CITY OF MEDFORD RELEASES REPORT ON WORK TO ADDRESS CLIMATE RESILIENCY THROUGH PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVE
Medford Resilience Hubs project places social justice principles, including racial equity and health equity, at the forefront of combined community efforts.
6-month long effort culminated in action report to address equity, accessibility, to further climate resiliency planning.
The City of Medford and its partner agencies issued a report on the creation of Resilience Hubs and identified action steps for creating climate resiliency and preparedness in the City of Medford. This report follows a 6-month community process through a grant project funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs Municipality Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. Both the community process and the resulting report focused on equity and accessibility of City programs and services, setting next steps to advance racial and health equity in climate community resilience.
The “Resilient Medford, Resilience Hubs” project integrates community resilience into climate preparedness, enhancing the city’s adaptability to emergencies through collaborative community efforts, specifically seeking to better understand how the city and our partner agencies can work together to better prepare residents for the impacts of climate change.
The Resilience Hub report lays out short- and long-term action items for addressing community concerns around climate resiliency planning and access to City resources:
- Invest in community engagement by hiring local organizers of color to lead a Community Resilience Task Force.
- Develop a coalition of community providers within the Task Force to develop processes to enhance partnerships and communication.
- Involve City offices and departments in coordinating city-run services and promoting equitable community resilience, requiring a commitment to anti-racist policies.
Through a 6-month community process, project teams sought answers to key questions to inform the creation of “Resilience Hubs” in Medford, including: What do our residents need in order to be most prepared? What do our community provider organizations need to do their work in emergencies? How can we work together to support our residents?
Resilience Hubs are designed to build resilience and to serve as community support centers before, during, and after emergencies, including extreme weather events exacerbated by climate changes. Climate resilience is an environmental justice issue, as low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are often disproportionately more polluted, climate sensitive environments.
“The impacts of climate change do not affect everyone equally; social factors, such as age, health status, income, race and gender, all play a significant role. Medford Resilience Hubs will build a more just and inclusive space for all of Medford’s residents, with the goal of opposing the structural inequities to prepare residents for emergencies, which will improve our community’s long-term public health,” said MaryAnn O’Connor, the City’s Board of Health Director.
“It’s important to look at climate change wider than the physical impacts and beyond merely the built environment. For each physical impact, there exists a community component. One way to rapidly improve climate resilience is to foster a sense of community and support which would allow Medford to meet challenges together,” said Alicia Hunt, Acting Director of Community Development, and Director of Energy & Environment. “This project will also be key in helping to inform the City’s larger Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, and our ongoing efforts around climate action in general. The grant and the resulting report are important steps in advancing our collective sustainability goals.”
The report focuses on three community climate resilience goals: social connectedness, information access, and resource access. In each goal area, community respondents identified a need for increased accessibility and inclusion. Suggestions include free language support and services, accessible and affordable public transportation (within and outside of Medford), and programs designed to foster a sense of belonging and trust, especially with immigrant residents and residents of color.
“To be a truly climate resilient community and to ensure all of our residents are prepared and engaged in this process, we need to build trust and establish effective communication, especially with our most vulnerable populations, including communities of color and residents who speak languages other than English as a first language,” said Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. “I want to thank all of the staff and community members who worked so hard on this project and the report, and I look forward to expanding on this project by continuing to work with the community to achieve the short-term goals.”
The report(s) in 6 languages are available below.
Medford city services are available to all residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, language ability, economic situation, or immigration status.