- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 1:36 PM EDT
Jennifer Jurado is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I have been working with Broward County government since I completed my graduate studies in 2002. I received my doctorate degree in Marine Biology and Fisheries from the University of Miami where I studied Phytoplankton Ecology. I thoroughly enjoyed my graduate experience and my work in the coastal environment and expected that my longer-term career would follow this same track. While I didn't remain in academia, these studies paved the path for a career that has focused on the protection of our natural resources and addressing the challenges of climate change. I am honored to be recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for my role in advancing climate resilience activities in Broward County and South Florida, and am privileged to work for a leadership that appreciates the great importance of working to build climate resilience at local and regional scales as fundamental to the long-term sustainability of our community, environment, and economy.
I originally joined Broward County as the County's water resources manager, responsible for county-wide coordination of water resource management, policy and planning, which included staffing of the County's Water Advisory Board. Climate change and sea level rise were increasing being recognized to pose extreme challenges to our long-term ability to maintain flood protection and water supplies in a region that relies upon an extensive system of canals and pumps for flood control and a surficial coastal aquifer already being impacted by saltwater intrusion. In a low-lying coastal community that is largely shaped by water, much of our early focus on climate change was driven by water resources implications. This would ultimately include responsibility for convening the County's Climate Change Task Force, overseeing development of the County's Climate Change Action Plan, and working regionally on climate mitigation and adaptation issues.
The Compact is a commitment among Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties to work collaboratively to address shared mitigation and adaptation challenges through joint policy advocacy, the development of uniform planning tools, the creation of a Regional Climate Action Plan, and the annual hosting of Climate Leadership Summits. Some accomplishments from Compact included the development of a unified sea level rise projection, the creation of a regional greenhouse gas emissions baseline, and sea level rise vulnerability mapping using a common methodology. During the 2011 legislative process, we were able to advance a legislative amendment to the State's Growth Management Act which allows for the designation of "Adaptation Action Areas" by local government. Action Area designation allows us to identify areas vulnerable to coastal flooding and sea level rise. In October 2012, we completed a Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) that includes 110 recommendations in the areas of community resilience across 7 focal areas.
Today, our comprehensive plan now includes the sea level rise projection developed by the Compact (9 to 24 inches by 2060), reference to Adaptation Action Areas, and a new land use map which identifies priority planning areas within the County based on likely inundation with a 2-foot sea level rise. We are integrating climate change influences and sea level rise in our regional hydrologic modeling efforts that will guide adaptation strategies as part of our water management and water supply planning decisions and investments. We are also in the midst of advancing a regional energy efficiency finance program that will support our efforts to reduce community-wide emissions and advance economic development in this sector.
As I reflect back on the last several years, I am impressed by the advancements that have been made while also recognizing the magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead. So often, daily progress is obscured by the weight of unmet tasks, but as with many efforts, when you take the time to look back it is only then that you can appreciate the full measure of progress that has been made. This reflection also brings to light the contributions and individual efforts of the many talented and dedicated community members and staff whose efforts make initiatives of this scale possible. Regional coordination has been key to local progress, but continued success will require municipal partnerships, community engagement, and collaborations across all levels of governments. While we have made remarkable progress in southeast Florida and Broward County, we are only just getting started.
Dr. Jennifer Jurado is the Director of the Natural Resources Planning and Management Division in Broward County, Florida
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 1:10 PM EDT
Ed Johnstone is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I am a Fisheries Policy Representative for the Quinault Indian Nation, a land of cliff-lined beaches on the Pacific Ocean, evergreen forests, rivers, lakes, and mountains. We fish the same waters and hunt the same lands our ancestors did thousands of years before people from other parts of the world ever came here. We meld our traditions and legacies with technological innovations and provide new opportunities for our hard-working people; however, we always maintain environmental stewardship and sustainability at the forefront of our priorities and spiritual connection.
