Category Archives: Climate Crisis

Re-Imagining Salem Part 2: Setting Climate Solutions Into Action

Cindy Keegan and Patricia A. Gozemba
Are you worried about the climate emergency bearing down on us? Are you overwhelmed? Action is often the best antidote. Together we can turn this emergency into an opportunity for our city, but we need your help.

SAFE members, our environmental allies, and concerned residents are rolling up their sleeves to tackle this challenge and envision not just a green future, but a future that is inclusive, just and sustainable. We want to preserve the city and region we love—and make it better, with good jobs, affordable housing, and diverse residents. Join us on January 27, 6:30-8:30, at the Salem Community Life Center to continue the work.

On November 18, 2019, an overflow crowd of 130 people gathered for an inspiring forum, “RE-IMAGINING SALEM: From Fossil Fuels to a Green Future.” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll set the tone for promoting solutions, announcing that this spring Salem will initiate an electric vehicle sharing program. Jenna Ide, Director of Capital Projects, just scratched the surface of Salem’s climate initiatives in recounting work on solar arrays, moving emergency infrastructure out of harm’s way, securing 100% renewable electric energy for the city, bike lanes, and coastline resiliency projects such as planting sea grass at Collins Cove.

In small facilitated breakout groups, we thought big and identified our top three issues to address in Salem: transportation, resilience and mitigation planning, and the development of more renewable energy. We came up with lists of ideas to bring to the Legislature, our City Council, and our city administration.

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L-R City Councillor Meg Riccardi, Barbara Warren of Salem Sound Coastwatch and SAFE Advisory Board member Nancy Gilberg.

Mayor Driscoll will kick off the January 27th meeting with a brief overview of city initiatives addressing our top three concerns. Experts who will give very brief presentations to prompt our thinking include:
• Andrea Leary and Aileen O’Rourke from the North Shore Transportation Management Association, on rethinking regional transportation.
• Jenna Ide and Salem Sound Coastwatch’s Barbara Warren, on resiliency and mitigation efforts.
• Larry Chretien of Green Energy Consumers Alliance on the future of renewables; and
• . Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action on legislative strategies and educational opportunities

SAFE Co-Chair Cindy Keegan will introduce briefly two innovative tools for dealing with the climate emergency, a book and website Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer) and MIT’s En-Roads, an online policy simulation model for measuring the impact of different climate initiatives from renewables to carbon pricing to carbon capture. SAFE and our allies will do more events on these tools. Stay tuned.

But on January 27th, most of the evening will be spent in breakout sessions with facilitators, as we share our ideas and learn from each other. In deep and engaging conversations, together we’ll identify strategies for tackling these key challenges: transportation, resiliency, alternative energy, public policy, and education.

We all have opinions on what’s special in Salem (beaches, walkability, historic buildings) and what we will lose if we don’t address the climate crisis. We want your help prioritizing issues such as protecting our coastline, running pilot geothermal microgrids, advocating for offshore wind energy, and green transportation. And most significantly, we want to integrate environmental justice at each step along the way as we move into a sustainable future that strengthens our local economy, creates more jobs, and reduces commuting. It can be done.

Our November event was fun and productive. We inspired each other and learned. Come and join SAFE (Salem Alliance for the Environment), and our co-sponsors SERC (Salem’s Sustainability, Energy, and Resiliency Committee), 350.org, and Citizens Climate Lobby. Help us keep up the momentum.

Re-Imagining Salem Part II: Setting Climate Ideas into Action, Jan. 27, 6:30-8:30 pm. Salem CLC 401 Bridge St. Free. Accessible. Parking.

Keegan and Gozemba are Co-Chairs of SAFE.

Re-imagining Salem: From Fossil Fuels to a Green Future

November 18, 2019. Salem, MA.
SAFE, Re-Imagining Salem: From Fossil Fuels to a Green Future. Speakers from left: Marjorie Kelly, Mayor Kim Driscoll, Jenna Ide, Sonia Hamel, Cindy Luppi, and Moderator Cindy Keegan
© 2019 Marilyn Humphries

 On Monday, November 18, over 100 residents from Salem and surrounding communities gathered at Salem’s Community Life Center to imagine responses to the climate emergency that could not only keep our city the vibrant place we all love—but make it better.

The forum, hosted by SAFE, along with the Salem Sustainability, Energy, and Resiliency Committee, Clean Energy Future Massachusetts, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and 350 MA Northshore, took off from the premise that, if the state legislature passes a carbon pricing bill, state funds will be available to communities like ours to invest in a sustainable future. So what would we like to see?

Mayor Kim Driscoll and Director of Capital Projects Jenna Ide kicked off the evening with an inspiring presentation of what the city has accomplished thus far—from bike lanes to electric vehicle sharing to solar arrays and moving emergency infrastructure out of harm’s way.

Mayor Kim Driscoll kicked off the night.

Sonia Hamel showcasing ideas from around the world.

Presentations from Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action; Marjorie Kelly, a SAFE board member and expert on what communities are doing to build economies that work for everyone not just the wealthy few; and Sonia Hamel of Hamel Environmental Consulting pointed to real world examples of building resilient and livable communities. From scaling renewable energy to reducing reliance on gas and oil infrastructure for heating our homes to literally buying out the fossil fuel companies to wind them down —an idea Marjorie Kelly called “quantitative easing for the planet”– the presenters challenged the audience to think big.

Following the presentations, audience members engaged in discussions at their tables, talking with each other about:

1) What’s special in Salem, and what will we lose if we don’t address the climate crisis?
Answers: Our beaches, walkability, historic buildings

2) What ideas did we find most exciting or most urgent?
Answers: protecting our coastline, geothermal microgrids, off-shore wind energy, green transportation, a zero-waste city.

3) How do we integrate the principles of a democratic economy—building community, encouraging broad-based ownership, valuing the place where we live—into change going forward?
Answers: Consider environmental justice at each step along the way as we build toward a sustainable future. Consider working with Salem’s anchor institutions—the university, hospital, and museum—to strengthen our local economy, create more jobs, and reduce commuting.

These are only a few of the many ideas generated. A second meeting, January 27, will dive deeper into the proposed solutions, and what commitments we can all make to building Salem’s green future.

All photos by Marilyn Humphries, (c) 2019.

Re-Imagining Salem: From Fossil Fuels to a Green Future

Come and be inspired. Share your ideas and inspire others. Pose your questions. Let’s tackle the climate crisis as an opportunity. Reserve a spot: http://bit.ly/2qiM6A0

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