Kit Sang Boos: Reimagine our Main Street

Published: 6/2/2021 6:43:00 PM

It is a truism that in life, change is the only constant. Change is accelerating in our time. Change can be scary, exhilarating and unsettling. All growth is change. Human development is an exquisite study of change. We are living examples that change is normal and formative. And yet, change can be so very hard!

Main Street Northampton was built wide for trolleys. They are no more — taken over by the full-throttled culture of fossil-fueled combustion engines, and helping to usher in pollution, sprawl development, and the climate crisis. Our Valley gets consistently failing grades in air quality. For a livable future, we need to quickly cut carbon emissions and transition as fast as possible to renewable energy and electric engines. (Transportation is now around 40% of Massachusetts’ carbon emissions.) We also need to reclaim our city centers as great people-centered spaces.

We have a momentous chance, right now, to reimagine our Main Street. Our grassroots group MainSt4Everyone is advocating for an expansive pedestrian and bike-safe Main Street, with cars parked mostly on side streets, lots and nearby garages. People can safely stroll and linger, browse and shop, dine and be entertained under shady, cooling trees. Less traffic means less noise, and less particulate matter from tailpipes in our lungs and on our food. It would be beautiful, friendly, healthful and offer an extraordinary experience that on-line retail and soulless strip malls cannot match.

There are equity issues deeply embodied in our health, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate crisis. Our downtown will invite mingling and chance encounters, allow and encourage music and joyful dancing in health!

On our Main Street, in our corner of Massachusetts, at an economic, climactic and cultural crossroads, let’s rise to meet this moment! Let’s keep focus on our goals and highest aspirations, even as we keep our care and respect for each other utmost in our hearts. Let’s build a vibrant, sustainable future that we imagine together.

Kit Sang Boos


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