The IMPACT, a Sustainable CT podcast
Questions or comments about the IMPACT should be directed to the Sustainable CT communications manager, Jim Hunt, via email or by calling 860-259-4732. We will feature the best content drawn from our workshops, webinars and Coffee Hours. We'll also be bringing you occasional interviews with Very Interesting & Helpful People. Look for new episodes here, or wherever you get your podcasts, on or about the 15th of each month.
We recorded live at the 2022 Connecticut Power & Energy Society's Fall Conference for a panel discussion entitled “Read All About It: A Journalist’s View of Effective Energy Reporting.” Joining was a group of some of the most distinguished energy reporters in our region: Sam Mintz with RTO Insider, Jan Ellen Spiegel with the Connecticut Mirror, Ethan Howland of Utility Dive, and Sabrina Shankman of the Boston Globe. We discussed not only what it takes to report on some very complex topics, but also some of the major issues facing the Connecticut and New England energy scene.
We had the good fortune to chat with Catherine Diviney, Energy Specialist with the Town of West Hartford and doyen of all things sustainable in municipal government. Catherine was present at the creation of Sustainable CT – lending her guidance at the inception of our mission – and she’s been a steadfast supporter ever since. She’s someone to whom we often turn for comment, critique and an important hands-on perspective when it comes to affecting sustainability at the local level. The Town of West Hartford was Bronze certified in 2018 and gained Silver certification in 2021 with flying colors. This year, they’re in the running to be one of only a handful for Connecticut towns to receive our first-ever Climate Leader designation – that’s a pretty big deal. And it’s all due in large part to the tireless and committed work of Catherine Diviney.
We had the good fortune to have TWO of Connecticut’s best natural resources on the same Zoom call: our executive director, Lynn Stoddard AND Senator Christine Cohen, representing the 12th state Senate district and chair of the Environment Committee.
I had the chance to chat with our very own Mary Dickerson, certification program manager extraordinaire AND the manager of the Sustainable CT Fellowship Program. Mary's a veritable font of practical knowledge and experience, unmatched administrative prowess and truly a delight to work with. We covered a lot of ground in our conversation - certification, of course, but we also took a deep dive into the topic of affordable housing and all the work Sustainable CT Fellows have been doing to help Connecticut cities and towns grapple with the issue. And "What's an insult you've taken as a compliment?" - we went there, too. Enjoy.
It’s all about riparian zones – from the Latin word for river: RIPA or RIPARIUS (Et tu, Riparius?). But a riparian zone, at least to those of us west of the Rubicon, is actually the area on the sides of the river – a buffer that, if preserved and managed properly, goes a long way toward keeping the river clean and keeping whatever the river, or stream, flows into clean as well. Critical stuff, really. So critical, in fact, that that the Connecticut legislature passed Public Act 21-19 creating new environmental responsibility and authority for local governments to protect and restore riparian zones. Under the new statute, all “navigable waterways” flowing into Long Island Sound now need to be protected – which affects almost all the municipalities in the state. We were joined by some heavy-hitters on this topic: Charles Vidich, senior project manager in charge of the Regional Plan of Conservation & Development at the Western Council of Governments; Sam Gold, executive director of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments; and Francis Pickering, executive director of Western COG. Together they facilitated a conversation on next steps toward more sustainable riparian protection and development.
Today we’re chatting with a friend, a colleague, and an all-around very interesting human being, Joseph Dickerson, the Sustainable CT community partnership manager, and manager of the Community Match Fund. Joseph draws on his past experience with city, state, and federal government programs, community development, and entrepreneurship to help guide leaders and community teams as they innovate and grow sustainability projects across Connecticut.
We were grateful to be joined by Dr. Jonathan Foley, director of Project Drawdown, for Earth Day in April. Jonathan is a world-renowned environmental scientist, sustainability expert, author, and public speaker. His work is focused on understanding our changing planet, and finding new solutions to sustain the climate, ecosystems, and natural resources on which we all depend.
Dr. Foley provided an in-depth appraisal of where we stand with respect to climate change and global warming. And he made the point that there is yet room – indeed, a necessity – for optimism.
I had the good fortune to sit down – virtually, of course – with Alyssa Norwood, until very recently our project manager for certification & innovation. She, along with the incomparable Jess LeClaire, was responsible for bringing so many towns in the state across the finish line of certification. Alyssa was a founding member of the Sustainable CT team, so I wanted to hear her take on our group’s founding and her part in it, and what she thought was important and inspiring about Sustainable CT. We ended up talking about many things – from housing policy to what it means to be an end-of-life doula. Here's our conversation recorded on March 22.
A compelling and informative discussion about engaging community members in the creation of municipal policy and compensating them for the benefit of their lived experience.