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From Massachusetts to Canada, a Story on Climate Action

By Kristi L. Heiman

· Other bloggers,General

Your passions will never lead you astray from your life’s purpose. My narrative of climate
change advocacy involves diligent exploration, discouragement, and inspirational individuals and wants to reassure others concerned about the environment they are not alone.

Four years ago, I was one of thousands of law graduates in Massachusetts. While friends and colleagues chose to practice, I wanted to utilize my legal education in other capacities; I enrolled in an introductory social science methodologies course at the Harvard Extension School since I chose to study International Relations, specializing in Canadian-American relations and navigated sectors complementary to my interests.

I met an engineer at a round table discussion by Boston-area delegates to the Paris Climate Conference. Our conversation would be groundbreaking when he directed me to the Climate Action Business Association, a small, growing organization on climate change advocacy. As an intern, I engrossed myself by applying my analytical tools to state environmental policy, particularly on the environmental effects of methane gas leaks from aging natural gas pipelines in the City of Boston. Eureka! I finally discovered my calling. Upon finishing my internship, my supervisor suggested joining two local non-profits: Mothers Out Front and Mass 350. Both originated from concerned citizens on environmental issues. I could abridge my understanding of the detrimental consequences of natural gas that were killing trees nearly a century old in the area and on human health.

I wanted to get involved in my community of Melrose, located 11 kilometers north of Boston. Melrose has a very proactive energy commission and was in the process of expanding its membership. I attended my first meeting in January and joined the Transportation and Public Buildings Subcommittees. In May, I presented the commission’s proposed budget to the Board of Aldermen (City Council) which was immediately approved for the impacts the commission has achieved to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The city’s Energy Challenge to implement weatherization measures helped residents save over $1.2 million (US) annually on energy bills through home assessments.1 The Go Solar Melrose program has gone from 7 solar installations to over 300 in 2018, producing over 2.3 megawatts of renewable energy in the city.2 The commission’s Solar Subcommittee is working with the city’s third house of worship to go solar.3 Last year the commission successfully implemented LED lighting and bike paths on main commercial thoroughfares and conducted its first Green House Gas inventory to support a Green Action Plan to meet the city’s net zero goal by 2050.4


Although the Commission takes pride in its achievements for a population of 25,000, the
Commission faces its challenges. Connecting to the community remains our primary challenge to reach our goal by 2050. This spring, the Commission relaunched its website by adding links to our solar and energy assessment programs for residents and retail merchants. Website users can contact co-chairs of the Commission’s three subcommittees for general inquiries and becoming members of the Commission. Last year, the Commission invited Transit-X, a privately funded shared mobility network to propose carbon-free, municipal transportation pods to mitigate local carbon emissions and reduce traffic congestion.5 Promoting EVs and providing charging stations to reduce the city’s carbon footprint through no-idle campaigns ranks high on our list of objectives.6 With aging public buildings, the Commission is working to educate city officials to support the construction of net zero design buildings.7 Despite the concerns addressed above, Melrose continues its ambitious objectives for 2050. With continued support from our public officials and community members, meeting our goal is achievable.

I wanted to learn more about the operations of local environmental advocacy organizations in urban areas in Canada. Last Fall, I read an article about the Coalition Climat Montréal (CCM) in the Montréal Gazette. I contacted a member of the association about potential volunteer opportunities for the summer. My role is to find the achievements and challenges of local environmental grassroots organizations across Canada. Sharing our stories injects motivation to continue our mission to mitigate climate change.

Melrose Energy Commission. 2018. Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget Proposal.

2 Ibid.

3 Melrose Energy Commission. 2018. Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget Proposal.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.
6 Melrose Energy Commission. 2018. Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget Proposal.
7 Ibid.

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Kristi is currently on sabbatical from the ALM Program at the Harvard Extension School. She received her B.A in History from Villanova University, MBA from LaSalle University, and JD from the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Over the summer, Ms. Heiman is volunteering with the Montreal Climate Coalition while studying Advanced Beginner French at the YMCA International School of Languages. Ms. Heiman frequently visits Montréal. Her favourite activities include swimming, hiking, yoga, learning French, and following the Montréal Canadiens.

Contact Kristi at

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