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Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’

community-garden-in-boston-cmpThough winter is not quite over, TSL has decided to come out of hibernation. Why, you ask? A February 28 program at 16 Beacon Street, “Cultivating Local, Health Food: Urban Agriculture Initiatives & Pro Bono Opportunities,” caught our eye.  This program stood out for a few reasons:  1) Urban Agriculture is a hot topic in Massachusetts and across New England; 2) The Commissioner of the MA Department of Agriculture is one of the panelists, and 3) TSL is always on the lookout for environmentally focused pro bono opportunities. With this in mind, TSL touched base with Staci Rubin (Alternatives  for Community and Environment) and Jennifer Rushlow (Conservation Law Foundation) to give us the lowdown on the upcoming event.

As we know, the BBA has a reputation for developing cutting edge programming on relevant legal and business issues both state and nationwide. Some recent examples? The BBA’s Update on the Jamaica Plain Drug Lab Crisis, and  Apple-Samsung $1 Billion Judgment and its Impact on the Smartphone Market. So why Urban Agriculture? Staci explains:

Rubin, Staci1“When it comes to urban agriculture, there is great public interest on the topic, and the pace of policy development in this arena in the last few years has been swift, which makes this an ideal topic for the BBA — there is much new information to report. This is an area of great opportunity for our legal community in terms of providing support for the growing urban agriculture movement and this program will provide clarity as to how they can get professionally involved in this movement – by providing pro bono legal services to urban gardeners, farmers and food entrepreneurs and by engaging in public service with urban agriculture focused organizations.”

TSL gets that not everyone wants to listen to a panel of speakers during their lunch break, but frankly, this program will be worth it. How do we know? Jennifer Rushlow gave us a primer on the speakers and their topics, so you can make your own decision:

Rushlow, Jenny“Panelists will address recent developments in environmental and land use laws that will impact environmental lawyers’ work, illustrate how environmental lawyers can provide support for urban gardeners facing legal challenges, comment about the recent policy developments affecting urban agriculture and the Boston rezoning process and share expertise on interagency efforts related to sustainable food production.”

Speakers:

Gregory Watson – (Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources)
Attorney Philip B. Posner – (Volunteer, Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network
Paul Locke – (Director of Response and Remediation for Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)
Danah Tench – (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)

So far so good, right? But that’s not all. The program will also highlight one of TSL’s favorite things, environmental pro bono and public service opportunities for lawyers! Yes, the program is a week away, but TSL is already getting excited to hear from our panelists on how to:

1) Represent groups of low income residents and residents of color to convert vacant lots into green space for gardening,
2) Find transactional pro bono work on behalf community gardeners,
3) Serve as a board member for organizations working on urban agriculture and
4) Participate in an upcoming (June 1st) public service day with the Food Project (remember them?).

For now, TSL is signing off, but we will see you next Thursday…right?

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As our readers have likely noticed, in the past few weeks TSL has been highlighting more environmental public services opportunities,  like the BBA’s Charles River Cleanup, the Sustainability Task Force’s partnership with The Food Project (event on June 16, btw) and their trail transformation event in Roslindale. If you have had enough public service talk for your liking, well…too bad. On June 14th the BBA’s Environmental Sustainability Task Force will host an impressive group of panelists (including keynote speaker Gregory Bialecki of the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development) at “Promoting Sustainability Through Public Service.” Rather than offer a long write up on why you should attend, TSL decided to go straight to the source – Pamela Harvey of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Pam, who organized the event with fellow DEP colleague Danah Tench and Task Force Co-Chairs Ben Ericson (also of Mass DEP) and Michelle O’Brien (Mackie Shea O’Brien), offered to answer a few of our questions about the event.

Why did the task force decide to hold an event focusing on public service?

“Many attorneys understand the importance of sustainability, but their practices often focus on traditional legal services to their clients.  Public service allows attorneys to expand their horizons and use their skills to assist community groups within the greater Boston area to promote sustainability within those communities.”

What do you hope to accomplish with this program? 

“The program is designed to provide an introduction to the range of opportunities for attorneys to offer their legal talent to support sustainable community efforts.  Attorneys will learn the types of opportunities available, how the panelists have matched their skills with projects, and tips for getting the most from the experience, both personally and professionally.  The program includes many opportunities for attorneys with transactional skills, as well as for litigators.

The speakers will describe the representation of an environmental justice group concerned about the siting of an industrial facility, assisting a local group transform a vacant lot into a community garden, and market carbon finance.  Other panelists have served on the boards of nonprofits devoted to local food, wresting with the cost of greener facilities, or broadening the role of traditional organizations to include sustainability.  Greg Bialecki will address the importance of sustainability to economic development in Massachusetts, and prior to entering state government he was engaged in public service through his involvement with the Boston Public Market.”

Do you have anything else you would like to add? 

“Sustainability is not just for environmental lawyers.  The program features attorneys with specialized expertise in other fields that they have put to work on incredibly interesting and fulfilling projects.  Attorneys can engage in public service work promoting sustainability as new lawyers to gain experience, or as experienced lawyers to learn something new.”

For those interested in more ways to incorporate a commitment to public service and a passion for sustainability, this is a must attend event. We’ll see you there.

For more information, or to register, click here.

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