The Quinault Nation seeks every opportunity to merge our efforts with those of other governments as well as other people from all walks of life as long as they demonstrate respect for our history, our sovereignty and our land, our treaty-protected rights, and the rights of future generations to inherit a healthy world. Economic prosperity and gainful employment are congruent with these things, as long as care, cultural sensitivity, and wise, long term decision-making are the primary considerations in management planning and implementation. Because of this, I gladly accept the honor of being named a “Champion of Change” because – as you know- change is mandatory.
It is important for other Americans to understand the perspective of Native Americans—to learn from it and hopefully adopt elements of it in their own lives. We have lived here a very long time. Survival and adaptation are concepts we Indians know very well. We breathe the same air and walk on the same land as other Americans. We drink the same water. We share a common future. In the long run, humanity will either prosper, or perish, together. Climate change is a major anthropogenic environmental concern, which affects Tribes directly. It has already had major impacts on our lands, causing massive fish kills and transmigrations through hypoxia and ocean-warming, intensified storms and flooding, glacial melting and expanded droughts, eroded beaches and invasive species.
Quinault Nation and other indigenous nations have been responding to climate change for years, and the need to support us in our efforts as well as work with us in a team effort to deal with this issue, as effectively as possible, is absolute. I was proud to the co-chair First Stewards, a non-profit organization which presented a major climate change summit at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC this past summer, and which will continue to bring indigenous people for the U.S. and American territories together over climate issues in the years to come. I am currently treasurer of First Stewards. For more information on this program, please visit our website at www.firststewards.org.
I have worked in the timber and fishing industries of the Quinault Indian Nation most of my life. I am a two-term Quinault Councilman, serving from 1996-2002, and serve as treasurer of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. I also chair the Intergovernmental Policy Council, a forum of tribal and state co-managers of the ocean area that includes the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
Edward Johnstone serves as the Quinault Indian Nation Policy Spokesperson on all issues regarding ocean policy and treaty fishing rights
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 12:42 PM EDT
Jeremy Jones is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I started Protect Our Winters (POW) because I had seen real change in the winters during my time spent in the mountains. Snow levels were rising, glaciers shrinking, and winters starting later. The definitive moment was when I was in Northern Canada walking a grassy mountain that used to be a ski hill. It was February and I was with some locals who were telling stories about growing up riding the mountain. When I asked why it was now closed I was shocked at their answer. “It no longer snows here and we don’t have snow making so they had to close the resorts.” Stories like this kept piling up.
Anecdotal stories are one thing, but we recently commissioned a study that actually answers the question: “What is the economic impact of an inconsistent winter?” The results were staggering: in peril are the economies of tourist-dependent states where winter tourism generates $12.2 billion in revenue annually, supports 212,000 jobs, and $7 billion in salaries. Those are the jobs and businesses owned by our friends and families - generators of billions in federal and state income. To us, winter is serious business.
So what is Protect Our Winters doing about it?
First, it’s critical to educate the youth about the problem and inspire them to be the next generation of environmentalists. Throughout the year, we bring professional snow sports athletes into high schools to talk to students about their first-hand experiences with climate change and specific ways to be part of the solution. It’s incredibly powerful to have Olympians and X Games champions talk about climate change and then ask students to join them in being part of the solution. Since launching our Hot Planet/Cool Athletes program in 2012, we’ve met over 15,000 students at 37 schools nationwide.
We also spend a great deal of time with our corporate partners and professional athletes to mobilize the winter sports community at the grassroots level and amplify our collective voices in Washington. The US winter sports industry supports 600,000 jobs and generates $66 billion in economic revenue in the US. If we are going to make a difference, we have to make sure that our community is vocal and recognized at the federal level.
With climate change a constant and visual presence in our lives, our efforts have to be smart, impactful, and swift. Winter sports are in the cross hairs of climate change and I’m as committed as I’ve ever been to continue our efforts on behalf of our industry, our mountain communities, and for our future generations.
Jeremy Jones is an award-winning filmmaker, entrepreneur, environmentalist, and snowboarding pioneer.
