Is Jamaica Plain ready for the new economy?
Jamaica Plain faces urgent needs for affordable housing, youth jobs, violence prevention, quality transportation and lower cost energy.
- How can we meet these urgent needs while also preparing to live in an economy based on a different model of economic growth?
- How do we transition to a resilient economy that seeks health and well-being for all people and the planet?
- How do we ensure a new economy involves and lifts up everyone, not just a fortunate few?
JP residents working for equitable development and sustainable green practices sometimes speak different languages, reflecting the race, class and cultural divisions of our neighborhood.
- How do we bridge these differences and prepare together for a new economy?
Many of our challenges are rooted outside the neighborhood, but we know there is much we can do to strengthen equity and resilience at the local level.
Context: Rapid Change
The economic meltdown of 2008 exposed the vulnerabilities of an economy based on debt, inequality, housing speculation and predatory lending. Years later, few of the underlying conditions that caused the meltdown have been addressed. A political paralysis at the national level—the result of corporate capture of Congress—is blocking urgently needed reforms in job creation, foreclosure relief, energy policy, climate change and economic development.
At the same time, scientists report that we have fundamentally altered the climate because of the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This will lead to short and medium term changes in weather, agriculture, energy costs, and public health with impacts already felt in our communities. While no one knows the time frame, we generally agree that the ecology and economy are going through deep transitions.
Within the neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain there are numerous organized citizens groups and non-profit organizations eager to move the city toward green jobs, local economic development, reduced carbon emissions, and improved access to local food, healthy diets, public transit, libraries, and other urban amenities that promote well-being.
Bringing together neighbors to construct a shared vision for the future of our communities within a transformed Boston and New England region, could have a catalyzing effect on the city and help existing institutions transition to operating in the New Economy.
Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition aims to co-create a shared future vision for an equitable and sustainable JP that leverages new resources for action toward community resilience.
This project aims to:
- Engage our communities in the transition to a new economy by identifying critical choices ahead (transportation, land use, housing, energy systems);
- Prepare community responses to possible disruptions and upheaval as transition intensifies (water, food supply, rising oil costs, weather disruptions);
- Bring together leaders across different sustainability sectors (e.g., community economic development leaders concerned about equity, local food movement leaders, alternative energy leaders, etc).
- Prepare public and community based institutions through planning process, to anticipate scenarios of deep change with economic and cultural transformation
- Serve as a model for the city and other neighborhoods and provide assistance to other neighborhood transition planning efforts.
Creating the New Economy
For a bit of inspiration, here is a short video by Annie Leonard about citizens coming together to make change: