Description of the video:
>> Hello and welcome everyone. My name is Beverly Thompson, and we are the Prepared for Environmental Change webinar series hosted by the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute. As we start our webinar today, we would like to acknowledge and to honor the myaamiaki, Lënape, Bodwéwadmik, and saawanwa people, as past, present, and future caretakers of the land on which Indiana University, Bloomington is located.
These ancestral indigenous homelands and resources are the current home of the Environmental Resilience Institute. We encourage everyone to engage with contemporary communities, to learn the histories of this land, to look at who has, and does not have access to its resources, and to examine your own place, abilities, and obligations within this process of reparative work.
Sorry about that I forgot to share my screen. Got it, our webinar today will focus on effective communication strategies to constructively engage communities on environmental topics. All webinar attendees are muted. Please enter your questions into the chat function, which you can access by hovering your mouse over the Zoom window.
In the last few minutes of the webinar, we will share a feedback survey through a Zoom poll. We hope that you will participate. We're recording today's webinar. I'll share a link to that recording along with follow up resources with all the registrants early next week, so you can share what you've learned with your colleagues.
And now, I'm very pleased to introduce today's moderator, Gabe Filippelli, the new Executive Director of IU's Environmental Resilience Institute.
>> Well, thank you so much, Beverly, and welcome everyone. I'm thrilled to be in this capacity. One of my first official ones as Executive Director. As many of you know, Janet McCabe has gone on to be the Deputy Administrator with EPA, but we've proceeded on with ERI and continuing the good work.
Now, this topic today, particularly, touches me. I work a lot on community-engaged research and environmental health, environmental injustice. And low income communities of working class, and communities of color have, traditionally, been alienated from a lot of environmental discussions. As a result, these communities are not adequately engaged, or even represented when decisions concerning the environment are made.
Without engaging all communities on environmental topics, it can cause vulnerable populations to be disproportionately impacted by decisions they were never represented in. So, that's why I'm, particularly, thrilled to have these speakers today. We are excited to have Carolyn Townsend, who served as our very own Indiana Climate Fellow for the ERI's 2020 Resilience Cohort Program, where she wrote that City of Evansville Climate Action Plan.
Evansville and received the 2020 Green Community of the Year Award for the development of that plan. You'll also hear from Professor Martin McCrory, who has an extensive background in environmental justice and law. He's coauthored several federal and state bills, regulations, and city ordinances. And he has worked with the White House on several pieces of environmental legislation and regulations.
In addition to our webinar series, ERI has many other resources available to local governments, and the general public. And one resource I wanted to make sure that you all know about is, our podcast, In This Climate. I'm a happy co-host of that podcast. It's a weekly podcast about weather, wildlife, human resilience, and the ever-changing environment.
And this week is gonna be a live podcast, our second one on food systems. Redesigning foods, perspectives from leaders in climate science and environmental policy. Now, for our upcoming webinar, we hope you'll join us for next month's webinar. Which will focus on, Addressing Heat Preparedness in Under-resourced Communities, a huge issue, particularly, in the face of of climate change.
We are hoping you encourage your friends and colleagues to join, as well. Another resource which is new to me, that I wanted to mention is the Sustainable Development Code website, which has numerous resources for local governments. And I know a lot of people joining us represent local governments, working on environmental issues.
It's organized by category, and the website contains good, better, best practice suggestions for removing code barriers, and creating incentives, and filling regulatory gaps. And, of course, we wanna thank AIM, AIC, Health by Design, and the Indiana Public Health Association for continuing to support this webinar series. Thank you to everyone who's attending today's webinar.
We hope you will encourage your friends and colleagues to watch a recording of the webinar if they're unable to attend today. And, of course, at the end of the second speaker, I'll return again just briefly to encourage you to place your questions. So, our presenters today are Carolyn Townsend.
She's pursuing her Master's of Public Affairs and Masters of Science in Environmental Science at the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington. Where she's doing a specialized concentration on the intersectionality of climate change, adaptation and mitigation. She's also an O'Neill Service Corps Fellow at the city of Bloomington Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, and a Research Associate at the Gnarly Tree Sustainability Institute.
Our other speaker is Professor Martin McCrory. He's a Business Law Professor at the Kelley School of Business right here at IU Bloomington. He's a former city attorney with the City of Indianapolis, a former Deputy Attorney General for the State of Indiana, and a former litigation attorney with the United States Department of Justice.
Additionally, he's a former Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a former member of EPA's National Environmental Justice Taskforce. Well, without further ado, I'll turn it straight over to you Martin McCrory. You have the floor.
>> Beverly, do you wanna go ahead and put up the slides?
So, I may be preaching to the choir, but I wanna start with, why do we even do this? Frederick Douglas said that, America glories in its refinement, but continues to maintain a dreadful system, began in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. He said, our very democracy, is based upon the idea of, we the people.
Not, we the white people, not, we the citizens or legal voters, not, we the privileged class, but, we the people, the men and women, the human inhabitants of the United States. Yet, 200 years later, the subordination of disenfranchised and non-privileged people is still a major concern. For decades, we have known that there's a direct causal connection between race, income, socioeconomic status, and the amount of environmental degradation people are forced to endure.
So, one of my questions has always been, why are we still talking about this? 200 years later people say Black Lives Matter. Well, certainly not when we talk about regulatory reform and policy making, especially in relation to the environment. Certainly black lives do not matter enough to get affected people invited to the policy making tables.
