Solutions 5/3: Spring is breaking out all over

By Huck Fairman

With the warming weather and ample rain, things are blooming – even bursting – in Princeton.

First, the town’s draft of its Climate Action Plan was released by Sustainable Princeton (SP). The objective is to reduce the town’s 2010 Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80% by 2050. And SP is leading efforts to reduce vehicle and building emissions, reduce waste and increase composting, address transportation and bicycling strategies, and present all of these ideas to the public – often at the Public Library.

In the Mount Lucas, Valley, Terhune, Laurel, and Jefferson roads neighborhood, residents, while appreciative of the town’s commitment to take down the unsightly canopy, still very much want the town (following the town’s Site Planning Review Advisory Board’s recommendation,) to relocate its ill-conceived refueling station to a less intrusive site. Although the town (council and engineering staff) went ahead with this project without consulting the neighbors, that decision doesn’t mean it can’t be reversed and the station moved.

Additionally, in a number of neighborhoods, residents are voicing their objections to tear-down houses being replaced by much larger, more expensive homes; thereby changing the character and affordability of those neighborhoods, and in some cases shading adjacent houses and gardens.

On Saturday, May 11 from 10:30 a.m. to  4:30 p.m. the Next Gen Student Climate Summit (for adults, too) will be held at The Watershed in Pennington, where it will offer talks, student speakers and discussions, simulations, games and eco-activities. Contact either The Watershed or Sustainability Director Liz Cutler at Princeton Day School.

Also on May 11, the town’s Greenfest, demonstrating and encouraging sustainable living, will be held at the Princeton Shopping Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sustainable Princeton has information on what will be offered.

Sometimes leading, sometimes assisting behind the scenes, but often encouraging citizens to become active and reclaim their democracy, locally and across the country, Princeton resident, author and activist Sam Daley-Harris has been collaborating to empower people. Speaking out and writing since the 1970s, he is the founder of Results, which leads and advises efforts to reduce poverty and increase social participation. This year, he published “Civic Courage: Empowering Citizen Action,” in which he encourages public speaking as a means to inspire “Americans to re-engage powerfully with their democracy.” He sees this as a way of “healing the break between people and government” – which is evidenced locally by the town’s ignoring the neighborhood in placing the refueling station on Mt. Lucas.

Other parts of his multipronged efforts include telling his story as a means of helping people start or join activist groups. He also helps train both students and adults to run those groups and write letters to editors and leaders – say on increasing the national minimum wage – as well as assisting volunteers to gain the confidence to speak out on issues.

Previously, Daley-Harris was instrumental in helping the Citizens Climate Lobby get off the ground as a champion of the Carbon Fee and Dividend approach to reducing emissions (one means of addressing the greatest challenge civilization faces), where the collected taxes on carbon usage are returned to tax payers. In 2018, he joined The Alliance for Peacebuilding, a global association of more than 70 peace-building organizations looking to “innovate, influence, and impact” policies that promote and lead to peace. After all, “Peace does not happen by itself.”

He states as the overarching concern behind all of these efforts: “My life’s work is to empower individuals to work with others to joyfully make the difference in the world they always dreamed of making.”

In a sense, then, all of these efforts organized in the town are variations of Daley-Harris’ creed. Many here have joined together to improve both the local and global worlds.

And an unexpected blossoming: There is news the Dinky shuttle will resume it service as of Sunday, May 12.

Spring indeed has sprung.