As Edmonds begins to loosen its coronavirus restraints, it is a good time to reflect on how to move forward with climate resilience in mind. Edmonds has been a climate leader so it is natural that the City would recognize this moment of stressful change presents an opportunity for us to collectively create a more resilient city.
The virus has brought many changes to our town. Hopefully, most of the changes are temporary, but one in particular stands out as climate friendly—the closing of a portion of Sunset Avenue to cars made it easier to social-distance, encouraged cycling and walking, and eliminated idling vehicle emissions. In fact, the reduced traffic around town has provided greater opportunity to cycle and walk everywhere and given us the chance to experience the benefits of a low-carbon lifestyle.
Now that we’ve experienced changes that we could not have imagined, why not re-imagine our community: “reset” instead of merely “reopen”? We can use our collective experience to give Edmonds a more resilient future. Let’s take advantage of the difficult time we have endured to make some positive changes for the future. Some examples:
- Add to the outdoor dining spaces available for restaurants to allow them to restore their businesses while continuing social distancing;
- Remove invasive plants from streams and wetlands and expand trail systems to provide the healthier open spaces we will continued to need;
- Introduce more traffic-calming measures, dividing heavy trafficked lanes with center islands of landscape, and adding more sidewalks and bike paths, to make streets more welcoming for walkers;
- Expand community gardens for greater local food resources.
- Encourage continued telecommuting, cycling, or walking to work and school for those whose jobs and schedules will allow it.
The Climate Protection Committee is eager to hear other ideas. What future do you envision? Think about your ideas, write them down. We will be offering you opportunities to share your vision with us.
Through this difficult time, we have learned that we can change our behavior for the benefit of all when we work together. Things that seemed difficult or impossible—reduction in air pollution, mass shift to telecommuting, buying food grown locally, creation of pedestrian-friendly streets—are now part of our everyday life. These positive environmental changes can continue after the pandemic.
The virus has shown how human beings interactions with nature can quickly change our world. According to the world’s climate scientists, this has been but a glimpse into the types of traumas our children will face in a world shaped by a warmer climate. The choices we make as we recover will determine our children’s future.
Since the Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee’s creation in 2006, the group has been offering insight to city staff and residents on actions to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information about the Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee, see www.edmondswa.gov/climate-protection-committee.html.
By Lisa Conley and T.C. Richmond,
Co-chairs, Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee