Building sustainable, welcoming, and inclusive communities is core to who I am and what I do. As a city planner, I have helped dozens of communities, including Melrose, become more environmentally, economically, and socially resilient. As a Melrose Human Rights Commissioner, I work to uphold the city motto “One Community, Open to All” by helping to craft public statements and policy changes and by organizing events and educational workshops.
Melrose has shown leadership on many issues that make me proud to call this city my home. Efforts to improve sustainability and make the city more welcoming and inclusive help to ensure that Melrose will be well-positioned to adapt to changing times while preserving what we hold dear. Recent initiatives by the City of Melrose have demonstrated the truth in maxims like “think globally, act locally” and “all politics is local.”
A few weeks ago, news broke that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Thanks to policies and principles already in place here in Melrose, city leaders were able to swiftly reassert the commitment Melrose has made to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Just yesterday, June 19, it was announced that the City received a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant from the state to help Melrose plan for the impacts of climate change. In 2015, Melrose was among the 14 cities and towns that signed on to the Metro Boston Climate Preparedness Commitment, which includes concrete actions related to building practices, transportation infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency, municipal facilities, and waste. In Melrose, we recognize that caring for our environment and reducing our carbon footprint are critical to our quality of life, and that pursuing energy efficiency and waste reduction initiatives make good economic sense. As an Alderman, I want to make sure that we continue to make strides to protect our environment and prepare for the effects of climate change.
Melrose has also shown leadership in opposing hateful rhetoric and standing up as “One Community, Open to All.” In December 2014, the Melrose Board of Aldermen passed a local ordinance offering civil rights protections and banning discrimination in public places for transgender and gender nonconforming people in Melrose. When protection from discrimination in public places based on gender identity and gender expression came under threat in 2016, Melrose was well-poised to take a stand at the State House.
More recently, in April 2017, the Melrose School Committee reaffirmed its commitment to protecting transgender students in the wake of federal policy positions against these protections. I wrote a letter to the School Committee and testified at their April 4 meeting in support of the Melrose Public Schools Statement of Inclusivity. In March 2015, Mayor Dolan signed onto an Amici Curiae Brief along with Mayors across the nation in support of the freedom to marry, in advance of the June 2015 landmark US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that made marriage equality the law of the land.
In July 2016, following a month of violence that targeted many marginalized communities, my colleagues on the Melrose Human Rights Commission and I released a joint statement with the Melrose Police Department condemning hate crimes and committing to a positive, all-inclusive culture in the community. As a citizen of Melrose, I have joined or helped organize events seeking to break down stereotypes and create a closer-knit community such as the annual International Welcome Potluck, and more recently, the Melrose Community Iftar Dinner during Ramadan.
The city has shown commitment to reducing bias, improving dialogue, and building bridges in an increasingly diverse community through initiatives such as such as a Cultural Proficiency Workshop hosted by the Melrose Human Rights Commission in June 2016 and a workshop by Black Lives Matter: Cambridge this May. I personally worked hard to make the cultural proficiency workshop happen, selecting a facilitator who was later chosen to lead similar workshops for city employees. I will continue to promote events and initiatives that bring us together as a community.
Over the coming years, the City of Melrose will have many opportunities to demonstrate leadership as our community faces social, economic, and environmental forces of change. As a community leader, I am committed to working towards a bright future for this city -- a city that values sustainability, a city that is welcoming, a city that we will all continue to be proud to call home.