Over the course of three days, a team of experts from around the country helped Providence plan for the impacts of climate change through a grant-funded series of events called ResilientPVD Lab.
The team explored ways to ensure the city’s infrastructure, buildings and neighborhoods recover rapidly after severe storms, floods and other climate-related disasters.
Sustainability Director Leah Bamberger said about 100 people (local residents, businesses, environmental groups, and other state agencies) participated in those conversations, which included feedback about what it looks like to be resilient in a changing climate.
“We can always do better and this is really the first step,” said Bamberger. “So 100 people out of a city of 178,000 is certainly not going to be representative of everyone, but this is the first step.”
The team heard from advocates concerned about the city’s most vulnerable populations. Jesus Holguin, youth leadership director at the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, attended some of the meetings.
“Being here, I was able to see why it was important for people like me who work on these issues to be at the table, especially when people were talking about different socioeconomic classes and coming up with a holistic approach to these [climate] issues.”
The city invited Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to kick off the first meeting. A small number of protestors asked him to stop supporting the proposed natural gas-fired power plant in Burrillville while he gave his welcoming remarks.
The ResilientPVD Lab concludes February 3 with a community meeting at 6 p.m. at 444 Westminster in downtown Providence, where city leaders and their guests will share findings and recommended next steps.
Note: This post has been updated.