On Saturday, April 20, newly elected Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley spoke to a packed audience at the First Church in Jamaica Plain during a sold-out speaking engagement that is being called “historic” and “powerful.”
Congresswoman Pressley was joined by Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, a Boston pastor and climate and social justice advocate, to speak to the nearly 500 attendees about The Green New Deal, a policy initiative that is currently stoking the climate debate in Washington. The event was hosted by Jamaica Plain Forum.
Congresswoman Pressley and Reverend White-Hammond spoke about broader goals of The Green New Deal, which were detailed on a flier handed out to guests.
A nod to Roosevelt’s New Deal, a plan to rebuild the American economy in the midst of the Great Depression, The Green New Deal is a multi-prong approach for restoring American resilience and prosperity through a rigorous approach to slashing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the country’s energy demands through renewable resources.
The Green New Deal would call on the U.S. Government to commit to the following goals: support communities most impacted by climate change, restore infrastructure, invest in renewable energy sources, invest in industries that utilize renewables, create green power grids, restore buildings to ensure maximum energy efficiency, invest in sustainable farms and food systems, investigate potential pollution sources, restore ecosystems, properly dispose of hazardous waste, design energy-efficient transit, and collaborate with the global community to better approach the issue of climate change.
“I pride myself on being the legislative Lorax,” said Pressley to a rousing applause. “We need more trees!”
But the real focus of the event was on The Green New Deal’s Equity Goals, those that address the intersectionality of race and class with issues of climate change and environmental impact. They take into account how environmental hazards disproportionately affect low-income populations and communities of color.
The Equity Goals of the Green New Deal, which were enumerated by a handful of young people in the audience, include lower household costs of transit and energy, the creation of community resilience through sustainable infrastructure, greater racial and economic equity by supporting communities of color and the working class, improving infrastructure, weatherizing buildings and investing in clean energy options.
“Responding to our environmental crisis must be done in a way that bridges Boston’s racial divide,” read the explanation of the event by Jamaica Plain Forum.
Following the speakers, members of the audience were welcomed to a standing microphone to ask questions about the practicality of the Deal and what it could mean for them and their neighborhoods.
The Jamaica Plain Forum, founded in 2008 by local activist and author Chuck Collins, aims to bring local and national speakers to lead talks about “timely community-based conversations on the great issues shaping our neighborhood and our planet.” For anyone who couldn’t attend in person, Saturday’s event can be viewed on the Jamaica Plain Forum YouTube channel.
This free event was made possible by a number of local sponsors, including Friends of Jamaica Pond, Mothers Out Front – JP, and the Social Justice Action Committee of the First Church.