Green eNews February 2016: Go Green Challenge, Urban Gardening, and More!
Published on Feb 22, 2016 15:37

  February 2016

Dear CPS Staff and Community,

Please mark your calendars for our third annual Go Green Challenge! We will be launching the Go Green Challenge on Monday, February 29th, and the competition will run through Friday, April 15th. Every elementary classroom teacher will receive a sheet to fill out with his or her students, indicating green actions you are taking together, such as recycling, having a plant in the classroom, or printing double-sided.

When this sheet is filled out, hang it outside your classroom door. The school with the highest percent participation wins a trophy! There will be second and third place prizes, as well.

Is your class working on a project or unit related to sustainability, nature, climate change, or the environment? We’d love to hear about it! Please e-mail me, if so. Thanks!


Kristen (von Hoffmann) Middleton
[email protected]

P.S. Want to make sure your class is ready to rock n' roll on Day 1 of the Go Green Challenge? Check out the Student Fact Sheets and Lesson Plans about composting and reducing waste! Look for them toward the bottom of this web page >>


Free Seeds!
The URI Extension Outreach center is offering FREE SEEDS! Vegetable, flower, and herb seed packets are now available for schools, Boy & Girl Scout troops, 4-h clubs, community gardens, and any education-based or youth group for just the price of postage! Orders will be accepted now through February 28. Seed availability is limited – order early for the best selection! You can access the order form HERE. For more information, including pick-up details and locations, check out their website.

Secretary's Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is now accepting nominations for the 2016 22nd Secretary’s Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education. Deadline for submitting the application is March 30, 2016 at the close of business. Applicants can type directly into the online form and submit it; or download the "fillable" pdf application, fill it out, save it and then email their application to [email protected]

Fill out the Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education form online >> 
–If you are unable to fill out the form online please contact Meg Colclough by phone: (617) 626-1110, or email [email protected] for alternate instructions.

The Secretary's Advisory Group on Energy and Environmental Education (SAGEE) will review nominations through the beginning of April. Winners will be notified in April along with an invitation to attend a formal award ceremony at the State House. Award winners will be recognized by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Winners will receive certificates of excellence, honor and merit. We encourage you to nominate a school program, teacher and students who are participating in energy and environmental education projects. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, 100 Cambridge, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02114. Learn more >>

Cambridge Urban Gardening Series
The Cambridge Conservation Commission is teaming up with the New England Flower Society to offer an Urban Gardening Series of classes through April. These sessions are designed to help city dwellers grow healthy, sustainable, and beautiful urban gardens. For more information, or to register, visit
Growing Plants from Seed
Sunday, March 6, 1:30-3PM                                     
Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Lecture Hall
Plants grown from seed have greater genetic diversity, are better adapted to their environment, and are less expensive to produce. In this class you will learn when and how to collect seeds in the wild; how to collect, clean, and store them; and how to sow and tend for them. Emphasis will be placed on species that can be grown easily and without fancy equipment or large investments of time. Instructor: Dan Jaffe, Propagator and Stock Bed Grower, New England Wild Flower Society

Managing Invasive Species
Saturday, April 2, 10:30AM-12PM                                     
Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Lecture Hall
Invasive plants displace native flora in home and natural landscapes, impacting the diversity of native plant species and affecting the pollinators and other wildlife that depend on them. Learn how to best control invasive plant species to ensure the health and survival of native plant communities. Instructor: Amanda Weise, Ecological Programs Coordinator, New England Wild Flower Society

Governor Says State on Target for 25% GHG Reduction by 2020
The Commonwealth issued an update to the Massachusetts Clean Energy & Climate Plan. The Governor reports that the state is on track to meet the 25% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2020. There are contrary perspectives on the status of the state’s progress in meeting the target. The updated plan reiterates that for the long term, the only viable path to achieve 80% GHG emissions reductions by 2050 is through a combination of reduced energy consumption, expanded availability of clean electricity, and electrification of the transportation and heating sectors or “reduce, electrify, and de-carbonize.” “Electrification poses a particular challenge because of the need for new infrastructure, including transmission lines, storage capacity, and consumer-facing components such as public vehicle charging stations and smart meters.” [Governor’s press release, 1/19/16; Boston Globe, 1/19/16]

