• The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 7, 2015 7:00 PM at the Community Room of the Ballston Firehouse Station (located at Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive).

May 18, 2015

Workshop on sustainable entrepreneurship, June 6 (Sat.), 10 am-4 pm, Crystal City Arlington

environment,Events — @ 10:24 am

WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

“Geo Sapiens: A Business Workshop for the Earth Wise” at Arlington Tech Shop, June 6, 10 am till 4:30 pm, at Arlington Tech Shop, 2110-B Crystal Drive, Crystal City, Arlington, VA

ARLINGTON, VA, May 18 –Innovation, creativity and collaborative problem solving are the themes for the June 6 event “Geo Sapiens: A Business Workshop for the Earth Wise” that brings together doers and thinkers from government, businesses and community. The event will take place at the Arlington Tech Shop in Crystal City. The Arlington Greens are a co-sponsor of this event

earth

The workshop offers perspectives from renowned experts in the field of sustainability. Speakers include:

• Martin Ogle, recognized expert in creating sustainable communities and governments

• Larry Robertson, renowned author on innovation and entrepreneurship

• Dr. Robert Means, leading authority on energy policy and regulation and how businesses comply and prosper under environmental legislation.

A panel discussion will include practical approaches to sustainability from experts in renewable energy, environmental home design, legal and business strategies for business sustainability, and how to create a business ecosystem to bring ideas and solution to fruition.

“This workshop will shine a light on the business opportunities created through sustainable urban communities.” said Miriam Gennari, president of MetroMakeover, the event organizer. “With the amount of growth and development taking place in our region, we have an unprecedented opportunity to be creative and rethink entrepreneurship to ensure a vibrant future for our communities and businesses.”

Admission is $50 for students and nonprofit organization members (including Arlington Green members); and $100 for business and general admission.

The workshop will address how to:

• Create empowered communities who value sustainable businesses and organizations

• Connect with entrepreneurs prospering from green product and service innovation

• Design new business models that respond to consumer demand for “net zero” lifestyles

• Network with local leaders and businesses to advance ideas and collaborate on opportunities

• Rethink business proposition to respond to stakeholder expectations for sustainability

• Build business and government partnerships that remove barriers and accelerate progress

“This event brings together an impressive network of like-minded people to connect ideas to resources.” commented Founder of Community Forklift and a Policy Committee member of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council, Jim Schulman, Founder, Sustainable Community

Initiatives. “Building this critical business ecosystem is an important step to creating a sustainable regional economy.”

Proceeds from the workshop benefit OurTask.com, A 100% volunteer organization dedicated to increasing environmental awareness and accountability among young adults.

For more information or to register for the Workshop go to eventbrite.com, key word “Geo Sapiens.”

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April 21, 2015

Earth Day 2015, Some Green Party reflections

environment,Events — @ 12:28 pm

Some Green Thoughts on the 2015 Earth Day.
Earth Day began in 1970 as a spontaneous U.S. wide day of call for action on the environmental degradation facing the U.S. and the world. It has resulted in some major improvements in the U.S., but the event has now become captured by commercial and political interests looking for a feel-good event that does not confront our hideous worldwide capitalist systems.

Here below is the U.S. Green Party’s call for Ecological Sustainability that should mean every day is Earth Day.

Ecological Sustainability
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The human community is an element of the Earth community, not the other way around. All human endeavors are situated within the dynamics of the biosphere. If we wish to have sustainable institutions and enterprises, they must fit well with the processes of the Earth. The ideology of industrialism, in both capitalist and communist countries, insists that modern society lives on top of nature and should rightly use and despoil the rest of the natural world as we desire – because any loss of the ecosystems is merely an “externality” in economic thought and because any problems can be addressed later by a technological fix. We are now living through the painful consequences of that arrogant, ignorant perspective. Many of our children suffer from accumulations of mercury and other toxins in their neurological systems, environmentally related cancer is on the rise, and our air and water are increasingly polluted. Meanwhile, our ecosystems are being compromised by the spreading presence of genetically engineered organisms.

Our houses and buildings, manufacturing processes, and industrial agriculture were all designed with the assumption of an endless supply of cheap and readily available fossil fuels. Pollution and despoiling the land were not part of the thinking. The Green Party, however, is optimistic about the alternatives that now exist and that could be encouraged through tax policy and the market incentives of fuel efficiency. We also challenge the grip of the oil, automotive, and automobile insurance industries that have managed to block or roll back progress in public mass transit. The gutting of subsidies for the railroads has meant not only fewer passenger routes but also the addition of thousands of large freight trucks on our highways, decreasing public safety and increasing pollution. We are committed to extending the greening of waste management by encouraging the spread of such practices as reduce, return, reuse, and recycle. We strongly oppose the recent attempts to roll back the federal environmental protection laws that safeguard our air, water, and soil.

