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National Conversation on Climate Action

In the Wake of Earth Day Conversation: Collaboration

by Annie Strickler Apr 23, 2009

Rainbow People Joining to Surround Globe

Guest Bloggers: Deann Cartwright, Conservation Outreach Coordinator for Greenburgh, NY, and Courtney Forrester, ICLEI USA Program Officer (Northeast)

The day after Earth Day can be a major buzz kill. The anticipation is gone, and sometimes with it the enthusiasm and dedication that are the pillars of success. But not in Greenburgh, New York.

More than 100 people – residents along with department heads, committee chairs, and officials from Greenburgh (along with Irvington, Tarrytown, Ardsley, Hastings, Elmsford and Dobbs Ferry and unincorporated areas of the town) came together on Earth Day for “Greening Greenburgh: Think Systematically, Act Collaboratively,” part of the National Conversation on Climate Action.

And they show no signs of slowing down.

Appropriately, the theme was town-wide collaboration – how to make Greenburgh a sustainable community overall. We heard from Westchester County Executive (and ICLEI USA Board member) Andrew Spano and Tria Case, Executive Director for the Center for Sustainable Energy, among others. All the members of the Greenburgh Climate Action Task Force presented implementation strategies for various parts of the Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan, including vehicles and transportation, waste, open space and building codes.

But it was in between speakers – out in hall, during Q&A sessions, and over cake (including a planet Earth cake by a local bakery) – that the real action and collaboration happened.

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LA County Accelerating From Zero to 5 to 100

by Don Knapp Apr 23, 2009

Guest Blogger: Alison Culpen, ICLEI USA Program Associate, California Region

Freeway at night

“It’s not about going from zero to 100, it’s about going from zero to five.”
--Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President

Eric Garcetti's remarks, which he made at the LA County National Conversation on Climate Action on Earth Day, refer to the approach the region must take to transportation.

With over 27 speakers including four supervisors and the president of the CPUC, and with the help of over 40 staff volunteers (just glancing at the event agenda will make you dizzy), it certainly seemed like the National Conversation event was averaging 100 miles per hour.

And for good reason.

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Brainstorming Backyard Solutions in Houston

by Annie Strickler Apr 22, 2009

Kids Planting a Tree

Guest Blogger: Ryan Foshee, ICLEI USA Program Associate (South Central)

The National Conversation on Climate Action event held in Houston, TX yesterday attracted a diverse crowd, yet everyone in attendance was united by the same question: What can we do, personally and collectively, to make a difference on climate change? 

This question was the jump-off point for several lively presentations by local government officials, academics, and do-it-yourselfers followed by a fantastic and fun town hall forum.

“Conservation, environmentalism, these ideas are nothing new,” explains presenter Mark Robinson,” a consultant with Momentum Bay Associates.  “Folks that went through the depression know that what you use, what you do – these things matter!  It’s time for us to remember this, now maybe more than ever."

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Sarasota Starts Talking

by Annie Strickler Apr 22, 2009

Sarasota County NCCA banner with logo

Guest Blogger: Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI USA Southeast Regional Director

Climate friendly landscaping.  Nuclear energy.  Public education.  What do each of these have in common?  They were topics discussed, with passion, on Earth Day in Sarasota County’s “Community Conversation on Energy and Climate,” part of the National Conversation on Climate Action.

Over 100 attendees gathered to listen, learn and share their thoughts on actions that they as individuals, businesses and civic organizations could take to reduce their energy consumption and their impact on the environment.  Keynote speaker Philip Fairey, deputy director of the Florida Solar Energy Center drew spontaneous applause from the audience when he demonstrated how Floridians could eliminate the need for a new nuclear energy plant by increasing efficiency in their homes.  And they could do it for a lower cost than building the new electricity generation facility. 

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Earth Day Celebrations Get Mainstream Jumpstart in D.C.

by Annie Strickler Apr 19, 2009

Globe Shopping Cart

In case you haven’t noticed, Earth Day is this week. Festivities kicked off across the country this weekend, including the signature Earth Day Fest (put on by our partners at Earth Day Network) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. An estimated 100,000 people showed up to hear music and words of inspiration from The Flaming Lips, Los Lobos, Chevy Chase, Majora Carter, ICLEI USA’s Executive Director Michelle Wyman and many more.

As Earth Day inches closer to its 40th anniversary next year, the crowds turning up to celebrate the day – and those honoring its principles year-round – have certainly diversified. USA Today reflects on the environmental movement gone mainstream from college students to CEOs to mayors. It’s not just for hippies anymore.

You might guess as much by turning on the TV this week when TV shows from “The Price is Right” to “Spongebob Squarepants” take on a green hue. Fox News is getting in on the action with their “Green It. Mean It.” series, and NBC announced it will air more than 150 hours of eco-friendly programming.

It seems that going green finally appeals to an audience that is desperately needed: everyone.

