In this week's Newsletter: How rural America is responding to climate change, apply for an Neighborhood Challenge Innovation Grant, plastic bag fee bill could resurface after panel report and much more!
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How Rural America Is Responding to Climate Change

Environmentalists the world over, who have had such high hopes for a global agreement to mitigate climate change in recent years, are rightly concerned by the new administration and its many fossil fuel interests and connections. With massive changes in store for the EPA, NOAA, NASA and potentially other government agencies that study climate science and do climate research, it's easy to become incredibly pessimistic about how much damage to the environment could occur over the next few years.

To many people, climate change is a coastal problem that affects sea level rise, and therefore is much more meaningful to urban residents of cities like New York, New Orleans and Amsterdam. But few city dwellers spend as much time outdoors, or depend on the environment so directly, as the farmers of the Great Plains...a part of the country not known to be politically sympathetic to the idea of climate change.

According to this article on, research shows that climate change mitigation strategies in small and medium sized communities in states like Oklahoma and Kansas are gaining traction, even if the messaging around those strategies never mentions climate change, and indeed frames the entire issue within an existing framework of budget targets, smart growth and sensible natural resources management. By removing the more controversial aspects of the climate conversation- namely, what causes climate change- community activists and local elected officials can get individuals who might normally be hostile to the idea of mitigating climate change to take steps to get on board to deal with it.

Most people support healthy communities, clean air and water goals and other measures that improve the environment, whether they believe in anthropogenic climate change or not. And that's a very good thing...for everyone.

Neighborhood Challenge Innovation Grant 5.0

The NYC Dept of Small Business has teamed up with the NYC Economic Development Corp and the NYC Business Assistance Corp to bring a really exciting opportunity to NYC neighborhoods: An Innnovation Grant Challenge where teams can win grants for a neighborhood project! This year's Challenge will partner non-profits with tech companies to "create and implement tools that address specific commercial district issues." The competition seeks to make awards of up to $100,000 to fund innovative ideas that use data-driven capacity building solutions to improve operations, target services, or address local public policy challenges.

Who Can Apply

Proposal teams must include a lead applicant and a tech company. Proposed projects should leverage public and/or proprietary data, and must assist the lead applicant’s operations and decision making in meeting the needs of their commercial district and local stakeholders.

Lead applicants are nonprofit organizations that target a single New York City commercial district or neighborhood. Potential applicants with operating budgets over $2 million must partner and co-apply with another organization with a budget under $2 million from a different neighborhood.

What Neighborhood Challenge Funds

Neighborhood Challenge 5.0 awards provide funding to nonprofit organizations, in partnership with technology companies, to create and implement technology tools that address challenges in New York City commercial districts. Tools and solutions may assess, measure, or address issues in these areas: 

  • Capital construction impact mitigation
  • Community engagement and stakeholder outreach
  • Management of public space and streetscape amenities 
  • Quality of life conditions and tracking
  • Real estate development and land use changes
  • Retail/office vacancy tracking and commercial leasing
  • Sanitation and district maintenance
  • Small business assistance and promotion
  • Street vendor siting and fine reduction
  • Sustainability and energy efficiency
  • Transportation, transit, and parking
For complete application guidelines, click here. Applications are due March 28, 2017 at 11:59pm.

Governor Forms Panel to Review Disposable Bag Future in NYS

When the long-awaited plastic bag fee bill died in  Albany the day before enforcement was supposed to start, environmentalists were disappointed. Single use disposable plastic bags pose a major threat to water quality and wildlife, and the number of them that we use every day is just staggering: 100 billion in the US alone, and more than trillion worldwide. And far too many of these bags, which are sometimes used for just a few seconds, end up in waterways, wildlife food systems and eventually our own bodies. So a bag bill is a good least in theory.

The NYC bill, which was passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio, has long had its detractors as well as its proponents. The bill would have imposed a 5 cent per bag fee, which isn't much at all if you're making a simple trip to the bodega and only need a bagful of groceries, but could really add up if you're doing your weekly shopping all at once, as many low income families do. The City Council bill also allowed stores to keep the 5 cent surcharge, rather than return it to the State as a tax that coukld be allocated toward plastic bag remediation in rivers and streams.

As poart of his promise to veto the bill, Governor Cuomo also promised to convene a task force to try and come up with legislation that would work for all New Yorkers. We can't wait to see what they come up with!

You can read the whole article on the Daily News website here. And if plastic bag pollution is an issue that upsets you, know that you can always come to Stuyvesant Cove Park and help us keep small pieces of plastic and plastic bags out of the East River. Winter is a great time to do this, becasue of the extra visibility of the plants being dormant. Stop by the building to pick up trash pickers and bags, and go out and save the world!
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Upcoming Events at Solar One

Final Fridays Micro Film Series: Garbage Warrior
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
Space is limited. RSVP to

Other Events

2017 Inwood Film Festival
Campbell Sports Center, 218th Street & Broadway, Inwood, 7-10pm, $7.50+

Low Tide Beach Walk
Liberty State Park, 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, 10-11:30am, free

First Community Meeting for Mariners/Arlington Marsh Master Plan
Faber Park Field House, Richmond Terrace & Faber Street, Staten Island, 6:30-8pm, free

New York Sea Level Rise Projections: Implications for Law, Land Use, Buildings and Infrastructure
Sabin Center for Climate Change, Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, Room 106, 435 West 116th Street at AMsterdam Ave, Manhattan, 7-8:30pm, free

Transforming Indigenous Women thru AgriBusiness - CSW61 Parallel Event
Salvation Army Auditorium , 221 East 52nd Street bet 2nd & 3rd Aves, Manhattan, 12:15-2:15pm, free
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