Eat Healthy, Support Local Farms

Despite the challenging times we are currently facing, our local farmers have either been growing food throughout the winter in greenhouses and high tunnels or are beginning to plant for the upcoming months. Healthy PlanEat is a new sustainable food startup that exists to connect organic farms to local customers. It’s founder, Rosemary Ostfeld, built a website where people can find farms near them and place an order to pick up at the farm.

Healthy PlanEat is currently accepting orders for pick up at Star Light Gardens located at 54 Fowler Avenue in Durham. Star Light Gardens is currently offering a variety of organic greens which can help supplement your trips to the grocery store. Orders can be placed on the Healthy PlanEat website Saturdays through Thursday by 9 pm for pick up on Fridays after 2 pm or Saturdays after 10 am at Star Light Gardens, 54 Fowler Avenue, Durham, CT, 06422.

Orders can be placed here: https://www.healthyplaneat.com/star-light-gardens Healthy PlanEat is also crowdfunding to build a new website so more farms can be included. Donations to the crowdfunding campaign can be made here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/healthy-planeat

 

Fight Climate Change and Plant A Tree

In the course of our campaign to increase Middletown’s tree-planting budget, some people told us they would like to donate their own money to plant trees. That’s commitment!  Then we heard about Sustainable CT’s program to match dollar for dollar any community-generated funds raised for qualified projects through IOBY (In Our Back Yards) – a crowdfunding service.For example, your $20 gift will instantly become a $40 gift.

Sites for new trees in Middletown and Portland are being considered. In Middletown, priority will be given to the North End, where the tree canopy is even sparser than in other parts of the city, and to high-visibility commercial corridors. In Portland, priority will be given to areas in the town’s central residential and commercial area where trees were removed for sidewalk replacement or due to disease. Funds will be allocated between the towns based on the residence of donors. 

 Click here to read more or donate. (100% of all donations will be used for trees; not administration.)

EARTH WEEK EVENT CANCELLATION

CANCELLATION ANNOUNCEMENT

It is with profound regret that we must inform you that the 50th Anniversary Earth Day March for Science and Rally (April 22nd), and Earth Festival (April 25th) events in Middletown will be canceled for this year.

This decision is made in consultation with the City of Middletown for limiting the potential spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) within our city and the surrounding communities.

Both events are certain to exceed the crowd size/density guidelines for public space events. The Team is in complete agreement with the City, that these guidelines are reasonable and sane measures that will slow the rate of infection early after the initial outbreak is detected.  Unfortunately, the implementation of the guidelines will cancel our Earth Week plans this year.

To our partners, vendors and volunteers: Our organizing team has been so incredibly encouraged and uplifted by the energy, the enthusiasm and support we have received from each and every one of you.  Please be assured that we have resolved to bring our Earth Day / Earth Week celebration, gatherings and Earth Festival back to Middletown in 2021.  We will keep you informed as these plans develop.

All funds collected to date or offered after this date will be directed toward JCEA sponsored activities dedicated to the continuing goals of Earth Day; including prioritized ecosystem and climate remediation, education and advocacy, and preparations for the 2021 Middletown Earth Day/Earth Festival. 

Please be safe, and follow all guidelines that the CDC has released to minimize our exposure; to keep our hands clean and help keep our community healthy!!


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Replace Our Trees — Time For Action

After 236 people signed our petition to replace the 100 trees lost  in Middletown every year  (that’s just the trees on public property), we are asking our readers to email the Common Council.  Please urge them to increase the tree planting budget for Fiscal Year 2021 from $8500 (17 trees) to $58,500 (117 trees). Explain why trees are important to you and ask that they support this increase before we get further behind. Already, approximately 300 dead ash trees from prior years are waiting to be removed.

Here is a sample text that you can insert into your message.

We are reaching out to you now, before the budget hearings begin, to ask if you will support the initiative of the Jonah Center and the Urban Forestry Commission to address the rapid and alarming loss of trees in our community. Trees are essential to our quality of life and provide many documented benefits, including carbon absorption, air cooling, removal of air pollution, improved physical and mental health, enhanced beauty, increased property values, and reduced crime.

Use the email address Council@MiddletownCT.gov  to reach all the members of the Common Council with one message.  The email addresses of individual members of the Common Council may be found here: http://www.cityofmiddletown.com/458/Common-Council

Please Bcc: or Cc: John Hall at jhall@thejonahcenter.org so we know whether our campaign is having an impact.

