My Jamaica Plain New Year’s Resolution

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This past Thursday Mayor Walsh released a new report with the latest predictions on how we can expect climate change to impact our city. The picture isn’t pretty. Though Jamaica Plain will escape the brunt of the impacts connected to rising sea levels, the consequences for our neighborhood will still be serious.

We won’t be immune to increased stormwater flooding caused by an out of date infrastructure system faced with more water than it can handle. We won’t be immune to the dramatic uptick in the number of days each year over 90 degrees or the greater number of people dying from heat-related causes. And we won’t be immune to the economic losses caused by property damage and lost productivity. JP’s waterfront property may be along the Pond instead of the Harbor, but this is our problem, too. And so, I propose a JP New Year’s Resolution: double down on the fight against climate change.

Take personal responsibility. If you aren’t already walking, biking, and taking public transit as much as possible, there’s no time like the present. We know that transportation is a leading contributor to rising levels of greenhouse gases, and cutting back on the amount of time all of us spend behind the wheel can make a real difference. Actually remember your reusable bag the next time you head to the store, and adopt a new level of consciousness about the amount of waste your home is producing. Small individual actions not only add up, but they set examples for our youth and our neighbors.

Support businesses that get it. JP businesses are leading the way when it comes to embracing sustainability, and they deserve our support. With the help of Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, Salcedo Auto Center on Washington Street moved away from using lead-based wheel weights in their automotive repair practices. The shift towards a cleaner business practice is estimated to eliminate 83 pounds of lead from the environment a year. The Brewery Complex by Stony Brook houses well-known local business including Sam Adams, Ula Café, and Bella Luna restaurant. Back in 2012, the Complex mounted a solar panel system that in its first year of operation produced more than 120 MWh. This equates to powering nearly nine homes a year, consuming 195 barrels of oil, or charging more than 5,000 electric cars. All together this clean energy effort saves 93 tons of carbon dioxide from being released every year. Ask your favorite businesses what they are doing to combat climate change. Reward the ones that are carrying their weight, and make it clear to the ones who fall short that the time to step up is now.

Speak out. Now more than ever, our local, state, and federal leaders need to hear from citizens about the importance of saving the planet. If you own a business that practices sustainability, speak out about the benefits you have seen. If your home is a likely victim of stormwater flooding, speak out about the toll that will take on your life. If your kids want to build a future in Boston, have them speak out about how climate change will impact their hopes and dreams for this city. Each of us has a reason to care about climate change. We can create change by giving voice to those reasons.

For 2017 I resolve to take personal responsibility, support businesses that get it, and to speak out. JP, will you join me? Many hands make light work. Together we can fight the impacts of climate change, improve our economy and the environment, and paint a better picture of tomorrow’s JP.

Sebastian Zapata is the program director for the Alliance for Business Leadership and a  Jamaica Plain resident living on Day Street.