The health of the life-support systems – the ecosystems on our continent – is of paramount importance. Inherent in the efficient dynamics of those ecosystems is a vital profusion of biodiversity. Therefore, the Greens call for a halt to the destruction of habitats, which are being sacrificed to unqualified economic expansion. We humans have a moral responsibility to all of our relations, many of which are facing extinction because we carelessly and permanently halt their long evolutionary journey.

The Green Party also supports the spread of organic agriculture and the careful tending of our nation’s precious remaining topsoil. We support planetary efforts to slow the ever-increasing numbers of humans pressuring the ecosystems, and we especially support the reduction of consumption of the world’s raw materials by the industrialized Northern Hemisphere. We are appalled by our country’s withdrawal from serious efforts to limit greenhouse gases that are contributing mightily to global climate disruption. The Green Party strongly urges the United States to adopt an actively responsible position in this crisis and to take significant action to address the problem.

~ 2012 Green Party Platform

http://www.gp.org/ecology

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April 19, 2015

Observations from Mark Antell, a longtime Green and community activist on the County Board’s meeting on April 18 on the Wilson School Building in Rosslyn

Wilson School

Wilson School

I attended the County Board meeting this AM (April 18). Almost all business was focused on my neighborhood greenspace: the Wilson School and adjoining Rosslyn Highlands Park. To no ones surprise, the plan emerging from today’s meeting remains: ‘knock down the historic school, cede parkland to a developer (in exchange for his building a firestation). Walt Tejada was the sole dissenting voice, a tongue far less silver than the rest of speakers, but far more honest.

I was particularly disturbed by Mr. Vihstadt’s arguments. He spoke highly of the “robust” (his words) Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) which the county set up to engage the community on plans for this site. But WRAPS wasn’t ‘robust.’ Most of my community, most community activists throughout Arlington, know that WRAPS was a staged event to provide cover for a prearranged deal. Most WRAPS meetings occurred after the County had already secretly signed an MOU to cede land to the developer. On one occasion the WRAPS process slipped and allowed citizens a poll. Participants voted overwhelmingly against putting a road through a diminished Rosslyn Highlands park. But the road is still in the plans.

I recommend we think long and hard about ever endorsing Mr. Vihstadt again.

Mark Antell

Rosslyn resident and long-time member AGP

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April 13, 2015

Fight for $15 minimum wage: rally at MLK Memorial, Wed. April 15, 6 pm

Events,Jobs,unemployment — @ 1:37 pm

Dear Arlington friends:

Arlington Greens voted to support the national protests throughout the U.S. to get a minimum wage of $15 per hour. A rally will be held this Wednesday, April 15, 6 pm at the Martin Luther King Memorial on the Tidal basin.

Some of us are going to carpool down and leave Arlington around 5 pm from the East Falls Church area. If you want to carpool with us, please email John Reeder JReeder123@msn.com. Alternatively, you can take the Metro down to the Smithsonian station, and walk over to MLK Memorial from there. Meet us at the MLK Memorial and look for our Arlington Greens banner.

We Arlington Greens a number of years ago successfully supported a living wage of $13.25 per hour in Arlington for public school and county employees (and contractor employees), but this only applied to public employees and not to private industry employees. The time has come to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour which would generate (if the employee can get 40 hours of work a week) of about $30,000 a year annual income, only slightly above poverty and still not enough to live in Arlington and the Metro DC region without extensive government subsidies. We support work and that these major corporations can well afford to pay their employees at least $15 an hour so that they do not have to depend on food stamps, food banks, and other government subsidies that the public provides.

John Reeder
treasurer – Arlington Greens
www.greensofarlington.org

Fight for $15

Only days left before we make history.

On April 15, we will be standing up, speaking out and fighting for fair pay at the MASSIVE rallies around the globe for the Fight for $15.

You committed to stand with us. Here are the details for rally nearest you. Mark your calendar:

What: Fight for $15 Rally
When: 6:00pm
Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC, 20024

Wrong city? Head here to find an event closer to you: April15.org

If you believe that every mother who works hard for a living should make enough money to feed her kids – then we need you there.

If you believe that a man who works for a company for 5 years – every single day in a hot kitchen – and still makes $8.25 an hour, deserves a raise – then stand with us.

