Alternative Banks in the New Haven Area

There are a number of alternative banks in the New Haven area, and throughout Connecticut. They come in two forms:

(1) The credit union, which is a not-for-profit cooperative (you join and become a member, rather than opening an account);

(2) The Community Development Bank, that is, a bank certified as a Community Development Financial Institution, which has a mission to promote economic development by providing financial products and services to people and communities underserved by traditional financial institutions, particularly in low income communities.

There is only one Community Development Bank in the area (in fact, there are only 100 in the U.S.):  Start Community Bank, which unfortunately has only one branch, on Whalley Avenue in New Haven. I have an account there.

There are numerous local credit unions in the New Haven area, listed below (please let me know if I left any out). For credit unions elsewhere in the state, click here.

CT Federal Credit Union, North Haven
Connex CU, North Haven, Guilford, Meriden, Orange
East Haven Municipal Employees CU, East Haven
First CT CU, Wallingford
Healthcare Financial Federal CU, New Haven & Bridgeport
McKesson FCU, Stratford, Derby, Milford
Members First FCU, Meriden & Wallingford
Meriden Postal Employees FCU
New Haven County CU, North Haven
New Haven Firefighters CU
New Haven Police FCU
New Haven Teachers FCU
Regional Water Authority Employees CU, New Haven
Science Park FCU, New Haven
Sikorsky Financial CU, Stratford, Milford, Seymour et al
State Police CU, Meriden
Wepawaug-Flagg FCU, Hamden

Plastic Bag Recycling

Did you know that you can recycle your plastic bags and plastic wrap at a wide range of nearby grocery stores and home-hardware stores, including stores with grocery departments, such as Wal-Mart and Target? And this includes not only the plastic bags that originate in these stores, but also the bags newspapers are delivered in (for those without dogs), dry cleaning bags, zip bags, and all sorts of plastic wrap and bubble wrap. The plastic just has to be clean and dry when you drop it off in the bins in the front of these stores.

The plastic gets recycled into products such as new grocery bags, benches, and decking.

You can find the nearest dropoff locations at the Plastic Film Recycling website. The following stores came up in a New Haven search. If the stores you shop at aren’t recycling plastic, it would be worth asking them to start.

Whole Foods
Adams Hometown Market

What You Can Do to Help Conserve Long Island Sound

The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) website has a great Volunteer Opportunities page. It lists volunteer opportunities relating to the conservation of Long Island Sound with over 30 different nonprofits and government agencies in CT, and even more in NY state.

The biggest annual event, International Coastal Cleanup, is in September. Save Our Sound, a program of the CT Fund for the Environment, organizes the cleanup in CT. Here is a link to the Calendar for the cleanup (but events have not been put up yet). Also check out the Don’t Trash LI Sound’s media center page.

The LISS website also has a What You Can Do page that links to five different sections of the website. The sections are In Your Home, Around Your Backyard, In and Around Your School, In and Around the Sound, and Curbing Polluted Storm Water Runoff.


The Transition Movement

Following up on the previous blog post on local coastal resilience, it’s worth looking at a different sort of resilience that is part of what is known as the Transition Movement or Transition Towns. The Transition Movement (the American network is Transition US) is a network of communities that are re-imagining and rebuilding the future, moving away from dependence on fossil fuels toward local resilience and self-reliance (check out its free TeleSeminars; the next one is Tuesday, June 13). In fact, another American organization focused on the Transition is called, a program of the Post-Carbon Institute, and the scholarly body focused on resilience is called the Resilience Alliance. Another useful resource is the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub, which covers the six states just south of CT.

This movement is attractive to those interested, as this blog is, in local activism. The movement seeks to mitigate global crises such as climate change and the economy by having communities engage in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning. There is some overlap with CT’s coastal resilience plans, in that this information is important to coastal communities seeking a transition to a lower-carbon, more equal, democratic, and participatory world.

New England has the New England Resilience & Transition Network (NERT), which includes the Whitneyville Cultural Commons in Hamden, the Coginchaug Area Transition in Middletown, and Transition Litchfield.

