Saturday, May 21, 2011
The White Roof Campaign: declaring victory and moving on
In Jerry McGuire, Cuba Gooding plays a sports star who demands that his agent, played by Tom Cruise, show him the money.
I am indebted to Dave Cohen, former Oil Drum editor and ASPO writer, for the technique of illustrating points with movie references and YouTube clips. Dave blogs at http://www.declineoftheempire.com/
We don't know the final 2011 results from my western Queens outreach campaign, but here's what we have so far, from the buildings I referred to the program. In April, NYC CoolRoofs volunteers coated the the 14,000 square foot roof of Sunnyside Community Center, in Sunnyside, Queens, and the 8,000 s.f. roof of Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria.
The program is in touch with buildings owned by several Long Island City businesses: Petrocelli Electric Co. (with a roof of perhaps 20,000 s.f.); Mayer Malbin Co., which owns three buildings; Conserve Electric; and Pumpernickel Bagel and Deli. Goodwill Industries has two Astoria warehouses in line for coating – with an unknown number of other Goodwill Industries stores and warehouses around the City potentially to follow.
Other Queens businesses include the Corona clothing retail store All Dressed Up; and Coppola’s Pizza in College Point. There are a few residential buildings. Three buildings of the Linden Towers Co-Op in Flushing are cleared for coating, and co-op board leaders are part of a much larger group of residential buildings.
It’s unclear how many of these buildings will actually be coated this summer, whether there are others that have heard about the program and will seek to get coated eventually and whether media and community outreach connected with any of these projects will have ripple effects, getting yet other roofs coated.
Some really good news is that NYC CoolRoofs just hired two full-time staff to focus on outreach and building recruitment. This seems to be the bottleneck for expanding the number of square feet coated through the program. I encouraged the new staff to contact elected officials, focus on getting their offices to refer well known nonprofits in their districts, and aim for a few highly visible projects that can be leveraged and promoted to recruit similar projects. The same advice goes for any any other activists who want to use CoolRoofs as an organizing tool in their neighborhoods.
I think that CoolRoof boosters should not seek to raise funds to buy coating for a nonprofit. IMHO, activists are better off encouraging nonprofits to be self-reliant and raise the coating funds themselves. If nonprofits want to do this, they can make the modest effort to fundraise among their own members and neighbors, increasing neighborhood support for the project. Then, as long as the discussion is already under way, they can set up next steps: bringing other good sustainability initiatives to their neighborhood, like GrowNYC, and the Con Ed energy upgrade program.
But as far as my involvement with Cool Roofs, I hereby declare victory, and I'm done. Time to move onto other projects.
One is the question of how the Transition Movement model of community organizing and communicating about sustainability challenges can be applied to NYC. Look for future posts around this theme. The other is looking for a full time green job. So far, I've sent out some applications but nothing has materialized. A friend suggested that I research entrepreneurial opportunities in regional food production and go into business for myself. Bright ideas - and comments - are welcome.