In this week's Newsletter: How federal budget cuts will affect NYC, the potential of "smart" technology beyond Uber and Airbnb, the ecological footprint of pet foods and much more!
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What Will Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Mean for NYC?

The Trump administration's federal budget proposes steep cuts in a variety of programs, many of which serve communities across NYC. Even though we actually pay more in federal taxes than we get back, we stand to lose between $535 million and $760 million, depending on which metrics are used. Projections from the Mayor's Office, the City Comptroller and the NYC Independent Budget Office (IBO) are all slightly different and will be adjusted midbudget, but the city tends to underestimate the amount of federal funding it will receive.

Despite that tendency towards conservatism, the amount of lost revenue is significant in terms of the total amount of funding per program, but not that significant in terms of the size of the entire budget. The current projections peg the loss at 1.3% of the city's $69 billion budget. But that still amounts to a relatively mind-boggling amount- up to 3/4 of a billion dollars!

Some of the programs that could be eliminated or severely reduced include the Community Development Block Grant program, administered through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is the  same federal funding program that will help the city pay for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, and while the funding for Project Areas One and Two (which includes Stuyvesant Cove) has already been appropriated, funding to continue the project around the tip of Manhattan could very well be in jeopardy.

Also potentially on the chopping block: Programs that help low income residents secure affordable housing, heat and energy assistance, Homeland Security funding that pays for a variety of counterterrorism efforts, educator training and after school programs, emergency preparedness, police equipment including DNA tests and more. Much more.

You can read more about the exact projections and programs that are in danger on City & State here.

And of course in the meantime, the city still has to absorb the expense of protecting some of its richest residents...but we won't name names.

How "Smart" Technology Could Offer So Much More than Ubers and Airbnb

For those of us who grew up watching The Jetsons, the idea that technology can transform the way we live, shop and get around town is anything but foreign. In fact, during the 20th century, technology did utterly transform our society as people moved en masse from subsistence farming and an agrarian lifestyle to factory work and a more urban lifestyle. Since at least the 1950s, technological advances have completely changed how we do housework, how we travel and how we communicate, and how much time we need to spend on those activities. With advent of 21st century smart technology, we currently have more access to just about everything than ever before.

Proponents of the "sharing economy" claim that tech services like Uber are the first signs of new more flexible options for making a living. But Sharing Cities, a new book by Tufts scholar Julian Agyeman and environmental scholar Darren McLaren, argues that the current use of smart technology in cities like San Francisco (which generates much of this technology in the first place), New York and London reduces the concept of sharing to a monetary transaction. And that's a disaster for income inequality and social justice.

In Agyeman's own words, "We need to reinvent and recreate the urban commons as a place where humans interact in a much more relational way, not just in a transactional way. In a sense, what we’re saying is we want to move from the sharing economy to understanding whole cities as shared spaces. Modern technology gives us a kind of intersection of urban spaces and cyberspace, which we think could be a platform for a much more inclusive and efficient society."

In Agyeman's view, a true sharing economy city would focus less on automation and efficiency, and more on furthering the deveopment of its citizens themselves, and become a tool to harness their capabilities and aspiurations to make a better city for everyone. Not just those who can pay top dollar.

You can read the full interview with Agyeman at Grist.org here.

Pet Food's Massive Ecological Footprint

Pet owners spend more than $25 billion a year on pet food (yes, that's BILLION), and just as when feeding themselves, are influenced by marketing, personal beliefs and the tastes of their animal friends. When trying to determine what the healthiest choices are, many people base their decisions on how closely pet food resembles hiuman food: Organic cultivation, "human-grade" meats and the addition of fruits, vegetables and grains are all big selling points that can command high prices.

Since most pets are at least partial meat eaters, those foods can have a very high ecological footprint. Meat-based diets for humans are less sutainable than plant-based diets, and pet food is no different. And insisting on "human-grade" meat makes the situation far worse.

While "by-products" may sound awful, the reality for pets is that they are really just fine. Wild carnivores are not picky eaters; they often consume animals whole, as anyone with a mousing cat has probably learned. Experts have concluded, by and large, that a medium sized dog can have the same eco-footprint as  an SUV!

And of course what's in the food is only one piece of the puzzle. The amount of food is important too, and lots of owners overfeed their pets. Pet obesity is just as unhealthy as human obesity.

To be a good pet owner requires compassion, commitment and responsibility, among other things. Read more about this on Alternet.org here and find out how to make sustainability part of your relationship with your pet as well.
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Upcoming Events at Solar One

4/28
Final Fridays Micro Film Series: Dirt! The Story of Soil
Solar 1, 24-20 FDR Drive Service Road East south of 23rd St at the East River, 6:30pm, $10 donation includes popcorn and 1 drink

Other Events


4/15
E-Waste Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center: Fort Greene
Habana Outpost Fort Greene, Fulton Street & South Portland Avenue, Brooklyn, 10am-4pm, free

E-Waste Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center: Astoria
Queens Library at Broadway, 40-20 Broadway bet Steinway & 41st St, Queens,10am-4pm, free

4/17
NY4P x NYC
LMHQ, 150 Broadway, 20th Floor, bet Maiden Ln & Liberty St, Manhattan, 6:30-8:30pm, free 
 
4/18


4/19
WEDG 101: A Mini-Course on Resilient, Accessible, Sustainable Waterfront Design
Cornell Architecture and Planning, NYC Campus, 26 Broadway bet Beaver & Morris Sts, Manhattan, 9:30am-12:30pm, free

Is New York’s Future Sustainable?
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Elebash Recital Hall, 365 Fifth Avenue bet E. 34th & E. 35th Sts, Manhattan, 6:30-8pm, free

4/20
Sustainability Standards Essentials Training Workshop
The Rainforest Alliance, 223 Broadway, 28th Floor, bet Vesey & Barclay Sts, Manhattan, 9am-5:30pm, $370+
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