Category Archives: climate change

Paris to Pittsburgh

The Portsmouth Library’s Levenson Room was filled to capacity on February 20 for a showing of the film Paris to Pittsburgh. The showing is noteworthy in that the Portsmouth screening was one of the film’s first in the United States.

A lively discussion ensued, moderated by UNH climate scientist Cameron Wake. City Councilor Josh Denton then brought us all up to speed on the City’s initiatives aimed toward meeting the goals of the Paris Accord.

We at PS21  were particularly pleased to see that a dozen Portsmouth High School students joined us on the 20th. The students posed some excellent questions and insights. It’s obvious that they are paying attention.

Paris to Portsmouth II

As a sequel to Edward Cameron’s presentation in April 2018 entitled Paris to Portsmouth, PS21 is pleased to present part II of that series. We will be showing the film Paris to Pittsburgh at the Portsmouth Public Library.

Paris to Pittsburgh is a new film from National Geographic, produced by RadicalMedia in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies — narrated by Emmy® and GoldenGlobe® Award-winning actress and activist Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous
Mrs. Maisel”).

From coastal cities to America’s heartland, Americans are demanding and developing real solutions in the face of climate change. And as the weather grows more deadly and destructive, they aren’t waiting on Washington to act. Learn about their stories in Paris to Pittsburgh, and be inspired to create change in Portsmouth. Watch the trailer here.

The event commences at 6:30 PM on Wednesday February 20 in the Levenson Room at the Portsmouth Public Library. The photo below is taken from a segment of the film that addresses renewable energy.

Immediately following the film, PS21 will host a discussion led by UNH climate scientist Cameron Wake. Portsmouth City Councilor Josh Denton will update us on efforts currently underway by the City of Portsmouth, as well as those soon to come.

We will reserve ample time for questions and discussion. The event is free and all are welcome. Please register online to help ensure sufficient seating.


Portsmouth to Paris Slides Available

PS21 received multiple requests for copies of the PowerPoint slides Dr. Edward Cameron presented on April 18 at 3S Artspace. We are pleased to report that Dr. Cameron generously made the slides available to the public. The slides may be downloaded here in three parts (owing to website limitations) Part1Part2, and Part3.

Dr. Cameron presented twice on April 18. In the afternoon, he addressed an attentive audience of 200+ students at Portsmouth High School. His remarks were effective in that he understood his audience, and he offered advice as to the numerous opportunities for careers that would permit young people to have a meaningful impact.

In the evening, Dr. Cameron addressed an equally attentive audience that was somewhat older than the first. A video of the 3S event will be posted here in approximately one week.

Paris to Portsmouth

PS21 is excited and pleased to host one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the historic accord on climate change that currently enjoys the support of nearly every nation in world. Dr. Edward Cameron will be joining us on Wednesday April 18 at 7:00 PM at 3S Artspace at 319 Vaughan Street.

Dr. Cameron will provide us with an overview of the Paris Agreement. This will include detail on the architecture of the Agreement, as any successful attempt to align municipal strategy with the Agreement should borrow from the architecture.

He will then proceed with an assessment of the climate policy of our federal government, followed by an overview of how other non-state actors in the United States are building a low-carbon climate-resilient economy with a particular emphasis on the private sector, as he views this as an exercise in economic development for the region.

Finally, he will give us a sense of what would be needed to build a climate strategy on the local level, along with some guidance as to what individuals can do to be agents of climate action.

Following the presentation, we will reserve ample time for questions and discussion. The event is free and all are welcome. Please register online to help ensure sufficient seating.

Upcoming Events

Paris to Portsmouth – Part II
In October, PS21 will assemble a panel of municipal officials from other New England cities to discuss their efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Matthijs Bouw Talk Draws Full House

The Levenson Room at the Portsmouth Library was at capacity on December 6 for a presentation by Dutch architect and urbanist Matthijs Bouw that illustrated his design for flood protection infrastructure in Manhattan, the philosophy behind that design, and the lessons that are applicable to Portsmouth.

Bouw’s firm is the publisher of Engagement by Design, a booklet that emphasizes the importance of engaging all stakeholders in the design process. See also this lively 4-minute video on proposed flood protection measures for lower Manhattan.

Matthijs Bouw to Speak on December 6

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy sent a record storm surge of 13.88’ across New York Harbor, inundating large swaths of lower Manhattan. This prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to vow that the city would be prepared when the next storm strikes.

On Wednesday, December 6 at 6:30 PM at Portsmouth Public Library, PS21 will present one of the designers of New York’s new flood protection plan, Dutch architect and urbanist Matthijs Bouw. He is a founder of One Architecture, an award-winning Amsterdam and New York-based design and planning firm. Bouw will discuss his experience in New York designing protective infrastructure along Manhattan’s shoreline, and his work in the Netherlands. One third of the Netherlands is below sea level. The country has long been recognized for its sophisticated water management strategies.

Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss what lessons might apply to Portsmouth, and what infrastructure options might protect our city from a rising sea and storms of unprecedented scale. Scientists advise that climate change will bring more such storms, and with greater frequency, and that the effects will be exacerbated by a sea level that is projected to rise some 3 to 6 feet by the end of the century. It is not hard to imagine a storm surge of unprecedented height rolling up the Piscataqua on an incoming tide.

