Field Project Teams Work on Community Land Trusts and Community-Shared Solar

 

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Tufts UEP’s Spring  2016 Field Projects addressed a range of critical issues that communities, municipalities and organizations face. The Field Projects class strives to bridge theory and practice by offering students the opportunity to partner with a community organization, municipality, public agency, or private firm on a project that addresses a real-life planning or policy issue.

Two projects in Spring 2016 deepened UEP’s community partnerships through the CoRE approach to co-learning and co-producing knowledge between university and community partners.

The Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network (GBCLTN)

The Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network (GBCLTN) is made up of community-based organizations in the Greater Boston area and was created in 2014 in response to the rising cost of housing and land, and the growing threat of gentrification and displacement that many low-income communities were facing.  The network’s goals are to provide support and share best practices amongst member organizations and to advocate for policies that advance the creation of community land trusts.

The GBCLTN student team worked on two products for its community partner.  For one, the student team developed a 12-page report that was released in conjunction with the public launch event of the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network.  The report highlights the potential benefits of the community land trusts and offers policy recommendations for Boston decision-makers.  The recommendations include prioritizing public land for CLT stewardship, providing sufficient and flexible financing such as a loan fund, and supporting CLT infrastructure through a pilot program.

The second product assessed the threat of gentrification in the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan using GIS (geographic information system) analysis. The team developed a gentrification vulnerability index using indicators such as percentage of renters, non-White residents, population over 25 without a Bachelor’s degree, household income, and proximity to T stations.  The study found that although gentrification has not occurred yet, Mattapan is ripe for gentrification and that policies for affordable housing must be put in place now.

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Gentrification Vulnerability Index Map of Mattapan, The Case for Community Land Trusts 

Community Labor United (CLU)/Green Justice Coalition (GJC)

Community Labor United is a Boston-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the interests of low and moderate income families in the Greater Boston area by cultivating the collective power of community-based organizations and labor unions. The Green Justice Coalition (GJC) is coordinated by CLU and was launched in 2008 to build a base to support a sustainable, equitable and clean energy economy in Greater Boston and Massachusetts.

The CLU student team wrote a report titled, The Potential for Community-Shared Solar in Massachusetts: Expanding Access to Low and Moderate Income Households, which explored strategies to build community-shared solar in low and moderate income communities in Massachusetts.  The project’s goal was to promote resiliency for environmental justice communities by moving towards clean energy and democratizing energy systems.

The CLU team found that although Massachusetts is considered a leader solar energy, that the state’s regulatory structure limits access to solar energy for low-income renters.  Recommendations included a variety of state-level advocacy for community shared solar as well as a range of options CLU and GJC to become partners in a community shared solar project in the state.

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