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The Dartmouth
June 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Chamberlain: Investing in Our Values

Hanover is stronger with all of our voices at the table.

As our town moves towards a more sustainable future, I want to help build a Hanover that works for everyone. We have so much here — great ideas, fantastic people and stunning nature. We can build off of this to improve the health and well-being of more people. I’m running for Hanover Selectboard to improve everyone’s quality of life. My vision is simple – everyone counts. 

For me, properly stewarding our town means engaging as many people as possible, particularly those often left out. Our community is stronger when we invite more voices into decision-making conversations that impact people's everyday lives. I teach in the film and media department at Dartmouth and have a background in cinematic arts and economics. In my classes, we spend time contemplating how we connect and share information, how stories shape the world and how the world shapes stories. How we design our town impacts all of our stories — from our everyday existence to our chance encounters to the opportunities we have for advancement. It’s all about the choices we make. As a town, we can choose whether students live out of town, people require a car to get to everyday destinations or if the small wheels of a walker can make it across our sidewalks. Our investments can reflect our values of inclusivity and sustainability and meet the needs of our whole community — but only if all voices are at the table, and we collectively work to solve some of the big problems facing people in Hanover. 

We need housing and transportation options that meet the needs of people of all ages and abilities, including students. Today’s acute housing crisis with historically low vacancy rates has a lineage that can be traced back to the start of Dartmouth’s co-education in the 1970s. Without better housing options, our town will lose out. Our local businesses and institutions depend on recruiting people into Hanover. Our seniors need care providers. Our employees need doctors. Our businesses need staff. Our young families need daycare providers. Without places for people to live in our community, we lose out on human capital, stunt our tax base and increase costly commuting times. We need diverse housing stock near our town’s jobs, retail and activities, and convenient, accessible ways to get to them. 

The great thing is we can tackle housing and transportation issues locally, allowing us to immediately benefit from improved health and well-being for our community and the environment. Transportation accounts for nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire. We can change that. For Dartmouth students who need bike paths to connect them down Main Street, we can create lanes. For neighbors who need a safe way for their children to get to their bus stop or playing fields, we can provide safe crossings. When a principal requests slower speeds by the middle school, we can implement that. We can grant our students independence and freedom of movement, and relieve the stresses on parents and institutions who shepherd them everywhere. The mission of providing access to everyday destinations and traffic safety is one we can collectively tackle so that it doesn’t unfairly burden the most vulnerable. Having lived without access to a vehicle for transportation to work, I personally understand how a lack of convenient and accessible transportation options negatively impacts day-to-day life.

Our downtown needs people walking, biking, meeting up and sticking around. With downtown real estate at a premium, we have to ask how we can fit in more — more local businesses, more variety and more people who linger, shop and dine during more seasons and longer hours. We need to welcome new night spots that feature food and entertainment like Sawtooth and Duende that create a second shift of activity to compliment our early bird options and the dinner staples we’ve come to rely on. We have opportunities to strengthen a sense of place by reducing the burden businesses face from mandated off-street parking and making it easier and more inviting to walk, bike or take transit into town. Together, we can foster a more vibrant downtown, prevent sprawl and preserve open space while strengthening our community. 

I want to ensure we are investing in line with our values of community and sustainability while not leaving money on the table. Recently Berlin, New Hampshire was awarded close to $20 million to install a greenhouse gas emission-saving downtown snowmelt system and improve sidewalks to uplift their downtown. Enfield, New Hampshire was also awarded more than a half million dollars to improve a scenic byway. I think it’s important that we build capacity in our town government to take advantage of opportunities like these and create bold visions for our future, especially as our nation offers up resources to states and towns considering projects that address climate change. We must develop the ongoing capacity to innovate, design, outreach and adjust to ensure our investments pay off, and develop new opportunities to engage in valuable public-private partnerships that have been so critical to the vibrancy of Hanover. As we move away from business as usual towards a sustainable future, we need to attract the human capital necessary so that Hanover works for everyone. To learn about me and my priorities more visit Vote May 9 at Hanover High School from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Jennie Chamberlain is a candidate for the Hanover Selectboard, a faculty member of the Dartmouth film and media department, chair of the Hanover Bike Walk committee and a multi-decade advocate for mobility justice, air quality and sustainability. Opinion articles represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.

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