Bouw is the Rockefeller Urban Resilience Fellow for PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania, and is developing the Chief Resilience Officer curriculum for 100 Resilient Cities. His firm co-leads the team that won the Rebuild by Design competition for the flood protection of Manhattan, and is currently part of the multi-disciplinary teams executing the first phase of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project for Lower Manhattan, as well as planning the Lower Manhattan Coastal Protection project. In Panama, Bouw is the urban designer in the ‘Water Dialogues’ team. In the Netherlands, his firm is part of the ‘Hackable City’ team for Buiksloterham, a large-scale brownfield redevelopment in Amsterdam-Noord based on the principles of the circular economy.

The event is free and all are welcome. Please register to help ensure sufficient seating.

Upcoming Events

Density Done Well: On January 25, urban planner Brent Toderian will be presenting via a live video feed from Vancouver on his signature topic that brought him international renown, Density Done Well. As he notes in his blog, It’s an understatement to say that the D-Word is a controversial subject in cities across North America. It needn’t be so though, and shouldn’t be, as when it’s done well, density is immensely important to the success of cities and regions.” Following the presentation, the local audience at 3S Arts Center will have an opportunity to pose questions to Mr. Toderian.


PS21 Events in April & May to Create Inviting, Ecological Common Space for Vaughan Mall

Growing out of a recent exploration of how to create dynamic, attractive public spaces, PS21 is sponsoring a three-part event in April and May to add ecological design and permaculture elements to Portsmouth’s downtown Vaughan Mall.

Vaughan Mall Tom Morgan 650px

The Vaughan Mall area, between Congress and Hanover streets, was identified in recent PS21 placemaking events as a priority for improvement. This project, Vaughan Mall Green, will combine placemaking with a demonstration of the mall as an environmentally resilient civic space, reflecting Portsmouth’s designation as an eco-municipality. The principles of permaculture, a system of agricultural and social design elements intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient, will be incorporated in the area with the guidance of planner and designer Steve Whitman.

There are three parts to the Vaughan Mall Green project, whose goal is in part to increase pedestrian activity and make it more welcoming. In the mix are plans to add edible landscaping, native species and other plantings that aid in the absorption of rain and stormwater runoff.  Placemaking ideas developed at previous PS21 events include varied seating options, additional lighting, signs for pedestrians, live performances and other activities.

Volunteers, businesses, and gardening and sustainability-focused groups will assist in the design and implementation of Vaughan Mall Green. Please RSVP

Scheduled events include:

  • Thursday, April 20 at 7 PM at 3S Artspace – Presentation by planner and permaculture designer Steve Whitman of Plymouth. Learn how you can use an ecological design process for your own property or in creating positive changes elsewhere in the city. Whitman owns Resilience Planning and Design, and teaches at Plymouth State University and Colby-Sawyer College. Please RSVP
  • Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day) at Discover Portsmouth Center, 10 AM to 4 PM – Workshop on permaculture in an urban space and project development, led by Steve Whitman. Please RSVP
  • Saturday, May 13, Kick-Off of Design Implementation at Vaughan Mall – PS21 will partner with volunteers and the city to implement the design.

The City of Portsmouth, as part of its planning process, also is considering ways to enhance Vaughan Mall and nearby areas. While these plans may be informed by PS21’s Vaughan Mall Green project, they are separate efforts. PS21 (Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century) is an independent, all-volunteer nonprofit group.

This is the latest PS21 event to focus on planning and policy issues affecting the city and its residents. Please sign up at to help ensure sufficient space and to assist with planning. PS21 events are free and open to the public, and presented as part of its mission to stimulate discussion about planning issues affecting Portsmouth. PS21 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and tax-deductible donations to support these free events are welcome.

Event Sponsors: New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Portsmouth Garden Club and Portwalk Place

Season Sponsors: Piscataqua Savings Bank and Martha Fuller Clark

Event Partners: City of Portsmouth, Seacoast Media Group,, The Sound, Coruway Film Institute, 3S Artspace, Energize 360, Seacoast Local, Seacoast Peace Academy, SEAREI, Seacoast Permaculture Meetup


ABOUT PS21:  Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21) is an independent, volunteer-led organization that presents ideas and encourages discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth, N.H. and the Seacoast. Our goal is to support a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community compatible with the principles of smart growth, the historic nature of Portsmouth, and the context of the 21st century. PS21 maintains a blog and e-newsletter at, and archives video of many events.

Past events, all free and open to the public, have included presentations and workshops on: the Islington Street tactical urbanism project; placemaking workshops and discussions; accessory dwelling units in Portsmouth; affordable housing with planner Jennifer Hurley; “Walkable Cities” with author and planner Jeff Speck; parking expert Michael Manville; a walking tour of the city’s developing North End; Portsmouth street design by expert and Portsmouth resident Rick Chellman; Seacoast transportation modes; changing cityscapes by Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Robert Campbell; leading Portsmouth to a healthy and vibrant future with Plan NH; and a screening of the architectural film “The Human Scale.”  ps21.infoFacebook | Twitter

Facing Climate Change in Portsmouth

An audience of 200 filled 3S Artspace in Portsmouth Tuesday evening to hear internationally recognized climatologist and UNH professor Cameron Wake talk about climate change, the range of impacts Portsmouth and the Seacoast can expect, and how communities can respond.

During this presentation, Wake suggested that, in addition to the sea-level and temperature rise that is certain to happen, the future could hold several “nasty surprises” that would make things immeasurably worse for humankind.

Two days later, a scientific paper described exactly how one of those could happen. See “Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly”  — NY Times.

Also see the N.H. Business Review article, “Rising Sea Levels Will Affect Seacoast Economy.