Quiet Communities celebrates 10 years

Photo credit: Tom Flint

by Tricia Glass, Executive Director

Over 80 supporters and friends gathered on March 9 at the historic Bemis Hall in Lincoln, Massachusetts, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Quiet Communities, the nonprofit founded by President Jamie Banks. 

During a 30-minute presentation followed by a Q&A, Banks thanked the many people who have helped QC grow from the seed of an idea into an organization that is now a preeminent source of information and action on noise issues. QC works to reduce harmful noise and related pollution while promoting quiet as a valuable natural resource. Just as loud and chronic noise may be hazardous, quiet is essential for the health of the public and the environment.

Banks described how QC works to fill the vacancy left by the federal government when the Noise Control Act was defunded in 1982. Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency has turned its back on an entire category of public health harms. QC is suing the EPA to follow the law, carry out its mandatory responsibilities and honor its promise “to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare.”  

To illustrate the extreme strain that harmful and unwanted noise puts on communities, Banks played a voicemail she received at 4 a.m. one morning from a resident of a small community in rural Louisiana. This individual was besieged by noise from trucks tearing back and forth from a nearby gravel pit operation. The message ends with a plaintive plea for help.   

“This was a call from someone pushed to the limit by lack of sleep and constant stress, who received no help from public officials and where a petition by nearly 100 neighbors received no response. Their complaints are dismissed because noise is considered a nuisance and not the hazardous public health threat it is,” Banks said. Sadly, this type of situation is affecting communities across the country.

I introduced Massachusetts Representative Alice Hanlon Peisch, who spoke about her dedication to education as a tool to foster environmental sustainability among young people. She also spoke of her interest in raising awareness and furthering efforts to address environmental hazards, including noise, at the state level. 

Filmmaker Karen Akins, director of the documentary “The Quietest Year,” attended and said she appreciated a noise-related event that celebrated awareness and action. “Instead of conflict and frustration, it felt hopeful,” she said. Akins’ film will make its online debut at a QC-sponsored event on April 24. 

A reception, complete with birthday cake, followed the presentations. QC hopes to host more anniversary events in the coming months. Here’s to meaningful progress to make the world quieter in the next decade and beyond.

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