From Green Needham
Follow up Information for Needham League of Women Voters October 19, 2009 Fall Forum: Envisioning a Sustainable Needham
About the Speaker:
Paul Lukez (www.lukez.com)is a graduate of MIT with twenty years of professional experience in a wide range of architectural and urban design projects. Paul Lukez has taught as a professor at MIT, and a visiting professor at Washington University, Zhejiang University, Tshinghua University, TU Delft, Roger Williams University, Miami University, and the Boston Architectural College. He is the recipient of numerous professional and academic awards. His work has been widely published in local, regional, national and international journals and books.
His book on Suburban Transformations proposes strategies and processes for transforming suburbs and edge cities into more sustainable and habitable environments, with a unique identity strongly linked to the landscape. Computer simulations developed while teaching at MIT illustrate how suburban environments can evolve over time through the strategic and tactical interventions of stakeholders and residents.
Paul Lukez’s active practice is engaged in the design projects in the US, China and the Caribbean. The studio’s current projects include the design of a state of the art 50,000 SF sustainable building for recreational and educational uses in Hangzhou, China.
Fall Forum Sponsors
Needham League of Women Voters www.lwv-needham.org
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The Needham League provides voter services, such as Candidates’ Nights and pre-town-meeting sessions to explain warrant articles. It also conducts in-depth studies of local issues, such as water quality or solid waste disposal. The Climate Action Committee sponsors educational events about global climate change, the Sustainable Landscaping group disseminates info on eco-friendly landscaping, and a newly-formed transportation study group looking into possibilities of pedestrian-friendly streets and cleaner, more efficient means of transportation.
The Needham League welcomes anyone, male or female, who is of voting age. Annual dues are $50. (Second household member, $20) To learn more and to obtain a membership form, please visit the LWVN website at www.lwv-needham.org. By joining the Needham Chapter, you also become a member of the state and national organizations.
Green Needham Collaborative www.greenneedham.org
Green Needham Collaborative brings together individuals and organizations in Needham interested in building a more sustainable community by promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Their efforts bring together individual citizens, groups, civic organizations, businesses, the schools, local colleges and the municipality. Since 2006, Green Needham, often working in concert with the Needham League of Women Voters, has sponsored educational events, promoted a successful campaign to earn solar panels for a local school, raised funds for a wind feasibility study, set up a legislative action alert for energy issues, provided monthly “Green Tips,” and sponsored a Needham Channel environmental show, “Your World -- Bringing It Home.”
To become a member, visit www.greenneedham.org and fill out a simple on-line form at no cost. You will have the opportunity to be informed and involved in some of the projects undertaken by Green Needham and its collaborating organizations at whatever level fits your interests and schedule.
Environmental Fair Displayers
Needham Community Farm Committee www.needhamfarm.org
“The mission of the Needham Community Farm Committee is to create a center for environmental education for the Needham community, with a focus on teaching organic farming methods and sustainable living practices. We plan to be off the grid and to provide examples of sustainable technology such as passive solar greenhouses, several forms of composting, rainwater collection, and many other examples. It is our hope that the Needham Community Farm will someday become an integral part of the Needham community as we continue to realize our mission to create a center for environmental education. This dynamic center will provide opportunities for learning, volunteerism and community building for all Needham residents.”
The Neighborhood Farm www.theneighborhoodfarm.com
“The Neighborhood Farm is a collection of market gardens in private yards in and around Needham. Homeowners lend us a portion of their yard and we grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. In exchange, the owners receive produce from the gardens during the growing season. 2008 was our first growing season. We grew produce at six locations around Needham. . . . Our gardens range in size from 400 square feet to 5,000 square feet. . . . We grow all our crops without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers although we are not certified organic. We are trying to develop sustainable, low input systems for all our operations. Organic certification is a multi-year process, and is something we will pursue over the next several years. A number of factors motivated us to start The Neighborhood Farm. The increasing demand for local, healthy food demonstrated the need for more local agriculture. However, the lack of undeveloped, reasonably priced land in the Boston suburbs forced us to think of different ways to farm. We were inspired by the victory gardens of WWII and felt that many market gardens might be the most practical way to bring a new “farm” to the suburbs. We are committed to educating people about farming and gardening. We hope to get people thinking about where their food comes from.”
Volante Farms – www.volantefarms.com Volante Farms is a family-owned farm which has been operating in Needham since 1962 (and earlier in a different site). Open from April to October, then again from Mid-November until Christmas, they sell greenhouse plants in the spring and fruits and vegetables in the summer and fall. They recently built new greenhouses with environmentally friendly watering systems. They do not produce organic produce but through crop diversity and stringent Integrated Pest Management practices, they try to minimize the use of chemicals. This subject is treated in detail on their website.
