Friday, August 14, 2015
Sunday, July 19, 2015
MGRHS building committee seeks public input Wed/Thurs. for "green" building; dinner included!
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“Green building” encompasses a wide variety of factors and “the Committee wants to tap the talent and creativity of community members,” according to Building Committee Chair Mark Schiek. The building project charrette meetings on Wed., July 22 and Thurs., July 23 will be facilitated by members of the architectural design team of Design Partnership of Cambridge.
- Those in attendance on the 22nd will work in groups to brainstorm and vision design strategies that will contribute to building and site sustainability and efficiency. Discussion will focus on three broad topic areas: site/water strategies, indoor air quality, and passive/active energy systems.
- The session on the 23rd will focus on refining and prioritizing the ideas generated in the first meeting.
Because organizers of the public meetings are going to provide a light dinner and refreshments, they are asking that likely attendees email Wendy Penner (firstname.lastname@example.org) to help get a count. Penner heads a "sustainability work group" of the larger committee. Penner is a former staff member and consultant to the Center for EcoTechnology. According to Penner “the Charrette will guide foundational decisions regarding which aspects of sustainability will get the greatest priority.”
Those who cannot attend one of the Charrettes are welcome to send their contributions and questions to Penner at email@example.com The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), structures the process to ensure that schools meet a high standard for sustainability. The MSBA offers a higher level of reimbursement to projects that meet the LEED Silver standard. In some cases communities have found it worthwhile to exceed that standard.
On August 6, the Building Committee is expected to submit one of the options for development into a full schematic design and cost estimate. These documents are due to the MSBA in December. “We need public input in this early design phase to insure a successful project,” noted Building Committee Vice-Chair Paula Consolini.
- July 22 4:30-8:30PM: Idea Generation Charrette, MG Meeting Room July 23 1-4PM: Prioritizing Charrette, MG Meeting Room
- July 23 5:30PM: School Building Committee Meeting, MG Meeting Room
- July 30 5:30PM: School Building Committee to vote final building design selection, MG Meeting Room
Friday, July 03, 2015
Willamstown selectman Andy Hogeland proposes "analysis of costs, benefits and project scope for broadband"
Here is an exchange of email among Williamstown Selectman Andrew Hogeland, who also serves on the town's Economic Development Commission, Ben Greenfield, a tech expert hoping to bring high-speed broadband Internet to his Williamstown neighborhood, and others.
On Fri, Jul 3, 2015 at 5:40 PM, Hogeland <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Ben and Bill -
Just to clarify: At the last Selectmen's meeting I proposed that we take on some defined initiatives to focus on for the next 12 months. I don't recall Selectmen having adopted an annual agenda before, but my colleagues seemed receptive and we will be discussing it further at our next meeting. One of the items on my proposed list was to undertake an analysis of the costs, benefits and project scope for broadband so we can have a basis for deciding whether or not to proceed. I expect our list will get finalized during July. The EDC has heard numerous comments on broadband. We are now beginning the process of deciding what suggestions will be carried forward into the EDCs recommendations to the Selectmen. That effort will continue to develop over the summer and into the early fall.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2015 18:02:36 -0400
From: Bill Densmore <email@example.com>
To: Hogeland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks to you and the rest of the selectmen for undertaking a deliberative inquiry about broadband. I am discouraged that Time Warner is not a part of the discussion, yet.
WAMC had a piece on the air yesterday which included this key quote:
Mayor Kathy Sheehan says broadband is "...becoming not just a want, but a need, as we look to expanding both educational opportunities, business opportunities and access to what is going on in
the city. We've become so dependent on communicating, using this technology, so we have to be sure that everybody has access."
Remember, broadband speeds, as defined by the FCC -- and as necessary for any reasonable level of quality for streaming video -- is not even offered by Verizon in Williamstown. The broadband-classified services -- 20 mb or higher -- from Time Warner start I think at $69 a month and that does NOT include symmetrical upload-download speeds.
If we want to be a digital valley, a silicon village, a place that welcomes and embraces knowledge workers, we need to provide services that meet the needs of creators not just consumers of digital information and services. At this point, Time Warner is a monopoly -- unregulated -- supplier of broadband services which are inadequate for that purpose. Time Warner, like other cable suppliers, prices and designs their service to provide for passive consumption of content but no capability to serve or create and share content at broadband speeds.
That's why the town should be actively moving to create or foster competitive service -- or finding a way to regulate Time Warner to up the functionality and pricing of its services.
We are fortunate that in Massachusetts, the telecom duopoly has yet to lobby the Legislature into foreclosing municipal broadband. But they have succeeded elsewhere:
-- bill densmore, Williamstown, Mass.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Densmore <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 4:17 PM
Subject: Fwd: Where's Williamstown utility pole right of way documented?
Cc: Bill Densmore <WPDENSMORE@gmail.com>
To Williamstown Selectmen:
In exploring questions about broadband, I started asking a few weeks ago these three questions and am hoping the board might be able to forward this inquiry along to someone who can suggest answers or places to go for answers. These are questions that might to relevant to any plans for improving the town's provisioning of the public benefit of increased access to fast broadband.
1) Who controls access to utility poles in Williamstown? Does it depend on the pole? Would it be Verizon? Or National Grid? Or the town? Or the Prudential Committee? Does the town -- or anyone
-- have a map showing who owns various poles? Who grants permission to hang fiber wire on the polls? If it is done by an entity of the town, can it be done without payment of an "rent" to the poll owner? After all, the polls sit on the town right of way at the pleasure of the town.
