Jeff Masters Weather Blog

A Boston-area organizer is helping communities get ready for more extreme heat waves » Yale Climate Connections

This time of year, people in the Boston area may wish for warm weather. But in summer, they’re experiencing a growing number of extremely hot days.

And that can put people in danger, especially in low-income areas with few trees and lots of concrete, which absorbs heat.

Marissa Zampino is a community organizer with the Mystic River Watershed Association. The nonprofit has partnered with other local groups to identify and secure funding for solutions.

She says the communities themselves know best what they need. So she’s spending time in vulnerable areas, “knocking on doors, just showing up to community events … and just listening and gathering people’s stories.”

She says cooling centers can help, but they’re only effective if they get used. So it’s critical to get residents’ input on where to put them.

“Let’s find out where communities go to just spend time and be in community, and then turn them into cooling centers,” Zampino says.

Residents often have creative ideas. One person Zampino spoke with suggested that the city provide free movie tickets during heat waves so people can cool off at the theater.

She says listening to residents’ input is critical, so any solutions that leaders implement are what people want and need.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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