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LA County Links Earth Day and Climate Policy

by Don Knapp Apr 13, 2009

LA County Earth Day Logo

Los Angeles County is putting Earth Day to work. In contrast to Earth Day agendas featuring lighter topics like gardening and recycling tips, LA County’s primary event (one of 20, actually) will feature policy and program discussions geared to environmental professionals: land developers, architects, engineers, green nonprofit staff, community activists, prominent small business owners, city employees from 88 jurisdictions within the County, and County employees themselves.

Nonprofessionals are welcome as well, and nobody will need a master’s degree to understand the speakers and roundtable participants. Speaker and roundtable discussion topics include the AB 32 Scoping Plan; what’s new in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including programs and discounts available to the public; how the carbon emissions market will work; planning and regional transportation; and education and workforce development.

LA County’s lineup is the perfect example of how local governments are taking full advantage of Earth Day for their long-term community engagement and planning strategies. Earth Day is the prime time to share plans and programs with community members, and capture their feedback to help chart future courses of action on climate protection, energy, and sustainability. That’s a major reason local governments are participating in the National Conversation on Climate Action.

LA County is one of 10 featured Spotlight Conversation communities in the National Conversation. All 10 Spotlights are working to get the most mileage from Earth Day, but perhaps none moreso than LA County.

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Sumter, SC, Reaches Out to the Faithful on Earth Day

by Don Knapp Apr 13, 2009


Image credit: Serve God, Save the Planet

The Christian community in Sumter, SC, typically reserves Wednesday nights for bible studies, youth group meetings, or other church-related functions. But on April 22, the City of Sumter hopes to attract people of faith to an Earth Day event that speaks to their sense of stewardship. Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, will be the featured speaker at the City’s Earth Day Forum 2009.

Sumter’s event is noteworthy for a few reasons. For starters, the City is one of 10 Spotlight Conversation communities headlining the National Conversation on Climate Action. Like the other Spotlights, ( Los Angeles County, Houston, etc.), Sumter hopes Earth Day will jumpstart its long-term community engagement efforts around sustainability and climate action. Mayor Joseph McElveen, Jr. and his staff are enthusiastic about sustainability, and they want community members to share their eagerness to go green.

But in Sumter, that may only happen if people recognize environmental action as a moral imperative. Religion is deeply woven into community life here, which is why the City reached out to local faith communities in advance of Earth Day, inviting them to the Wednesday forum and sending clergy a copy of Dr. Sleeth’s book.

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Tucson Earth Day Spotlights Climate Adaptation

by Don Knapp Apr 12, 2009

Tucson desert

The City of Tucson, Pima County, and the University of Arizona are tag-teaming an Earth Day event that brings alive for people how climate change will affect southern Arizona, and solicits their input on ways to adapt.

Smart topic, since climate change won’t be friendly to the region. U of A expert speakers will explain some of the impacts, from longer periods of drought and more intense floods to shifts in biological diversity, and discuss how these and other changes will affect public health and disrupt the local economy.

Tucson will be featured as one of the 10 Spotlight Conversation communities in the National Conversation on Climate Action, and deservedly so. What impresses me so much about the City’s event is how it addresses the local angles of climate change so compellingly, and how thoroughly well planned and strategic it is, thanks to Program Assistant Nicole Urban-Lopez.

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Dissecting the Earth Day Agenda in Somers, NY

by Don Knapp Apr 10, 2009

Herb Oringel

A lot is riding on Earth Day for Herb Oringel (pictured above), Chair of the Energy Advisory Panel in Somers, a small community in New York. The town’s April 23 event—part of the National Conversation on Climate Action—is an example of how Earth Day planning has changed for local governments. Somers’ event isn’t just a one-day festival to celebrate “being green,” it’s a key opportunity within a long-term community engagement strategy.

Any local government with a climate action plan, working through ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation, needs community members to understand the importance of this effort, and to do their part to help reach a community-wide emissions reduction target. Earth Day is the moment to spotlight these efforts and lay the groundwork for ongoing education and outreach.

Since Somers is just beginning this process as a new ICLEI member, it’s worth examining how Oringel and his panel are piquing the interest of their community members on climate and energy issues—and considering what they included in their Earth Day event, and what they left out.

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Top 10 Earth Day Planning Resources

by Don Knapp Mar 30, 2009

Let’s ponder three of the worst scenarios for your community Earth Day event. Number one, nobody shows up because they didn’t know about it or the event promotion didn’t spark their interest. Number two, they show up and it’s a jumbled disaster because of poor planning and execution. Number three, they show up, you’ve got things running smoothly, but everybody soon heads for the door because they’re bored and uninterested by your lineup of activities.

Got you anxious? Relax, it’s going to be great! That is, as long as you do your homework and look over the the 10 best free resources we've compiled to help you plan and implement an Earth Day event—whether it’s part of the National Conversation on Climate Action or your own format. Take advantage of them while there's still time.


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