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“Save Energy, Save Dollars” plan asks City Council to pay for energy upgrades for poor

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Your home isn’t as energy efficient as you think it is. And if the City of Memphis and MLGW seriously want to ease the energy burden on low-income families, they should start with fixing leaky faucets, sealing drafty windows and other optimizations outlined in a bold new plan recently unveiled by Friends of The Earth (FOE).

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Proposal estimates $247 million to optimize homes while creating 330 jobs over five years.

By Lee Eric Smith, lesmith@tsdmemphis.com

“If Memphis Light Gas & Water’s utility rates are among the lowest in the country, why is my bill so darn high?”

Whether you’ve asked yourself that question after opening your latest MLGW bill or gone a step further to complain to MLGW and/or city officials, it’s a question that seemingly defies logic. Either somebody is lying or . . .

Your home isn’t as energy efficient as you think it is. And if the City of Memphis and MLGW seriously want to ease the energy burden on low-income families, they should start with fixing leaky faucets, sealing drafty windows and other optimizations outlined in a bold new plan recently unveiled by Friends of The Earth (FOE).

“When you talk about the energy burden, you’re talking about poor people who are making decisions between groceries, medicine and for some, even being able to get to work,” said Herman Morris, a former MLGW executive now championing the effort. “And that’s a burden not because of (the utility rate) necessarily, but because their home is energy inefficient.

“They’ve got cracks and leaks that really result in them (cooling outdoors in the summer and heating outdoors in the winter),” Morris added. “All of the energy they buy goes out the door through those cracks.”

The plan, called “Save Energy, Save Dollars,” calls upon the Memphis City Council to fund a program that would provide energy optimizations and upgrades to up to more than 70,000 lower income homes over five years. The plan estimates that the average participant could save as much as $44 per month – all while enjoying a more comfortable home to boot.

‘Recipes’ for success

The full 36-page plan, available as a downloadable PDF, provides two main “recipes” for achieving those savings.

During the “direct install” phase, trained experts would evaluate and install upgrades like low-flow showerheads, LED lights, duct sealing and insulation for pipes and water heaters. Smart thermostats are also included because they can communicate with MLGW’s smart meters to restrict usage at MLGW’s most expensive times.

Some direct install homes will also be eligible for weatherization – more costly measures like replacing inefficient refrigerators and air conditioners, upgrading insulation and even replacing windows and doors.

All other low-income households would receive a seven percent reduction in their utility bills, according to the plan.

To maximize impact, the plan takes a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach, focusing on areas of Memphis like Frayser, Orange Mound, Whitehaven, Berclair and North Memphis. A countywide campaign would allow low-income households anywhere in the county to participate by appointment. The plan also has incentives for landlords to make the upgrades in their rental properties.

“The kilowatt hour you save is the cheapest and cleanest kilowatt hour on Earth,” said David Freeman, former chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority. “We can help ourselves in this city by just initiating a major efficiency program.”

At what cost?

Adopted as is, the SESD plan would cost $247 million over five years. They even recommend the city use municipal bonds to fund the effort.

But while Friends of the Earth acknowledge the plan isn’t cheap, they also say that if easing financial stress on the poorest Memphians is a priority, there’s no better way to invest the money.

“There’s been enough talk. People know they’re poor. And they know that their homes are leaking. It’s time that somebody did something about it,” Freeman said. “They borrow money to build a power plant, they can borrow money to invest in the homes of poor people. That will create more energy per dollar than what they’re paying TVA.”

Earlier this year, the Memphis City Council declined an MLGW request to raise rates to pay for needed infrastructure repairs – upgrades that could help prevent power outages during storms.

Morris said that those infrastructure upgrades are absolutely needed, but they don’t have to come at the expense of the proposed SESD plan.

“You’ve got to have an infrastructure that’s capable of delivering the energy to the people,” Morris said. “I also believe that you don’t necessarily need to stop at the door. We’re saying that you take that infrastructure argument into the homes where the energy is going to be consumed, and improve that infrastructure, so that you’re getting a more efficient delivery. You can’t really separate the two.

“(Say) you are a poor person whose lights are off because you couldn’t afford to pay for all the energy that you’re using inefficiently,” Morris continued. “If you’re a poor person in that situation and your lights off, you don’t need to fix the infrastructure. Because it doesn’t matter if the infrastructure works if your lights are off because you couldn’t pay the bill.

“All we’re saying is, let’s be smart. Let’s be responsible,” he added. “Let’s just stop wasting by not having an energy-efficient envelope where that energy is consumed.”

Grassroots approach

Friends of the Earth announced the plan at a community event at Bickford Senior Center, just north of the Pinch District. There were two bounce houses, a deejay and food. The idea is to increase public awareness – not just about the SESD plan, but to promote energy efficiency as a way of life among low-income residents.

