Walk to the River and Garden Raising event!

September 29th, 2010

Don’t miss the second Walk to the River Day  along the Blueback Herring River Route (Foss Park to the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse) and the FIRST EVER Groundwork Somerville Learning Garden at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse garden raising! We’ll walk together, build a great new wild flower garden, and have so much fun.

Walk begins at the Jacques Street entrance to Foss Park at 11am and the Garden Raising begins at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse at 12pm (32 Shore Drive).

Friends of the Mystic River Annual Clean-up!

September 29th, 2010

Friends of the Mystic River holds its 16th annual Mystic River Fall Cleanup on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Trash and debris will be collected along the river banks and in nearby grassy fields at selected locations between the Lower Mystic Lake and Torbert MacDonald Park.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome to help and should check in at the parking lot next to the Condon band shell, on Route 16 east of Winthrop Street (Route 38) in Medford. The Friends will supply bags, gloves and pokers.

Workers may clean as long as they wish. Refreshments will be provided. In the event of heavy rain, the cleanup will be held on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Friends of the Mystic River (www.fomr.org) is a Medford-based community organization focused on the enjoyment, protection and enhancement of the Mystic River in Medford.

For more information, call 781-391-2604 or e-mail Mystic02155 AT hotmail dot com.

See you on the River!

Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week

September 27th, 2010

September 27th-October 1st is Massachusetts Harvest for Students week!  Somerville School Food Services, Groundwork Somerville, and Shape-up Somerville are teaming up for a fun week with students and food!

Groundwork Somerville youth program participants planted and tended basil this summer in our school yard gardens.  This week our hard work will be rewarded: our basil will be served in school lunches!

On Thursday morning, Groundwork Somerville staff, interns, and volunteers will be helping Somerville students shuck Lanni Orchards corn (don’t worry, our husks will be composted – not thrown out!).  The cobs will then be cooked and served to all students for lunch across the city!

Somerville Garden Club to hold annual plant sale

September 22nd, 2010

The Somerville Garden Club (SGC) will hold its perennial and houseplant sale Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Statue Park in Davis Square, at the intersection of College Avenue and Holland Street. Perennials, trees, shrubs and houseplants will be available, and Garden Club members will be on hand to answer questions.

Somerville to celebrate fifth annual Fluff Festival in Union Square

September 22nd, 2010

The Somerville Arts Council and Union Square Main Streets present an ArtsUnion event, Fifth Fluff Fest: Whoopie (Pie)!, curated by the Somerville Arts Council, the city and Mayor Joe Curtatone, Saturday, Sept. 25, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Union Square Plaza. Rain date is Sunday, Sept. 26.

Somerville Garden Club to hold annual plant sale

September 22nd, 2010

The Somerville Garden Club (SGC) will hold its perennial and houseplant sale Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Statue Park in Davis Square, at the intersection of College Avenue and Holland Street. Perennials, trees, shrubs and houseplants will be available, and Garden Club members will be on hand to answer questions.

Somerville to celebrate fifth annual Fluff Festival in Union Square

September 22nd, 2010

The Somerville Arts Council and Union Square Main Streets present an ArtsUnion event, Fifth Fluff Fest: Whoopie (Pie)!, curated by the Somerville Arts Council, the city and Mayor Joe Curtatone, Saturday, Sept. 25, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Union Square Plaza. Rain date is Sunday, Sept. 26.

National Grid to fund rain gardens along river

September 22nd, 2010

Posted September 22, 2010 10:04 am

By Kaileigh Higgins, Globe Correspondent

National Grid will be funding a mitigation project to construct three rain gardens along the edges of the Malden River as part of an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection..

The agreement comes as a result of the release of drilling fluid into the Malden River during a project that involved installing power cables 60 feet below the surface in 2009. The release of bentonite clay and water was a violation of wetlands and water quality and posed a potential threat to the surrounding wildlife.

National Grid has agreed to clean up the fluid and conduct post cleanup monitoring (per review of MassDEP) of the area in addition to the $11,500 Supplemental Environmental Project in lieu of a $5,750 penalty.

The original project, which consisted of horizontal drilling to replace power, went awry on Dec. 3, 2009 when unexpected fractures in the soil caused the leakage of drilling fluids.

“While we encourage the use of horizontal-drilling as an alternative to traditional dredging projects for these types of crossings, we want companies to exercise extreme caution to avoid having damaging releases to the environment,” said Glenn Haas, MassDEP’s assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Resource Protection in a statement. “There is an inherent risk in any project like this, but accidents are preventable if careful planning and execution are paramount.”

For the SEP, National Grid will provide funding over the next several months for Groundwork Somerville, a Somerville-based non-profit, to build three rain gardens areas along the Malden River in Everett and Malden. These gardens will help to decrease runoff pollution from storm water. In addition, signage will be built along the Malden River’s Sea Bike Trail.

The proposed rain gardens are in the planning stages now, according to Groundwork Somerville’s Mystic River Projects Manager Brad Arndt. They have begun focusing on design elements, working with a landscape architect.

Construction is scheduled to begin by next spring, but possibly won’t get underway until next fall. Start time for construction depends on the completion of a project removing train rails by the Iron Horse Preservation Society in the same area.

The rain gardens will bring some much needed change to this section of the Malden River.

“Not only will it be an aesthetic improvement, it is also going to help address drainage issues in that section,” said Arndt. “This is also opportunity to improve the ecological diversity;  we’ll be using native plants in the gardens.”

Once work on the gardens begins, Groundwork Somerville will be involving the surrounding communities in its efforts.

“This is not a huge project,  but it is a huge opportunity to involve a lot of different players, especailly with the community,” said Arndt. “We want to garner actual volunteers and support from the community. Contruction will hinge on community volunteer involvement.”

Check out the link here

EPA Hosts Historic Environmental Justice Meeting

September 22nd, 2010

CONTACT: Jalil Isa isa.jalil@epa.gov 202-564-3226 202-564-4355

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 22, 2010

EPA Hosts Historic Meeting on Environmental Justice

Obama administration cabinet members show commitment to healthy environment and strong economy for all Americans

WASHINGTON – Today, for the first time in more than a decade, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair, Nancy Sutley, reconvened the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) in a meeting held at the White House. The meeting, attended by five cabinet members, demonstrates the Obama administration’s dedication to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards. Pollution like dirty air and contaminated water can have significant economic impacts on overburdened and low-income communities, driving away investment in new development and new jobs and exposing residents to potentially costly health threats. This historic gathering marks a recommitment to advancing the mandate of Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” which states that each agency, with the law as its guide, should make environmental justice part of its mission.

The role of the EJ IWG is to guide, support and enhance federal environmental justice and community-based activities. By coordinating the expertise and resources of federal government agencies, the EJ IWG will work to identify projects where federal collaboration can support the development of healthy and sustainable communities. The EJ IWG will also seek opportunities to provide green jobs training in communities in need and promote a clean energy economy.

TAttendees at the meeting included Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice; Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of Interior; Secretary Shaun Donovan, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation; Administrator Martha Johnson, General Services Administration; Carol Browner, senior advisor to the president on energy and climate Change; John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Melody Barnes, director of the White House Office of Domestic Policy; and representatives from the following federal agencies: Labor, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, Commerce, Army, Agriculture and Defense, among others.

“Environmental challenges in low-income and minority communities are barriers to opportunity. Dirty air, polluted water and contaminated lands degrade health and the environment while discouraging investments and economic growth,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We believe that the burdens these communities face are best approached with collaborative efforts, built on the strengths brought by a team of different federal agencies. Revitalizing this workgroup creates an important chance to work together on environmental justice issues that have held back the prosperity of overburdened communities for far too long.”

“This country was built on the promise of equal opportunity for all of us, yet low-income families and minority communities shoulder a disproportionate amount of pollution and environmental degradation. We cannot and will not ignore these disparities,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. ”As the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I am committed to ensuring that environmental justice isn’t just an afterthought – it’s an integral part of our mission.”

“In too many areas of our country, the burden of environmental degradation falls disproportionately on low-income and minority communities – and most often, on the children who live in those communities,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Our environmental laws and protections must extend to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status which is why the Department of Justice is committed to addressing environmental justice concerns through aggressive enforcement of federal environmental laws in every community.”