2) If for some reason Time Warner withdrew from providing services in Williamstown, what would happen to the physical plant on all these polls? Do they own it? Would they have the right to tear
it all down or otherwise disable it? Could they sell it to another operator (such as a town "Muncipal Lighting Plant"?) Might they just abandon it?
3) What would be involved in the town forming an MLP? What's an MLP?
--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Monica Webb <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 7:46 AM
Subject: Re: BROADBAND: Ben Greenfield at work; a Chalmers resource; Time
Warner offer; what the FCC chairman says
To: Bill Densmore <email@example.com>
Thanks for the update, Bill.
I'm happy to provide guidance on the MLP statute, as WiredWest was the one who
first utilized the statute for telecom only.
Also one of the unfortunate effects of the expensive back haul pricing in our area is that the town of Leverett has to share a gigabit, even though their network is built for each premise to get their own gigabit. Getting more competitive pricing on the MBI middle mile is critical for us in Western Mass so we can afford to provide gigabit connectivity to all premises in our next generation networks.
From: Ben Greenfield
Date: Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 11:00 AM
Subject: Re: BROADBAND: Ben Greenfield at work; a Chalmers resource; Time Warner offer; what the FCC chairman says
Hello Bill and all,
I first want to say that I'm amazed how fast things are moving after years of waiting. I would like to point out that last Monday the Select Board of Williamstown stated that broadband planning has made it on to some sort of todo list. This is great!
Williamstown has an underutillized asset in it's Right of Way. This asset can be harnessed in combination with the new massBroadband123 fiber optic install to put Williamstown internet
infrastructure on par with Singapore.
I know that the select board is interested and I would say that if you want a town owned network where every resident has access I would reach to the people you know on the select board and let them know you think it is valuable effort. I would also point out that the Economic Development Committee hears that broadband could be better but hasn't heard it enough to be convinced it is an issue according to this iBerkshires article.
Friday, March 27, 2015
MCLA business student Steve Peltier takes over 44-year Anagnos family business -- Colonial Pizza
|Constantine Anagnos, left, and Steve Peltier|
WATCH CONSTANTINE AND STEVE TALK ABOUT THE CHANGE:
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
More than 40 Williamstown households interested in community solar project, Nylen says
Here is Nylen's email today:
Hello and happy Spring! As the hours of sunlight continue to grow, we are writing to update you on where things are with our Community Solar initiative.
Lots of interest: Approximately 40 households have expressed interest in the project!How much electricity do we hope to produce? Thanks to all of you who have forwarded information about your electric usage. To-date we have received information from approximately 25 households. So far it looks like we need about 150 kilowatts of capacity. Please send us your usage if you haven't done that yet.
Where will we build the project(s)? We are working with solar contractors to evaluate a couple potential sites, and are still looking for additional options. PLEASE let us know if you have any land that might be suitable or if you think your friends/neighbors might be interested in hosting a project. We are also beginning to explore possible parking lot locations -- and the cost of constructing parking canopies that could accommodate solar panels.Solar bylaw The Williamstown Planning Board has drafted a solar bylaw that addresses the size and location of ground-mounted solar arrays. We think this will be a win-win for solar in our community. Let us know if you have any specific questions about the bylaw and we are happy to forward you a copy of the draft. Residents will vote on the solar bylaw at Town Meeting on
How much will it cost and what are the financial arrangements? We are further refining the numbers (required investment) - and taking next steps to set up an LLC that will be enable us to take advantage of tax benefits. We are also talking with a firm with accounting, solar and tax expertise interested in potentially helping to set up and manage the project long term. Stay tuned...more on that soon.When will we go on line? Our goal continues to be to break ground in the fall of 2015.
Next steps? As soon as we have more details about the costs and requirements for participating in a community solar LLC we will be back in touch regarding terms for making a financial commitment to the project.
Thanks so much for your continued interest. We continue to be encouraged and excited! And, please let us know if you have any questions.
Charley, Jason, Stephanie and Wendy
Friday, March 20, 2015
Jay Walsh launches website to discuss banning styrofoam and plastic bags in Williamstown
The website is designed not only to help us decide what to do in WIlliamstown, but also to share resources with activists in other communities. Included on the site are:
- Information about the environmental and economic problems created by plastic bags and polystyrene
- Information on vendors of alternative products, including reusable bags and compostable food service materials.
- Copies of bylaws and ordinances from other municipalities that we might adapt for Williamstown.
- Should we seek to ban all polystyrene food containers (as Brookline has) or just foam (as Amherst has)?
- Should we seek to ban single-use plastic bags outright (as other towns in Mass have) or impose a mandatory charge for each bag (as some towns in other states have)?
- Should we impose a charge for paper bags too (as have many cities in California)?
Thursday, March 19, 2015
BOOK NOTES: "Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference"
Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference
Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference is not your usual book on happiness. Nor is it a self-help book, although it includes science-based insights about how to achieve happiness in your own life. Its unique contribution is in showing how our own sense of joy and well-being is enhanced via the well being of others and the health of the planet. Through a series of eloquent voices from different parts of the world and various areas of expertise, Sustainable Happiness investigates the links between social equity, ecological health — and our individual happiness.
Berrett-Koehler Publishers was founded in 1992 by Steve Piersanti in San Francisco, CA. The mission-based publisher believes in “Creating a World That Works for All” and publishes an average of 40 titles per year that reflect that mission in the business, current affairs, and lifestyle categories. Berrett-Koehler Publishers is a Certified B Corporation.
For more information: Susan Gleason, Media & Outreach Manager, Yes! Magazine, 206-931-2613