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM EDT
Caroline Lewis is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I embraced this goal with tremendous optimism when I created the CLEO Project on Climate. Now, some three years later, things have changed. Almost on a daily basis, I must guard my energy and confidence against being sapped, as I work in earnest along this recklessly slow road to my desired end. The good news is that thousands of individuals and institutions have this same goal and have invested mightily in education and engagement efforts. The bad news is we still seem to be swimming upstream. It is time to turn this ship. This White House recognition is a tremendous honor, but it is the opportunity to spur meaningful change that truly excites me.
In 2010, we founded the CLEO Institute to promote real change on a big scale. This small but mighty non-profit, based in Pinecrest Gardens in South Florida, advances environmental literacy and civic engagement by developing initiatives that can be scaled and replicated. We focus on Creative Learning and Engagement Opportunities (hence, CLEO) to promote and celebrate participation by broad audiences. This means providing multiple opportunities for engagement by intergenerational, interdisciplinary, and socially diverse audiences. The CLEO Project on Climate (CPOC) is designed to trigger community conversations within varied social, cultural, economic, academic, religious and political gatherings. It also provides opportunities for deeper learning through basic and advanced climate education and communication training.
Phases I and II of the CPOC encourage participants to find and share their voices on climate change issues. We have already logged well over a thousand written and videotaped Phase I responses to the Project Question: What is climate change all about, and what’s my role? For Phase II, CLEO partners with scientists, educators and communicators to train hundreds of individuals as part of the Empowering Capable Climate Communicators Series. Trainees then join CLEO’s online Phase II Speakers Network and develop their own outreach plans. Additionally, the CPOC includes climate-related forums, film screenings, science cafes, panel discussions, showcases and contests. Through these related Phases and events, we mobilize schools, colleges, businesses, organizations, and government offices to participate in fact-driven dialogues describing what we know about climate change, the forces that likely affect it, and scalable solutions.
We are proud of the CLEO Project on Climate. It uses the powerful vehicles of both formal and informal education to mainstream climate science and build climate literacy. The CPOC is inclusive and celebratory, and the use of web and social media is a key contributor to motivating very large, diverse audiences. And the public response has been extraordinary. We work with principals, teachers, college professors, students, elected officials, artists, bankers, doctors, lawyers, civic and community leaders, and concerned citizens. We believe an educated citizenry is better able to make personal changes and to respond to robust efforts toward climate resilience. In our region, Miami-Dade County’s GreenPrint and the four-county Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact action plan are excellent examples that need support from a more engaged and informed public. Climate science is serious and complicated, and becoming climate-literate is a journey.
I expect climate change will be THE defining issue of this century, and many centuries henceforth, with respect to economic, environmental, and humanitarian vulnerability. Climate science desperately needs honest attention so we can invest in immediate, sweeping, sustained action towards mitigation and adaptation efforts. And we need this YESTERDAY! How do we make this happen? Each of us should embrace our unique power to influence others and to champion change. I know I blaze through life armed with the surety that we influence and are influenced by others, sometimes when we least expect it. Dare I dream? I must. I believe we will turn this ship, and efforts like the CLEO Project on Climate help us become agents of change. I believe we will influence our leaders and each other. I believe our leaders, on the right and on the left, together with everyone in between, will steer us in the right direction, not further into harm's way. I believe this, and I want you to believe this, too.
I accept this honor with the full knowledge that we all stand on the shoulders of other champions. I am fortunate that so many have shaped, supported and inspired me, and I celebrate them all.
Please visit our website at www.CLEOInstitute.org.
Caroline Lewis is the founder and executive director of the CLEO Institute at Pinecrest Gardens.
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM EDT
Rebecca Rubin is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
For me, my commitment to building resilient communities is really pretty simple. It's all about what we can do to minimize humankind's negative impacts on nature and reinforce the positive ones. This is the surest and most effective pathway, not just to a healthier planet, but also to a greener and more resilient economy. My own journey has been one of realizing that the natural world is the beginning and the end of everything that matters on this planet. After the natural world, everything else follows.