“At the Department of Transportation, one of our top priorities has been promoting livable communities in collaboration with HUD and EPA,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Through coordinated investments that improve access to affordable and sustainable housing and transportation opportunities, together we can improve the quality of life for communities across America.”

“As stewards of our natural resources and history, the Department of Interior has a special obligation to protect and promote our nation’s resources for all communities and all persons,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Every American deserves a healthy environment in which they can live, learn and play.”

“HUD joins with our colleagues in the Obama administration to make an unprecedented commitment to combating environmental justice discrimination that all too often affect disadvantaged communities,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “At HUD we are committed to providing equal access to housing, mitigating risks to communities in disaster-prone areas, ensuring homes are free of health hazards, and working to create sustainable and inclusive communities across America so that a family’s success is not determined by the zip code they live in.”

During the meeting, some immediate next steps for the EJ IWG group were identified, these include:

  • Hold monthly EJ IWG meetings, including assigning senior officials from each Agency to coordinate EJ activities.
  • Organize regional listening sessions in 2011.
  • Hold follow-up EJ IWG Principals Meetings in April and September 2011.
  • Each agency will be tasked to develop or update their EJ strategy by September 2011.
  • Plan a White House forum for EJ leaders and stakeholders on environmental justice.
  • Administrator Jackson highlighted examples of EPA’s environmental justice efforts:

  • Plan EJ 2014—A four-year roadmap to help EPA develop stronger community relationships and increase the agency’s efforts to improve environmental and health conditions in overburdened communities. The plan includes three main sections: Cross-cutting Agency Strategies, Tools Development, and Program Initiatives.
  • EJ in Rulemaking Guidance—The “Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action” is a step-by-step guide that helps EPA staff consider environmental justice at key points in the rulemaking process.
  • Sustainable Communities Partnership—A collaborative Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and EPA partnership to improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.
  • The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. EPA serves as the lead for environmental justice issues in the federal government.

    More information on the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/interagency/index.html

    View photos from the meeting: http://blog.epa.gov/administrator/20 10/09/22/epa-hosts-historic-meeting-on-environmental-justice/

    Eight nonprofits receive health grants

    September 21st, 2010

    The following is a press release from Cambridge Health Alliance:

    On Wednesday, Sept 15th, the Somerville Health Foundation (SHF) held a reception at Cambridge Health Alliance’s Somerville Hospital campus to honor the recipients of this year’s community funding. Grants were awarded to eight local nonprofit organizations. They were selected for alignment with the SHF’s public health priorities.

    Through this funding, the Foundation strives to promote and support the provision of primary care and preventive health services accessible to the residents of the City of Somerville, Massachusetts. Additionally, funding is dedicated to promotion and support of educational, research and outreach programs which will improve the delivery and accessibility of primary care and preventive health services to the residents of the City of Somerville.

    The major priorities for this year’s applicants included: addressing root causes of disease and disparities in health; mental health; youth development, specifically addressing protective factors to reduce substance abuse, decrease violence or improve mental health; providing physical activity and/or food/nutrition programming, infrastructure and/or policy work related to obesity prevention and reduction of cardiovascular disease; addressing environmental health issues, including air, water and/or soil quality related to human health.

    The eight nonprofit organizations were funded for awards ranging from $1,000 to $4,500. They are: Brazilian Women’s Group, Groundwork Somerville, Mystic Learning Center, Open Air Circus, Somerville Community Access Television, Somerville Museum, The Center for Teen Empowerment, and The Welcome Project. Mary Cassesso and Nancy Busnach, Somerville members of the Cambridge Health Alliance Board of Trustees, represented the Foundation and handed out checks to the recipients at the recognition event.

    The Somerville Health Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, was founded in 1996 shortly after Cambridge Hospital and Somerville Hospital merged to form Cambridge Health Alliance. For more information, please contact Lisa Brukilacchio at 617-591-6940 or by email at lbrukilacchio@challiance.org.

    Cambridge Health Alliance is an integrated award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, the Cambridge Public Health Dept., and the Network Health plan. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. Visit us online at www.challiance.org.