Climate change is happening in every neighborhood, but its effects are not distributed evenly. In Somerville and the Greater Boston Area, historical practices of housing segregation and other racist planning and land use decisions have made some communities more at risk for health, safety, and climate risks with fewer resources for advocacy and resilience. What can residents and local governments do to make sure their neighborhoods are safe and resilient from the effects of climate change?
Our neighborhoods do not look the way they do by accident, and mitigation for climate change and related health and safety risks need to center and elevate communities that have been intentionally disenfranchised and disinvested in. The Climate Safe Neighborhoods program aims to explore the relationship between historical race-based housing segregation and the current and predicted impacts of climate change – then provide structure and funding for community-driven interventions.
Examples of factors that are unevenly distributed in Somerville’s neighborhoods of color and low income communities:
- Extreme heat/urban heat island effect
- Flood risk and flood impacts
- Concrete/impermeable surface cover
- Low amounts of tree canopy
- Air quality from highways and infrastructure
Examples of potential projects that the Climate Safe Neighborhood program fueled by resident leaders could take on in partnership with other groups and the city:
- Improving or establishing green infrastructure (eg. parks, urban farming space, stormwater mitigation) in Environmental Justice communities
- Air quality monitoring and other citizen science projects that lead to government action
- Tree distribution and maintenance projects
- Change city climate change plans, zoning rules, funding distribution, urban forest laws, etc. to better prioritize communities of color and their resilience
- Anything that frontline community members think of and deem most important!
Groundwork Somerville has been building momentum for these efforts since late 2023 as part of Groundwork USA’s Climate Safe Neighborhoods (CSN) partnership, and we want your help! Opportunities to get involved will include a paid resident leadership group, volunteering for outreach to community members (think canvassing, tabling, flyering, etc.) and project implementation, interpretation into non-English languages, skill-sharing around projects, and much more. We need to organize as communities in order to prioritize and address our urgent needs and wellbeing!
In these early stages, we are looking for people who might want to be involved in a stipended resident leadership group, OR shorter term focus groups!
Get involved in local climate justice!
If you would like to learn more, get involved with the climate justice work we’re doing, have people or organizations you think should be involved, or have ideas for how your neighborhood could be more equitably resilient, reach out to Sophie at email@example.com!
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