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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Letter to Portland City Council regarding cheap oil

Letter to Portland City Council regarding cheap oil

user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 55
I don't know why, but every now and then I feel like our Portland City Councilors oughta hear from me. I've long given up getting any response or results from the Council, and realize that positive change doesn't come from the top, but I still believe that my seeds are viable and may perhaps some day find some fertile ground within the current power structure, and henceforth shoot off a letter every now and then - perhaps if nothing more than to hone my letter writing skills. This is going in the mailbox today. You'll recognize a line that I lifted directly from our meetup homepage. If inspired, feel free to cut and paste from this to create your own letter:

To: Edward J. Suslovic, Mayor, Kevin J. Donoghue, David A. Marshall, Dan S. Skolnik, Cheryl A. Leeman, James I. Cohen, John M. Anton, Jill C. Duson, Nicholas Mavodones


In light Portland’s ever-shrinking budget and of the end of cheap oil, I have devised seven ways for the City to simultaneously save money and the environment:

1. Print all documents double sided. That’s it. It’s that easy. All copiers and printers are capable of double side printing now.

2. Cut mowing time in half: Do not mow public parks/athletic fields/land as much. If it’s currently being mowed every day, cut it to every other day. Running a lawnmower for an hour equals driving a car 300 miles, pollution-wise.

Also, cut mowing time even further by doubling or tripling the size of community gardens: more garden space=less mowing=more food having to be transported from somewhere else. I understand that there is a three year wait for a plot at one of Portland’s community gardens. Ouch!

3. Remind city employees of the idling ban. I have observed all too often, many city vehicles needlessly idling.

4. Install a four day work week for city employees: The governor of Utah has instituted a 4-day work week for most state employees--except public safety workers--until further notice. Think about the money they'll save by not having to heat or cool their facilities from Friday through Sunday.

5. Begin the process of installing locally made windmills and solar panels made by PATHS students on all city-owned buildings. Encourage alternative energy education in our schools and a future workforce of highly trained citizens who can help get us though the upcoming energy and environment crisis by starting a new program at PATHS, teaching students to make solar panels, solar space heaters and windmills. This technology is being made somewhere, why not here?

6. Request that the department heads of the Carpentry, Culinary, Horticulture, Plumbing & Heating, Masonry and Welding programs at PATHS work together to help unleash their students creativity to start making year-round greenhouses and attach them to all of our schools. Why waste money and make more pollution on shipping inferior food to our children for lunch programs, when we can teach them to grow healthy food themselves, year-round? Added bonus: our children will then reduce their Nature Deficit Disorder.

7. Institute a Plastic Bag Tax. I emailed this idea earlier in the year to all city counselors and sadly received a very anemic response. Many cities, such as, Austin, San Francisco, and Phoenix and the entire country of Ireland are already doing this. Plastic bags are ugly and ubiquitous, they are made from and by petroleum and never break down. They gotta go. If just Hannaford on Forest Ave. goes through a million plastic bags in one month at $.15/bag, the City has just earned itself $150,000.00 – which is enough to begin funding all of the programs mentioned above.

The end of cheap oil and the financial crisis are serious global issues that are affecting us all right now and they have only just begun. We need to go BEYOND "sustainability" as most people currently employ the term. True sustainability means that we shift from a culture of consumers to a culture of creative, diverse producers of food, soil, medicine, music, art, and connection and that this goes way beyond just simply maintaining what we have to actually improving the entire fabric of our lives.
Please use your position of power to help actively create a positive post-carbon future, starting right now. It is not too late to turn our City into a healthy, forward-looking, secure community with a thriving local economy. I thank you for your time.

Susannah Sanfilippo
user 4058763
Hollis Center, ME
Post #: 59

user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 66
Hear! Hear! Well Written!

I think one way to pressure the council is to send three hundred letters to them plus submit letters to the paper, media, congressional representatives and the governors office.
A former member
Post #: 176
That is excellent! I will try to do something similar in my area and your letter will be a great help. It seems to me that the time is ripe right now and the People are ahead of our governing bodies when it comes to needed change. Thanks Susannah.
user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 57
Thank you all.
I'll let you know what sort of response I get...if any.

I'm not kidding about cutting and pasting from my letter - if you like it, feel free to use it.
Also, FYI: PATHS stands for Portland Arts and Technology High School - our vo-tech school.
A former member
Post #: 1

I had brunch with David Marshall from the City Council this morning and your request for a plastic bag tax was heard. He is all for it and plans on bringing it up as an initiative. I suggested the tax go towards a community composting program and he was game for that as well. KUDOS TO YOU!!!!!!

Also, I talked to him about the best way to go about getting more community garden space. He said that the best way would be to get a number of people in your district, mine is district 4, to go to the district meeting this fall and propose it. By having a group of people the councilors will recognize a need and go from there. I am thinking about doing it, just trying to find a good spot to propose where we put it. I think it would be fun to get a bunch of people to attend separate district meetings and voice a need for community gardens, that way the councilors would recognize it is not just a district need by a city and entire community need:)

user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 62
and KUDOS TO YOU, Lizzy! Your support means so much!

We do go to those annual district meetings and this year I'll bring my letter with me and in addition make a map of where a bunch of community gardens would easily go. And I think I'll bring my unintended collection of plastic bags.
Much gratitude,
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