Remarks by Jane Gilman to the CCSSNA Candidates Forum, April 18, 2021

I began representing the precinct in 2008.   During my Town Meeting tenure, I co-founded the Green Caucus, which now numbers over 100 members. Since 2011, the Caucus has led initiatives that address the climate crisis and supported many members’ successful Warrant Articles. 

I want to begin my comments with how sad I am about the rudeness and divisiveness manifesting across Town, right into our precinct.  We can do better.   If we want to be a welcoming community, inclusive, fair, generous and respectful, we need to start with ourselves.  

I see that the issues of sustainability, racial justice, housing production and preservation are not mutually exclusive. We can both increase housing and preserve the historic houses in our neighborhood.  They should not be demolished.

When we’re trapped in dualistic thinking we believe one thing’s good and one’s bad.   This kind of limited thinking creates divisiveness and the reality is way more complicated. 

 I’m active in racial equity & discrimination circles where we use the term “intersectionality,” to recognize the multiple factors at play in discrimination: skin color, class, gender identity, disability, etc.   Brookline needs to think like that and recognize that preserving our planet is racial and economic justice and it’s food & housing justice.   These interests intersect.  We should  see how single-issue decisions produce harsh consequences for those left out.  And people of color are always the first victims. In the accelerating climate crisis, for instance, POC are already being displaced and many, are starving.  We know they’ve suffered disproportionately from the Pandemic.

An idea like “Affordable Housing” or “racial justice” is not a plan. Look at the Boylston Street Corridor Study which is  an example of planning that studied the intersecting goals of home ownership, zoning, pedestrian and bike safety, open space, and business.  That’s the kind of thinking we need all over town and that Brookline already knows how to do.  A silo is a great place for hay, but there’s no place for single ideas and separate silos in running a town. 

Currently, disconnected warrant articles are presented in the interest of achieving affordable housing, spot zoning each project separately.  That tactic is creating a spotty town.  If you really want justice, you’d best recognize that plopping housing down is not sufficient.  As a matter of equity, newcomers and our descendants deserve the same amenities we enjoy: Safety, Open Spaces & Parks; Social Services, quality schools, etc.  True equity doesn’t just happen. It requires planning that brings us together around our multiple needs and rights.

We need to plan for a town that’s sustainable, racially inclusive and economically sound.  Vote for a sustainable future and re-elect me to represent you.   

Jane Gilman
140 Sewall Avenue