NOAH Organized Neighborhood Program to Share Climate Knowledge

With climate experts predicting more dramatic climate swings such as 10 times more damage to property as a result of severe storms by the end of the century, annual rainfall levels expected to increase in Massachusetts by almost 15 percent by the end of the century and with extreme precipitation also expected to increase almost 10 percent by mid century, rain water management is a growing concern.

The East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) has organized an innovative community solution, in which neighborhood residents are sharing their local expertise on how climate is impacting our neighborhoods and how residents might learn to help themselves.

Last Wednesday afternoon, NOAH kicked off the new program with a rain water management workshop in East Boston at the Greenway. The workshop aimed to promote household rain water management techniques which can help residents reduce basement moisture, mold and backyard erosion problems.

“East Bostonians are people who know how to take care of themselves.”, said NOAH’s Director of Community Building and Environment Chris Marchi. “Part of what we are saying in our Kresge Foundation Planning Grant, is that while we can work with planners and agencies to improve and coordinate community input on climate planning, we can also help people in our neighborhoods make important changes right now.

Marchi said NOAH is looking at various low-energy-using ideas that can help residents improve comfort and quality of life in our compact urban neighborhood.

“If we can do this, we can help people prepare for even worse climate impacts in the future,” he said.

Marchi and his Community Building and Environment team collaborated with Boston Parks Department Director of Urban Wilds, Paul Sutton, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Kurt Spalding, and Myra Schwartz, EPA’s Stormwater Management Specialist to promote a rain water management techniques like building a rain trap.

“A rain trap, popularly called ‘Rain Gardens’ can be dug out in the backyard, and you can divert water to sink into the ground, rather than come into your basement and wreak havoc,” said Marchi. “Natural ventilation and certain types of high volume window fans can save energy and do a great job cooling down apartments at a fraction of the cost of air conditioning. There are many ways that regular people can help themselves reduce the impacts of harsher weather and avoid the expense of damages caused by it.”

NOAH’s third Climate Adaptation Planning Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Bremen Street Library. At this workshop, the Community Climate Planning Delegates will discuss simple interventions which can help local families achieve the comfort they deserve, using less energy and saving money.

“Hopefully our delegates will be able to share a lot of good feedback with us about what works, what doesn’t, how things should be done and what they’d be interested to try,” said Marchi.

Marchi added that NOAH will be applying this summer for additional funding to implement a community-wide climate plan which will address climate planning on all levels.

“We’ve had great partnerships through this Kresge Foundation Planning Grant. Austin Blackmon, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space in the City has been super supportive and helpful, as have our technical partners at Boston’s Urban Land Institute, University of New Hampshire and many, many local agencies including Massport, Department of Transportation, Boston Water and Sewer Commission and too many more to list,” said Marchi. “We’re thankful to the Kresge Foundation and hope to advance in this work, to help build a model adaptation planning approach which can be useful to residents from day one, both here, in Eastie and beyond.”

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