Centering Community Voice in the Massachusetts Green Recovery Conversation

Presenter: Ava Gallo

Research Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
College: College of Social Sciences and Humanities
Major(s): Environmental Studies, International Affairs
Student Type: Undergraduate
Graduation Date: 2021
Award Winner Category: Illuminating Complex Problems

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic economic, social, and public health impacts across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The severe effects of the pandemic and climate change have disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color. Massive stimulus spending is looming, and state governments need to be prepared to act quickly once it arrives. Within this context, this study gathers and analyzes community perspectives for how stimulus should best be spent to address the dual crises facing residents. It will operate as a companion document to an economic modeling report authored by Climate XChange. With the quantitative research and the community perspectives combined, state legislators will have a clear sense of what projects need to be funded to truly support communities across the Commonwealth. To promote environmental justice in both data collection and design, Fairmount-Indigo CDC Collaborative joined as a community partner from the genesis of this project and has been an equal collaborator in design, implementation, and analysis. Data has been collected from Zoom interviews with representatives from community organizations about the main problems facing their community, which projects are the highest priority for stimulus spending, and what provisions should be included to enhance accessibility of funding. Research is ongoing, however, primary themes surfacing thus far include lack of affordable housing, inaccessibility of public transportation, and lack of stable employment. Community engagement with vulnerable populations is vital to not only achieving environmental justice, but also for allocating stimulus spending in a manner that accurately addresses the urgent needs of communities.