Not part of NERT, but part of the Transition US network, is the New Haven Bioregional Group, which “sponsors walks, films, canoe trips, potlucks, and other events to help residents of the Quinnipiac Bioregion connect with their natural and built environment, and to build community and local resilience.”

Tomorrow, the Bioregional Group is co-sponsoring the showing of a film about how American cities have dealt with water-related problems. The film is Water Blues, Green Solutions, and it is showing at 7:30 on Thursday, June 7 at the Cold Spring School Community Building, 76 James Street, New Haven.

Saturday, June 10 at 1:00 pm, the Bioregional Group is leading a Westville Village Walkabout, starting from Manjares Restaurant at the intersection of West Rock & Whalley Ave., New Haven. For more on upcoming events and publications, click here.

If the Transition Movement interests you, and you live in one of the few places where there is an active organization, contact them about how you can help. Otherwise, consider starting a conversation about the transition, based on readings of the articles and books that are included or mentioned on the national and regional websites. Because the movement is young, you can have an important role to play in it.

Coastal Resilience in CT

There’s a lot going on with respect to CT’s “coastal resilience,” that is, the capacity of the coastal ecosystem to respond to “a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly” (Wikipedia).

The basic resource is the Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience CT Program (also see its “Adapting to the Rise: A Guide for Connecticut’s Coastal Communities”). The Nature Conservancy is working with two of the CT Councils of Governments (South Central and Greater Bridgeport) on a Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience in Southern Connecticut, with a $700,000 Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant (see a not up-to-date page on the project). It has also worked with the Southeastern CT COG on a Regional Resilience Guidebook. And the Western CT COG has a Hazard Mitigation page with much of the same sort of information.

Separate towns have drawn up completed or draft Coastal Resilience Plans, including Branford, Madison, and Milford (jointly under a Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery grant); West Haven; Stratford; Guilford; and Stonington. Groton has a document entitled “Preparing for Climate Change in Groton,” and Old Saybrook has one entitled “Report of Findings from a Study of the Effects of Sea Level Rise and Climate Change.” For Bridgeport, see the excellent Resilient Bridgeport and Rebuild by Design websites. Waterford appears to have started a resilience process in May.

For more information on coastal resilience in CT, see the CT Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA; at UConn) and a couple of videos on marshes on Shimon Anisfield’s page at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Green Energy Solutions for Homeowners and Others from the CT Green Bank

The CT Green Bank has a nice page of “green energy solutions,” that is, ways in which you can make and finance green energy upgrades to your home.

For example, Smart-E Loans offer no-money-down, low-interest financing with flexible terms to help you upgrade your home’s energy performance. Almost all home improvement projects that reduce energy use and lowers costs will qualify.

The Residential Solar Investment Program provides rebates that lower the initial out-of-pocket costs to homeowners who wish to install a solar photovoltaic system.

And PosiGen Solar offers low-to-moderate income homeowners a solar lease that also combines money-saving energy-efficiency measures. This innovative approach takes away the concern of being turned down based on your credit profile, making solar affordable for all.

There are similar pages for owners of multifamily housing and other building owners, for residential and commercial contractors, for capital providers, and for towns and cities.

CT Green Bank Webinar on Financing for Clean Energy in Affordable Housing

Next Tuesday, June 6, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, the CT Green Bank will be holding a webinar on financing for clean energy in affordable housing and on the value of the newest member of its board of directors, Betsy Crum, a veteran professional in affordable housing development and finance.

Over the past several years, CT Green Bank has partnered with the affordable housing sector and private capital providers to provide education, financing, technical assistance, and resources that address barriers to deployment of clean energy projects in affordable housing properties.

The presenters will be: Betsy Crum, Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development and Member; Kerry E. O’Neill, Vice President of Residential Programs at CT Green Bank, and Kim Stevenson, Associate Director, Multifamily Housing at CT Green Bank. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A.

To register for the webinar, click here.

The CT Green Bank also provides financing for homeowners and others to make energy improvements. Check out the homeowners page here.