Needham Friends of Woods and Waters Formed in 2006, the group strives to promote awareness and preservation of Needham’s nature spots and to enhance the enjoyment of those areas. The group is led by Sam Bass Warner, who points out that about 25 percent of the land in Needham is open space. A major project of the group is opening up to the public the 15 acres of town-owned land around Rosemary Lake, a beautiful lake located in the middle of town. The group would like to have a trail developed around the lake. In 2008, it enlisted the help of MIT students to make a study of recreational possibilities of the area. The group has also published a guide to “sidewalk journeys” in Needham. For more information, contact Sam Bass Warner at sambass@MIT.EDU
Needham Bikes www.needhambikes.org Needham Bikes is a biking advocacy group that promotes the safe and widespread use of bicycles for transportation and recreation in Needham. Encouraging bicycling is a simple approach toward improving public health. With more people bicycling, communities experience reduced traffic demands, improved air quality and greater physical fitness.
Needham Bikes is encouraging the town to become a bicycle friendly community by:
- Creating safe and well marked bike routes in the town, establishing bicycle lanes and signs to raise awareness and increase safety;
- Creating awareness of bicycles as a safe and healthy alternative
- Advocating for better public bicycle facilities
- Supporting people who want to connect with other bicyclists in Needham
- Providing resources for those interested in biking in the area
Bay Colony Rail Trail Project www.baycolonyrailtrail.org The unused rail line between Needham and Medfield offers a wonderful opportunity for a rail trail conversion. This rail corridor has few road intersections and runs along the Needham Town Forest, then through miles of woods in Dover away from residences and along ponds and conservation land.
The line is owned by the MBTA and is no longer used by its current operator, the Bay Colony Railroad. Representatives of both companies have indicated that they are open to a rail to trail conversion.
Needham Trails Committee The Needham Trails Committee, consisting of representatives of the Conservation Commission and Park and Recreation Commission as well as other knowledgeable Needham citizens, with the help of a consultant hired with CPA funds, has just completed a Trails Master Plan. Included are maintenance procedures for existing trails, plans for new connecting trails, and detailed maps, some of which are available at the Needham Town website
Greenline Extension Proposal
Srdjan S. Nedeljkovic, Guest column posted July 24, 2009 on Boston.com: "A proposal to restore light rail service between Newton Highlands and Needham Heights would create significant opportunities for further modest-scaled growth in the corridor. In addition, the new light rail extension would have significant environmental benefits to our communities by reducing energy consumptions and traffic pollutants in this otherwise congested part of our community."
"The rail line behind Needham Street and Highland Avenue was formerly part of the old Charles River line that was used to haul fill from Needham to the Back Bay in the late 1800’s. Once used as a passenger line, it remained active for freight use until several years ago. The unused rail bed connects the Riverside “D” line just west of Newton Highlands to the existing commuter station at Needham Heights for a distance of about 2 miles, extending across the Charles River and Route 128."
Needham Historical Society www.needhamhistory.org The Needham Historical Society is an educational resource to the citizens of Needham. The mission of the Needham Historical Society is to understand the value and the unique history of the Town of Needham, so that we can enhance the present and future of the culture, and the knowledge and civic pride of its citizens.
Since 1915, the Needham Historical Society has celebrated the history of Needham and the accomplishments of its residents. Through exhibits, programs, publications and outreach to the schools and community groups, the Needham Historical Society is committed to preserving and sharing this unique legacy.
Needham Transportation Committee The Needham Transportation Committee was established by the Town of Needham (By-laws Section 2.7.1) and has been charged with the responsibility for "continuing studies of the mass transportation needs of the Town, with particular emphasis upon commuter transportation". In addition to responding to requests from the Selectmen, the Needham Transportation Committee meets regularly to provide an opportunity for members of the community to bring their concerns before the Committee, and it has helped the Selectmen take the Town's concerns to the MBTA as needed. The Committee's five members are appointed by the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, and the Town Moderator.
Needham Health Department The Mission of the Needham Health Department since 1877 is to prevent and control the spread of disease, to address environmental issues, to promote healthy lifestyles and protect the public health and social well-being of all citizens, especially the most vulnerable.
Needham Public Works Department Click here for information about the geothermal system at the new Public Services Administration Building on Dedham Ave.
The Needham Department of Planning and Economic Development provides professional planning services to the community regarding land use, public facilities, economic development and transportation systems so that the Town may continue to be a quality place to live, work and play. The Needham Center Development Plan, completed March 30, 2009, provides "an overall master plan to guide public and private development of the built environment." It is designed, among other things, to "create a vibrant downtown with a diverse mix of goods, services and housing informed by smart growth and transit-oriented development."
"The over arching goal of this plan is to unlock Needham Center’s potential. This will create significant benefits for town residents, business and property owners and employees. At the same time, this plan protects adjacent residential neighborhoods from the impact of development and addresses current and future pressure on traffic and parking." Executive Summary of the Needham Center Development Plan.
The Needham Water and Sewer and Drain Division is primarily an operations and maintenance organization with the ability to perform limited construction projects. In addition to its reponsibilities for drains and sewers, its tasks include "Operations and maintenance of the Town's water system, which includes supply, storage, treatment and distribution."
Water Conservation Tips for Residentsfrom the Needham Water and Sewer and Drain Division.
Charles River Watershed Association www.crwa.org "CRWA's mission is to use science, advocacy and the law to protect, preserve and enhance the Charles River and its watershed. One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last four decades have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management."