Beyond Oil NYC 




Catalyzing the transition to a greener, more sustainable and more resilient New York City  Dan Miner Dan Miner Dan Miner


          White roof painting          Bus        Solar panels      Urban farm









Make your neighborhood more sustainable
and resilient with Transition

Transition is a community organizing response to climate change, resource depletion and financial instability, with over 1,100 Transition groups in 44 countries and over 150 initiatives in the US.    

 

It starts with neighbors reaching out to neighbors to convene a series of small group meetings.   By going through chapters of a Field Guide, participants strengthen their sense of place, build relationships, promote local food, and map their neighborhood's current state of resiliency, looking at aspects of its operation such as food, energy, water, waste, consumption and transportation.  It's a practical and enlightening neighborhood resilience-building discovery process that deepens and celebrates neighborhood culture. 

The Transition model has been successful in hundreds of communities worldwide. The TN Field Guide adapts that process to the specific needs of NYC and other big urban communities. The goal is to proactively redesign cities to be much less reliant on fossil fuels and much more resilient, with an improved quality of life.  Groups are now forming in over 15 NYC neighborhoods, including the Upper West Side, the Lower East Side, Bed-Stuy, Flatbush, and Flushing.   This June in the Rockaways, a weekend festival will celebrate community health and food security and Transition with presentations and urban gardening demonstration projects.

NYC already leads the nation in greening efforts, so why Transition? It's because government and individual efforts are necessary but insufficient responses to climate change.  Transition's neighborhood-scale, multi-issue approach is unique. By bringing neighbors together, connecting them to already-existing resources and catalyzing them to set up visible local projects, it complements existing efforts - such as yours.    To find out more, contact us at 917-319-2924 or beyondoilnyc@gmail.com, come to one of our upcoming meetings, invite us to talk to your group, or visit transitionmidatlantic.org and transitionnyc.org. 

*****

2013

Community groups can make their neighborhood greener and more resilient - while earning income 

Civic groups, block associations, faith-based based organizations or businesses with many local connections can make their neighborhoods more resilient and environmentally friendly - while earning income - by promoting energy conservation retrofits, co-generation and solar energy.

Beyond Oil NYC's simple, free program offers: (1) a standard referral agreement between community groups and energy contractors that will provide participating groups a referral fee of several percent out of the total cost of any completed project that comes from their referrals; (2) sample text about energy projects for constituents; (3) a short list of highly reputable NYC energy consulting firms willing to collaborate with community groups. 
The model succeeded in western Queens. LIC Partnership's outreach to local businesses and property owners resulted in a very high rates of energy conservation upgrades, and installation of two solar system installations, earning it substantial referral fees.  The model is available on this site.  Contact us to discuss how you can use it in your community.  We'll help promote it.

Host a green film screening in your neighborhood to 
promote clean energy choices and local action

We're organizing free film screening events as Resilience NYC Meetup.  In collaboration with the NYC chapter of 350.org, we travel to your neighborhood to show climate change documentary Do the Math.   Or we can show one of several documentaries that raise awareness about our interwoven environmental, energy and economic challenges, followed by facilitated discussion and / or guest speakers.  We look at what can be done now to make our communities more sustainable and resilient - such as energy retrofits for buildings and installing solar energy. Here's a list of films we recommend. A resource guide with existing programs will be provided. Contact us to set up screenings in your community.   


Transition movement blends climate change response and local economic development.

The Transition movement is a unique organizing method that catalyzes community level responses to climate change.  Co-founded by Rob Hopkins in England in 2005, there are now over 1,400 Transition initiatives in 44 countries.  They all support a transition to clean renewable energy, which is often blocked at national and international levels by politics, the domination of big over small businesses, and the myth that endless economic growth is possible on a finite planet.  As Hopkins explained to a small NYC audience, Transition is increasingly focused on local economic development.  A series of reports on the financial benefits from localizing food production, energy conservation and renewable energy capacity, and case studies of entrepreneurial ventures in these sectors, outline building blocks of a new green economy.
(This article was republished at Resilience.org)

Engaging Community Groups to Promote Sustainability Initiatives
 

We posted a series of articles on our blog page exploring ways that nonprofit community-based organizations (CBOs) could earn income from promoting sustainability initiatives to their neighbors and local networks, following up on our 2012 report.  The articles draw on interviews with many sustainability program providers and advocates in NYC, and on our direct experience in western Queens. While there's probably no opportunity for CBOs to earn income through compost, and probably not through urban agriculture either, CBOs can earn money from promoting solar energy systems right now. 

White roof painting doesn't offer enough value to anyone, so it can't work as a voluntary effort. We learned from our experience in successfully promoting the NYC program to paint roofs white that voluntary programs without enough incentives will fail, and that white roof painting doesn't offer enough incentive for either building owners or roof-painting volunteers.  The upgraded City building code requires that new and repaired roofs meet cool roof standards, which will gradually and unobtrusively cool more of NYC roofs.
 

Promoting energy efficiency programs works for customers, but there's no money in it for the CBO. We proved in Long Island City that community based nonprofits can effectively promote sustainability initiatives, using Con Ed's Green Team energy efficiency retrofit program.  It's a great deal for businesses but is still a tough sell.  When LIC Partnership promoted the program to our constituents, the businesses we referred participated in the program at a much higher rate than when contacted only by program contractors.  Other nonprofits could do the same, but if they don't have an advocacy agenda, there's no financial incentive for them. Here's the data on promoting energy efficiency retrofits.
  

Urban agriculture businesses can work - with a lot of start up funds.  Despite all the buzz, there's actually very little urban agriculture in NYC considering the vast amount of rooftop and backyard space available.  As businesses: their start-up costs can be high, and the profit margins are usually low.  Projects with lots of money can build high-end rooftop greenhouses that enable year-round production of profitable high end greens and tomatoes.

Groups more concerned with hunger, nutrition and environmental literacy than cash profits could aggregate vegetable production from multiple parcels in a neighborhood, either selling it or giving it to food pantries. The Food Bank for Westchester uses this model, which could be applied to NYC.  The City is already working to identify vacant public lots and get residents to turn them into community gardens. Even more potential garden space would be available if one were to add temporarily vacant private lots.  Temporarily vacant lots are usually not considered for gardening, as no one would want to build permanent raised garden beds on them.  But add low-cost, portable planters, and temporary gardening use of lots becomes more feasible.

Okay, here's the money: with referral fees linked to solar PV system installations, everyone wins. LIC Partnership created referral agreements with solar installers. The group's outreach to its clients resulted in two solar system installations, and earned referral fees for the group.  It's all available on this site.  Contact us to set up a meeting or presentation to help you use it in your community.

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2012 - Selected articles and posts

 
                              


2011 - Selected articles and posts


2010 report - Community mental health services

People impacted by weather disasters or economic crisis will need counseling and support services.  Joanna Macy and the Transition movement consider emotional resilience programs to be just as important as physical infrastructure resilience.  In this report I interview over twenty therapists for pragmatic tips on what such group programs might look like.  Two years later, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the topic of support services for residents impacted by natural disasters reentered public attention. 





2008 report 
- "Sustainable Energy Independence for NYC"

This report encouraged NYC officials to add the topic of fuel price and supply volatility to policy discussions.  Specifically the report requested that the City (1) revise all planning and budgeting decisions to include scenarios of higher energy costs, (2) create contingency plans for price spikes, and (3) promote sustainability initiatives as a way of buffering future volatility in energy costs.  Similar reports on municipal preparation for fuel depletion and energy volatility have been published by the cities of San Francisco, CA, Portland, OR, and Bloomington, IN.