July 27th, 2015
CONTACT: Stanley Fritz, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 212-961-1000 ext 320, Stanley@weact.org
WE ACT’s Northern Manhattan Climate Action Plan (NMCA) Tackles Social Inequality
New York City — After years of growing social inequality in the city and no clear plan for addressing the mounting climate crisis, residents of Northern Manhattan, in partnership with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, have created their own plan to confront the impacts of climate change by addressing long-standing disparities in political and economic power.
The Northern Manhattan Climate Action Plan (NMCA), which can be downloaded at weact.org/climate, was developed over the course of seven public workshops held from January to June of this year, in which participants used “Serious Games” to strategize and devise responses to various impacts of climate change. The plan that came out of these workshops focuses on four key areas of policy change and local action, including:
Energy Democracy: Building wind, solar, geothermal, and other green energy systems that are owned and managed by tenants and/or local organizations. Local ownership of distributed energy generation can ensure that energy systems are responsive during a crisis, while also creating jobs for the unemployed and cost savings for residents.
Emergency Preparedness: Building social cohesion among neighbors, strengthening and expanding communications systems, collecting necessary supplies, and taking other related measures that will allow for rapid deployment of emergency services at the building and block level in a future crisis. Also building climate-prepared infrastructure according to community-based plans that articulate local visions for land use, urban design, and architecture.
Social Hubs: Creating new community spaces where people can hold meetings, use workspace, store supplies, attend seminars, and carry out other movement building activities.
Participatory Governance: Increasing community power in policy-making processes by training local leaders, building partnerships with City agencies and elected officials, organizing direct actions for the implementation of climate policies, expanding participatory budgeting, and elevating the voice of low-income groups within the public sphere in other ways.
If successful, this plan has the potential to create a Northern Manhattan governed through community participation, with a strong and sustainable economy driven by green jobs. It could also save NYC from some of the most devastating physical and social impacts of climate change.
During the planning process that culminated in the NMCA, WE ACT organized community members from across Northern Manhattan, including the neighborhoods of Inwood, Washington Heights, West Harlem, Central Harlem, and East Harlem (El Barrio). Participants in the process included over 100 area residents and various local stakeholders, such as Columbia University, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Council Members Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, State Senator Bill Perkins, The Natural Resources Defense Council, local Community Boards, Mount Sinai Hospital, and more. This project was funded by the Kresge Foundation.
For additional information, contact Stanley Fritz at 212-961-1000 ext. 320
West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) is a Northern Manhattan community-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook