Candidating with Alexandra Chandler, Rick Green, Dan Koh, and Lori Trahan on March 23, 2018

Worcester State University, Worcester, MA — Close to 500 people from across the state gathered at the Indivisible Massachusetts conference, “2018: Connect-Affect-Elect” on Sunday, November 12, to exchange strategies, learn skills, and build a united movement for progressive change in state policy and on the ballot in November 2018.

We were cheered on by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Jim McGovern, both of whom spoke at the event. Activists from Carlisle were inspired and educated at the day-long conference, alongside colleagues from 136 cities and towns across the state. They represented local Indivisible Groups, women’s march groups, racial justice organizations, and community organizations.

“We took a huge step today toward the wins we need in state policy now and through the elections next November, “ said Barney Arnold, who also helped organize the conference. “We are excited to bring the fresh energy and new skills to our work here in Carlisle and beyond.”

Indivisible , a progressive national network of grassroots groups created to resist the Trump agenda, offers an umbrella for over 150 Indivisible groups in Massachusetts alone and more than 6,000 nationwide. The local affiliate is Carlisle Rising to Action. The volunteer-driven gathering of Indivisible MA in Worcester follows an initial conference held in June 2017.

“We know the more coordinated and skilled we are, the more effective we are in making progressive change,” said Michael Ansara, co-coordinator of the Indivisible MA conference. “Our number one goal today was for people to leave feeling more capable and supported as they move forward in this work,” he said.

The day included over two dozen workshops, ranging from issue-based workshops such as criminal justice reform and immigration, to skills-based workshops such as how to lobby and how to use social media. Carlisle resident Sharmili Das reported, “The conference was inspirational and empowering. It was amazing to see so many people, working together and toward progressive change. The conference reminded me that we are in a marathon, and the hard work is done daily, and every step forward brings us closer to a more just society.”

Wayne Davis, who also attended, commented, “One of the big takeaways was that it’s not just about saying ‘no’ to bad things at the federal level. There’s lots of opportunity at the state and local levels for people to come together to make a positive difference.”

Bedford Road ROSC development

Janne Corneil, Chair of the Master Plan Steering Committee, October 11, 2017

Carlisle will be undertaking a master planning process over the next two years. The objective of the master plan is to develop a long term plan and shared goals that will guide policy, funding, and prioritization of Carlisle’s resources. The planning process that our committee is refining now has two important attributes:

  1. It will have a robust community engagement process that will ensure a rich dialogue with all community members (not just the usual suspects); and
  2. It will embrace an “integrated planning framework” that will ensure that we consider the trade-offs and consequences of independent decisions. Zoning is one of the important tools that allows us to achieve the goals and priorities that come out of the planning process.

The ROSC amendment is a significant zoning change that could have many positive and/or negative effects on future development in Carlisle. The master plan process will require us to weigh all of the competing interests at play in this decision, not just the interests that are lobbying today.

There seems to be a great deal of urgency around this decision, thus a Special Town Meeting. What is driving this urgency? If there was any way that we could insist that this zoning amendment should be considered as part of the full master planning process, that would be the best outcome, in my opinion.

If the Town boards and committees have already decided that this needs to happen quickly, without due process, these are the questions I would ask:

  • What precedent will the Bedford Road ROSC development set?
  • What are the long term risks to us as a town if this becomes an “as-of-right” condition that developers take advantage of?
  • If it does, how can the amendment be restricted so it doesn’t have a negative impact on the long term health and sustainability of our town?
  • What are our collective goals concerning housing diversity, land conservation, energy conservation, fiscal health, etc? Does this project allow us to achieve our goals? Do we even know what our shared goals are?
  • Are 1,700–3,000 square-foot structures the right size to promote economic diversity? (Does that allow them to build all 18 units at 3,000 square feet?)
  • What are the housing types and sizes that should be considered to diversify our housing stock and so attract and retain diverse people and families? What are the requirements for how the houses are arranged/clustered?
  • What about parking, water, and septic impacts?
  • What about 40b?

My personal opinion is that clustering new housing to preserve open land is a brilliant idea if it

  • produces housing diversity that accommodates people we would like to have in our town;
  • is designed as an intentional community and not as a slightly smaller version of the 2-acre scattered houses we have everywhere else in town;
  • is a model of sustainability: energy efficient, net zero emissions, water conservation, LEED certified, etc.

Thanks for listening.

Countering Alienation and Hate through Trust, Jobs and New Communities in our Social Media Age

Lay Service as FRS in Carlisle this Sunday, August 20, 10 a.m. at Union Hall

Given the events of the past week in Virginia and across the country, many of us have been asking ourselves who we are as a community and a nation, and how, given the challenges, we can counter or overcome the tendency toward hate and division.

John Ballantine will lead this discussion, in which we will talk of trust and the effects of inequality. What are the political and ethical trends that are shaping or skewing our national dialogue, and how do we confront those in a meaningful manner? Is equality, economic and otherwise, at the core?

For more info:…

Boston March for Truth on June 3, 2017

Boston Climate March on March 29, 2017

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