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OneCape 2021: Day One in Review

Janet McCabe, Deputy Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency – who spends her summers in Wellfleet - kicked off the Day One plenary speaking about the importance of protecting regional water quality, improving coastal resilience, and expanding investments in infrastructure improvements. She discussed federal priorities for addressing the climate challenge, as well as supporting water quality improvements, and the EPA’s interest in communities looking at innovative and alternative solutions and new emerging technologies. McCabe noted the bipartisan infrastructure framework bill that makes a $50 billion investment in climate resilience and a $55 billion investment in our nation’s water infrastructure.  

Next, Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor at Georgia Tech and director of the university’s Urban Design program shared information from her latest book, “Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia”, which looks at successful projects in underperforming or empty malls, big box stores, and office parks that disrupt automobile dependence, improve public health, support an aging population, leverage social capital for equity, compete for jobs, and add water and energy resilience.    

In 2020, the Cape Cod Commission marked its 30-year anniversary. The Cape Cod Commission Act, the legislation that created the Cape Cod Commission, was signed in 1990. We have been working with leaders at the local, regional, state, and national scale who have been engaged with the Commission over its history to document its evolution. A preview of the documentary that will be released later this year was shared at this year’s Summit.  

Dan Wolf, founder and CEO of Cape Air and former MA State Senator and Dorothy Savarese, Chair and CEO of Cape Cod 5, have both seen firsthand how the Cape has evolved over the years. They joined us for a spirited discussion sharing their perspectives on the region’s ability to address challenges, respond to change, and promote environmental and economic resilience.  

Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta shared that the state’s unemployment rate is improving, and that her office continues to work to make investments in the workforce and to connect job seekers with employers. Acosta also touched on the region’s housing crisis, noting that a thriving economy on the Cape is dependent on balancing water quality with workforce housing, and how the American Rescue Plan Act could provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fund development of workforce housing.  

The Day One Plenary concluded with the presentation of the annual OneCape Award to Wendy Northcross. Wendy was instrumental in developing the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund and has led the Cape on issues involving transportation, housing, and the economy. She embodies all that the award represents, with her leadership and dedication to Cape Cod. 

Following the morning plenary, attendees joined virtual breakout sessions, including discussions on bylaws for climate action, reimagining local economic development following COVID-19, housing strategies, the Cape Cod water quality data portal, strategies for responsible management of innovative/alternative septic systems, and COVID-19 as a catalyst for long-term economic resilience. 

Video recordings of the plenary speakers and breakout sessions can be found at

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