 

Action Alert — Support Bike Infrastructure

Governor Lamont’s CT2030 Transportation Plan Now Includes Bike- And Pedestrian Infrastructure

(Or so they say.)

The Governor acknowledges that we need to increase the use of public transit and that public transit needs to work better. But how are people supposed to get to a train or bus station?  One way is by bicycle!

The first public release of Governor Lamont’s Transportation Plan includes no mention of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Obviously, such infrastructure needs to be included in any smart transportation plan. To address climate change, air pollution, and highway congestion, we need to reduce the miles traveled by car, and to do that we need to improve access to public transit. Bicycles do that by providing a way for people to reach trains or buses (the “first mile”) and a way to reach their final destination (the “last mile”). Continue reading

Bike-Ped Improvements On West Street Bridge

West Street Bridge before improvements

West Street Bridge after improvements

The West Street bridge that crosses the railroad tracks just east of Washington Street was opened for travel recently after many years of study, plans, plan revisions, public review, more revisions, and construction. Prior to this improvement, this bridge was a narrow, wood-decked structure that allowed traffic to cross only from one direction at a time. This was a hazardous area for pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheel-chair users attempting to reach businesses on Washington Street.

The Jonah Center and the Complete Streets Committee became involved in this project as early as 2013. The Complete Streets Master Plan recommended West Street to serve as a major north-south bike route within the City, in spite of many issues, including the West Street bridge. We encouraged the public to attend hearings on the project, and we collectively recommended that the plan include at least one widened pedestrian and bicycle sidewalk over the tracks. During this process, we became aware that several users of motorized wheelchairs also used the bridge, even in its condition. Continue reading

Linden Tree Planted In Honor of Krishna Winston

Photo by Laurie Kenney

Photo by John Hall

The linden planted on November 15 near the corner of High St. and Wyllys Avenue honors Krishna Winston’s fifty years at Wesleyan as a professor of German Studies, an administrator, and, for the last ten years, also a professor in the College of the Environment. The Jonah Center celebrates this tree planted adjacent to a public street because Krishna has been an environmental leader in our wider community for many years. She has served on the Jonah Center’s Board of Directors since 2012 and as its president since 2014. Wesleyan’s replacement of lost trees along High Street, once renowned for its thick elm tree canopy, supports the Jonah Center’s Replace Our Trees campaign in Middletown. Continue reading

Replace Our Trees — Sign The Petition

In recent years, the City of Middletown has removed dead and dying trees at a much faster rate than the city has planted new trees. Due to the Emerald Ash Borer, about 300 dead ash trees currently need to be removed, according to the Urban Forestry Commission. A line of dead ash trees along Church Street between Broad and High (shown here, before removal in late 2019) is one striking and sad example.  Only 20-30 trees will likely be planted city-wide in the current year, given the available budget. Removing a large tree is far more expensive than planting a younger, smaller tree. For this reason, the urban forestry budget is being exhausted by the need for tree removals.

Climate change is playing a role in this process, just when trees are more urgently needed to mitigate climate change. Invasive plants, changing insect populations, and damage by vehicles are additional negative factors. Continue reading

It’s Time To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

The Jonah Center reminds residents to take advantage of the State’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program, and other low-cost, high-return opportunities to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. This program, subsidized by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, reduces home utility costs, on average, by $200 per year. The co-pay for HES has been reduced to $75 for all types of heating, and $0 for income-eligible residents (up to 60% of the state’s median income level). Your home will have air leaks sealed, energy-efficient light bulbs and shower heads installed, and insulation evaluated. Low cost, subsidized insulation options are also available. Every HES visit earns your municipality credits towards energy efficiency grants that your community can use to improve its energy portfolio. The Jonah Center continues to partner with New England Conservation Services, the company that actually performs the service. Call NECS at 877-389-7077 or visit their website at https://www.neconserves.com/ for more information.

New Sidewalks In Portland

Sidewalks are being replaced in Portland. The Town has completed nearly $1 million in sidewalk replacements funded by the Town’s voters through a ballot referendum in 2017. The Jonah Center’s recommendations of a “road safety audit” and the state’s Community Connectivity grant program led to an additional $200,000 in funding for the Town’s sidewalks.

Shown in the picture here is work underway on a stretch of new sidewalk on the northwest side of Main Street between Russell Street and Arvid Road.