By Rickie Harvey
With Boston's preliminary election on September 24 just around the corner, are you wondering if your favorite mayoral candidate plans to make climate and sustainability issues a high priority for prompt and bold action in his or her administration? A number of grassroots environmental groups around Boston, including West Roxbury Saves Energy, wanted to find out; toward that end we formed an alliance, Neighborhoods for Climate Accountability (N4CA), and created and sent to each candidate a questionnaire addressing critical environmental issues. Our interest won't end there; we will be following the new mayor's progress on his or her promises in this regard as well.
But for starters, Neighborhoods for Climate Accountability invited the 12 mayoral candidates to respond to questions touching on topics ranging from how they would increase accountability and transparency on energy issues to indicating how they would shrink Boston's transportation carbon footprint, create jobs for sustainability, and improve public health and equity in all neighborhoods.
The candidates' full responses are published on the website of Neighborhoods for Climate Accountability and linked on the sites of the individual organizations of N4CA, including WRSE's. You can browse the answers by issue and/or by neighborhood as well.
One example of the questions that focused on specific Boston neighborhoods asked what the candidates would do to address the fact that certain neighborhoods such as West Roxbury generate far more yard waste than is currently picked up by the city a few weeks out of the year for use in the community gardens; the rest of the year yard waste goes into the landfills. In response, many of the candidates pledged to expand curbside composting and initiate other measures. Check out all the candidates' responses to learn more on this and many other topics.
N4CA members include, in addition to WRSE, Green Dorchester, GreeningRozzie, Planet Southie, Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN), and Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE). We welcome other neighborhood groups to come on board and actively seek their participation, as our efforts will continue once the new mayor takes office and we hold him or her accountable for pledges and promises made now. Would you like to have a voice in this issue? Please sign our petition and pledge to help us hold the new mayor accountable.
By forming this alliance, N4CA also seeks to highlight the need for more participation by local environmental groups on issues of climate and sustainability facing specific Boston neighborhoods. In recent years we have been asked to participate in outreach programs but have had little or no voice in determining the direction of the city's efforts. As neighborhood-based groups, we bring a critical and vital element to climate politics in the city of Boston.
Together our neighborhood groups directly reach more than 5,000 Boston residents through our memberships. N4CA also expects to reach more residents to share the candidates' responses through allies and local neighborhood media outlets. You can make a difference; let's work together on climate and sustainability and together hold the new mayor accountable. Don't forget to sign the pledge!