January 2022

January 2022 Update

After many months of preparation, research, and work, the TownGreen sponsored Harvard Graduate School of Design (HGSD) Climate Study is releasing images from the first scenario, “The Great Storm of 2038”, that visualizes the impact of a Category 3 Hurricane on 27 representative Cape Ann places in the year 2038 – just 17 years from now. For this newsletter update, TownGreen is sharing one visualization from the list: the impact on Rockport’s Inner Harbor and Motif No. 1. Other places on the list of 27 include Good Harbor Beach, Essex Causeway (Woodman’s Landing), Long Beach, the “Cut Bridge” at Blynman Canal, and Addison Gilbert Hospital and Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. TownGreen will release more visualizations and the complete list of 27 sites in the weeks to come. 

The Great Storm of 2038

The Great Storm of 2038 scenario visualizes the damage anticipated from a seriously powerful storm like a Category 3 Hurricane, tracking to the west. The graphics designed by the HGSD team portray a significant level of damage on infrastructure and ecosystems. More intense storms like the one explored in this scenario are inevitable now due to rising ocean and land temperatures, especially in New England and the Gulf of Maine. Through visualization, stakeholders gain insights into the damage we can anticipate if we do nothing to better prepare ourselves for future storms. This work is intended to support stakeholders as they make decisions now and over the coming years to make us more resilient to storm damage.

"Motif No. 1 during the Great Storm of 2038,” Typologies of Vulnerability: The Case of Cape Ann; Harvard University Graduate School of Design Office for Urbanization, 2022.

It is important to remember that the Great Storm of 2038 is a scenario about the level of damage that would occur if we did nothing to mitigate or adapt to the potential threats of sea level rise and more intense storms that are inevitable now, even if the world were to stop all carbon emissions in 2022 (an impossibility).

Fortunately, three more HGSD scenarios will be released that explore how we can adapt in significant ways to limit the damages of climate change and future storms. Two major goals of the HGSD research are to show the depth of the potential threats and the adaptation and resilience efforts we can undertake to ward off threats, if we can muster our collective will to do so.

Next month, TownGreen will share work on the next scenario: Adaptation: Armoring Infrastructure and Managed Retreat. This scenario evaluates the potential of a hybrid approach for coastal development on Cape Ann, combining strategies of both gray and green protection as well as managed retreat. This scenario envisions the effects of armoring Cape Ann’s coast by protecting infrastructure threatened by sea level rise and inundation in both the short and long term through a combination of seawalls and other hard infrastructure and living shorelines and other natural system protections. As a secondary adaptive measure, this scenario imagines managed retreat or relocation out of the most vulnerable flood and storm surge velocity zones.

The Voices of Cape Ann Project

The Voices of Cape Ann Project, the ethnographic study led by Professor Gareth Doherty at HGSD, is entering its full-scale planning phase to help TownGreen understand Cape Ann communities’ similarities and differences in the face of climate change threats. For more details on The Cape Ann Voices Project see the December 2021 newsletter.

A complementary piece to The Voices of Cape Ann Project is the TownGreen volunteer interviews, to begin in mid-February. By February 1, a team of nine to ten people, with representatives from all Cape Ann municipalities, will have met and started to recruit local teams. These teams will then select the interviewers and begin interviewing people in stakeholder groups of eight to ten people from each community (youth, elders, business groups, fishing community, etc.).

Interviewers will conduct two interviews with the same individuals over a six to seven week span. The first interview will focus on a few basic questions of what the individual values about his/her/their community and why. The goal of the first interview is to see what narratives emerge about our communities and what about our natural and cultural environment inspires them the most. The second interview will introduce images of potential damage to our physical iconic landscape to learn what the individual’s concerns are and preferred adaptation measures. One of our primary inspirations is the work of the Orton Foundation’s Community Heart and Soul program which has been implemented extensively in the past few years in many communities in the same population range as our four communities.

The TownGreen volunteer interview results will be shared with Professor Doherty’s ethnographic study team. Hopefully, themes and leadership will emerge from all sectors of Cape Ann, especially those not normally heard from, that will answer an essential question: What are our core values and priorities for how we can most effectively prevent damage to our beloved Cape Ann’s natural and man-made landscapes? For more details on this project see the December 2021 newsletter.

Spring 2022 EPA Workshops

The TownGreen volunteer interview results, the ethnographic study, and the EPA Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities workshop results will eventually be synthesized and summarized. The EPA workshops are planned for April and May 2022 with Cape Ann municipal and civic leaders and citizens. The April EPA workshop will incorporate findings from the communities’ Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) plans (see Gloucester’s plan) and the HGSD Great Storm scenario while striving for consensus around the priority threats from sea level rise and storms. May EPA workshop participants will prioritize identified potential infrastructure and managed retreat solutions that will be followed by an EPA analysis of results of potential funding sources and strategies for identified adaptation priorities.

Coming in March 2022

  • Join us in March for a webinar with Professor Charles Waldheim and the HGSD team for a presentation of “The Great Storm of 2038” scenario and the science behind it. Details will be in a February update.


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Thank you for your past support through financial donations, showing up at our awareness sessions, and spreading the word to your networks of friends and associates. We need your continued support in 2022 to be as successful as possible.

About TownGreen, Inc.

TownGreen, Inc’s mission is to act as a catalyst in assisting the greater Cape Ann region in becoming a vibrant and inclusive model of sustainability that is fossil fuel free and prepared for the impacts of climate change.

TownGreen, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We have been promoting climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including clean energy, since 2015. For more information, visit us at the TownGreen website. The website is continually being updated and is adding more detailed information about our 2022 plans, Board member profiles, and a new Advisory Board.

For more information or questions, contact Dick Prouty, Board President, TownGreen, Inc. at dick.prouty@gmail.com; 508-284-2046.