September 22, 2023
“We’re Green, We’re Gray, and We’re NOT Going Away!
Over 500 residents at Kendal communities in 8 states have created an enterprising standalone non-profit organization focused on reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 on their campuses. All that’s folded into the SSAFE motto above.
In 2020, Kendal at Hanover residents, concerned about the impacts of climate change on their children and grandchildren, and the world’s future generations, formed Senior Stewards Acting for the Environment (SSAFE). The founders contacted the presidents of every Kendal Residents Council at the affiliate communities. The issue resonated across the Kendal system, and the organization quickly grew to include their project teams: Greening Our Campuses, Advocacy, and Education.
SSAFE and The Kendal Corporation
As a 501(c)(3) organization, SSAFE does not represent The Kendal Corporation or the administrations of affiliate Kendal communities. But its commitment to addressing the climate crisis reflects Kendal’s Quaker roots, especially the vow to care for the earth in ways that benefit present and future generations.
Kendal Vice-President of Development and Planning Frank Mandy serves as a liaison between SSAFE and the Kendal System for the complementary projects and initiatives undertaken by the two organizations.
- to unite all 4,000+ residents at Kendal affiliates in addressing the greatest challenge facing our planet: climate change
- to mitigate the effects of global warming by drawing on our combined experience, knowledge, resources, and talents
- to cooperate and share our methods with the Kendal Corporation, Kendal affiliate staff and administrators, as well as other retirement communities.
SSAFE has been successful during its initial three years because of the passion and vision of Kendal residents who have donated their time, knowledge, and money to advance our understanding of how retirement communities can impact the fight against climate change. That passion is evident in fundraising that secured the salary and exceptionally able services of SSAFE’s Program Manager Michelle Goodwin.
How Residents and Others Can Participate
SSAFE Membership is free and open to all residents of the Kendal affiliate communities.
Those not living in a Kendal Community may still participate in SSAFE Action Alerts, subscribe to the quarterly newsletter, or simply but very helpfully make a donation.
Sign up at SSAFE.org/join.
How and When SSAFE Members Meet
The SSAFE General Committee Meeting, open to all SSAFE members, meets on Zoom on the first Thursday of the month. The May 4, 2023 meeting guest speaker- Robin Cooper, Co-Founder of Climate Psychiatry Alliance, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco.
SSAFE’s three project teams, Advocacy, Education, and Greening Our Campuses meet on Zoom once a month on the third Thursday. SSAFE’s Climate Cafe is an hour-long Zoom meeting to discuss climate-related books, films, articles, imagery, and more. Additional working groups have formed from the major project teams to create specific objectives such as the calculation of a campus carbon footprint, obtaining a campus deep-energy retrofit audit, and creating an energy-saving protocol for residence turnovers. These groups meet on an ad-hoc basis until their objectives are achieved.
SSAFE’s Project Teams
- Tracks legislative and regulatory action at the local/state/national levels.
- Develops information on legislation and regulations regarding climate policies.
- Creates “Action Alerts” which are distributed to residents to sign online petitions, offline paper petitions, and online letter writing campaigns to elected officials and policy makers.
- Tutors members on how to write op-eds and letters to the editor for regional newspapers.
- Encourages seniors to use their time and energy to take actions such as post card writing during election seasons, divesting from “dirty” banks that fund fossil-fuel projects, and participating in demonstrations.
- Meets regularly to share news and ideas on educating Kendal residents about climate change, the environment, biodiversity, connecting to nature, and maintaining hope in the face of climate change.
- Hosts a monthly Climate Café, a monthly discussion group on various topics related to climate change. Unlike a regular book club, the SSAFE Climate Café focuses on a variety of media such as films, articles, videos, selections from books, essays, and more.
- Publishes a quarterly, resident-written newsletter with sustainability achievements, and with reflections on the natural world from Kendal campus residents.
- Reviews and categorizes videos, movies, and book recommendations on climate change, biodiversity, and hope.
- Coordinates content and assists with recommendations for SSAFE.org, SSAFE’s website.
- Attends to our communities’ deeper existential and spiritual needs to help one another retain and strengthen hope even as the climate crisis worsens.
- Helps select speakers for the SSAFE General Committee meeting on the topics of hope and inspiration.
- Encourages and assists SSAFE members at each Kendal campus in their development of Earth Day activities that inform and inspire fellow residents in environmental topics relating to SSAFE’s mission.
Greening Our Campuses:
- Addresses energy efficiency and carbon footprint calculations across the Kendal communities.
- Shares a wide range of campus sustainability projects including landscaping, food systems, composting, recycling, and even beekeeping.
- Looks closely at the “critical path” to carbon neutrality.
- Questions being addressed:
- What does ”carbon footprint” mean?
- How can we calculate our carbon footprint?
- How can we reduce the use of carbon-intensive fuels and switch to green energy sources?
- How can we evaluate our buildings’ energy efficiency and fuel sources?
- What are good strategies for working with our local administrations to identify and address the most urgent local sustainability issues?
- Questions being addressed:
At any time, member residents can join one of the three project teams.
Visit SSAFE.org/newsletter to check out an archive of interesting articles in past newsletters on topics such as Getting to Net Zero, Kendal at Hanover’s Energy Audit and Earth Day celebration ideas.
SSAFE’s website: www.SSAFE.org