go green, sustainability, MBTA

My Lunch with the City Councilor

Every year Tech Networks of Boston participates in the Green Streets Initiative Commuter Challenge, encouraging our team members to log their commutes once a month, change habits to be more health or environmentally focused, and “compete” with other local businesses in an effort to raise awareness surrounding sustainability and to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Each month participants who log their commute get entered into a raffle to win a prize, and in June I won the raffle for a seat at lunch with City Councilor At-Large, Althea Garrison.

I was excited to go because one of Councilor Garrison’s main focuses is public transportation. Anyone who commutes has a whole lot to say about Boston’s options. Two other raffle winners attended the lunch, one who works for the Department of Transportation and one from Miller Dyer Spears Architects. Both expressed their opinions on the state of Massachusetts public transportation and added to the conversation.

Before attending the luncheon, I assumed it would be an opportunity for a small number of the public to voice their concerns, opinions, and input on the state of the MBTA. It was my goal to push forth that a lot of people are not happy and want to be shown that things are going to improve. I was pretty vocal when I was handed the non-existent mic. My voice was heard but the luncheon was about more than the MBTA and this was reinforced by the other attendees.

Janie Katz-Christy, Executive Director of Green Streets Initiative, was there and talked about the ways in which she tries to be greener and help others do the same. Her stand out quote was “airplane travel should be eliminated,” which made me realize how environmentally aware she is. Sophie Schmitt, Associate Director of Green Streets Initiative, spoke about concerns for both cars and public transportation in the city. I was impressed by the way she champions pedestrians despite being a driver herself. Matt Casale (from the U.S. PIRG transportation program) made it clear that a lot of things are happening and people are not being fully informed of those changes. Green Streets also brought along an intern who was very helpful in making things go smoothly.

On the other side of the table was Stephen Kamau, the Director of Policy and Research for the office of the City Councilor. He acted as a facilitator and helped make sure each person’s topics were covered and that no one was left out. Finally, there was the City Councilor At-Large, Althea Garrison. She gave me the impression that she was really concerned about what people think about Boston’s transportation. She made a point of explaining what steps were needed in order to enact change in Government. She expressed that consistency, volume, and attendance are key, and they break down like this:

  • Make sure to not drop your cause and speak to those who can move your cause forward.
  • Increase the number of voices for the cause and loudness of the cause.
  • Attend the meeting related to the cause.

Overall it was a nice experience. I really enjoyed the luncheon it was worth making the trip to City Hall.

Roland Breneus

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