News on Week 4

IMPORTANT NEWS ON WEEK 4:

The Eastern MA organizers of the Poor People’s Campaign has just decided to come to Springfield for Week Four of the Campaign to show their solidarity in our struggle and to help build the movement for environmental justice and health equity! …

Why now, and why Springfield?

April was the 400th month in a row with warmer than normal temperatures. 

Springfield has been determined to the Number One most challenging city in which to have asthma (Worcester and Boston aren’t far behind.) Nearly one out of five children and adults have asthma in our city. 

City planners promised at least a half-time sustainability coordinator in this year’s budget, but we got a “grants coordinator” instead.  She’ll look for grants for every department, with no special commitment to environmental grants– and she won’t be writing them, or overseeing environmental commitments by department heads.

The city’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) is just words on paper, and without sustained organizing and activism, it is likely to remain that way.  For four years, are community pushed the city for a plan.  For more than a year, members of Arise and the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition met with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to develop the city’s plan.  In spite of everything, it is extraordinarily toothless.  And we were lied to about what would be in the final version of the plan. Just one example: the plan calls for 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050– when most department heads will be long gone. We pointed this out in the process, we were told that interim goals would be integrated into the plan.  They were not.

At least 42% of Springfield’s residents have incomes under $25,000; 40% of all people in this country couldn’t handle a $400 emergency. 

The MGM casino is opening here in August, with a significant increase in traffic, one of the chief causes of global warming and a major contributor to asthma, and yet the governor has level-funded public transportation and Springfield’s own climate change plan, in talking about how to reduce traffic, barely mentions public transportation and instead urges people to get on bicycles!– a solution only for healthy people. 

During the last week I’ve investigated the top greenhouse gas emitters in Springfield (and we surely have some great campaigns to launch!) for a possible site of an action.  For a while, Gerena School was also under strong consideration, but I met with Zulmalee Rivera-Delagado, Neighbor to Neighbor organizer, yesterday and she thinks now is not the time for Gerena.  And after what I found out about the lack of a Sustainability Coordinator at last week’s Green committee meeting, I can’t think of a better target than Springfield City Hall.

There’s much work for us to do, including figuring out if we want to risk arrest at this action, the time, the speakers, press, outreach, etc.  That said, I’d like to offer Arise as a meeting place both this Tuesday and this Thursday, at 5:30.  We need a strong planning committee, and for those who can’t, spread the word!

I love my city and her people very much and am very aware of the work that needs to be done both to protect our residents and take our share of responsibility for making sure we can continue to live and thrive on this planet.  Let’s do this!

In love and solidarity,

Michaelann at Arise