Author Archives: Christopher Girard

WANTED: Student reps for the President’s Sustainability Council

Do you have an interest in helping Tufts shape its energy, water and waste policies and plans? Would you like to be involved in a high-level committee to determine new campus sustainability goals?

The Sustainability Council is starting up this fall at Tufts University and is looking for undergraduate and graduate student representatives for the main council and each of the three working groups (water, waste and energy/emissions).

The new groups will be comprised of one undergraduate and one graduate student each, plus a select number of faculty and staff with appropriate expertise. The council will focus on reviewing existing goals, creating new ones and developing plans for moving forward to make Tufts’ campuses more environmentally sustainable.

While we don’t know for sure what the time commitment will be, expect to commit about 5-8 hours a month.

If you are interested in being a student representative on one of these committees, please write a short 200 word letter of interest explaining why you are interested and what knowledge or skills you will bring to the group. You may attach a resume if you would like, but it is not necessary. Email your application by Dec 1st to tina.woolston@tufts.edu.

See the Sustainability Council ad.

Campus Sustainability Day: Wednesday, Oct. 26

Yes, tomorrow is the 186th anniversary of the opening of the Erie Canal, but it’s also Campus Sustainability Day, which is even spiffier.
Don’t forget about the Massachusetts School Sustainability Coordinators Roundtable from 9:30 to noon tomorrow at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Staffs are encouraged to invite colleagues and students to attend. Click here for details.
Click here to check out Campus Sustainability Day events happening at campuses nationwide.
Lots of colleges and universities are making big leaps toward sustainability. Check out this story about a leading-edge zero net energy building at a community college in Salem, Mass.
Go to it, Jumbos! How will you exercise sustainability tomorrow?

Cranberries over avocados: Mass. overtakes California as top energy efficiency state

In an announcement sure to vindicate Mass****s, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has announced that Massachusetts has replaced California as the top energy efficiency state in America.

The rankings were evaluated based on an array of metrics concerning best practices and leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors, according to the press release.

“Energy efficiency is America’s abundant, untapped energy resource and the states continue to press forward to reap its economic and environmental benefits,” said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel, according to a press release from the council. “The message here is that energy efficiency is a pragmatic, bipartisan solution that political leaders from both sides of the aisle can support. As they have over the past decades, states continue to provide the leadership needed to forge an energy-efficient economy, which reduces energy costs, spurs job growth, and benefits the environment.”

Of the five times the rankings have been published, this is Massachusetts’ first time on top.

“Thanks to our investments in innovation and infrastructure, Massachusetts is now leading the nation in energy efficiency,” said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, according to the press release. “Through our Green Communities Act, we set aggressive goals and laid the foundation for greater investment in energy efficiency — and now we are proud to be a model for the nation and world.”

With Tufts Alumna at Helm, The Boston Tree Party Branches Out. Get Involved!

Friedman School students revel in the apple tree they planted on the Boston campus.

With a September article in America’s second-most-popular newspaper, the Boston Tree Party has sprung from sapling to force of nature, with its founder, Tufts alumna Lisa Gross, doing her best Johnny Appleseed.

“In the 19th century, there were about 16,000 varieties [of apples], and today, the commercial market is dominated by only about 10,” Gross told USA Today. “That represents such a loss. Not only a homogenization of flavor but of culture and experience.”

Although the Tree Party has been planting pairs of heirloom apple trees for only six months, about 50 coalitions and organizations have already combined to plant 35 pairs, said Gross, who has an MFA from Tufts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

“Though we would love to plant as many trees as possible, we’re focusing on people and how to engage different and diverse communities,” Gross told the Office of Sustainability in an interview. “What we’re really interested in doing is inspiring the communities to take care of the trees and come together as a united community.”

The organization Gross planted aims to improve access to good food, fight erosion, and provide habitat for birds and bees, among other objectives.

Tufts students can link up with one of the two campus groups that have planted trees. One is a group of undergrads that set down roots on the Medford campus (if you’re coming out of the Tisch Library, the pair of trees is to the right on the hillside). The other are grad students at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston.

With its popularity growing, the Tree Party has plans to broaden its canopy over the coming months. This fall, it will add a part-time project coordinator to its skeleton staff (the application period has passed) and is working with a local filmmaker on a documentary about the Tree Party.

In December, the Tree Party will partner with the MIT Center for Civic Media, the prestigious MIT Media Lab, and a local software development group to make a smartphone app that will show the locations of the trees and information on who planted each pair.

In the Spring, the Tree Party will launch a do-it-yourself program for those who want to plant trees and will expand the range where groups can plant trees to all of Massachusetts.

Regional news outlets, including the Boston Metro and the city’s NPR affiliate, are taking notice of Gross’ effort. On Sept. 17, The Boston Globe published an editorial about the Tree Party:

“Since last spring, beginning with the planting of a pair of heirloom apple trees on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, the Boston Tree Party has brought together hundreds of people – from Harvard and Tufts to Roxbury Community College, Carney Hospital, and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center … They are expected to produce up to 15,000 free apples a year within four years.”

A tree-planting delegation in Quincy, Mass.

