Open Space, Climate Vulnerabilities and Making

We haven’t been blogging much over the past year and I suspect some people wonder why – other than we both work full time and have three kids! There’s always a lot going on in our lives, but this year I think these three phrases encapsulate the big reasons we haven’t been blogging much: open space, climate vulnerabilities and making.

CPA-parade

Supporters of our ballot initiative marching in a local parade

This past year I (Alicia) worked extensively with a small group of activists to get our city to adopt a state law that helps fund open space and recreation, historic preservation and affordable housing. Fifteen years ago our state passed a law stating that local communities could choose to adopt a program that would allow the community to raise local funds and then receive proportional matching funds from the state to fund projects in these three areas. I’ve been talking with residents for the past two years about this option and this past year we decided to move forward with collecting enough signatures to put it on the ballot and then convinced residents in our community to vote for it and it passed!  

It was a lot of work, but it was also very empowering to realize that a small group of residents could work to get the community to adopt a significant program. We were fortunate to not have any organized opposition in our community, but even in Massachusetts its not easy to convince residents to vote for something that is going to cost them money, even if it’s only on the order of $50 a year. This was important, and exciting, but also a significant time sink.

I’ve always been busy before, but I’ve found time to write on the blog anyhow. This year however, I’ve also been working on an issue that is an emotional drain (hmm, that’s the 2nd water metaphor). A little over a year ago our Mayor (my boss) met with other Mayors in our region and agreed that climate change vulnerabilities and resiliency are a major upcoming issue that we should be looking at regionally. He asked me to begin attending regional task force meetings to represent our community on this issue. Now, this is an area where I already had some knowledge – after all, there’s a reason Jon & I started writing this blog. However, meeting with other communities, state and federal agencies and local non-profits and consultants to look at the near and mid-term affects of climate change on our communities has a whole new level of impact on my psyche.

5 feet of sea level rise in the Boston area made with NOAA's http://coast.noaa.gov/

5 feet of sea level rise in the Boston area made with NOAA’s http://coast.noaa.gov/

I looked at hurricane evacuation maps for our area and realized that one-third of my community is in an evacuation zone for a direct hit category 1 hurricane. I heard from scientists that pointed out that if hurricane Sandy had hit our area at high tide instead of low tide we would have had significant damages of the type we have never seen before in our memory. We really dodged a bullet on that one.   The City of Cambridge has recently completed their climate change vulnerability study and the forecasted impacts of increased heat, sea level rise and inland flooding on their community are sobering.  The first time I had their preliminary results presented to me I realized that they are looking at 2030, 2050 and 2070 as time horizons for impacts – and that 2030 is only in 15 (now 14) years from now.  My youngest child will only be 20 years old in 2030 – barely an adult! 

Today I went to a day long workshop sponsored by the Barr Foundation entitled “How to Guide to Carbon Neutral Cities” and realized that I should be blogging about some of the things I’m learning – so consider this just a taste.

Making – well, Jon has had some significant disruption and unpleasantness at work over the past year putting him in a bad state of mind for writing.  Recently he has transitioned into a new position where he is the Assistant Director of Project Manus at MIT.  Project Manus is charged with enhancing the Maker resources at MIT.  Suffice it to say, he’s now very happy and very, very busy. 

Oh, and bees.  We’re getting bees.  Stay tuned!

Happy Greening,

Alicia

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