(En Español Abajo)
When was the last time you hosted a party and saved hundreds of dollars in fuel costs and thousands of pounds of global warming pollution? Yolanda Gonzalez and family did that just last week at the Green Minga barnraising!
Three generations of the Gonzalez family were joined by about 40 BostonCAN volunteers for the Green Minga barnraising, or community work party. Key among these were local professionals Victor Guillén of Carpentry Services Boston, Wilbert Seoane of Co-op Power, and Next Step Living’s Carl Lowenberg, who donated both time and materials to make the day a success. These three were joined by Manuel Gonçalves of Co-op Power, Loie Hayes of BostonCAN, and Matthew Schriener of Home Energy Efficiency Team as team leaders who taught volunteers ways to block cold air from sneaking in through windows and doors, and to keep heat in where it’s needed and not where it isn’t.
Spanish and English conversations echoed throughout the building, with more than a third of the participants being native Spanish speakers. Media professionals José Massó from WGBH’s Con Salsa and independent filmmaker Carla Pataky interviewed participants to document the event and discuss more broadly Latino efforts to address climate change. Freelance photographer Gretjen Helene took photos throughout the day and created a wonderful slideshow of highlights. Whole Foods donated a bounty of sandwiches and snacks to get volunteers fueled up for the four-hour work session. Catalina Justiniano, the Green Minga organizer, commented afterward, “It was an exciting and beautiful experience of a community working together to improve the living conditions of these JP residents. Most impressive was how most of the volunteers were willing to come back again if anything else could be done beyond the possibilities of a four-hours work session.”
As in a traditional Minga, the homeowners offered food to thank their community after the work was done, Yolanda thanked the volunteers with a wonderful supper of chicken, rice, red beans and a delicious salad jointly prepared by the family. Volunteers took a break from work to enjoy this meal and share their joyful sense of accomplishment. Yolanda never stopped smiling throughout the day and days after she said “I feel blessed with all the work that was done, as it was something I really needed. What I like most was that there was a family-like feeling in the air and also that I’m positive I will save energy. Now I need to get the insulation and I hope that will happen soon.”
During supper, people had the opportunity to hear presentations on job openings in the weatherization industry. Jubeth Nuñez representing Renew Boston and Next Step Living, Eunice Yu from Mass Energy, Mela Bush from Co-op Power, and Stephan MacPhee from Solar City all discussed the types of positions that are currently open at their workplaces. Just the fact that so many more companies are now providing energy efficiency services to Boston residents, compared to even 4 years ago, is a testament to the potential of community development through investment in energy efficiency.
Victor Guillén and Co-op Power both donated planning time before the barnraising and Co-op Power came back after with a blower door test to measure how much our work had reduced the draftiness of Yolanda’s home. Based on that evaluation, we project that the building’s residents will save a combined $438 in energy costs every year going forward. That also means that there won’t be any of the global warming pollution that would have been created by burning that $438 worth of energy: a savings of more than 3895 pounds of CO2, which is equal to about a fifth of Yolanda’s household’s energy pollution footprint. And all from do-it-yourself projects!
Green Minga organizer Catalina Justiniano is saying goodbye to BostonCAN as she moves out of the area. Thankfully she has created some wonderful precedents that our next barnraising organizer can use going forward. Please contact BostonCAN Coordinator Loie Hayes if you’re interested in helping to organize our next barnraising!