CURE100 Launched With Four Charter Chapters
By: Patty L. Buchanan
The Croton100 and CURE100 Community has much to celebrate. This past week we reached a momentous milestone when we formally launched CURE100 with four charter chapters following a series of events that crystallized our vision to create replicable and scalable community-based solutions to the climate crisis.
CURE100’s four new chapters are: our founding and flagship chapter Croton100, neighboring towns Yorktown100, Ossining100, and our first International Chapter — that’s right, International! – Bengaluru/Bangalore, India. CURE100 (Communities United to Reduce Emissions 100%), grew from Croton100’s initial master plan to replicate and scale our mission of working at the community level to meet global goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. These goals are closely aligned with New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) as well as the most recent scientific consensus.
All four chapters signed onto CURE100’s ambitious carbon reduction mission. As part of our collaboration agreements, all four chapters will license our unique Carbon Tracker as a tool to engage members of their community in understanding individual household contributions to global warming and an easy to understand step-down method to reduce emissions at about 5% per year, each year, over the next 20 years to reach net zero by 2040.
Each Chapter has adopted the CURE100 Pledge to educate and advocate for GHG reductions, and to recruit other chapters to do the same. Our new chapters are integrated with CURE100 on its website (we still have some work to do) and through our personal communication channels. Whoa! This was a lot to accomplish, but we were able to do so because of the collective commitment to make rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society per the call to action by global scientists.
Our launch event was remarkable because, even in this terribly strained time of the Covid pandemic, we were still able to pull an incredibly enthusiastic group of movers and shakers together on a virtual meeting to recognize the coming together of our public/private partnerships. CURE100 was honored to have received spirited congratulations, accolades and most sincere best wishes from elected officials and climate action leaders from State Government, Westchester County Government, our member community Mayors and Town Supervisors, Chapter Leaders and members, and other community supporters. For those who were not able to attend our virtual Launch event, you can still get an introduction to our Chapters and their leaders and learn all about it by reviewing our meeting slides here and viewing a recording of our virtual Launch here. To tickle your interests, here are some teasers:
CURE100 President Leo Wiegman opened the evening by observing that we have come so far in the last 12 months and that the creation of this organization has been a true team effort. He inspired us all to go “onward and upward.”
Leo explained that we have “laid the legal groundwork for being a flexible organization and being able to work with a number of different groups” and no matter the kind of group you are, (e.g., municipalities, and/or their Sustainability Committees, Conservation Advisory Councils, not-for-profits, or simply an incorporated group with five members), if you share our mission, we have built a path for licensing our Carbon Tracker and getting it integrated into your organizations’ web portal for free. Interested organizations or people who want to form such an organization can reach out to CURE100 through Patty L. Buchanan, [email protected].
The evening’s keynote speaker Donovan Gordon, NYSERDA Director of Renewable Heating and Cooling, reminded us that our community education and advocacy work is critically important because the average furnace has a life of about 20 years, this means we have just one shot of educating people on the importance of electrifying their heating systems (air or ground source heat pumps, rather than replacing or installing new oil/gas furnaces) between now and 2040.
Donovan reported that NYSERDA is budgeting $38 Million for workforce training over the next 5 years to support renewable heating and cooling. He recognized that the work of CURE100 is “extremely, extremely important” because grassroots work is the most successful path to reaching our goals. He stressed that “taking personal responsibility” is key because, although NYSERDA can give incentives and can make policy, “you, your residents, and your neighbors are the ones who must embrace it and install this equipment in your homes.”
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef congratulated us again for Croton100’s “marvelous accomplishments,” offered to continue to support us where possible and reiterated that she is a “strong cheerleader for everything” we are doing.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer expressed his support and encouraged us all to “push the envelope in every way we can” and pledged that we “will have a partner in County Government.”
Westchester County Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability Peter McCartt expressed his enthusiasm to “spread” CURE100, underscoring that our work with Sustainable Westchester would amplify our effectiveness and efficiency.
Peter emphasized that he was delighted to work with CURE100’s President Leo Wiegman as he is “very supportive of everything Leo has his fingers on because he does good stuff all over.” Peter also expressed his alignment with CURE100 goals when he exclaimed that he wants to help “make Westchester County a stepping-stone for your future, our nation, the world.”
Ossining100 is an outgrowth of a well-established active environmental group, Green Ossining. They decided that CURE100’s focused goals and engagement framework were an excellent fit for their community. Ossining100 was thus launched with resolutions by the Village and Town of Ossining, recognizing the IPCC and NY CLCPA goals, resolving to create Ossining100 as a Chapter of CURE100, “which pairs community action with data about carbon emissions by zip code, and quantifies community-wide emissions, emissions by household, individual emissions, emissions by sectors, and offers guidance for carbon emission reduction with the goal of reducing the overall carbon footprint by at least 5% per year through 2040.”
