In Somerville, you can email and switch to 100% renewable electricity right now

Everyone in Somerville got a notice, posted also at, that noted an automatic enrollment in 5% renewable energy, at a 1.3% increase in cost (which for my household of 4, means $10 per year).

But I also noticed there’s an option for 100% renewable — and it’s only 27% more than current rates. Really, that’s not a lot. My household of 4 (plus dog and cat) would pay only:

$16.88 more per month, or $202.53 more per year

Split three ways as we do, that’s only $5.63 each per month for me. Here’s the full chart:

To enroll in 100% renewable electric energy, you can email and ask:

I’d like to enroll in the 100% renewable option described in the notice described at — my address is ___________

I did this and they wrote back confirming in an hour. I’m not saying we shouldn’t reduce energy usage, but any light left on overnight, any charger left plugged in for the day, any air conditioner or space heater, or any other electric use, can come from 100% renewable energy.

I wish fighting climate change were always this easy! Please do it and tell your friends and family!

Thank you!

Somebody please turn this into a rock opera

As I recently posted, Alex Ezorsky made this great educational animated video about how a Community Benefits Agreement could help prevent housing displacement in Union Square, Somerville.

As I mentioned, it reminds me of the Home Movies’ episode where they make a Franz Kafka Rock Opera:

So — Alex sent me the lyrics. And he’s made the video and lyrics copyleft — Creative Commons Attribution!

This is TOTALLY a rock opera in disguise. If you can shred, PLEASE rescore this video and post it! Email me at, too!

Here goes — just read these lines while listening to the rock opera above:

You love your neighborhood

But things are changing. Some changes are good for everyone

but others aren’t

The rent’s are rising so quickly many people can no longer afford to
live or work in the town they love.

You’re neighborhood is facing re-development and as a result the
current population risks displacement. 

So who is responsible? And how can you ensure that development
benefits the residents instead of replacing them?

Lets start with the basics. Re-development is when a private
development company buys property and turns it into something they can
make a profit from.

Re-development operations can vary in size, from a single lot, to an
entire “neighborhood development plan”

Ah good thought, why not voice your concerns to the city?

They might even offer you meetings with the developer or a city
appointed planning authority who will “listen to your concerns”.

The city will look out for you right???

Developers need city approval to build their projects, and here’s
where you’d want them to leverage a deal to benefit the residents. 

But developers have lots to offer a city,  with campaign donations,
project funding and the fact that new development can bring increased
tax revenue, new jobs, and amenities to attract new residents. 

It’s not hard to see how a City might do everything it can to please
 the developers…often at the expense of the residents.

Sometimes a small group is able to voice their needs. 

But what about everyone else? 

And how can you tell whether your concerns will be taken into account,
or dumped in the trash?

When you get a new apartment; do you just trust that the landlord will
respect your needs as a tenant?

No! You need a lease, or a legal agreement, to guarantee your needs
are met and both sides do what they say they will do.

A contract between the concerned residents and the developer is called

A CBA gives decision-making power to the community.

A CBA is the only contract that can guarantee that the needs of the
residents, represented in community groups, are included in plans for
development.  Because in a CBA the community groups are signing and
enforcing the agreement.

Developers might not want to sign the CBA because it can restrict
their profits or because they are already working out a deal with the

But development should benefit YOU, the people who live and work here
now, and YOU deserve to have power and influence over development.

Your power grows with increased participation.

With larger more organized and more diligent coalitions, with more
active members, and through protests, petitions, and participation in
public elections the residents CAN demand the proper attention and
leverage needed to get a CBA..

An unhappy public can be a huge threat to both the City and

In contrast addressing the needs of the residents with a CBA will
ensure Developers benefit from a happy community in support of the
development to their city. 

Here in Somerville, US2 is the developer contracted by the city for a
neighborhood-wide re-development in Union Square.

We are, Union United, a rapidly growing coalition of Somerville
residents, businesses, churches, unions, and community organizaions,
joined in the effort to create development without displacement
through specific goals outlined in a legally binding CBA with US2 and
the City.

Time is running out and we need YOU to join us, participate in our
meetings, spread the word, and make sure Union Square in Somerville is
added to the growing list of communities across the Nation who’ve
developed with  a Community Benefits Agreement..

Stars and Crafts and Event Horizon

A secret project I’ve been working on is a kind of Artemis/Space Team type collaborative starship game (nerd nerd) that’s both peer-to-peer and web-based. You can play the prototype at (press “server”).

This weekend I watched the (not bad?) horror/sci-fi 90s movie Event Horizon with Sam Neill (ok, I watched it because he was in Jurassic Park), and was kind of shocked by the opening scene:

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 9.31.01 PM (2)

For reference, this the opening scene of Stars and Crafts:

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.52.16 PM


3.0 record cutter progress




I tested cutting with this today but it came out very wobbly — not sure why pitch would be unstable but I wonder if it’s related to how I hold it? More tests necessary.

Back to the Sylvania, which is available for $28 in pink… $32 in other colors. Easy decision; people must have terrible taste not to want pink.

Good news on record time, though; 1:16 worth of Starfucker fit on the DVD at top. Partially due to the K’nex piece I’m now using as a turntable clamp, which opens up the last few seconds of space on the disc.

An even simpler cutting head?


I still need to build an arm or mount for this, but it’s the first record cutter I’ve made that doesn’t require any tools except scissors to make. Instead of disassembling a speaker to get the voice coil, I drove a pin directly through the cone of a speaker. To stiffen the “ball-end,” I drove it through a piece of stiff card paper, which you can see taped to the speaker side.



The vibration is plenty strong to cut grooves, so I’m optimistic that we’re one step closer to an easy-to-build kit.



Mini Autoprogettazione


I made a mini version of Enzo Mari’s 1974 “Autoprogettazione”; a kind of early DIY/open source furniture design made so that all cuts can be done with a hand saw, and all joints with just nails. This chair is just one of a set including tables and such, too.

Nice minimal look, which I reproduced with coffee stirring sticks from the Marcel Breuer former Whitney Museum, now the Met extension. From the top floor Blue Bottle cafe. In the spirit of open source.

And here’s a PDF with all of the designs:



Here’s the original, and Mari building one:



Update: here’s Enzo with his own original miniatures! (via Wikipedia)


Record cutter v2 recording and portable studio


This is my current setup to cut records — trying to keep it as portable as possible, as I’m typically recording people in person now. My goal is to do a lot of recording as I improve the design, so that I learn more about what works and doesn’t through real use. Also, I learn what’s truly portable and durable enough to travel with!

The new v2 cutter is really nice and small (see yesterday’s post). And it’s quite high fidelity — see this recording I did yesterday off an MP3: