Amidst the crowds of Smorgasburg on Sunday, November 18th, at East River State Park, the Human Impacts Institute drew in its own crowd of climate activists and environmental enthusiasts. The small environmental non-profit, located in Williamsburg, is undertaking a big task, preparing for and preventing climate change in New York City.
Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol and District Councilmember Steve Levin made a public appearance to show their concern for the climate and support for HII, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Lentol stated, “A lot people don’t think that it’s human behavior that causes it, I happen to think that it is. We should be able to at least modify our own habits.” Having more green spaces like the East River State Park is just one way we can make a small difference. “Every journey starts with a small step. Even though its not the direct responsibility of the state of New York, we have to do something about it. I’m happy to be able to say that New York State is leading the way.” And environmental organizations like HII are helping New York take the lead.
The Human Impacts Institute is very active in communities in New York City. From its “EcoPreneurs” program in Williamsburg which helps small businesses develop sustainable practices, to teaching high schoolers about environmental justice in Harlem, HII has shown its dedication to creating an environmentally conscious NYC.
On Sunday, HII displayed a solar generator donated from Green Mountain Energy. HII was awarded this prize through Green Mountain, but it was the public that actually determined the winner by voting for their favorite project in the “Vote for Solar for Good Challenge”. The money for the generator came from Green Mountain’s Sun Club, a program where customers have the opportunity to add 5 dollars to their bill that goes towards solar projects like HII’s. Casey Schepp from Green Mountain hopes the Sun Club will show that solar is a viable and clean source of electricity. The solar generator will be stored at East River State Park and will be used for eco-workshops, film-screenings, and events of HII and other partners of the park.
HII also re-launched the NYC Climate Coalition on Sunday with a public invitation and call for action. The NYC Climate Coalition is a project of HII that focuses directly on climate awareness and action. Tara DePorte, the executive director and founder of HII said, “With all of Manhattan behind us, we see the human potential.” New Yorker’s have the ability to make a significant difference in the pace and magnitude of climate change. HII hopes that NYC3 will be able to facilitate change.
By LeAnne Harvey, 2012 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern