Neighborhood climate action has been happening in Boston for decades. This post is meant to capture the very narrow history of community groups directly partnering with Greenovate Boston to create neighborhood climate action strategies. It is limited to the 2014 Climate Action Plan Update process, which identified the Greenovate Neighborhoods project. It is meant to demonstrate the progress made due to community members' feedback and priorities for climate action community engagement from the City of Boston.

2014 CAP Update Stakeholder Feedback

The following comments come from an anonymous commenter about neighborhood-level sustainability planning during the 2014 CAP Update stakeholder feedback

  • The City could announce a neighborhood climate planning process and invite different neighborhoods to apply.

  • Criteria for selection could include strong interest among neighborhood groups, the Climate Action Plan’s targets and equity goals.

  • Community organizations, Greenovate, and City departments would do outreach to bring residents into the initial meetings and discussions. Grant funding would provide staff support for organizations’ outreach work.

  • The overall preparedness and mitigation goals would be the Climate Action Plan’s, but residents could prioritize which goals are most pressing for their neighborhood.

  • The planning process would look at all infrastructure and economic development needs and plans, not just climate plans, as John Barros outlined in the July meeting of the Preparedness Committee.

  • The process would not stop with planning but would give residents a substantial voice in goal-setting, strategy development, implementation, oversight and evaluation in a post-BRA era.

  • The pilot project would require all relevant city departments to participate and formulate ways to carry out the neighborhood plan. This is a way to start changing departments' internal culture on a scale they can manage, and put climate change on their radar screens

The following comments are from Ninya Loeppky, member of Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN)

1. Creating ongoing learning / partnership with other cities around climate action (including community-based groups in other cities).

2. Creating more effective partnerships with Boston-based partner institutions to leverage community-based climate action (specifically here I'm thinking of leveraging student projects at undergrad and grad programs at universities, pilot projects for local start-ups, asking them to focus their efforts on a particular neighborhood or aspect of climate action)

3. Creating more effective network within city government to implement climate action (this is mentioned piecemeal in other actions but might be a standalone) and

4. Improving the ability of city / community partnerships to leverage funding to neighborhood climate action in Boston. ie sharing of available grants; having templates of what we would want to fund so we are ready when these opps come along

Post-CAP Working Groups

Thanks to the contribution of Mike Prokosch of Boston Climate Action Network for this section.

Community activists provided a great deal of input toward the City's 2014 Climate Action Plan, and Greenovate staff invited them to help implement the Plan in some way. An ad hoc Community Engagement working group formed and it linked task forces on:

  • Neighborhoods/Engagement

  • Trees

  • Zero Waste/Recycling

  • Schools and Youth

The Neighborhoods task force — mostly BostonCAN and NOAH, plus two other activists — met a few times in late 2014 and early 2015. We discussed barriers to neighborhood initiatives and ways to change the culture of City departments (not EEOS). We recorded a couple of East Boston case studies. The tour of the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle, which Chief Blackmon and other City staff attended, came out of this task force. We hoped to organize a second tour in East Boston, but everyone got too busy and the task force stopped meeting or talking by mid-2015.

The Trees task force (Franklin Park Coalition, Boston Natural Areas Network/TTOR, BostonCAN, and an independent activist) met several times. Our goal was to get a city ordinance protecting existing trees. (Trees are our best and cheapest line of defense against climate change. Climate Action Plans have called for ambitious new tree planting goals, but many of the new trees die, and it takes about 40 years to grow large enough for significant climate change mitigation. Meanwhile, the City has no comprehensive policy or capacity to protect existing trees that we urgently need.) We researched other cities' tree protection programs, drafted some language, failed to develop a viable campaign to pass an ordinance, and slowly disbanded by mid-2015.

I believe the other two task forces still exist, but I'm not sure. The Zero Waste/Recycling task force were disappointed their initial goals for the Climate Action Plan were not included in the final draft. Schools and Youth had relatively strong capacity to develop work because of the involvement of BPS staff.

All four task forces met twice, if I remember correctly, to update each other on their work. I'm attaching an overall contact list.

The contact list included names and emails of people from the following organizations:

Neighborhood of Affordable Housing — East Boston, Greenovate — citywide, Alternatives for Community and Environment — Roxbury/citywide, BPS — citywide, Boston Climate Action Network — citywide, Toxics Action Center — citywide, Franklin Park Coalition — Dorchester, Charles River Watershed Association — citywide

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