Ossining100’s Vice-Chair Suzie Ross said that she has been “so impressed with the entire Croton Team” because it is “so put together.” She commended the Team for having done “a remarkable thing in such a short period of time.” She is very excited to have the Carbon Tracker tool in their hands because it “dovetails so nicely with the work we have done in the community with the Sustainable Westchester programs and it is going to be a real game changer in our community.” Suzie recognized Ossining100’s Chair Dhruv Gupta, the entire “really impressive” Ossining Team, emphasizing that it takes “collaboration and community to make things happen.”
Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity remarked that being a part of this Launch of CURE100 was such “an exciting night” as it is building on the work of many in the community and throughout Westchester over many years. She observed that we are on a strong footing because Westchester has “a tremendous wealth of environmental thought leaders and doers.”
She shared her confidence that the “Carbon Tracker is especially empowering” as a tool in such a diverse community as Ossining. She is thrilled that they will have such a “great tool” that will allow residents to “tangibly see how they in their households can a make a difference.” She added that “Ossining100 will be such an exciting and great way for getting people excited and aware of the opportunities through the Energy SmartHome initiatives.” Ossining’s Mayor Elect Rika Levin emphasized that she wants to see Ossining be the “greenest village in the country,” a call to action to which CURE100 responds, “woohoo, bring it on!”
Town of Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg recognized the broad team of elected officials and community organizers that were brought together for CURE100’s launch. Among others, she gave a “Big shout out to Croton100 for the incredible groundwork that you have laid.” The “Carbon Tracker is a way for everybody to take ownership” of our collective carbon reduction goals.
Bengaluru/Bangalore India Chapter Vice-Chair Rahul Jacob introduced the India Chapter team. We started our launch at 7:00 p.m. in New York, when it was about 5:30 a.m. in Bengaluru, yet Rahul joined the CURE100 launch with joy. It was noted that the average Indian resident’s carbon emissions are about 2 tons per year, while the average American emits over 16 tons per year. The City of Bengaluru has a population of about 15 million people! The Bengaluru team is a collection of environmental activists who have been working on reducing carbon emissions, while protecting and restoring healthy eco-systems. Chapter Leader Kavitha Reddy seeks to live with the spirit that also carries many of us in CURE100 forward in our work to solve the environmental crises we face: “There are a million ways to success, but only one way to failure: not trying.”
Yorktown100 Chair Bob De Angelis explained that Yorktown100 is very interested in working with its School District. They will strive to use the Carbon Tracker and work with the Yorktown Schools to educate young people about carbon emissions of their household and what it means to them. Yorktown100 is also especially keen to “create a society where people really understand this.” They are also pairing its web-based blog with publication in a local newspaper, the Yorktown News, in a series called “Stepping Up to a Sustainable Lifestyle.” Bob recognized the importance of the public/private partnerships, crediting much of the progress to the “very strong support” from Yorktown’s Town Supervisor Matt Slater, who has been very supportive on all matters involving renewable energy and sustainable initiatives. Indeed, three members of the Yorktown100 chapter also serve on the Yorktown Climate Smart Communities Task Force. Yorktown100 joined CURE100 because “the methodology makes sense… people should be responsible for their carbon footprint and understand it and having a team to help them is a wonderful way to do this.” Yorktown
Town Supervisor Matt Slater cheered this Chapter on, remarking that they have a “great organization here in Yorktown” and that Yorktown is excited to be an active participant combating climate change.
Croton Village Mayor Brian Pugh remarked that the Village is very proud to be the birthplace of Croton100 and CURE100. He is happy to see how Croton100 has evolved. Recognizing that climate change is an issue that is bigger than any one community, Mayor Pugh congratulated the Croton Team for all its hard work and organizing such a diverse coalition to take this issue on.
Croton Village Trustee Len Simon added that “when there is collaboration among cities, towns and villages on common things, that is the greatest multiplier that you can find.” Len noted that “this gathering will bring real momentum to the things we care about.”
Bedford2030 Executive Director Midge Iorio, who was part of the seed from which Croton100 grew in September 2019, shared that Croton100 and CURE100’s accomplishments over the past year have been “astonishing” and that she is “so impressed by what you have done in just one year.” She recalled Bedford2030 providing some guidance to Croton100 in one of our early consultations about the importance of celebrating success together with fundraising.
In this spirit, Midge announced that she had recently made a personal donation to CURE100! We are grateful for Midge’s donation and shout-out about it.
And it gets even better! Peter McCartt, who is a part of Eastchester Environmental Committee volunteered to help make Eastchester CURE100’s next chapter! And, after our virtual event, we heard from another CURE100 supporter that she is interested in starting a CURE100 Chapter, possibly in Peekskill. So, Leo was right in his prescient remarks at the outset of the CURE100 launch, we are moving onwards and upwards!