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Outreach and engagement

Beaverton Kicks Off Sustainability Forums, Promotes iPledge

by Don Knapp Apr 30, 2013

The City of Beaverton, OR, is taking a smart approach to community engagement around the creation of its sustainability plan. In March and April, the City held the first two of four sustainability forums that drew over 180 people combined. The forums bring experts to Beaverton to discuss how residents can make positive environmental, economic and social changes, and to educate the community about global, national, regional, and local sustainability issues.

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Atlanta Expands Sustainability Efforts with Power to Change Ambassador Program

by City of Atlanta Apr 24, 2013

Call to action for ambassadors has committed 70 businesses and organizations to date

Mayor Kasim Reed announced the creation of the Power to Change Ambassador Program at today’s 2nd annual Atlanta Earth Day Cleanup Challenge. As part of the city’s Power to Change sustainability initiative, the Ambassador Program will define and unite the sustainability efforts of government, business, academia, nonprofits and individuals.

“To become a top-tier sustainable city, we must take a cohesive and collaborative approach,” said Mayor Reed. “The Power to Change Ambassador Program will help amplify our individual successes and showcase our full-circle commitment to sustainability”.

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Nominate a Community Resilience Leader as a 'Champion of Change'

by White House Council on Environmental Quality Public Engagement Team Mar 04, 2013

Hurry! This Friday, March 8 is the deadline to nominate a friend of colleague to be a "Champion of Change" for their work to create a more resilient community. Here's the announcement from the White House CEQ:

The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories and examples of citizens across the country who are “Winning the Future” with projects and initiatives that move their communities forward.

This April, the White House Council on Environmental Quality will host a Champions of Change event for citizen, business, and community leaders who are working to prepare their cities and towns for the unavoidable consequences of climate change. We are asking for your help to identify those you consider to be Community Resilience Leaders and “Champions of Change.” These individuals are innovators and creative thinkers working tirelessly to ensure community resilience in the face of costly climate-related impacts. We want to recognize and learn from these leaders and share climate preparedness strategies that will protect generations to come and create a more resilient and prosperous America today, one community at a time.

>> Learn More

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New TRIG Handbook: Climate Futures Forums

by Meredith Herr, Climate Access Mar 03, 2013

TRIG's new handbook, Climate Futures Forums: A Model for Engaging Communities in Building Climate Resilience and Reducing Emissions guides practitioners through the Climate Futures Forum (CFF) process to build social resilience and enable communities to prepare for and withstand climate impacts to natural, built, economic, human and cultural systems. The handbook offers “how-to” advice for anyone interested in organizing CFFs in their area to build resilience and reduce emissions.

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Lessons on Outreach From Richmond’s Sustainability Plan

by Don Knapp Aug 26, 2012

Sustainability professionals understand that the key to developing a sustainability plan is getting strong buy-in and participation—both within a local government and among the greater community. But it’s easier said than done. Richmond, VA’s new RVAgreen plan, which was approved by City Council in July 2012, rests on a strong foundation of internal and external support, cultivated over many months under the leadership of Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

I spoke with Alicia Zatcoff, City of Richmond’s Sustainability Manager, who shared her strategies and lessons learned with engaging community members and municipal colleagues in the development of RVAgreen.

Right: Alicia Zatcoff, City of Richmond Sustainability Manager

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Community Planners Essential to Putting America on Road to Economic Recovery

by Don Knapp Jun 14, 2012

The American Planning Association has just published results from a landmark national poll that speaks to the broad, mainstream support for local planning among Americans of all political stripes. Most Americans believe that local planners play a key role in our economic recovery, and that planners should prioritize jobs, safety, and schools.

APA President Mitchell Silver, AICP, summed it up: "Communities that plan for the future are stronger and more resilient than those that don't. The country faces significant changes and challenges. Planners stand ready to work with local citizens to build this recovery, and a better future, one neighborhood at a time."

The poll results further marginalize the small but vocal minority of people who believe that sustainability and planning are part of a vast global conspiracy theory linked to Agenda 21. Thank goodness most Americans understand the benefits of smart planning and common-sense sustainability!


Americans Believe Planning Creates Stronger Communities

APA's press release highlights the rest of the poll results:

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The Unsettling Attacks on Green Cities and Counties

by Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA Executive Director Feb 13, 2012

Philadelphia Skyline 2007 Public Domain

Michael SchmitzBack in 2010, when Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes accused Denver’s bicycle sharing program of being part of an insidious United Nations conspiracy to take over America’s communities, a nation chuckled at the absurdity. "Cities Engage in Vast Biking Conspiracy (Shh!)" read a New York Times headline.

More than a year later, the same bizarre conspiracy theory is no laughing matter for anyone who cares about their community’s future. Across the country, a loud minority of protestors, many aligned with the Tea Party, have made it their mission to derail not only the green programs of cities, towns, and counties, but the broader planning efforts of local governments to improve local transportation, safeguard public health, and increase economic competitiveness. Last week the success of their efforts landed them back in the Times, only now on the front page.

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Bellevue Carries a Tune About Green Business

by Don Knapp Nov 16, 2011

Bellevue video screen grab

Click this image to visit the YouTube page with Bellevue's video.

The City of Bellevue, WA, is going the extra mile to make a splash with its newly launched Eastside Green Business Challenge program. The City recruited a local band, Million Dollar Nile, to pen a song pro bono about the Challenge competition. Check out the hummable tune and accompanying YouTube video -- a creative way to spread the word about the program and convey what it's all about. A song that sticks in your head is brilliant branding for a competition that aims to be fun and friendly, in which participants compete to save the most energy, money, and natural resources.

Two weeks ago, the City launched the program at a ceremony headlined by Hunter Lovins, an author and renowned "green business icon." Read more about it here.

Bellevue is the latest local government to launch a version of ICLEI's Green Business Challenge Program, and we are proud to have helped them get their program off the ground.

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Climate Communication for Local Governments: Five New Guidelines

by Don Knapp with Justus Stewart and Patrick Robbins Nov 08, 2011

Ames Iowa flood (credit: FEMA)

Photo credit: FEMA

Five guidelines to help city and county staff and elected officials message climate solutions, science, and local impacts


communications guide thumbThere’s a time and a place to talk about climate change. The place probably isn’t the Thanksgiving table with your uncles and in-laws, or anywhere that discussion could devolve into unfriendly debate. Let’s face it: As a topic, climate change is unpopular, polarizing, complex—and an unavoidable part of the national conversation.

The local one, too. Without constructive climate communication, local governments’ plans and initiatives would never get off the ground. And since we’ve got so much ground to cover, now is the time to take stock of the most effective communications approaches. What can we learn from the latest psychological and communications research, and the on-the-ground experience of municipal staff? A heck of a lot.

Good Communication Builds Relationships

“For local governments, climate communication should be thought of as a way to build relationships, not to win a debate or convince people to think the same way,” says Brian Holland, ICLEI USA’s Climate Programs Director. “You build relationships when you understand your audience and speak to their values and priorities.”

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Houston and Chicago Enlist Hundreds of Business Owners in Green Business Challenge

by Kim Brokhof, Program Officer and Lisa Lin, Regional Associate May 26, 2011

Green Buildings on Success Page

Imagine 1,923 American football fields lined up in a row. If you were to ride your bike past them, your trek would be 131 miles. That’s quite a ride!

Consider that the square footage of those same football fields is equal to the square footage of participants in the Chicago Green Office Challenge and registered participants in the Houston Green Office Challenge – representing approximately 110 million square feet of commercial space with a commitment to a reduced environmental footprint.

To reach climate goals, local governments often use outreach and engagement programs to their advantage. ICLEI’s Green Business Challenge can be a primary means to engage the business community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability while help you reach your community’s climate and energy goals at the same time.


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