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Building Blocks for Resilience

TownGreen is pleased to announce the launch on September 1st of a climate vulnerability project in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Cape Ann has been selected for an EPA “Building Blocks for Resilience” technical assistance program and TG has successfully raised the funds for a Harvard GSD study of climate threats and solutions in the region.

TownGreen is a local volunteer-led organization that has been promoting climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including clean energy, since 2015.

Cape Ann has been selected by the EPA as one of only four communities in the country for technical assistance under its Building Blocks for Resilience program. EPA will be working with Town Green, the four municipalities and a stakeholder advisory group to convene several workshops in the winter and spring of 2022. The goal will be to assess and prioritize vulnerabilities and potential strategies for protecting Cape Ann coastlines or developing longer-term strategies of relocation of buildings and safeguarding infrastructure. Cape Ann municipalities have each already completed municipal vulnerability plans (MVP) that have assessed the risks from sea level rise and flooding. EPA will also identify federal and state funding sources, as well as helping to develop local financing strategies for the completed recommendations of the HGSD and related municipal MVP studies.

The HGSD work will be divided into four major case scenarios:

The Big Storm

This work will ground and contextualize all subsequent work by providing a visual and graphic representation of “The Big Storm,”—that is, what will happen if we do nothing. The study will present a vision of the future of the Cape Ann region without mitigation or resilience planning, and will display the critical infrastructure that is most likely to be compromised in the event of a 100-year storm, including transportation routes, low-lying water and sewage treatment plants and infrastructure, residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, and natural resources.

Adaptation: Armoring Infrastructure and Managed Retreat

This work will evaluate the potential of a hybrid approach to adapting coastal development on Cape Ann, combining strategies of both protection and managed retreat. First, the study envisions the effects of armoring Cape Ann’s coast, protecting infrastructure threatened by sea level rise and inundation in both the short and long term. As a secondary adaptive measure, the scenario imagines a managed retreat scenario that builds on existing efforts across the country and highlights the partnerships that Cape Ann might engage to pursue this option.

Resilience: Building Net Zero to Diversify Housing

As a region, Cape Ann faces significant demand for diversified housing options to increase social equity. This scenario will project a range of housing options across Cape Ann that are accessible to a wider range of residents and proposes net-zero and green building strategies including passive design, renewable energy production, and innovative construction methods. The scenario locates the optimal areas for clustered multi-unit housing, as well as retrofitting existing housing stock.

Mitigation: Waste Recovery to Energy Production

Finally, this scenario will propose a program to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases generated by the decomposition of solid waste and envisions multiple strategies for converting waste streams--including wastewater, sewage sludge, and solid waste--into viable low-carbon fuel economies.

Both the EPA and the HGSD work will be coordinated by a core team of Greg Federspiel (Manchester Town Administrator), Valerie Nelson (Director, Water Alliance) and Dick Prouty (Co-Chair of Town Green, Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation).

Many thanks to Senator Bruce Tarr for his role is sponsoring a line item of $50,000 in the State budget for 2021, to help fund the HGSD program. And to Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante for her role in guiding this support through the Ways and Means Committee.

Posted by Dick Prouty

Dick Prouty

Dick Prouty was the Executive Director of Project Adventure(PA), an international non-profit based in Beverly, MA, for thirty four years, until he recently retired in the winter of 2015. Under Dick’s leadership, PA, whose mission is to advance active learning, has become one of the leading institutions in the experiential education field and is responsible for 500,000 new students per year being introduced to adventure based education classes in physical education, health, fitness, counseling, and in academic classes with integrated experiential learning. Curricula development, training and consulting, publishing books and digital media, leadership development, and organizing and leading learning communities are among the core competencies he has developed over his time at PA.

Dick and his wife, Doris, have lived in Lanesville, Gloucester for the last 43 years, and raised two children, Ila and Seth. He has come to deeply appreciate the special place that is Cape Ann. Along with Co-Chair Candace Wheeler, and a growing number of volunteers of TownGreen2025, Dick is now focused on developing a plan to have Gloucester and Cape Ann make a difference in addressing the threat of climate change.

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