Student Conversations on Climate Change: Promoting Resilience

Remembrance of Climate Futures/Arlington is a youth-led Arlington based version of Northeastern professor Tom Starr’s regional public art initiative. Over the summer, 12 interns from Arlington High School will be researching impacts of climate change on Arlington and some individual and collective actions that can be taken by the town, community groups, and individual residents to make Arlington more resilient.  The interns will be regularly blogging about some of the people they meet to do their research. Below is the first post, by interns Lily Fox-Jurkowitz and Daisy Takang.

Conversations on Climate Change

MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council) Senior Environmental Planner, Van Du, came to speak with the Climate Futures Intern group about all things climate change. She explained the importance of climate resilience and the closely related ideas of mitigating and adapting to climate change. As a community, we can improve our climate resilience, or our ability to manage climate issues, by collaboratively taking adaptation and mitigation actions. Some meaningful climate-related actions that Van highlighted were implementing floating wetlands in bodies of water (Arlington already has some but the more the better!), working to make our landscaping more sustainable, and educating communities on climate change. Floating wetlands are a natural solution to filtering polluted water, which is an example of biomimicry. It is truly incredible that we can use the power of nature to help protect it. In terms of making our landscapes more sustainable, we can plant native species, manage stormwater runoff, and do so much more! The possibilities are endless. Climate change education is also essential. It allows all community members to be a part of the solution, and this is a key focus of our work in this project. When discussing climate change education as a group, we came to the conclusion that educating Arlington residents on climate change concepts could be one of the most powerful ways to take action. While many people in Arlington are well-versed on handling a Nor’easter, dealing with tornadoes may be much more frightening. Educating individuals on how to manage these new natural disasters caused by climate change will allow our entire community to feel safe and protected.

Van further explained that while climate resilience will be at the forefront of our work when creating Climate Futures markers, we must consider the idea of Environmental Justice. Environmental Justice conceptualizes the inequities that different individuals and communities face from the impacts of climate change. Instead of simply moving forward with our first ideas, Van noted that a process of considering equity concerns is essential to protecting those who most need support. We will continue to reflect and analyze each of our ideas in the program as it pertains to who is benefited by certain actions. As we continue to meet new guest speakers and interview local climate groups, we will keep in mind the concept of Environmental Justice, and we will elevate voices from communities vulnerable to climate change. Van Du gave us amazing insight into how we can create a resilient community in an equitable, intersectional way.

Remembrance of Climate Futures/Arlington is organized by the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Public Schools Green Teams, and the Arlington Department of Planning and Community Development with grant support from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.