the House on March 3.

We have met with our Roadmap Coalition (RC) colleagues and Representative Meschino and received input and advice from other legislators and aides on strategies for legislative advocacy. The RC has formed working groups on buildings and transportation while the Zero-Emissions Vehicle Coalition is preparing its own set of priorities with our participation. Our managers of forest legislation are continuing to collaborate with advocates for the preservation of state-owned forests and wildlife management areas. We also continue to support the Green Future Act and the Energy Facilities Siting bills, which are still being considered by TUE.

We continue to focus on the building sector by developing and circulating proposals for priorities for legislation related to:
  • Electrifying new construction and major rehabs,
  • Making existing residential buildings energy efficient and heated/cooled with heat pumps,
  • Electrifying large and commercial buildings,
  • Funding the decarbonization of buildings and
  • Supporting development of the workforce needed to make progress on building electrification.

In addition, we are closely following the development of the new stretch and specialized building codes and planning with allies to advocate for ambitious decarbonization elements to be included in the codes. Hearings on the first draft of the codes are coming up soon, and we will be engaging in those.

March and April will be critical months for advocacy so stay tuned for Action Alerts and updates.
Local Climate Action: Hudson/Stow Green Teams
By Tina Grosowsky

Green Hudson, the Stow Green Advisory Committee, and representatives of our local electric utility, Hudson Light and Power (HLP), have been collaborating on approaches to help both towns achieve their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Both Hudson and Stow have substantial new housing developments in the planning stage and a priority for both towns is to have these developments use energy-efficient, all-electric construction. Following a series of discussions, the board of HLP voted in February to award the developers of new housing an incentive of $2,750 for each new all-electric home.

The previous month, the HLP board approved doubling the annual municipal incentive to $30,000 for efficiency measures such as heat pumps, LED lighting, and EV charging stations.

Since our municipal electric utility does not qualify for the state-regulated Mass Save incentive program, we have formed a collaborative relationship with HLP where we jointly tailor incentives for our towns while keeping electric rates one of the lowest in the state.
IPCC Impacts and Adaptation Report Released
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the second part, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, of its Sixth Assessment Report. The report (see https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/), summarizes how climate change is affecting humans and ecosystems.

For a brief of the high points check out the latest edition of the ECA national newsletter here. For a more detailed summary see this report from Yale Climate Connections.

ECA Mass plans to have a Deep Dialogue reviewing the report and its implications for our work in the near future. Stay tuned!
More ECA Mass Updates
Our Teams Are Organizing - Join the Teamwork!
As our name implies, Elders Climate Action focuses on ACTION! Our Massachusetts chapter has collaborative leadership and work teams to advance key priorities. As part of our strategic planning process for 2022, we're reorganizing our teams, and we'll tell you more about those plans soon. Here is a current list of our ECA Mass teams with leaders and contact info:


If you're not already a team member, we hope you'll think about where you might fit in, where your skills might have high impact, and where you see an opportunity for personal growth and learning. Please contact a team leader for more information - or to join in the teamwork!
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.