This approach has translated readily to my work life, where for the past twelve years, I have been privileged to be the Founder, President, and CEO of Marstel-Day Environmental Consulting, LLC – a name that means Ocean, Stars and Daylight. We provide clients with concepts, strategies, and plans of action for landscape-scale conservation of natural resources, climate adaptation, energy planning and "net zero" strategies, water security, smart growth and transportation, and the management of issues relating to encroachment pressures on government and private lands, open space, and habitat. Our company was among the first small businesses ever to write both a company-wide Climate Action Plan and a Corporate Social Responsibility Report; we were also the first company in the nation to obtain certification as a service provider under P391, the National Standards Foundation general sustainability protocol.
At the same time, we have also made our commitment to helping economically depressed communities regain their footing via our commitment to the HUBZone program, a federal program under which we locate our principal office – and thirty five percent of our employees – in areas of low income and high unemployment.
Our journey to a deeper shade of green for ourselves and our clients, and our demonstrated community involvement, especially to areas of low income and high unemployment, form the backbone of Marstel-Day’s commitments to a more resilient community. We never stop looking for new initiatives and have recently launched our Climate, Environment and Readiness (CLEAR) plan in partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders to help our region in Virginia undertake climate adaptation and mitigation measures.
Rebecca R. Rubin is the Founder, President, and CEO of Marstel-Day, LLC.
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 11:36 AM EDT
Jodi Slick is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
Disasters are indiscriminate foes. For individuals, disasters don’t care if you have been diagnosed with cancer, are underwater on your mortgage, or plan to retire next week. For communities, disasters don’t wait until you’re ready, and they don’t come with an instruction manual.
I’ve witnessed the pain and frustration of disaster victims and recognize the years of difficult rebuilding ahead in our communities. If we are to build resilient communities, we need design thinking, integrated strategies, and strong partnerships to both mitigate the causes and adapt to the effects of climate change.
Climate change is real. The costs are high. The time to invest in resiliency is now.
My climate resiliency story began in 2008 when I attended an emergency meeting of community organizations to discuss the “heat or eat” dilemma many in our community faced during the winter. With an old housing stock, a very cold climate and an ever expanding energy affordability gap, it seemed that just triaging resources for the upcoming winter wasn’t enough.
I realized we needed to address the current emergency and also create integrated solutions that would make us more resilient to future energy price fluctuations and economic downturns. At that time, I was Executive Director of a social enterprise that led the implementation of green standards in low-income homes, and we were working on a national demonstration project that incorporated solar thermal systems into deep energy retrofits of foreclosed and blighted properties.
As much as I took pride in the work we were doing, I was bothered by the fact that our impact would be ten times greater if we were also increasing investments in weatherization and insulation for leaky homes. That fall, I assembled a cross-sector collaborative that created the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program (DEEP) and in 2011 founded Ecolibrium3 to administer DEEP and develop other community sustainability initiatives.
Ecolibrium3’s DEEP program helps residents of all-income levels by assessing their homes, prioritizing improvements, bundling available financial resources, contracting with trained and qualified companies, and conducting quality assurance through our one-stop shop. In our first two years, we helped more than 600 households complete efficiency upgrades, saving an average of $646 annually, and reducing GHG emissions by four tons per home. Over 65 percent of our participants complete advanced energy efficiency measures. DEEP is nationally recognized as an innovative, community-scale model for residential energy efficiency.
Building the DEEP process, however, is only the first part in our two-part story of community climate resiliency. The second part began after a 500-year rain event flooded the City of Duluth and seven counties in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin last summer. Ecolibrium3 had no experience in disaster recovery, but it was clear to me that the processes, capacity and cross-sector partnerships we built to bring energy efficiency to scale were the type of resources a community would need to rebuild. Without a FEMA Individual Assistance Declaration, and the infrastructure and funding that would have come with it, a local solution to provide recovery infrastructure became even more important.
When the Ordean Foundation chose to invest in flood recovery for low-income households, we rapidly retooled DEEP to meet these needs. Ecolibrium3 began reconstruction management weeks ahead of federal and state programs with a two-step process designed to dovetail with other disaster assistance. First, we helped families meet immediate winter preparedness needs of electricity, hot water and energy efficient furnaces using a bridge loan while residents waited for SBA or state assistance.
