Massachusetts

Two Days that Changed My Life Forever: Sonja's Testimony

Mother Out Front Sonja Tengblad's testimony to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy on November 12, 2019 regarding the FUTURE Act.

There are two days that changed my life forever: the day my beautiful son Soren was born, and a day two months later when I read a Bill McKibben article outlining the climate crisis. That day, I realized that when my son is my age, he might not feel he has the option to have a beautiful child of his own. Not on this planet. That night, I sang him his regular lullaby, and then cried myself to sleep: [Singing] I see trees of green, red roses too, I watch them bloom, for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The climate crisis became even more tangible to me later that week while visiting one of the busiest family parks in East Boston. Standing there, it's easy to see why asthma rates are up to 400% more than any other neighborhood in Greater Boston: planes leaving every 60 seconds and crippling car traffic resulting from airport expansion are all causing our kids to inhale ultrafine particulate pollution matter, far beyond safe levels. In addition, this same park contains a gas leak frequently reported to 911 by its neighboring daycare provider at the community center. Neighborhoods like ours, a minority majority community that ironically also has the lowest tree canopy in all of Boston, simply can’t absorb gas leaks on top of it all.

This series of realizations marked the beginning and end of certain parts of my life: the beginning of finally understanding what needed to be done, and the end of doing nothing about it. It called me to change everything about my life as I knew it. Yet everyone here knows that what’s desperately needed even more than individual changes are system level changes, and you as the TUE committee have the power to lead and recommend those actions. Through the FUTURE Act, we are uniquely positioned to be a beacon to the rest of the country and to transform our gas-reliant infrastructure into a safe, renewable, and equitable system for generations to come. We have an opportunity to seize the tiny fraction of time we have left, not to comfortably accept our infrastructure from the last century, but to plan and invest in the future we need for all families. [Singing] I hear babies cry, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself: what a wonderful world.

 

Thank you to our friends at HEETfor this terrific testimony compilation video!

 


You can see a short segment of Sonja's testimony recorded by Janet Groat here.

The entire hearing has been recorded by the State House and Part 1 and 2 can be found here.


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