By Judith Grove
FRAMINGHAM – Over the last 8 months the COVID 19 Pandemic has drastically changed how we live our lives.
Necessary social distancing, the closure of our schools, workplaces, and churches has caused stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness. For some, mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression have worsened. Others have increased their use of alcohol or drugs, falsely believing this can help them cope with their fears about the pandemic.
Many of us have found relief by spending time outdoors. Cushing Park has become our oasis. The value of Framingham’s public parks, ponds, rivers, fields, woods, and rail trails is now crystal clear. However, In the discussion of whether-or-not to support the Community Preservation Act, some have argued that Framingham already has enough green space. This is certainly true for several Districts which are blessed with an over-abundance of Open Space but not all Districts are this fortunate.
As an environmental activist I have focused my efforts on improving recreation for Southeast Framingham’s Environmental Justice neighborhoods where thousands of children and adults live in crowded apartment complexes. Not only do low income and communities of Color shoulder an unfair burden of industrial pollution, they are more likely to suffer from health disparities and are the least likely to have access to open space where they can improve their health and wellness.
There are no safe places to walk or bike in Southeast Framingham. There is no Bruce Freeman or Cochituate Rail Trail, no Callahan State Park or Sudbury River. Unlike the Northside’s Weston Aqueduct, the Sudbury Aqueduct which travels right through Southeast Framingham on its way to Boston, is closed to the residents of these Environmental Justice neighborhoods. Just one of many valuable uses for CPA funding would be to provide much needed access to this aqueduct trail.
Studies have shown that being in Nature is a powerful healer that benefits our mental and physical health but also the health of our Society. Access to nature is a human right. Please Vote “Yes” for Question 3 on November 3rd.
Judith Grove is an environmental activist and the former Framingham City Councilor for District 8.