Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Green Beginning: Cambridge, Harvard and MIT

By Kaya
Kaya and Eliza
On Monday, May 6th, Eliza and I attended an early morning signing ceremony for the Cambridge Community Compact for a Sustainable Future. This joint effort is dedicated to creating a more sustainable future for the City of Cambridge.

Mayor Henrietta Davis with our quilt

Mayor Henrietta Davis had sent us an invitation to attend, which we accepted with excitement. The quilt we made and had donated to the City of Cambridge —  “Imagine a Sustainable Life” — had been hung in Mayor Davis’ reception room during March. Perhaps this was her way of saying “thank you” by including us. She knows we care about these issues, so we were happy to be there!

Representatives of the City of Cambridge, along with the presidents of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) signed the document that expresses their commitment to work together on climate change and energy sustainability. 
The four signatories were City Manager Robert Healy, Mayor Henrietta Davis, Harvard President Drew Faust, and MIT President Rafael Reif.  The city and these educational institutions had worked on drafting this resolution for more than a year.
Left to right: Harvard President Drew Faust, MIT President Rafael Reif, Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis and Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy

The signing ceremony — with remarks from each of those who signed it — lasted less than an hour. In her remarks, Mayor Davis emphasized the main points of the Cambridge Community Compact for a Sustainable Future, which holds each party accountable for making progress toward achieving certain goals. Broadly, those goals are:
·      Building energy efficiency
·      Climate change mitigation and preparedness planning
·      Renewable energy systems
·      Sustainable technology
·      Waste management
·      Water management
·      Urban natural resources
·      Public information and education
·      Green tech incubation and promotion
By signing the Compact, MIT and Harvard, as well as the city of Cambridge, are pledging their contribution towards creating an environmentally sustainable city. This is a big step for Cambridge, and it shows just how serious Cambridge is about increasing its sustainability by addressing the challenges of climate change. 
The Sprouts of Hope with the signatories and other invited guests.
 The Sprouts of Hope are glad to have witnessed such a remarkable event and can’t wait to see how the contract comes into play! Great job, Cambridge!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Donating Our Quilt to the City of Cambridge

Risa with her likeness
By Risa

Finally, the day we'd been pointing toward since we'd begun making our quilt last spring had arrived. At a City Council meeting in Cambridge's City Hall that night, we would donate our quilt — the one we'd name "Imagine a Sustainable Life" — as a lending gift to our hometown, the city of Cambridge. On many Sunday afternoons last spring, we'd worked at the studio of quilt maker Clara Wainwright as she guided us in creating what we'd only imagined. 

Before we went before the City Council, Mayor Henrietta Davis invited us, our family and friends, and City Council members to attend a reception in her large conference room. This room is the first stop for our quilt.  And it's a terrific first stop for the quilt as it begins its journey to schools and businesses, parks and nonprofit organizations.  Its next stop will be on the library wall at the school all of us attend, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.

Our quilt hanging in the office of Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis

If you’d like to hang the quilt in the place where you work or hold meetings, please come to the page on our website where you can sign up to borrow the quilt for the dates that work for you.

The Mayor asked us to talk about our quilt.
Mayor Davis stood next to our quilt and listened as each of us to told her something about how we made it and why we included what we did in its design. The why part was easy: we believe art can motivate action, so we hope our quilt will generate community discussion and provoke action so that together we can make our city the most sustainable place to live in the entire world.

On the interior border of our quilt we wrote these words:  “A City Thrives When Its People Replenish What They Use.” On our quilt we have examples of what those words mean: in one corner there is a pile of compost and on rooftops are wind turbines; food grows on rooftops, too, and plants climb up the sides of those same buildings. Like in our main public library, we show how windows can be build to conserve energy. Then there are bike paths weaving everywhere. 

A Peace Dove in honor of Roots & Shoots
A Chimp — in honor of Dr. Goodall
We also pay homage to Dr. Jane Goodall, the founder of Roots & Shoots, by including a chimp that swings in the sky and a white dove of peace that flies through our city. 

Along the bottom of our quilt, we honor three activists whose dedication to making our world a better place inspires us: Wangari Maathai, Dr. Goodall and Bill McKibben. Earlier this year, soon after we’d finished making our quilt, we had the opportunity to surprise Bill McKibben when we showed it to him during a live taping of Boston’s public radio show “On Point.”

Bill McKibben sees our quilt — with his image on it, lower left.

So on Monday, February 25, we presented our quilt to the City of Cambridge.  Each of us spoke for two minutes, and in that time we conveyed our hope of by giving “sustainability” visual representation we can inspire people to embrace sustainable practices in their lives and support sustainable policies in our city’s life. Here’s what each of us talked about:

Lilly and Maya are the first to speak to the City Council about our quilt.

Lilly went first, so she introduced us at The Sprouts of Hope, thanked the City Council for doing what they have done to promote sustainability, and told the members that we’d made our quilt as our way of helping in this important cause.

Maya was next, and she focused on steps the City Council has taken with sustainability, talked about ways that kids in Cambridge can be partners in these efforts, and reminded them of the sustainability pledge that Kristen Von Hoffmann created for students but how everyone should use it.

Then Risa offered some suggestions of how sustainability can become a top priority for the city. She proposed that one City Council meeting each year be devoted solely to the topic of sustainability, as people in the community bring their ideas and experiences to the City Council. She also urged the city to sponsor a contest for people of all ages to create sustainability logos that could be put on t-shirts.

Kaya then spoke about why it’s so important for sustainability to be taught in the schools — and starting with kids when they are very, very young.  She pointed out that because her K-8 school King Open was the first one to do composting in their cafeteria, they learned when they were younger — and now they do it easily, whereas some kids who are at the high school who didn’t learn how to compost have a harder time.

The last one of us to speak was Eliza who emphasized our greater goal for the quilt. She talked about how much we hope that people who see our quilt will be inspired to think more about sustainability in their lives and then act in ways that conserve energy, replenish what we use, and make our city “green.”

This is not the first time The Sprouts of Hope have spoken about environmental issues at a city meeting. Six years ago we went to the Cambridge School Committee and the changes we asked to have happen then have turned into the district-wide composting program now being used by six of the city’s schools. Composting in our schools has transformed tons of food waste into soil. So it felt good to be giving back to the community with our gift of this quilt. It’s our way of encouraging positive change.

The Sprouts of Hope address the School Committee in 2008.
 We hope that our quilt inspires large and small changes within the city of Cambridge, and pushes all of us forward on the replenishing path of sustainability.