The calendar says Halloween’s approaching, but my heart knows it’s really Thanksgiving time, considering the front-page Courier & Press article I read Oct. 17th. That piece said Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (formerly Indiana Association of Cities and Towns) had awarded Evansville its 2020 Green Community of the Year Award.
As a fifth-generation Evansvillian, how could I not give thanks for our city receiving such a designation? And how could I not be grateful for all those whose efforts in developing our city’s climate action plan helped make that recognition ours? Our first debt of gratitude goes to Mayor Winnecke, for having the foresight to have our community’s greenhouse gases inventoried last year and then, building on that, pursued development of a 20-year climate action plan (CAP). That CAP, when complete, will offer specific action steps our community can undertake to mitigate and adapt to climate change. And, thanks to our Green Community of the Year Award, other Hoosier municipalities may be encouraged to follow our lead and make their communities more sustainable.
As regards the Evansville CAP, more folks also deserve our thanks. Among those are Timothy Weir and Carolyn Townsend who are instrumental in bringing that plan to fruition. They spent countless hours this year holding town halls, conducting surveys, and holding virtual meetings with a wide span of public stakeholders.
We can’t be grateful for Carolyn without doing the same for her predecessor, Erin Lasher, who so capably led our greenhouse gas assessment in 2019. Both Carolyn and Erin are Indiana University students who provided us their services via another entity we owe our thanks for, IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute. ERI’s Resilience Cohort program partners with local governments across Indiana, to better understand how climate change is impacting them and to offer them the resources to address those challenges.
ERI’s existence is another reason to give thanks – this time to IU for celebrating its 200th anniversary by establishing three Grand Challenge initiatives, one of which is preparing for environmental change, so that we Hoosiers can adapt and thrive in the face of climate change. IU is investing more money in its Grand Challenge initiatives than it has invested in any other research or academic programs during its two centuries of existence. That’s certainly something to be grateful for!