Green Group Summit

By Rickie Harvey
As published in The West Roxbury Transcript
Thursday, December 16, 2010

On Wednesday evening, December 1, about 60 people gathered at Suffolk University to hear from a panel of representatives of green groups around Boston about the various activities being mounted to make Boston greener and cleaner. Steering Committee member Ray Porfilio represented West Roxbury Saves Energy at this roundtable discussion. He gave an overview of the events WRSE has presented during the past two years, which have primarily focused on raising awareness about the choices individuals and businesses can make to save energy and save money.

Other groups represented from across the city included the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, which works on ways to encourage residents to live sustainably; the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing from East Boston, which concentrates on affordable housing but also initiates and coordinates green infrastructure projects, among other activities; Greening Rozzie from Roslindale, which in its first year of existence has launched a plethora of activities—from hosting a table at the local farmers’ market to planning green block parties—that encourage people to take “simple and small steps” toward cleaner, greener living; the Alternative for Community Environment (ACE) in Roxbury, an umbrella group that has many sectors and focuses heavily on social justice issues; and the brand-new organization in South Boston, Planet Southie, which is launching green activities on many fronts, including an organic garden, farmers’ market, tree plantings, and youth cleanup efforts.

Members from other environmental groups from the metropolitan area—too numerous to list here—were also in attendance to listen to the discussion, ask questions, and offer their suggestions and feedback.

We should take huge encouragement from the fact that all over Boston and the surrounding communities people are working hard to make a difference, in small ways as well as far-reaching ones, to reduce greenhouse emissions, live more eco-consciously, help the environment, and save energy (and money). The ways to do this are as numerous as the people in the room, but the important thing to remember is that this is an area where individual choices and actions really are significant and really do contribute to helping combat climate change.

If we get together in our communities and take steps together, we benefit not only from the environmental improvement but also from a strengthening of our neighborhoods as we get to know one another. The overarching takeaway from a discussion such as the one on December 1: We don’t have to wait for larger groups or government entities to tackle green issues and fight climate change; we have power within our smaller communities, and we have so many options for action right now. It was wonderful to hear from so many committed people and to learn the extent of how many of our fellow Bostonians are choosing to make a difference in their lives and in their communities.

If you haven’t already discovered two or three simple steps you can take to save energy and save money in your daily life, or are looking for New Year resolutions for 2011, WRSE encourages you to visit the WRSE Web site at for suggestions and ideas. Check out the home page for “Ten Easy Actions that Will Save Money as Well as Energy” and other green tips as well as for additional resources and informational sites that can help, too. Each of us can make a difference for the environment and also help our wallets at the same time; it is just a matter of finding a few new ways to think about doing things that you are comfortable with and can manage as part of your busy life.

Many thanks to Boston Climate Action Network and the Suffolk University Sustainability Committee for sponsoring the December 1 roundtable and for inviting WRSE to participate.