If you believe that it is TIME for companies that make record profits to give back to communities that support them by paying their employees enough to live – then help take this fight to the next level. Share this page with 3 friends right now: April15.org

The victories are inspiring: a $15 wage in Seattle and San Francisco, a $12.25 wage in Oakland – and cities from New York to Chicago to LA clamoring to push theirs even higher.

It’s time for McDonald’s and poverty-pay corporations like them to pay us enough to support our families. It’s time for $15 and union rights.

Looking forward to standing with you at the rallies on April 15. Let’s win this thing.

Thanks,

Beth Schaffer
McDonald’s Employee, Charleston, SC
Fight for $15

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April 9, 2015

Arlington Greens candidates panel discussion

Candidates,Events — @ 4:36 pm

Editor’s Notebook: What third-party and independent candidates need to do
by SCOTT McCAFFREY of Sun Gazette Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 7:00 am
About 20 intrepid souls gathered at Shirlington Library amid last evening’s darkening skies for a forum put on by the Arlington Green Party, discussing ways that independents and third-party candidates could find success in running for local office.
(For the purposes of this discussion, which will focus on Arlington, I’ll include the Republicans as a third party. Not intended as a slight, just a reflection of the difficulties the GOP faces in an overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning community.)

At the event, there was a fair amount of bash-the-media for failing to give alternative candidates equal coverage with the major-party contenders. It is a familiar refrain.

But the reality is this: While there is a relatively low bar set to get on the ballot in local elections in Virginia (just 125 petition signatures will land you on the Arlington County Board ballot, for instance), we in media-land tend to set a far higher bar for considering a candidacy worth covering in a more substantial way.

I think I said it last year, when John Vihstadt was embarking on his candidacy to topple the Democratic County Board monopoly: Candidates who aren’t Democrats and want to have a chance on Election Day in A-town would need to raise at least $100,000 during campaign season before I’d be particularly inclined to give them a shot at winning, and providing a commensurate level of coverage.

Why? Two reasons:

• Raising that much money is necessary to get the word out about a candidacy, and to build the campaign infrastructure needed to compete against the extensive Democratic precinct-operations efforts.

• Raising that amount of campaign cash would show that a candidate has a network of supporters willing to, literally, put their money where their mouth is.

Vihstadt was very competitive in his fundraising efforts, picking up as much, and I think more, campaign cash than his Democratic opponent, Alan Howze.

But it’s been a vicious cycle for other candidates taking on Democrats: They say they can’t get traction because their candidacies aren’t publicized, but the media isn’t likely to take seriously a candidate unwilling to do the grunt work of raising cash. It’s a necessary evil in the political arena.

I stayed for the first 75 minutes of the program before having to head out into the night. Was an interesting and informative discussion. We’ll see if the Greens field a candidate this year, and time will tell the fate of independents who plan on running in November.

Goes to Show My Prognosticating Skills Are Worthy Zip

Yesterday also brought a drawing to determine ballot order among the first four candidates to file for the Democratic primary for County Board. As they all got their paperwork in on the first day (March 9) of filing, they were deemed by Democratic leaders to have filed simultaneously, and the elections office held a drawing to determine who would go where on the ballot.

Earlier in the day, for funsies, I guessed that the ballot order would be Katie Cristol/Andrew Schneider/Peter Fallon/Christian Dorsey.

I got the No. 2 and No. 3 slots correct, but flipped No. 1 and No. 2. The order, drawn from a bowler hat provided by Electoral Board secretary Allen Harrison Jr., was Dorsey/Schneider/Fallon/Cristol.

James Lander and Bruce Wiljanen, who filed their paperwork later in the filing season, will round out the six-person ballot in the June 9 primary.

Sometimes Police Chases Should Come with Soundtracks

Ay-yay-yay: Yesterday brought not only the prisoner that a security contractor let escape (as Maxwell Smart would have said, “sorry about that, Chief”), but also that wild police chase on the Beltway, one that in retrospect seems a bit, mmmm, ill-advised on the part of law enforcement.

The only thing missing was the chase music from Benny Hill’s old British TV show playing in the background. Would have been fitting, given the Keystone Kops-esque performance.

– Scott

http://www.insidenova.com/blogs/editor-s-notebook-what-third-party-and-independent-candidates-need/article_d9a645f8-d855-11e4-a257-b377ce19ffa7.html

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March 23, 2015

Arlington Greens recommend changes to Arlington housing assistance programs

Affordable Housing — @ 3:12 pm

Arlington Greens at their March meeting adopted the following recommendations to the County Board on ways to improve Arlington’s housing assistance program that spends many millions of dollars in local revenues annually:
solar-power-house1

Arlington Greens urge the Arlington County Board in its deliberations over the 2016 budget to make significant changes to the nearly $36 million in local revenues spent for housing assistance to Arlington residences, as follows:

1. Fund more families and individuals earning less than 40% of the area median income (those earning less than $30,000 (single) to $43,000 (family of four) per year):
-significant housing assistance funds should be shifted to direct housing grants that could help another 2,000 families a year; and
-seek additional HUD dollars to fund subsidies to the poor/struggling/disabled/mentally ill in Arlington.

