Capitol Hill Ecodistrict: Local Conversation on Climate Change and Resilience

On 1 June 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Not surprisingly, that prompted discussions about the future of international efforts to confront climate change and whether the United States would continue to play a role in those efforts or be sidelined. However, it also appears to have created an even greater sense of urgency for government entities, organizations, and activists at the state and local levels to continue coordinating their efforts, fill the leadership void, and reassure the international community. On 9 June, the Capitol Hill Ecodistrict Steering Committee hosted a panel discussion at 12th Avenue Arts that addressed those issues and the climate change topics of mitigation and adaptation.

CapHill Ecodistrict 9 June 2017 (1 of 3)

The panel consisted of Susan Wickwire (2030 Districts), Hodan Hassan (Got Green), Kelly Hall (Climate Solutions), and Edie Gilliss (City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment). The four panel members started by introducing themselves and providing brief overviews of the issues their organizations are working on, challenges they’re addressing, and some of their organizations’ objectives.

CapHill Ecodistrict 9 June 2017 (2 of 3)

The discussion was informative, casual, and proactive. There were about 30 to 40 people in the room. Judging by the questions asked and a sense of general familiarity, I assume that most of the people in the room are involved in local climate policy and sustainability issues. I’m not. I live on Capitol Hill, and I haven’t got a science background. I left with a better understanding about how local entities are working together to mitigate the causes of climate change and to ensure that communities are in a position to adapt to climate change problems that cannot be avoided.

Since I am not an authority on climate change issues, I won’t provide a full recap of the discussion, but I have included a few highlights from the panel members below.

Susan Wickwire (2030 Districts)

2030 Districts focuses on improving sustainability in the downtown environment by working with developers, architects, and building owners to improve the energy-related performance of buildings, reduce emissions, and strive for carbon neutrality. Seattle was the first district, now there are 17, with Detroit being the most recent addition.

Hodan Hassan (Got Green)

Hodan Hassan is the Climate Justice Organizer for Got Green and works with communities to ensure that their climate concerns are heard and that young leaders in those communities have pathways to careers in environmental fields. Hodan Hassan also  works with local governments to encourage responsible development that factors in the causes and risks of displacement.

Kelly Hall (Climate Solutions)

Kelly Hall works on clean energy policies and discussed best practices for communicating the need for those policies with legislators and decision-makers.

  1. Demonstrate that the policies work and do not harm the economy.
  2. Connect the issues to state pride, convey the local benefits.
  3. Make it personal. For example, Olympic National Forest fires and the threat of droughts to the state’s apple trees and grapevines, which if lost would not grow back quickly, resonate with Washingtonians.
  4. Emphasize that fairness requires being part of the solution.

 

 

Edie Gilliss (City of Seattle, Office of Sustainability and Environment)
Edie Gilliss discussed efforts by the City of Seattle and the Rockefeller Foundation to define and improve urban resilience, not just in the face of big threats (earthquakes, terrorism, etc.) but also with respect to the stressors that make living in an area difficult. Edie Gilliss also pointed out that cities are a critical component in confronting climate change. Cities and mayors are networking with one another, comparing strategies, and funding relevant research.
CapHill Ecodistrict 9 June 2017 (3 of 3)

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