Raíces EcoCulture Community Action Team Meeting Notes – May 21, 2017

Raíces EcoCulture Community Action Team
Meeting Notes

Attendees: Nicole Wines, Francisco G. Gómez, Paul A, Daniel C, Kira H, Rocío H, Chad H, Sylvia H, Amanda H, Paul S, Chris T, Elizabeth T

1. Resource Lists

-Subcommittee members: Liz, Kira, Amanda, Paul A.
-Liz reported that she is researching what already exists and creating a shared google doc to enter data. Once there is an accumulation of data, she will create a wiki, starting with a focus on Middlesex County and then spreading it statewide by networking with other activists
ACTION ITEM: Nicole contacted Junior Romero from Food and Water Watch and he emailed us a list of current elected officials in Central NJ Counties
ACTION ITEM: Before next meeting, Liz hopes to have a list of politicians (Junior already sent it!) and a list of headings for categories. She will also research different wiki sites to see which makes the most sense for our group to use.

2. Eco-Art

Water is Life Thunderbird Woman

-Subcommittee members: Paul S., Mark, Dan, Rocío, Liz
-Raíces will be holding a series of eco-art related events, and would love support and assistance from our EcoCulture Community Action Team.
NOTE: We have since held a subcommittee meeting cross between the Eco-Art subcommittee and the Revive the Raritan/Mill Brook clean up committee. It was decided that a critical mass event/festival would be something to work towards instead of trying to create immediately. Through messaging, marketing, fundraising programs, and educational events, we hope to begin to educate community members and network with additional organizations, residents and groups to build up to a critical mass. The Raíces Eco-Art programs and events will help with this messaging initiative.
-Current programs in planning process – Eco-Art exhibit including clean up and workshop with Lisa Bagwell (October), Water Is Life Art exhibit (September)

3. Mill Brook Clean Up/Revive the Raritan Initiative

-Subcommittee members: Francisco, Nicole, Chris, Liz, Dan, Sylvia, Paul S., Mark
-Our watershed is 41% impervious surface.
-It will take long term planning to recover/repair the river, and it can only be done incrementally.
-On a micro scale, there are already clean-ups happening (ex: RCHP has adopted a section of the Mill Brook, Mark Lesko also adopted a section on his own, and does almost daily clean ups along the river). It was expressed that in order to have a meaningful and lasting impact, instead of having a handful of people doing many small cleanups, we would need to have a critical mass of people at larger events.
-On a macro scale we can look to a critical mass style clean up event to clean whole Mill Brook or large sections of river front, ID contamination sites (mapping project where we create a history of contamination and destruction to educate the community), slow the course of the Mill Brook (resident rain gardens to reduce storm run off, long term planning to decrease amount of impervious surface in our watershed).
-We have since had two additional meetings of this sub-group, one where we screened and discussed Rescuing the River: The Raritan and one which was a cross group meeting with the Eco-Art committee to begin planning an educational messaging campaign. We want to motivate residents and community members, and be pro-active in connecting people to the river to help create a culture of caring about our waterways.
-Additional notes on clean-ups when we are ready for critical mass events:

  • someone suggested researching inmate/community service
  • Sylvia will maintain connections to volunteers from RU, HP Gives a Hoot, etc.
  • Dan mentioned an environmental history class at RU where they talked about the river offered through the Department of Human Ecology
  • someone mentioned data on mosquito control actions back to the 1910’s being accessible in Alexander Library Special Collections connecting to the Lower Rarity Watershed Project about the history of the river, as some of their interns and partners have already done some of that work. Might be able to continue it collaboratively, or work together to share data and resources.


4. Compost Collective/Cooperative

-Subcommittee members: Liz, Francisco, Linda, Nicole, Amanda, Mark, Paul S, Chris
-Liz presented the research she had done since the last meeting. Models she found included a monthly fee for participants of $15-$30. Different prices for pickup vs. delivery/drop off. Current models include distributed boxes/holders for food compost.
-Would be human powered
-Would need space
-Would need a full business plan including financing/grants for start up.
-There is currently an RU Compost Operators class offered at Duke Farms.
-Paul A. has a business plan from when he owned which he will send us.
-This working group will need to have it’s own separate meetings to start the planning process.

5. Outreach

-Subcommittee members: Sylvia, Liz, Paul A., Dan, Fuyo, Mark, Chris, Nicole
-This committee does not require additional meetings at this time. Members will work on getting the word out about our programs, events, actions and initiatives, as well as network with other groups and organizations. Spread the word through social media, sending delegates to other environmental and ecological groups’ meetings and programs, tabling at events and festivals, etc.

6. Grant Crew

-Subcommittee members: Fuyo, Nicole, Amanda, Kira, Liz
-This working group will need to have it’s own separate meetings to start working on raising funds through grants.

7. EV Cars

-Fuyo gave an initial introduction to the idea of an Electric Vehicle collective
-The initiative would include mechanics, cooperative solar, administrative workers

8. New Business

-Chad-will post compost idea
-Paul-biking interest
-Amanda-mentioned bike repair (NB Bike Exchange behind PRAB, which would be a social justice connection). Chris knows the person who runs the bike exchange and will connect Amanda to that person.
-Mark asked for an opinion vote over the terms plastic free waters vs. trash free waters. Vote came out 8 to 4 for plastic free waters.
-Next meetings will be subcommittee based meetings, and we will reconvene the larger group for report backs quarterly instead of monthly.