Once traditional disaster assistance was received and the bridge loan paid back, we reinvested the funds as a grant to complete advanced energy efficiency and flood mitigation measures that could not be covered by the disaster loans. Ecolibrium3’s flood-recovery model established standards for rebuilding that emphasizes energy efficiency and is saving some households more than $2,000 a year on heating costs. In addition, applying our third-party contract management system and extensive list of vetted contractors resulted in quicker rebuilding while protecting residents from post-disaster fraud.
Through Ecolibrium3’s work, I’ve learned that disaster recovery is a long and messy process. We still have families in need and it is essential that we find additional resources to help our region recover. It is equally important that we continue to invest in resilience by building community capacity and stronger systems before disasters strike.
Our climate mitigation and adaptation work would not have been possible without the dedication of the Ecolibrium3 staff and board, collaboration with the City of Duluth, support from the Ordean Foundation, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Duluth Local Initiatives Support Corporation, US EPA Climate Showcase Communities, US DOE, MN Division of Energy Resources, MN Housing Finance Agency, and Freshwater Future, as well as the strong utility conservation programs available in our community through Minnesota Power and Comfort Systems.
Jodi Slick is Founder and CEO of Ecolibrium3.
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 11:20 AM EDT
Fred Yoder is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I have always been a firm believer that many of the challenges we face today can be solved by being smarter and more efficient. Too many times we look for short-term fixes and later deal with the long-term ramifications caused by our decisions.
A significant part of our country's inability to find solutions to problems is our lack of willingness to work together. Many great ideas get thrown away simply because they are perceived to be partisan. Science is not perfect, yet it is probably the best vehicle we can use today to decide important matters.
It is clear that our weather patterns have changed over the years, producing bigger catastrophic events, such as floods and droughts, and extreme higher and lower temperatures as well. But while we see these things take place, all that some can do is assign blame for what is happening. It is time to get over what and who is responsible for the changes taking place and do what we can to mitigate the effects of the changes.
American agriculture has demonstrated the ability to adapt to change over the years by being able to produce abundant food, feed, fiber, and fuel in ways that are quite different than previous practices. We are conserving our water and soils by adapting conservation methods, utilizing new and more resilient genetics, and reducing the likelihood of nutrients being lost by altering ways in which we apply them.
But there is much more that can be done to enhance the quality of our soils. Cover crops and new rotations can enrich them with more microbial generation. Healthy soils greatly increase agricultural productivity and can mitigate greenhouse gases through sequestration by the ton.
In this day and age when government dollars are scarce, it is imperative that we do not backslide on the progress we have made thus far. There are plenty of incentives to continue to do the right things if we can recognize the benefits of what we are doing.
We must all work together to identify what is occurring and take the necessary steps to ensure we can indeed sustainably produce enough food to satisfy a hungry world. At the same time, we must provide those ecosystem services that are so valuable to society, which will ensure the world will be a better place for our children and grandchildren.
Fred Yoder is currently involved with the 25 x '25 Alliance.
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 11:02 AM EDT
Rebecca Templeton is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I grew up in a bayou community in south Louisiana where so much of daily life centers around one of our nation’s most productive estuaries. I remember taking shelter as a child in my grandparent’s home as a hurricane approached our community. My maw maw (grandmother) sat me down and explained why I was safe and told me about the lines of protection we had from the approaching hurricane.
She told me that before the hurricane reached our home, it first had to travel over the barrier islands, which would slow down the hurricane. She then told me that the marsh was like a sponge that soaked up water and energy from the hurricane. Only after the hurricane passed over these parts of our environment would it reach us as a weaker version of what it was.
While I may not have understood concepts that mean so much to our lives today like climate change, sea level rise, and storm surge, I knew, even from an early age, that a healthy environment helped to protect me and my family.
