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FAR President responds to Cambridge Day

by Ellen Mass

The significant neighborhood groups’ Saturday (January 12) gathering at Senior Center in Cambridge demonstrated once again, the arbitrary nature of stating what I see as political goals by good spokespersons, rather than the reality of public will or democratic processes. Thanks to the city for having Participatory Budgeting surveys and votes!! And thanks to Mr. Teague for pointing out what majority of engaged citizens want as a result of nearly 8000 taking the survey.

I have Attended many city Envisioning meetings throughout the last 3 years which have accomplished the same result of false choice and maneuvered priorities in the Climate Committee, Environmental Working Group, and Envisioning Advisory. Towards the end of this process, we are heavily forced to deal with more “inclusionary zoning” as the goal of increasing affordable housing. But the public will has given significant push back, because despite opinions of a ‘dumb’ public, many know what the climate future holds for us if we are not prepared with excellent adaptation strategies. Lots everywhere read about climate change now wreaking havoc throughout the world.

Issues of development impacts regarding environmental abuse have been publicly laid out very well in Cambridge when the Envisioning process started, and we’ve lost sight of them as well as the “Climate Safety Petition”, which is stalled in city bureaucracy, or worse.

Plant canopy facts were well noted by around 20 testimonies at the Wed. 9th Hearing on Tree Canopy and great need to pass an enforceable tree ordinance, which has little ‘teeth’ right now. Councilor Mallon’s skepticism and Siddiqui’s silence may bode poorly for the upcoming Council vote for tree protection which is deeply a part of climate change protections.

Most progressive cities in USA have enforceable permit requirements for cutting trees ‘willy nilly’, not just for climate purposes, but for neighbors concerns about the livability of their neighborhoods. All over the US, neighborhoods are standing up for their communities and refusing to allow these crimes, now that we know scientifically how valuable our trees are for sequestering carbon, cooling and bringing storm water into the ground to prevent flooding, but recharge ground water needed for the future.

A travesty that climate was hardly mentioned at the extraordinary large gathering, thanks to seeing the need to gather by Suzanne Blier of Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, for trying to summarize many neighborhood groups’ priorities, but little being said about the environment and importance of climate ecology in our increasingly climate-hazard lives.

Appreciating the thoughtful ‘push back’ by residents throughout the city to read us correctly and to tell the truth of our choices and concerns.

Green Cambridge’s last electoral FORUM run by Derrick Jackson and Steve Nutter before the elections showed climate change is #1 as well. “Open Space” is not climate change, but may point to parks, playgrounds, and Climate is often not a part of the dialogue when it comes to funding.

Someone is misleading us. Thanks to Cambridge Day for following these events closely.


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