Initiative Seeks to Increase Nature’s Benefits in Boston’s Codman Square
The almost 2-year-old effort is a collaboration between community leaders and The Nature Conservancy.
Leaders in Dorchester’s Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Eco-Innovation District are working with The Nature Conservancy to increase the benefits of nature for Codman Square residents through green jobs, tree planting and stewardship, and the creation of new natural features in the neighborhood.
In coming months, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Eco-Innovation District (EID) and The Nature Conservancy will work to provide local residents with green-infrastructure job-related training and certification opportunities and help create a “pipeline” through which residents can find these jobs.
This work is supported by a $250,000 grant from The Nature Conservancy’s North America Cities Partnership Fund, a $1 million initiative that is investing in collaborative partnerships between urban conservation programs and community-based organizations to improve the health and well-being of people in cities. The grant also will support continued training of local residents and organizations in tree planting and stewardship and building the EID’s first raingarden, to be located within a new affordable housing development. Raingardens are natural features that help beautify the neighborhood while also filtering stormwater run-off to clean water and reduce flooding.
“The nexus for us is between climate resilience and people,” said Gail Latimore, Executive Director of the 35-year-old Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC), which hosts the EID, a comprehensive, neighborhood-scale and community-driven sustainability initiative spanning 13 blocks of the Codman Square area of Dorchester, Boston’s largest neighborhood. “We are looking at how to help the residents we serve remain in place by using a sustainability lens, in addition to the other services we provide in support.”
The neighborhood-led EID—the first of its kind in New England—has focused on helping residents save money through energy retrofits of homes and small businesses, measuring the positive economic and climate impact of new trees planted in the neighborhood and creating green jobs for people in CSNDC’s service area.
“Jobs and workforce development are critical to our community. Adapting to a changing climate is critical for us, too, as it is for all of Boston,” said David Queeley, CSNDC’s Director of Eco-Innovation. “As we use nature to help us adapt to climate related impacts—whether it’s by creating green spaces that filter stormwater, or planting trees that clean the air and help save energy by reducing the urban heat island effect—we want our community to be positioned to take advantage of related employment opportunities.”
Since 2017, in Codman Square, local residents, CSNDC, The Nature Conservancy and other key partners like Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Neighbors United, have planted more than 150 trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses on CSNDC-managed affordable housing properties and in neighborhood homeowners’ yards.
Trees provide numerous benefits for people, including shade, reduced energy costs, improved air quality and neighborhood beautification. The CSNDC tree-planting projects have also provided temporary jobs; the goal is to expand these types of opportunities and provide long-term, full-time green infrastructure related work.
In addition to building the Partnership Grant-supported raingarden, CSNDC is also partnering with the City of Boston and with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission to create other nearby raingarden and sidewalk reclamation projects that will have positive impact on climate and neighborhood resilience.
Jon Kachmar, Director of Urban Conservation Programs for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, says opportunities for tree planting, tree stewardship, and creation of raingardens or other open space are increasing as new affordable housing comes online in the Codman Square area.
“We want to identify and support these opportunities and help prepare people to make the most of them for employment—and for the well-being of the community overall,” Kachmar says. “It’s an incredible opportunity for The Nature Conservancy, guided by the community, to be able to play a role as positive things happen in the neighborhood. Green jobs, tree planting, and raingardens can be an important part of a healthy and vibrant Codman Square.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.