Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that our communities are resilient to the changes of the future. The climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to consider the resilience of our societies and the ways we can adapt to large-scale disruptions. While both crises are daunting, in 2018 the residents of Missoula, MT used the Climate Ready Communities Practical Guide to Building Resilience to begin their climate resilience process. With this “do-it-yourself” approach, Missoula has created a custom strategic plan that promises a safer future for their community.
After two years of planning, Climate Ready Missoula was adopted by both city and county governments. The plan includes a thorough vulnerability assessment and illustrates three alarming climate scenarios based on current climate projections. The urgency of climate change is clearly stated throughout the plan, but it maintains that with immediate action, the community can take meaningful strides towards effective adaptations. In addition, Climate Ready Missoula highlights the importance of inclusivity within the adaptation process that will benefit all sectors of society.
Communities across the state of Oregon contacted us following our March call for communities interested in developing climate resilience plans as a part of a cohort. Each member of the cohort will move through the seven steps of our Practical Guide to Building Climate Resilience using an independent process driven by the community’s specific needs. Each will also have access to supplemental content for the Guide and a range of support services as well as the chance to share lessons with and learn from fellow cohort members.
While we’re still working to secure philanthropic funding to help support the cohort, we’re pleased to announce members of the cohort today:
- City of Gresham
- City of Mosier
- City of Sandy
- City of Tigard
- City of Troutdale
- City of Yachats
The Climate Ready Communities team recently joined the excitement at the 4th National Adaptation Forum (NAF), the largest gathering of the climate adaptation community in North America that takes place every 2 years. It’s inspiring to be part of such a vibrant, diverse and motivated group. The numbers are not yet published for 2019, but it definitely felt like the largest attendance yet!
“We have been coming to NAF since its inception, and it is amazing how the conference has matured and changed over time. I remember the first year was focused on models and science. Now we’re talking about equity and inclusion, not just for communities, but for the adaptation field as well. And we’re talking about how to share what is working and not working so we can learn from each other. It’s exciting to be part of such a new and dynamic field.” Marni Koopman
The top themes at NAF2019 included tribal adaption, equitable adaptation, communication and engagement, indicators and monitoring, and actionable climate science, among others. There were over 100 sessions during the 3 day event.
It was standing room only for every single session in the Climate Resilience track at the 2019 National Planning Conference in mid-April. Every single session. Some sessions got so crowded that conference organizers began posting safety notices asking people not to stand in the back or sit on the floor. But the notices were routinely ignored as planners poured into sessions focused on how to integrate climate change considerations into their everyday work for communities of all size.
The popularity of the climate sessions underscores what we are seeing in professional societies across the nation as climate impacts become much more obvious and the need to take action more urgent. Planners are looking for help navigating climate science resources, engaging their elected officials and residents around the issue, and identifying sound investments in climate adaptation for their communities. It was the first time we introduced our soon to be launched Climate Ready Communities program to the planning community, and we found that many planners are in the difficult spot of knowing they need to take action, but not having the expertise to do it alone or the money to hire for consultant help.
The Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) is a cross-sector partnership working to promote climate adaptation and mitigation strategies across the expansive Sierra Nevada region of California. Sierra CAMP, one of seven regional climate collaboratives in the state and a member of the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is a program of Sierra Business Council. Sierra CAMP convenes a diverse group of public, private, and nonprofit entities including the Town of Truckee, U.S. Forest Service Region V, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Ski Industry Association, California Forestry Association, Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, and the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment.
Corinth is a city of 20,000 people located 20 miles north of Dallas. Over the last two years, local leaders in Corinth have become increasingly alarmed about the impact of changing climate conditions on their community and economy.
Corinth’s primary impacts from climate change are 1) extreme heat and 2) drought; these threats are affecting the health, safety and quality of life of Corinth’s residents and the sustainability of natural systems.
The City learned of the Geos Institute’s Climate Ready Communities program at the annual International City/County Managers Association conference in October 2017 and soon signed on as a beta tester. Patrick Hubbard, the Development Coordinator for the City’s Planning and Development Department, led the review team for Corinth.
Yes!! And actually we MUST have fun from time to time. It’s psychology – our brains are hardwired to help us avoid long-term pain and suffering and to instead seek pleasure and enjoyment. If we want to stay in the fight against climate change, we have to figure out how to enjoy doing it.
Unfortunately, many climate events are depressing. It’s the nature of the topic. Those of us who stare down the impacts of climate change on a daily basis know that we are facing a grim future if massive collective action is not taken very soon. But most people are not staring down climate change on a daily basis – and these are the people we need to help take action.
California leads the nation in both requiring climate change adaptation action by local communities as well as supporting local leaders so they can be effective in taking that action. Our team headed to Sacramento for the three day conference hoping to not only share our Climate Ready Communities program, but also to hear what new innovations are being developed in California that could be used elsewhere.
The fires and mudslides in California are confirming what we have known for several years in the adaptation field – people who are already struggling due to low-income, systemic racism, disability, and language barriers are hit the hardest by climate disruption and have a harder time recovering. This fact is putting a fine point on the need to integrate these under-resourced communities into the adaptation planning process so that their needs can be fully met through community action.
We were also reminded that these communities, while struggling, are also incredibly resilient and have something to bring to the solutions table. Adaptation frameworks and processes and the people who run them need to avoid the sense that these people need to be saved. They have been saving themselves for a very long time. What they need from adaptation processes is an acknowledgement that more resources will need to be invested in their concerns in order to have an equitable outcome across a community. Then they need to be equal partners at the table.
By Tonya Graham | Republished from Meeting of the Minds
America’s small towns are fighting back against climate change denial and lack of leadership at the federal, and in many cases, state levels by taking matters into their own hands and moving forward to build greater climate resilience.
The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, an association of mayors along the river, has developed a Climate/Disaster Resilience and Adaptation program because they recognize the need for their communities, many of which are smaller, to deal with the reality of a changing climate.
And individual communities are pushing the climate resilience envelope to protect their people, property, and economies. Public officials in Yankeetown, FL are moving forward to protect the natural infrastructure that cushions their community from the impacts of rising sea levels due to climate change.
These are just a few examples of leadership arriving in the form of local government – increasingly in unexpected places.
Geos Institute has announced that the commercial pilot program for its Climate Ready Communities subscription service will begin in May, 2018. A limited number of slots are still available on a first come, first served basis.
For more information on the pilot program, please visit our pilot page.