2. Increase Transparency/Advocacy:
-Authorize an independent auditor of all subsidized housing programs to verify that these subsidies actually reach intended persons in a cost effective way and are not misdirected

-Establish a single phone number, website, and housing division staffer to monitor rents charged, conditions and maintenance in the about 6,300 subsidized affordable apartments, and to allocate vacancies to eligible tenants as these units become available in a fair and open manner

-Begin a competitive bidding process in the housing division to allocate AHIF funds to selected and low-cost housing providers to increase competition among providers and reduce the per unit costs of all new subsidized apartments (so-called CAF units), and to provide more apartments for the same cost.

3. What the County does well and could expand:
-The housing grants program is an exemplary county assistance program that is efficient, transparent and goes directly to help the neediest persons in Arlington: recent recipients include those who earned less than $26,000 a year; 1,200 households of seniors over the age of 65, disabled persons and working families with children

-Like the Federal food stamps program (SNAP), the housing grants program allows tenants to rent anywhere in the county; the housing grants program could help another roughly 2,000 households with a monthly grant of close to $500 per month.

4. What the County Could Do Better:
-provide housing incentives and assistance to County employees, including first responders
-allow more families earning less than 40% to receive AHIF/-re-evaluate what income levels receive AHIF if at all/More broadly utilize Housing Grants in lieu of AHIF
-more evenly distribute the number of affordable housing projects all over the county

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March 22, 2015

Panel for first time candidates in Arlington had interesting tips and ideas

Arlington Greens panel for first time candidates had about 15 people at Shirlington Library on March 31. The four panel members were Joe Galdo, former candidate for Congress in Fairfax, Dan Robinson, candidate for the Maryland General Assembly from Takoma Park, Maryland; Miriam Gennari former candidate for Arlington School Board; and John Reeder, former two time candidate for Arlington County Board. All candidates ran as Greens. Also on hand was Gretchen Reinemeyer of the Arlington Voters office to explain the legal issues of filing for office in 2015. There are two county board seats, one school board seat, all four General Assembly seats and the state senate seat open in 2015, and all the constitutional offices such as sheriff.

Panelists left to right" Gretchen Reinemery of the voters office, Joe Galdo, Miriam Gennari, John Reeder and Dan Robinson

Panelists left to right” Gretchen Reinemery of the voters office, Joe Galdo, Miriam Gennari, John Reeder and Dan Robinson

Arlington Greens are looking for qualified first time candidates to run. Greens are independents; accept no corporate or PAC funds, and run against the two major parties.

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March 12, 2015

County housing assistance funds—mostly subsidies for the affluent, and little for lower income

Affordable Housing — @ 1:38 pm

Much of Arlington County’s housing assistance is wasted or directed to high income persons, doing relatively little for the low income and those particularly in need of Arlington.

Arlington County resident can be proud that our county government spends over $36 million annually from its local tax revenues for housing assistance, but unfortunately a high amount is wasted or used to subsidize either developers or high income persons, and relatively little goes to help persons earning less than $40,000 a year. Arlington is the second most expensive rental area in the Washington, D.C. region, and the housing cost burden is greatest for persons earning under $40,000 a year. Housing assistance should go to help the lowest income persons before helping those making over $60,000.

The largest county housing assistance segment is called “AHIF” (Arlington Housing Investment Fund), and it mainly benefits persons earning generally between 60-percent and 80-percent of area median income (roughly $60,000 to $85,000 for a family of four). Most of the $13 million housing subsidies for AHIF actually go to developers and operators of these apartments rather to tenants in the form of dramatically lower rents.

According to data of the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research, there were 21,800 rental households in 2012 in Arlington who faced a housing cost burden (spending more than 30 percent of their incomes for rent and housing expenses), about 20 percent of all Arlington households. About 70 percent of these households earn less than $50,000 a year. Meanwhile a high proportion of Arlington’s housing assistance goes to the 25 percent earning above $50,000 a year. www.housingvirginia.org

One Arlington housing assistance program is well targeted, administered, and benefits lower income tenants–the housing grants program or direct rental subsidy. Under this program about $8 million is spent annually to directly help about 1,200 low income households with a monthly housing grant of $400-500. Only persons earning less than about $32,000 a year for a single person and up to $46,000 for a family of our can benefit and in addition must be disabled, a senior citizen or a working family with a child.