“Some of the responsibility is on the customer,” Morris said. “That will require some changing of habits, of personal conduct. But changing habits isn’t going to help until you fix the environment.

“At MLGW, we used to call it ‘conscientious consumption’ – being a better consumer,” he added. “But to get to responsible consumption, you’ve got to make it possible for that to take place. And it cannot take place when half of every kilowatt hour you use goes out the window.”

Several dozen people attended the FOE event. Informational flyers were passed out, and guests were polled on questions like, “Which city has the highest energy burden?” The music stopped to allow event coordinator Sydney Kessler to spread information about the plan.

“We’re trying to build a strong coalition of folks that we believe can really advocate for this,” said Sydney Kessler, who organized the June 29 event. “We’re going to be talking about how it impacts those communities to make sure those communities are represented when we’re advocating for this plan.”

After multiple emails and phone calls, The New Tri-State Defenderwas unable to confirm if MLGW officials or the Mayor’s Office had seen the proposal or reviewed it in detail.  But 10 local civic and religious organizations have already signed onto the effort urging MLGW and the City Council to adopt the plan.

And Sijuwola Crawford, the #UPTheVote901 leader who co-organized the recent “People’s Convention,” was among those at the event supporting the effort.

“We’ve heard that people are spending as much as 25 percent of their money on utilities,” Crawford said. “If we can lower that, then I think we’re doing what we can to protect the people who are the most vulnerable.”

If it sounds like Friends of the Earth wants to make this an issue in the upcoming municipal elections and beyond, it’s because they do.

“This is an (awareness) campaign that’s going to take it straight to these people that are running for election in October and ask them: Are you going to just keep talking about helping the poor people? Or are you going to do something about it? And here’s something that can be done by just the vote of the city council, instructing the utility to implement this program.

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IN MEMORIAM International Soccer Icon Pelé Dies at 82

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), Pelé became a Brazilian national hero. According to Britannica, he combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves. 

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Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Pelé, the international star who was instrumental in three World Cup championships with Brazil across three decades and who energized U.S. soccer with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, has died.

The 82-year-old legend had been hospitalized since November, and his doctors reported that Pelé’s cancer had advanced, requiring care related to renal and cardiac dysfunction.

He has been receiving regular treatment since doctors removed a tumor from his colon in 2021.

“Father. My strength is yours,” the international star’s son, Edinho, posted on social media.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.

He led the Brazilian national teams to World Cup glory in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

In 1956, he joined the Santos Football Club, where he played inside left forward, winning nine São Paulo league championships and, in 1962 and 1963, the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup.

Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), Pelé became a Brazilian national hero. According to Britannica, he combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves.

“After the 1958 World Cup, Pelé was declared a national treasure by the Brazilian government to ward off large offers from European clubs and ensure that he would remain in Brazil,” Britannica researchers wrote.

On Nov. 19, 1969, in his 909th first-class match, he scored his 1,000th goal.

Pelé made his international debut in 1957 at age 16 and played his first game in the World Cup finals in Sweden the following year.

The Brazilian manager was initially hesitant to play his young star. But, according to Britannica, when Pelé finally reached the field, he had an immediate impact, rattling the post with one shot and collecting an assist.

He had a hat trick in the semifinal against France and two goals in the championship game, where Brazil defeated Sweden 5–2. At the 1962 World Cup finals, Pelé tore a thigh muscle in the second match and had to sit out the remainder of the tournament.

Nonetheless, Brazil went on to claim its second World Cup title.

Researchers said rough play and injuries turned the 1966 World Cup into a disaster for Brazil and Pelé, as the team went out in the first round, and he contemplated retiring from World Cup play.

Returning in 1970 for one more World Cup tournament, he teamed with young stars Jairzinho and Rivelino to claim Brazil’s third title and permanent ownership of the Jules Rimet Trophy. Pelé finished his World Cup career, scoring 12 goals in 14 games.

Pelé’s electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a worldwide star.

His team Santos toured internationally to take full advantage of his popularity. For example, in 1967, he and his team traveled to Nigeria, where a 48-hour cease-fire in that nation’s civil war was called to allow all to watch the great player.

Pelé announced his retirement in 1974 but, in 1975, agreed to a three-year $7 million contract with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League and to promote the game in the United States. He retired after leading the Cosmos to the league championship in 1977.

Pelé was the recipient of the International Peace Award in 1978. In 1980 he was named Athlete of the Century by the French sports publication L’Equipe, and he received the same honor in 1999 from the International Olympic Committee. In 2014 the Pelé Museum opened in Santos, Brazil.

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COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips

THE AFRO — Although it cannot be medically diagnosed, burnout can lead people to lose their sense of self and feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association found that the risk of burnout has increased for workers due to extra stress, increased household demands and longer working hours. 
The post COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Megan Sayles | AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

We’ve all heard the age-old saying that “hard work pays off.”  But, sometimes, working too hard can do more harm than good.

“Burnout” is a form of work-related stress in which an individual experiences physical, emotional or mental exhaustion caused by their job’s demands. It can also make workers feel distanced from their jobs and engender negative feelings about them, according to the World Health Organization.

Although it cannot be medically diagnosed, burnout can lead people to lose their sense of self and feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association found that the risk of burnout has increased for workers due to extra stress, increased household demands and longer working hours.

This makes it even more important for people to know the signs of burnout and the strategies to combat it.

Natasha Charles is the founder and CEO of Intuitive Coaching with Natasha Charles, a comprehensive life coaching and consulting firm. She created the business after gaining 20 years in senior administration roles.

Charles was motivated to open the firm in 2018 out of a desire to create a business focused on inspiring continuous improvement. There, she works with individuals and executives to create lives that they love and offers them personalized solutions to address critical work and business challenges.

“It’s really about thinking about you, the person, and all that you are,” Charles said. “People tend to be very focused on one aspect of their life, and a lot of times, it’s about their career, so it’s really about making space for all of your goals and all of your dreams.”

When someone experiences burnout, Charles said they could be actively doing their job while simultaneously worrying about their other responsibilities and priorities, whether personal or work-related. She also stressed that burnout can be experienced no matter what profession you are in and what you are being paid.

Aside from the physical and mental impacts of stress, burnout can impact finances if it causes an employee to take extended periods of time off or miss work, according to Charles. It can also reduce their productivity.

In the beginning of 2022, the term “quiet quitting” emerged, and for some, it’s being used as a method to avoid burnout. It involves individuals meeting the minimum requirements of their job descriptions, investing no extra time or effort than what is mandatory.

For Charles, quiet quitting is a signal that a person is not fulfilled by their job and may need to think about changing workplaces or careers.

“I get that people are not always able to up and quit, and it can take time to find what that next role is,” Charles said. “I would come from a space of encouraging the person to start thinking about what that is. What is it that you ultimately desire to be doing in your life and seeing your work?”

One of the most important steps in reducing and preventing burnout is educating yourself about the syndrome, so you can be aware of the warning signs, according to Charles. She also said it was crucial for employers to talk to their employees about it.

Awareness can help prevent the shame and guilt that comes with burnout and allow people to give themselves grace.

After a person has weighed whether they are experiencing burnout or not, they should think about how they want to confront it. This could include engaging in self-care, asking for extra support at work or home, and creating stronger boundaries between their personal and professional lives.

When burnout is impacting your performance, it’s time to consider making a career change, Charles said.

To ensure your work life does not invade your personal life, Charles said people need to assess the goals they have for all areas of their life. Once you’ve set goals, it’s easier to devise a plan and set the necessary boundaries to achieve them.

Charles also said it’s important to carve out time for yourself where you’re not constantly checking your phone or email for work reasons.

“There is life beyond your work. There is an entire world out there to be discovered,” Charles said. “There’s a world within us to be discovered as well, and I encourage everyone to invest in discovering those pieces.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

The post COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting 

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The case fired up social media and highlighted the misogyny that still reigns in hip hop. Many on Twitter routinely attacked Megan, accusing her of lying among other vicious vitriolic comments.
The post Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting  first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Canadian rapper Tory Lanez faces more than 20 years in prison and deportation after a jury in Los Angeles found him guilty in the 2020 shooting of hip hop star Megan Thee Stallion.

Lane, 30, was found guilty of three felony counts, including assault with an unregistered semiautomatic weapon, carrying a loaded gun, and discharging a firearm in a vehicle with gross negligence.

The case fired up social media and highlighted the misogyny that still reigns in hip hop. Many on Twitter routinely attacked Megan, accusing her of lying among other vicious vitriolic comments.

The 27-year-old Megan, whose real name is Megan Pete, testified that Lanez offered her hush money and didn’t care about her injuries and pain suffered because he shot her.

Lanez, who declined to testify, claimed there was another shooter, Pete’s friend who was also arguing with the hit maker as they drove home from a party.

“[Lanez] told me to dance,” Pete told the jury, adding that he also cursed at her following the shooting.

Sentencing for Lanez is scheduled for Jan. 27.

“You showed incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said, referring to Pete.

“You faced unjust and despicable scrutiny that no woman should ever face, and you have been an inspiration to others across LA County and the nation.”

The post Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting  first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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