The energy inside Ryan Lounge was palpable yesterday when the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts’ hosted their annual Sustainability Summit. Dozens of community leaders and business owners came together to discuss how we can transition to a just and green economy.
Closing of the morning plenary prior to lunch.
After the morning session, which included a call to the governor’s office to save City Soil, a well-respected community organization facing eviction in Mattapan, brainstorming on initiatives within five different sustainable pillars, a discussion on the use of open space, and more, attendees were provided lunch and had to decide between two afternoon workshops, one of which was hosted by the CALC team.
Our workshop, Building a New Economy to Stop Climate Change, provided an extraordinary panel of speakers including Curt Spalding, regional administrator for the EPA, Aisha Shillingford, director of organizing for the racial and economic justice initiative at the New Economy Coalition, Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, and our very own Quinton Zondervan, CALC executive director.
Curt Spalding explaining the role that the EPA can play in regulating CO2. From left to right: Quinton Zondervan, Aisha Shillingford, Chuck Collins, Curt Spalding.
The panel provided a brief introduction into current concerns for sustainability, existing policy, efforts that can be made to drive more policy implementation and the challenges that must be met to create lasting, sustainable system change. Afterwards, audience members were given the opportunity to raise questions and concerns in a town hall styled workshop.
Quinton Zondervan began the introduction with a preview of our current, unsustainable consumption levels and the need for a strategic framework for system change. This was followed by Chuck Collins who shared the need for investments in a new economy. Capital, through financing, must be reinvested in the new economy. Collins also made note of the need to address those less fortunate, “how can less well off be brought into the new, green transition?” Something increasingly under scrutiny in the Boston community and elsewhere. As communities go green and adopt more green practices they are often faced with gentrification and rising rental costs, pushing many low income families out of their historical neighborhoods.
Next, Curt Spalding discussed the role that the EPA is playing in providing the necessary regulation in changing the market landscape to transition to a greener energy economy. Curt made a point that it is necessary that, “regulation needs flexibility and state driven policy,” these words echo many of the sentiments felt at CALC as we kick into high gear many of our local initiatives including Boston Businesses Against Rising Seas.
Lastly, Aisha Shillingford introduced the need for a common vision and bringing all stakeholders into the conversation including those most affected by extreme energy extraction, pollution and climate change. Similar to the sentiments of Chuck Collins, Aisha brought forth concern that many communities are being marginalized in their circumstances and pushed out of the picture in policy proposed to help transition our economy.
A packed room with audience members sitting along the back walls and out the door!
Discussion coming from the workshop was lively and provided a diverse set of backgrounds to draw from including audience members that work in community organizations, policy advocacy groups, the cleantech industry, software industry, restaurant businesses, documentary film making and more!