Fast forward to today, when climate change, sea level rise, and subsidence causes Louisiana to lose 16 square miles of wetlands, our natural flood protection, every year. This is roughly a football field every 38 minutes, much of it in my beloved Terrebonne Parish. According to NOAA scientists, this is not just the highest rate of land loss in the United States but possibly the globe. All of this is further complicated by living in an area facing enormous social vulnerability due to high poverty, where families have limited means to rebuild after a disaster.
We continue to experience stronger and more frequent extreme weather in southern Louisiana, as evidenced by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac. Our community has not only had to find ways to rebuild lives, businesses, and homes, but also to adapt to a more dangerous and vulnerable future. More homes in my community have flooded from what were once considered weak hurricanes and tropical storms.
When I was a young girl, I remember the vastness of the marsh land behind our family home. Now there are just clumps of marsh surrounded by water. It is evident that the habitat is changing. Where we once caught bass, a freshwater fish, my son now catches red fish, a saltwater fish. The environment has changed. There is less of it around me, and the impact of this is huge. These are big challenges, each too large to tackle alone. They require collective action as a community.
As our wetlands vanish, so do our culture, communities, livelihoods, and the natural hurricane storm protection provided by our coast. It is vital to acknowledge that the impacts of coastal land loss are occurring not because we live in or moved to an inherently flawed environmental system, but because our environment has been altered and manipulated. We are suffering the consequences of global issues like climate change and national issues like Mississippi River flood protection and dredging of canals for energy and commerce.
We founded Bayou Grace Community Services to engage both our local and national community to advocate for solutions. We want our communities to move from vulnerability and possible extinction to survival, resilience and sustainability. Louisiana coastal land loss affects not only our local communities and our state. It is an environmental issue that impacts the entire nation.
I joined Bayou Grace in 2009 and now serve as its Executive Director. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Bayou Grace was formed with the mission to restore the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary by mobilizing participants in restorative projects, advocacy, and education. Bayou Grace participants develop a complex understanding of Louisiana coastal land loss and how restoration benefits the entire nation.
Bayou Grace’s Louisiana Estuary Experience, a co-operative five day volunteer program with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program hosts over 250 volunteers annually. Volunteers aid in the restoration of our environment and participate in classroom/laboratory education at the Louisiana University Marine Consortium. Program participants educate others and advocate for restoration after involvement with Bayou Grace.
Volunteers also engage with local community members at community dinners via our Building Community Resilience through Community Dinners project. These community dinners are an opportunity for local residents to engage with government and NGO coastal restoration decision makers and leaders. As one local resident writes:
"…. I am a lifelong resident of Dulac, Louisiana. … [Bayou Grace] keeps our Bayou community informed on the many issues concerning coastal restoration and protection through their community dinners. I and other community people feel more informed on issues affecting our Bayou than ever before through attending these dinners."
Both local residents and national volunteers help create advocacy tools through our Why Should We Save Coastal Louisiana? photo project. Since 2010, over 800 local and national participants have been photographed with their answers to the project question: “Why should we save coastal Louisiana?” Many of these advocacy photos have been exhibited at art studios and museums, and have been used to create a project companion book, a book we now work to get into the hands of government and agency leaders who can have an impact on decisions made about Louisiana coastal restoration.
Bayou Grace and other coastal partners participate on Oxfam America’s Coastal Communities Initiative Campaign. We attend parish, state and federal meetings and conferences and educational workshops. This, combined with outreach, enables Bayou Grace to gain community, scientific and academic perspectives on land loss and restoration and to develop advocacy talking points in the best interest of our communities.
I am deeply honored to be selected as a Community Resilience Leader Champion of Change. This award represents not only my work, but the work of every out-of-state volunteer, every staff member and every community resident who has chosen to become engaged in the issue of Louisiana coastal land loss and restoration.
My hope is that all of our work will lead to thoughtful, holistic restoration and protection measures that balance the needs of our local community, their livelihoods and our environment. The lessons we learn in coastal Louisiana are a chance for our nation to prepare and learn how to tackle these challenges as more and more coastal communities are impacted by a changing climate and rising seas.
Rebecca Templeton is the Executive Director of Bayou Grace Community Services.