Thus, AHIF, the largest county assistance program, does little to help lower income persons and mostly provides funds to developers and little for tenants in the form of sharply lower rents. However, the second largest program–housing grants program is well targeted and efficient.

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March 4, 2015

Columbia Hills Apts: affordable housing for the well to do

solar panels commercialComments of John Reeder, treasurer of Arlington Greens, speaking at the county board hearing on Feb. 24, 2015 (these comments do not necessarily reflect the position of the Arlington Green Party):

Dear County Board members:

I oppose the approval of the zoning request and the $20 million in county AHIF funds to build these two apartment buildings in west Columbia Pike area located at 1010 S. Frederick Street, off Columbia Pike. APAH a nonprofit developer has requested about $20 million in county loans from the Arlington Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

I have spoken several times against excessively costly affordable housing projects that are simply not affordable to low income people in Arlington. This is yet another such wasteful project. Please reject this proposal and send APAH back to the drawing board to come up with lower priced units for low income persons, namely those earning below 40-percent of the area median income (AMI) which is roughly $30,000 to $43,000 a year income).
Please read over details in the staff report presented to you:

l. 80 percent of the 229 units in the two new buildings are only affordable to persons earning above 60-percent AMI ($45,000 for a single person and $64,400 for a family of four).

2. Only 4 percent of the units are affordable to low income persons making less than 40-percent AMI. You have set your housing goal that at least 25% of new CAF units be affordable to 40-percent AMI renters: NONE of the AHIF projects for new CAFs have come close to your 25% goal.

3. Each new unit will cost about $$394,000 each–nearly four hundred thousand bucks. The $90 million total cost is very high–$7 million in developers fee, $6 million in “soft costs,” and $10 million in land/acquisition costs. The hard construction costs are $67 million or $227,000 per apartment which are well above Washington, DC regional costs. Are they building the Taj Mahal or affordable basic housing?

4. The land is quite expensive at $10 million or $44,000 per apartment. APAH claimed publicly that it owns the parking lot land and that the land is free. In fact, it does not own the land at all and it will cost taxpayers $10 million to buy a parking lot in western Columbia Pike. There are entire commercial buildings for sale in that area for less than $10 million.

Approving AHIF projects to build very expensive new CAFs which ipso facto cannot be rented to low income people in Arlington is a terrible waste of our public local dollars that could be used better t provide other forms of housing assistance to the needy rather than subsidies for developers and contractors like APAH.

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February 4, 2015

Battle for Brooklyn community continues in 2015 with Arlington very similar

We Greens showed the documentary Battle for Brooklyn last week at Central Library despite snow and bitter cold and we had a good turnout. The documentary highlighted the fight of community activists in Brooklyn to prevent the demolition and displacement of many moderate income renters and home owners to allow the building of a billion dollar project for a NBA basketball arena (now called the Barclays Center) and new luxury and so-called “affordable housing.”

The New York Times article in their February 4 edition, , Vivian Yee and Mirreya Navarro, “Some see risk in de Blasio bid to add housing,” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/nyregion/an-obstacle-to-mayor-de-blasios-affordable-housing-plan-neighborhood-resistance.html provides an interesting historical follow up to what happened to Brooklyn later and now that a progressive de Blasio replaced billionaire Michael Bloomburg as mayor. Bloomburg was an advocate for the sports arena and openly said he wanted more millionaires in New York, as the article describes:

“….But many New Yorkers feel that projects from the era of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg like Pacific Park, a multi-building complex around the Barclays Center formerly called Atlantic Yards, did not deliver on their promises of affordable housing quickly or comprehensively enough.”

NYC new mayor De Blasio says he wants to build more affordable housing, but like Arlington, this affordable housing is not affordable for most low income and even middle income renters. Now Brooklyn community activists are calling for no development at all if the only alternative is high rise buildings that mainly house high income person–80 percent luxury housing and 20 percent “affordable.”

The article indicates,
“Another common concern is that the financing deals to build affordable units do not serve those who need them most: extremely low-income residents making 30 percent or less of the area’s median income, or less than $26,000 a year for a family of four in the city’s five boroughs and Westchester County. Most new affordable units are now open to households in the range of 60 percent of the area’s median income.”

This is the rule for Arlington’s affordable housing–60% AMI is the minimum income needed to get into Arlington’s subsidized units.

Same development patterns here–promise affordable housing in the middle of a luxury project.

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