Dozens of stakeholders in what’s known as the Live Well Springfield Climate Justice Initiative had been meeting regularly to discuss strategies for combating climate change from a social-justice perspective when the pandemic suddenly disrupted those efforts, as it disrupted everything else.
“We had great meetings, then all of a sudden we couldn’t meet in person,” said Sarita Hudson, director of Programs and Development at the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts (PHIWM), a key player in Live Well Springfield initiatives. And shutting down those meetings was the least of participants’ concerns, at a time when some of them were suddenly stressed about losing their jobs and being able to pay for food and rent, or wondering how they were going to work while keeping their kids focused on remote schoolwork at home. “There were so many other urgent issues.”
But Samantha Bilal, program manager at PHIWM, was reminded by one of those residents that the discussions had to continue.
“She said, ‘this work is still important. Climate change is still important to me’ — even though she’s an older adult who was figuring out what life would look like and how to stay safe,” Bilal told HCN.
“It’s kind of a balancing act — how can we think about these climate-change issues, which are global and at times overwhelming, while you’re still trying to address your emergency needs in the midst of this pandemic?” she went on. “I appreciated that all of our residents and stakeholders didn’t stop being involved, even though they had a clear, life-changing issue that could have taken them out of participation.”
Learn more about LiveWell Springfield.