When East Bostonians think of sustainability, environmental activism and those who are racing against time to starve off the devastating impacts climate change will have on our world many think of one person–Kannan Thiruvengadam.
Since arriving in Eastie, Thiruvengadam has rolled up his sleeves and got to work advocating for resiliency and sustainability across the neighborhood and city.
When a city-owned parcel came up for sale on Sumner Street, Thiruvengadam got a group of like-minded advocates together and lobbied for a community farm instead of another residential development.
The city handed over the land and Thiruvengadam and volunteers created Eastie Farm–a community garden that prides itself on sustainability. With Thiruvengadam as a mentor, volunteers learn about rainwater conservation, waste management, and other eco-friendly urban farming methods, all while getting to know their neighbors and having fun.
So it came as no surprise Thiruvengadam was a featured speaker at the Massachusetts Democratic Party 2021 Platform Convention held virtually Saturday.
Aside from being a speaker, Thiruvengadam helped contribute to the party’s platform
“I was honored to be a featured speaker at the Massachusetts Democratic Party 2021 Convention. I am also honored to have contributed to the party platform,” said Thiruvengadam . “In our pursuit of a livable future for all, we must prioritize those who are affected the most, the earliest, can do the least about crises like climate change, and who have contributed the least to such crises. Let us also respect the nature that protects and nurtures us, and learn to work in harmony with nature. Let us know our place in the world and make room for all other beautiful forms of life. Let’s bring our creativity, ingenuity, enterprise, and innovation to bear, in gently and firmly solving our problems, and restore a green, equitable, and joyful world.”
Aside from serving as Director of Eastie Farm, Thiruvengadam has been an East Boston Main Streets volunteer and helping with such events as Taste of Eastie. Thiruvengadam is also a director of JP Green School, a sustainability education program at JP GreenHouse, a passive solar and energy-positive house in Jamaica Plain.
He also hosts “What’s up Eastie?“a radio show about local issues in a larger context, at Zumix, a youth organization in Eastie.
Thiruvengadam is also a Climate Ready Boston Leader. He has a technology background, has studied climate science, permaculture, and community engagement, and is passionate about regenerative and sustainable practices in agriculture and urban design.
A few years ago Boston City Council confirmed Thiruvengadam to the Community Preservation Committee.
According to the Democratic Party’s Platform released Saturday, the section on Climate and Environmental Justice, which Thiruvengadam helped craft, the party wrote, “A livable future is a human right. Given the increased speed and destruction witnessed in the last year, we must increase our sense of urgency and take action to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Safeguarding the health of our citizens, protecting natural ecosystems, and promoting green economic growth is imperative. To fully protect the environment, we support clean-energy technologies, conservation, and energy efficiency. We recognize the role we play in the climate crisis, which cannot be ignored and needs direct attention and action at all levels of government. We must prioritize those who are impacted and will be impacted the most by environmental and climate injustice.”
According to the party’s platform Democrats in the state agreed to fight for:
• The realization of bold and necessary emissions goals to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 and net negative emissions by 2050.
• Necessary steps to protect our air, water, forests, farmland, and food and expanding our access to open space.
• The preservation of our biodiversity by protecting threatened and endangered plant and animal species, and conserving natural green spaces, bodies of water, and wetlands in the state, including making and preserving the room for the change such spaces may have to go through in response to climate change.
• Environmental justice for low-income residents and communities of color.
• Clean, reliable, and renewable energy, and investing in the development of these technologies.
• Increased support for recycling and composting in all communities and increased access to recycling and safe disposal facilities for hazardous materials.
• Local, sustainable, and regenerative agriculture to help grow rural communities and protect open spaces and the environment.
• Divesting public pensions, trusts, and other financial instruments from producers of non-renewable energy sources in favor of green and clean renewable energy producers.
• Preparing for the anticipated impacts of climate change and communicating with the public about the realities of those impacts.
• Safe, reliable, accessible, and equitable transportation solutions that reduce greenhouse gases and increase reliance on electric and non-emitting vehicles, enhanced biking infrastructure, and a safe, reliable, and sustainable public transit system.
• Reducing fossil fuel consumption, divesting taxpayer funds from programs and policies that subsidize fossil fuel production by eliminating all tax breaks, financial assistance, royalty relief, direct federal research and development and other loopholes that benefit the fossil fuel industry and opposing efforts to force ratepayers to fund the construction of new gas pipelines.
• A fair and effective economy-wide price on carbon pollution, including the strengthening of the existing cap and trade system in the electricity sector.
• An investment in wind, solar, and other clean renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels and will oppose any attempt to consider Biomass a renewable energy source.
• The acceleration of weatherization and other programs to help individuals and businesses reduce the net amount of carbon entering the atmosphere.
• “Energy Democracy” policies that support working families and marginalized communities to build wealth by owning and controlling clean energy infrastructure.
• Doubling our commitment to clean renewable energy by increasing the Massachusetts renewable portfolio standard to 100 percent by 2030.
• Access to clean air, water, and land, and safety from fire, flood, storm, and drought are human rights, and we must take prompt and aggressive action to curb the worst effects of climate change.
• Clean energy jobs that are good-paying, union jobs with recruitment and training efforts targeted at communities facing the worst effects of climate change, including low-income communities and communities of color.
• Commercial buildings, residential housing stock, and government buildings that meet energy efficiency and emissions standards to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.
• An investment in protecting and preserving natural spaces.
• An end to commercial logging on public lands.
• Affirming our commitment to climate justice by refusing contributions from the fossi fuel industry. For purposes of this platform, the fossil fuel industry includes oil, gas, coal, pipeline companies, plus any other energy provider that actively advocates for new fossil fuel infrastructure within Massachusetts.
• The protection and expansion of urban tree canopies, especially in areas currently lacking adequate tree canopy.