Medford environmental groups form new Green Coalition

The City of Medford is forming the Go Green Medford Coalition to coordinate activities among active environmental groups in the city. Mayor Stephanie Burke announced the coalition on Jan. 3 in a press release, and several public meetings have been held to lay groundwork for the collaboration.

The coalition will be led by the Medford Energy and Environment Committee, which is a group of Medford residents who work on a volunteer basis, according to Committee Chair Curtis TudenTuden further explained that they will coordinate meetings and communication between other environmental groups that previously had no official connection with the City of Medford.

City groups that may participate in the coalition include the Energy and Environment Committee, the Bicycle Advisory Commission, the Community Garden Commission and the Medford Tree Warden, as well as other independent organizations such as Friends of the Mystic River, according to Alicia Hunt, Medford’s director of energy and environment.

Tuden believes that the coalition will help these environmental groups to work more effectively in Medford.

“Before the coalition, each of those environmental groups … would have to do what they could on their own to organize community members to show up for certain events or city council meetings … That’s a lot of work, and it’s not very effective,” Tuden said. “Now that they’re part of the coalition, they’ll basically carry more weight with the city, and they’ll be officially recognized.”

The main goal of the coalition right now is to increase communication between groups focused on sustainability and the environment, according to Hunt.

“I have a vision of … it being a good hub for people to find out what else is going on,” Hunt said.

Tuden similarly stressed the importance of strong communication in order to effectively reach different groups represented by the coalition. 

In particular, Hunt explained that the coalition will allow the city’s environmental groups to work together on various projects for common goals.

“[When] Friends of the Mystic River is having an annual cleanup … people who are on Walk Medford might be interested in helping to clean up the paths near the river,” Hunt said.

Last November, Burke, along with mayors of 13 other municipalities in Massachusetts, signed the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)’s Climate Mitigation Commitment, with the ultimate goal of reaching carbon neutrality in the Greater Boston region by 2050, according to the MAPC website.

A more immediate objective of the regional commitment is for cities to develop and update local climate mitigation plans and to implement at least three climate mitigation actions before 2020, according to the commitment. The commitment lists 22 potential mitigation actions that cities can take, which included zoning changes, energy efficiency and increased renewable energy.

According to Hunt, the Go Green Medford Coalition will play a large part in helping Medford meet its commitments.

“We can’t force the city to be net zero, we have to persuade them,” Hunt said. “We’re hoping that having a group of people … that all cares about sustainability will make it easier to start moving public opinion towards that being the right thing to do.”

The Tufts Office of Sustainability has worked with Medford on environmental initiatives in the past, and it plans to continue that partnership in the future, according to Office of Sustainability director Tina Woolston.

“Tufts regularly works with Alicia Hunt … and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate with Go Green Medford,” Woolston told the Daily in an email.

Both Tuden and Hunt expressed excitement at the idea of Tufts students getting involved in this coalition. According to Hunt, the coalition is looking for volunteer support for various tasks, including marketing and technology.

“I would love to have a Tufts organization formally be part of the coalition,” Hunt said. “[Also,] if individual Tufts students … just wanted to show up, that would be fine.”