The City of Boston is dealing with a plethora of issues and one of them is climate change. How does the city intend to fight the prospects of climate change that will harm our most vulnerable communities? Greenovate plans to tackle this crisis by providing transparent discussions with Bostonians in the latest of a series of community discussions titled, the climate equity roundtables.
The Racial and Climate Equity Roundtable 2 at the Hennigan Center in Jamaica Plain, was the second roundtable in a series of discussions focused on the efforts taken by the City of Boston to confront climate change. This roundtable was run by David Corbie, who is the Outreach Manager at Greenovate. “We serve as a central resource about climate change in Boston. We focus on making Boston a prepared, efficient, mobile, zero waste, and connected city.” – Greenovate Boston https://www.boston.gov/departments/environment/get-involved-greenovate. The event revealed that democracy is being used to address the concerns that Bostonians have about how the government will handle climate change. The equity dialogue focused on certain groups of people throughout the city that will be substantially affected by climate change due to their economic status and location. Throughout this event, you could feel the commitment and responsibility that the Greenovate team had in running this event on a late Thursday afternoon. The key takeaways from this event was the five pillars that they asked us to remember throughout our discussion. Greenovate Website – https://www.greenovateboston.org/
The first part of the discussion was mainly showcasing slides on the numerous effects of climate change in and around the city of Boston. These points discussed increased precipitation in how it will increase drastically by 2060 and that water will go above the height of the current average curb. Furthermore, this would lead to stormwater flooding and how it affects certain neighborhoods such as Mattapan, Jamaica Plain and East Boston. This flooding not only affects the main city, but also residents who live near the coast and how from 2020- 2060, there is an imminent threat to their homes, property, etc. The discussion then shifted to how people are not affected equally, those with more wealth in the city will have an easier time dealing with these climate concerns then other racial, economic and age groups, who do not have a strong safety net. Likewise, the conversation was very respectful, and people shared their experiences from their own neighborhoods.
The second part of the event was focused on the group discussions that took place between us members in the audience. The main discussion points hearken back to the certain aspects of a city that Greenovate and the City of Boston are trying to reach. According to Greenovate, a prepared city is one that is “more resilient to climate impacts and is ready to respond to extreme weather events.” The first discussion question asked, What can we do in vulnerable communities to wade off Urban Heat Island Effect? At the event there were three groups in total, one with a blue marker, one with a green marker and one with a red marker. In my group which consisted of Aidan Smith, an employee from the Environmental Department who works at City Hall, we discussed a few points to address this. It is important to note that the discussions were very civil, and ideas were tossed around and jotted down on a large piece of paper.
For this question we wrote down reducing vehicle congestion, strategically planting trees in these affected areas, painting roofs, not cutting down tree development and keeping track of their inventory. The next set of notes discussed air-conditioned schools, rain swells/gardens, finding ways to reduce single-occupant vehicles and providing a community check in on your neighbors who can be greatly affected by the effects of extreme heat during the summer. The next question is about a mobile city and Greenovate put it as how the city is encouraging residents to walk, bike and use more electric vehicles in their day to day lives. The question was, How do we increase active transportation in vulnerable communities, and encourage less-passenger use? Subsequently, our group shared our views on how the city can combat this issue. The first points were to fix the MBTA in certain weak points such as railways and to further look at more bus routes, in order to give an incentive for more riders to take the T over their own cars. A program that was seen by Aidan in California, an electric van carpooling program was also considered to transport up to 10 people at once across the city. The aspects of providing safer bike lanes and bike maps across the city was also addressed along with the addition of adding lime scooters and their specific checkpoints. The only contentious point that I could remember during the discussion, was just a clarification on the economic impacts of simply providing “free fares” to the MBTA and how that might not correlate with the recycling incentive program discussed earlier.
The third question was on how we can increase recycling literacy in vulnerable communities? The groups went together and had similar points in how we could increase and promote the use of the Trash Day App, regulating consumer products, providing direct incentives with recycling through neighborhood rewards, recognition and putting money towards transportation fares.
Boston Trash Day App on the Google Play Store https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.recollect.boston&hl=en_US &
Apple’s App Store https://apps.apple.com/us/app/boston-trash-schedule-alerts/id999579992
The final question was, How do you think Energy Injustice and predatory practices could be best addressed? In our group we discussed providing more information on the FCC Consumer Protection, educating people on how to get into better contracts, providing more energy education in schools and having energy companies come to visit students and discuss ways in which they can better serve their current or future customers.
Overall, this was a fantastic event and it showcased that one of the healthy points of a democracy is to maintain healthy dialogue between the government and its people in order to tackle the larger issues at hand. The only contentious point that I could remember during the discussion, was just a clarification on the economic impacts of simply providing “free fares” to the MBTA and how that might not correlate with the recycling incentive program discussed earlier. The Greenovate team is planning on doing more events across the city with more Equity Table Roundtables and Future Winter Greenovate Leader Programs taking place all throughout the month of March. It appears that they will continue moving forward on their mission and that is a good sign of democracy taking place right here in Boston.