Looking to 2050: A Collection of thoughts from students and staff members at YouthBuild Boston

Executive Director

I see in Dorchester an enormous opportunity for the young people currently in our programs to make a difference. In 2050, many of them will have progressed through successful careers in the building trades, helping rebuild Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury. The surplus of young talent and innovation, along with the need to reduce energy consumption, will have led to the refurbishment of all of the inefficient, drafty homes you see now. People will not be spending so much money on energy. I believe young people in the community will leave a legacy, as their children will be in the workforce. There’s a lot of pride that comes from guiding your community forward – young people now are getting that, and their kids will have that model to follow.

GED Teacher

I would like to see the Green vision for the future of Mattapan and Dorchester addressing the air quality. I have worked in the area for over a year, and have developed new allergies and a lack of energy. Currently, inefficient buildings, cars, buses, and lack of plants contribute to the smog in the air. I look up and see a gray or purple sky, yearning for a taste of clean air.

In my vision for the future I see abandoned or inefficient buildings replaced with sustainable design. Building more intelligently will greatly improve the air quality. Polluted air going into buildings should come out purified. New construction should use materials that will reduce pollution and carbon emissions (glass over concrete). Buildings should use natural resources (collect rain water to cool the building or flush toilets). Buildings should be equipped with green roofs with plants that will purify the air. Buildings should not create trash. Buildings should create and use their own energy (solar panels, windows to allow natural light and heat in). Buildings should be designed with occupants in mind (currently I am in a building that serves as an education center, and there are no windows. This certainly doesn’t create an efficient learning environment).

Lastly, I would like to see more art and greenery coming into the area. Currently the area is covered with trash, broken glass, or graffiti. I would like to see this replaced with murals or art expressing positive feelings and plants that can be used for food or to purify the area.

YouthBuild Boston student, 19

Unity. Unity will be the difference to make it greener. People have got to come together to make it a better place.

YouthBuild Boston student, 21

There will be better fuel – not fossil fuel. It’ll be used in housing and cars, and won’t destroy the environment. There will be more trains through Dorchester. There’s a lot of space between the Red Line and the Orange Line, and no train goes there.

YouthBuild Boston student, 21

More green jobs, and less violence. If people now had something to do with their days, there wouldn’t be so much violence. By having more green jobs, you cut violence and help the environment.

To make an impact is hard here in the urban area. People just don’t care. Or, it’s not like that… it’s ‘cause they don’t know…’. Teaching about green things and the environment in the schools would help. Schools here are in bad condition. They’re falling apart, stuff dripping from the ceiling, and have old books. It’s really not healthy in there, so that needs to change.

YouthBuild Boston student, 18

There will be fewer bus stops. The bus stops every two blocks, and it uses too much gas to stop and start all the time.

YouthBuild Boston student, 22

My teacher showed me a video about the Greening of New York City. I learned that they recycle storm water and use it for flushing the toilet and to cool the buildings. I also learned that they built a green skyscraper using treated glass that reflects the heat from the sun. This is good because since they didn’t use concrete they reduced their CO2 emissions by 40 percent. I think they should make the same buildings in Boston in the future because it’s healthy for people.

Volunteer Coordinator

It’ll be at zero net energy. Buildings will use solar power – solar thermal. All the abandoned lots will be cleaned up. It would definitely be good to have all green roofs. There will be YouthBuild Boston planters in front of all the stores. But with the cleanup efforts, I see a lot more community action in the future. There has to be, so the people have a stake in the projects – it will be a much more grass roots effort. Organizations like the Food Project and YouthBuild Boston will have helped people build more raised beds, so more food will be grown locally, and they’ll help people clean up their yards and public space.

Carpentry Instructor

Public transportation needs to be fully functional and well served in the community. As the area of Dorchester/Roxbury will most likely be gentrified by then, there should be funding for this. Existing commuter rail combined with mag-lev trolleys can replace the existing bus routes, reducing congestion and pollution. Next generation low-profile windmills will be common on most commercial and some residential buildings, along with solar panels. Solar panels should line all of the train corridors. The cheapest source of heating/cooling is geothermal. Through government incentives it will be commonplace to drill wells to install these systems wherever possible.

Head GED Teacher

A light rail will be excellent. Cars are going to be gone. As a country, we need to be thinking about what happens after the automobile. There will be much more use of solar and wind power. There will be more green roofs and white roofs. There will be clustered housing around the things people need. We have to stop putting money into expanding turnpikes, and start putting it into what’s accessible for everyone.