Last Thursday, Mayor Martin Walsh honored East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing’s (NOAH) Director of Community Building and Environment Chris Marchi for his sea level rise work in the community.
Walsh, at the 8th Annual Greenovate Boston Community Summit to celebrate Boston’s sustainability movement and the development of a forward-looking vision for climate action across all Boston neighborhoods, presented Marchi with a 2014 Greenovate Boston Award.
“Today is a celebration of every Bostonian’s work in making Boston a greener, healthier, and a more prosperous place,” said Walsh. “It is also a day to look at the climate challenges ahead, and to have confidence that the collective knowledge and drive of Bostonians can step up to these challenges.”
Marchi, who was the 2012 East Boston Times Man of the Year for his work on the Eastie Greenway Connector, has been leading NOAH’s Community Climate Preparedness program for the past year, said he was honored by the recognition.
“Our group of dedicated youth, NOAH staff and the community have been working hard to bring this important issue of Global Climate change and Sea Level rise to the forefront,” said Marchi. “A lot of people think its something in the distant future or watch news footage of superstorms like Hurricane Sandy and think “it can’t happen here or to me”. East Boston and surrounding waterfront communities are ground zero for sea level rise and are vulnerable to storm surge. We have been working hard through community workshops to really get residents to think about climate change, sea level rise and how it will affect the community.”
To help prepare residents for a series of flood planning workshops with agencies and scientists, Marchi has worked to have residents hear from experts in climate change and storm surge awareness. The discussion during these meeting has focused on climate change, storm surge, local flood risks and planning responses.
Marchi has successfully crafted a pilot program that will give Eastie residents a unique opportunity to participate in a planning process with the major players in emergency planning and contribute to the collective understanding of how communities can engage on this difficult topic.
“We understand that climate change isn’t anyone’s first priority. It’s just that a 15 foot storm flood above present sea level would pretty much flood half of the area with sea water and screw this town up.” said Marchi. “This is a trial and error situation. And every step we take in the right direction is good. Residents from the Maverick and Eagle Hill areas who did attend had excellent suggestions and gave us useful ideas about improving evacuation route signage, planning for people on foot, and getting messages to both landlords and renters.”
Marchi and other organizers here are attempting to build inclusive processes to get residents from impacted areas involved and ensure a successful plan.
Marchi said through these meetings anything that can turn Orient Heights, Eagle Hill and Jeffries Point into islands again, block residents from getting prescriptions or going downtown by tunnel or train for a month, knock out the power, supermarket, water and sanitation, is something we want to keep an eye on.
“Even if it’s a one in a hundred or five hundred chance, it’s worth thinking about,” said Marchi. “The chances of a big storm knocking us around are way better than the chances of hitting the lottery.”
Moving forward, Greenovate Boston will continue to co-host community meetings for the purposes of soliciting feedback for the Climate Action Plan. Feedback is also being collected via Greenovate Boston’s virtual town hall at Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. Those who wish to have a more active role can join the Neighborhoods, Climate Preparedness .