Coastal Community Resiliency

How can we foster coastal resiliency in an urban neighborhood already at risk?

East Boston is a very unique neighborhood:  its geography, maritime history, cultural diversity and in many other ways. You can learn more about the history of East Boston here. Today, we face additional risks to people and infrastructure that makes it more challenging to achieve climate resiliency. Thus, Harborkeepers believes that only if we work togethe can we protect it from further environmental and climate impacts while leveraging the opportunity to build coastal community resiliency. We are witnessing first-hand how environmental and climate-related impacts make East Boston more vulnerable than other Boston neighborhoods, as outlined in Climate Ready Boston. In order to advance state, regional and municipal climate resiliency plans, we must leverage local neighborhood knowledge as well as support the neighborhoods most at risk.  Assuring that the community has a leadership role in climate resiliency planning is the key to building sustainable coastal community resiliency. As climate leaders, organizers and educators on the ground, we create spaces for connectedness and listen intently as people from all walks of life, backgrounds, cultures and languages tell their story of struggle or of resiliency. Through social cohesion and trust-based partnerships, we find creative solutions to improving quality of life and building coastal community resiliency.


Click here to learn more about Climate Ready Boston and how the city is preparing for climate change.  To search for climate data overlays for City of Boston neighborhoods, check out the Climate Ready Boston Map Explorer.

Climate Ready Boston

The 'Water Around Us' Campaign

Cities all over the world are placing urgency on solving urban climate problems. Boston, as a leading coastal city in the Northeast, is no exception. Yet, how do we solve the climate change problem while creating equitable resiliency? The Harborkeepers uses effective community engagement techniques that engages stakeholders to take action on climate issues.  By observing climate impacts and our urban landscape, we can understand how that impacts the coastal systems around us. Observation, documentation and simple, cumulative actions taken by those who are experiencing the impacts themselves, creates inclusive urban planning, equitable resiliency and helps mitigate the urban climate problem.  

This Water Around Us campaign recruits diverse neighborhood residents as Coastal Resiliency Volunteers (CRV's) to do targeted neighborhood walks. Volunteers observe urban climate impacts such as backed-up catch basins and storm drains, the state of tree canopy, infrastructure inadequacies, flooded basements, stormwater pollution or coastline erosion. The campaign provides support through stipends, training on urban planning issues and technical expertise through partnerships with inter-disciplinary expert. Participants become active problem-solvers by taking community-driven actions that bring local solutions to address climate impacts. An example of some of the actions that volunteers take might be reporting a clogged storm drain through BOS:311, interfacing with City of Boston transportation staff to fix a road sign, calling the Parks Department to get a new tree planted or reporting a hazard during a storm event. This team of volunteers get technical assistance and reconvene as a group to advocate for improvements to the urban areas where they live. They also engage with various City of Boston departments through existing urban planning processes such as Plan East Boston or the Suffolk Downs development project to provide feedback on their local expertise where it is most valuable. The Water Around Us is community-led resiliency-building in action.