Authored by Allison Curtis
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Preparing Communities for a Green Future: CDCs and Sustainability

March 27th, 2018 by Allison Curtis


Check it out: MACDC releases new report highlighting the environmental initiatives of its members across the Commonwealth.


CDCs throughout the Commonwealth are leaders in the development and preservation of homes that are energy-efficient, transit-oriented, and environmentally sustainable. But many CDCs have sustainability programming that reaches far beyond housing. A recent report from MACDC, CDCs Go Green: A Snapshot of the Environmental Initiatives of MACDC’s Members, outlines the ways in which CDC sustainability work contributes to the overarching goals of comprehensive community development: creating places of opportunity where people of diverse incomes and backgrounds can access healthy, livable, and affordable neighborhoods.

Impressively, 33 of MACDC’s member organizations are involved in sustainability programming ranging from activism and advocacy, to supporting the local food economy, to open space preservation and stewardship. These three categories account for approximately 75% of CDC sustainability activities.  CDCs are also engaged in restoration and environmental clean-ups, recycling and waste initiatives, and resiliency and climate change preparation.

Highlighted in this report are three CDCs with particularly innovative and expansive sustainability programming. The Western Mass Food Processing Center, housed at Franklin County CDC, redefines the ways that CDCs can be involved in local food production. Through this unique facility, the CDC supports the efforts of local farmers and food businesses by providing technical and business support and encouraging local economic development, while also preserving green space and cutting back on the energy spent on transporting food. Groundwork Lawrence engages residents of all ages through an Environmental Technical Training Program and The Green Team youth program. While the immediate beneficiaries of these two initiatives vary (the training program provides workforce skills, while the Green Team prepares Lawrence’s youth for a lifetime of environmental and healthy community leadership), both address the environmental challenges faced by the City of Lawrence. Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) recently celebrated the success of their East Boston Climate Summit that attracted nearly 300 residents, organizers, and politicians. While the Climate Summit raised awareness, NOAH’s Community Action for Resilience Engagement Program identifies actions that all people can take to reduce the impact of climate change.

The impending repercussions of climate change threaten to derail the work CDCs are doing across the Commonwealth. The impacts of climate change and environmental degradation will impact low-income, minority, and marginalized populations first, and with the most vigor. By designing and implementing sustainability programming, CDCs are being proactive in the fight against these detrimental impacts. They can lessen the potential repercussions on communities through preventative programs as well as prepare communities for the impact of climate change in the future.

We hope that the work of CDCs highlighted in the report provides inspiration for organizations seeking to address community development issues through environmental programming.

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