In It to Win It

GUEP Update
In the City’s continued competition for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, the Cambridge Energy Alliance recently launched a Steering Committee to aid in the In It to Win it Campaign. The Steering Committee is a team of community leaders that advises the City on its energy efficiency engagement strategy, influencing the direction of current projects and new initiatives. The committee will also work hand in hand with stakeholders throughout the community and help with public outreach. Leading up to the end of the competition, the committee will also be working with the City to develop a plan for using the $5 million dollar prize to best help Cambridge. The committee will meet monthly in working groups on key initiatives such as schools, multi-family housing, block captains, and communications throughout 2016. The City is fortunate enough to be supported by representatives from the energy efficiency sector, affordable housing agencies, local universities, tech and environmental sector businesses, environmental advocacy groups and think tanks, Cambridge Public Schools, the Cambridge Department of Public Works, the Cambridge Community Engagement Team, and engaged citizens. In addition to the direction of the Steering Committee, the campaign still needs the community’s help to win the Energy Prize. You can do your part for the city by signing up for a free home energy assessment, where you can learn ways to reduce your energy use and save money on your electricity bills. Look at the Cambridge Energy Alliance website for information on the Energy Prize, and read the CEA blog, Warm Home Cool Planet, for updates. Contact CEA at [email protected] for more information.

CSV drawing

CSV Seeks Volunteer Mentors for Nature Journaling
Art & Science in One, a program of Cambridge School Volunteers (CSV), trains adult volunteers to mentor students in guided outdoor observational drawing and nature journaling sessions. The program, in its fourth year in 2016, brings an entire combined fourth/fifth grade Montessori classroom to Fresh Pond Reservation for a series of practice sessions during the school day. Prospective volunteer mentors should email [email protected]. A commitment to nine Friday sessions, from 11:30 to 1:30, beginning April 8th, is required. The next in-person registration dates are Feb. 23, 26 and March 4. Please spread the word to interested neighbors, friends, and colleagues.

bundle up

Dress for the weather outside. Wear heavier layers when it’s cold, so that the heat doesn’t have to be up as high as you work indoors. The opposite goes for warmer weather, too!


Remember to fill up your re-usable water bottles at our bottle-filling stations and bubblers around your schools!

The MBTA has a number of rider tools that help riders to anticipate arrival times of buses, subways, and commuter trains and to receive alerts of delays. These tools can be used on iPhones, Android phones, text messages, emails, and the Web. There is also a trip planning tool. Yet another reason to choose public transportation – a sustainable option that reduces carbon emissions!

Curious what your individual or group carbon footprint is? It’s a great activity to do at the start of the New Year as you set goals for carbon reduction. A fun tool for classroom learning, as well! Source: Nature Conservancy 


Legislators are organizing a Diaper Drive to help families in need of clean diapers which are critical for healthy development. Stop by Cambridge Fire Department's Taylor Square Firehouse, located at 113 Garden Street, to drop off unopened disposable diapers and/or baby wipes to help infants and families in need. Diapers will be distributed by the non-profit Cradles to Crayons to local organizations that service families across the Commonwealth.


February 28
Ranger Jean will be holding an indoor technology exploration of the world of white pines and their role in the Fresh Pond community. To register and get details, please email: 
[email protected]
Learn more about Fresh Pond >>

2nd Saturday of each month | 10AM-1PM
Alewife Reservation

Join CRLS student Jake Stout, Reservation Monitor, for a wildlife nature tour of Alewife Reservation. Adults and children welcome. Jake is highly responsive to all questions and loves to discuss the wildlife that reside at Alewife Reservation. This high school naturalist spends much time passing through these diverse ecological systems in Cambridge, which make the urban wild a unique experience for families as well as adults. From Alewife T-Stop: Walk North over Little River bridge, turn West at the Alewife Greenway sign, and walk to the end of the path. Bring water bottle, hat, lotion, spray, sturdy walking boots, long sleeves, long pants, binoculars, and notepad. Call the Friends of Alewife (FAR) office at 617.415.1884 for more information.

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Kristen (von Hoffmann) Middleton
Sustainability Manager
Email Kristen

Cambridge Green Schools Initiative
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