Gross is working on the project with a small crew of committed arborists, including Chief of Operations Maura Schorr Beaufait, who has two degrees from Tufts, a Masters of Public Health in Community Health and a Masters of Science from the Friedman School’s Agriculture, Food, and Environment program.
Gross has some advice for those who want to set down roots in advocacy and community organizing: take the first bite and go from there.

“If you have an idea, just start. Don’t worry about asking for money or permission,” she said. “You can get the support and build the logistics as the project expands.”

So far, Gross said, the workload could fill many bushel baskets, but the payoff could too.

“I’ve been really amazed by how quickly it’s grown and taken off, and I think that’s connected to a deeper change in our culture. People have more awareness and concern about how food is grown and where it comes from,” Gross said. “The larger vision is about the merging of the poetic and the pragmatic. It’s been an incredible experience.”

Check out the Tree Party’s website to donate, volunteer, or to see how to plant a pair of heirloom trees. A few falls from now, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

With the Hubway bikeshare system, Boston is your oyster. Go explore!

A cyclist taking a load off and soaking in the gorgeous Charles River.

Get out of that dorm room, you couch potato, and glide around Boston using the city’s new bikeshare system.

Trust me. The will be the start of a beautiful friendship. So beautiful that from all the exercise, you won’t feel bad about stopping off in the North End for a gelato. And, with zero emissions, no friendship could be greener!

So how does this work? First, head to any of 61 bikeshare stations in Boston, where you can buy a 24-hour ($5) or three-day ($12) membership with a credit or debit card. I suggest the one at the Charles/MGH station, a quick jaunt down the Red Line from Tufts.

Then, ride the bike! They are sturdy and comfy, if slower than those of Boston’s veteran bikers, and traverse neighborhoods at least as quickly as the MBTA. The bikes also feature a bell, adjustable seats, and lights that turn on at night. You can park only at Hubway stations, but at least you don’t have to worry about locking the bike or buying one in the first place.

Make sure, of course, to check out TheHubway.com for safety tips and a list of Boston retailers that sell inexpensive helmets. Gotta cover that noggin, Jumbo.

By the way, if you have any questions about using the Hubway, reach me at chrisjgirard@gmail.com. I happily use it to commute.

So where should you go? Here are a few ideas:

These Hubway bikes need friends! Come ride one.

1) The Ivory Tower Tour: Start at Park Street and say hello to friends at Suffolk University and Emerson College. Then, bike to the Christian Science Plaza station and rub shoulders with Northeastern University and Berkeley School of Music students. Once you get sick of the guitar busking, head over to the station at 725 Commonwealth Avenue, where you can check out the Boston University campus, which has a million Green Line stations. (Hey! Give some to Tufts!) Finish up by riding to the Harvard Stadium station. Cross the beautiful Charles River and check out the Crimson campus before taking the Red Line to Davis home.

2) The Art Lover’s Tour: Start at South Station and ride over to the Fan Pier station in the Seaport District to check out The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston’s shiniest and (probably) weirdest museum. Then, head to the Northeastern University station to see the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and, right next door, the fabulous Museum of Fine Arts. Ride back to South Station and feel good about being so cultured.

3) The Title Tour: Start at Park Street and ride from the Tremont Street station to North Station, and pay homage to the Celtics and Bruins. Then glide over to the Yawkey Way station to worship at the altar of Fenway Park before proceeding to the site of Braves Field, where the Boston Braves (now the Atlanta Braves) used to play, near the Agganis Arena station. Then ride over to the Charles/MGH station to head back home to nap, dreams of future Boston championships swirling in your head.

Research Assistant, “Smart Lunchrooms” study (Chelsea and Lawrence, MA)

Harvard School of Public Health is recruiting research assistants to help with a plate waste study in Chelsea and Lawrence Public Schools during the school lunch periods. This is a study to examine the impact of “Smart Lunchrooms,” which use behavioral psychology to encourage students to select healthier foods.

Responsibilities of the research assistants will include recording the foods selected and consumed by students.  Data collection will begin in a few weeks and last 3-4 weeks in each school district. If interested, please contact Juliana Cohen JCohen@hsph.harvard.edu and include your availability (during the hours of 9am-3:30pm, M-F), and if you are interested in working in Lawrence Public Schools (must have access to a car) and/or Chelsea public schools (accessible by public transportation). This is a paid position.

Contest: Undergrad Environmental Photography – $300 in prizes

The Tufts Environmental Studies Program is holding its first annual Environmental Photo Contest. It’s open to all Tufts undergrads and will include prizes for first place ($150), second place ($100), and third place ($50). CASH MONEY.

Students can submit multiple photos. All photography styles are welcome. Full rules and details are available on Facebook.

Submissions are due to the Environmental Studies Program, 210 Packard Avenue, Miller Hall-East Rear Door, Medford Campus, by Monday, Oct. 24.

Submitted prints will be exhibited in the Tufts Institute of the Environment and may be used by the Environmental Studies and TIE in their publications, websites, or for other Tufts-related purposes. Prints will also be showcased in a digital exhibition on the Environmental Studies website.

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