There's been a recognition that certain voiceless people are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation as Gabe just said. By the same token, there's been a recognition that so called neutral policies, standards, and rules have a disproportionate effect on certain voiceless people. By definition if that's the case, they are not neutral.
But you need to remember, if we recognize this, this doesn't require anyone to take or accept blame. We're only to blame. We're only to blame if we continue to allow a harmful system to exist and do nothing to change it. So, how do we begin to change? To facilitate change, we must become activists.
We must take affirmative action to combat systemic problems that have multi generational effects. We must actively engage in antiracism, anti-classism, and antisubordination. Let me just really quickly, rather than go through the definitions that you can read. To be anti-racist doesn't mean saying, I'm not a racist. It means actively in affirmatively acting to determine racist policies, racist rules.
Rules that have a disproportionate effect on certain races and then change those. Same thing with ant-iclassism, antisubordination. I also added a couple of books resources that you can take a look at. Along with those, I would add Wilkerson's book cast. The origins of our discontent. And we'll we'll have those resources.
I think we put up resources for you at the end of the week. So I'll get that as well. Next slide, Beverly. I'm now being, A little bit controversial but I think need to be. Because we have to be very,very very conscious about who's at the decision-making table and who is not.
So who's important? Everyone's important. If we're all equal, we are all important. Who should be seated? All the important people. And we just said, everyone's important. Who should be heard, whose voice matters? Everyone seated at the table, which is all the important people which we said is everyone ie, with the people, okay?
Again, I know I'm being somewhat facetious. But we need to really work to broaden the spectrum when deciding who needs to be directly involved in the decision making process. Especially for environmental regulations and policies because people's lives could be at stake. We must determine who are the traditionally disenfranchised people who need to be heard in this particular circumstance.
Is it rural people this time is a poor communities, is a communities of color this time. But no matter what we do, we always must include, we always have to include people who can actually be affected by our decisions. Now this should be an adaptive process, because we're constantly asking, who else needs to be at the table?
Do we need another seat? This is versus just having the elites and the usual suspects present. When I say elites it actually mean some of us. I'm talking about scientists, lawyers, judges, regulators, corporations, NGOs, legislators, academicians, local governmental officials. I'm not saying they shouldn't be at the table, I'm saying they shouldn't be the only ones at the table.
But let's go further, not just community leaders, religious leaders, local leaders, local NAACP, or local political activists. And certainly not just the people who do not live in the affected areas or neighborhoods. They have to be present. Those voices have to be the primary voices at the table because they're living this.
So suggestions. I think that you need to determine who the potentially affected communities are, and traditionally underrepresented people affected. In the particular circumstances, yeah, this is adaptive. So you're constantly asking to someone else be present. You need to meet people where they live to discuss issues, problems and goals.
For example, you meet them at neighborhood churches or places of worship. Neighborhood elementary schools, neighborhood community centers, neighborhood parks, and recreational centers, neighborhood libraries. And you let the stakeholders help define the goals, so that you have buy in from the very beginning. No top down goal setting while you're setting the goals, you establish common goals.
You start small and strive for the win. Start with small goals that everyone can agree upon. My collusions bad, okay? How do you argue against that. And agree to your goals in writing. So that there's no mistake about what you agreed on at the very beginning. But you also agree that the goals can change over time and they probably will.
But one of the big things you have to remember is this is participatory inclusion. And it's about a redistribution of power. So everyone at the table has to have an equal say, and an equal vote. And remember, we just expanded the table. So the people that you let in, it's not just diversity and inclusion, it also has to be diversity, inclusion and belonging.
They have to feel that they actually belong there, that their voice is heard and that their voice matters. Send the right people to represent you or assist you at the meeting. Preferably somebody from the affected community or the specific neighborhood in question. But a community leader may also work to assist or make introductions.
Then you just do it, you actually begin making the policy changes work. You incorporate the work that the group does into real policy changes and throughout the process you have to remember the after sets. If there's a trust, a lot of information may be shared after the meetings.
My best meetings have always been in the parking lots, in the hallways after the meetings or in the back of the room after the meeting is over. Where people have other questions, other issues, or say a bunch of us were talking before and I just wanted to throw this out to you.
The main meeting's important but a lot of business gets done after the meeting is over. So bring your cards and be willing to pass them out at the after set. I was told to do anecdotes, because I've got a lot of them. So I wanna give you guys a couple of quick examples some things that have happened, ones that I can remember.
Start with Louisiana at one of my previous jobs they had met with local and Regional Environmental Justice activists to discuss issues and resolve problems. All the activists were people of color all of the NGO representatives were not. In fact, none of the NGO representatives were people of color.
It did not go very well or very far before breaking down completely by the end I think there were a lot of hard feelings. The next time they took their brand new hire me to the next meeting. That sort of help but the EJ people didn't know me, so it wasn't a very productive meeting at first.
It was such a weird situation because after the meeting, after I had dinner or after we debriefed, the EJ people found me at my hotel. And they called me to meet in the lounge in the bar, and after some very tense feeling out, they spent several hours talking to me about their issues.
The rest of the week they took me all over the area to show me several different hazardous waste and air pollution sites. A lot of the people I know to this day were good friends and our next meeting was actually in DC at one of the environmental groups, NGOs headquarters, so a lot happen by me going.
I didn't necessarily know more about environmental justice than the people went. But looking like they were trying to be, by having me there it looked like they were trying to be more diverse, more inclusive. I was the right person at that time for that particular job. The moral take or send the right people and be aware of the after set.
Another scenario that's not an environmental scenario, but may show a point the city was considering purchasing a new armor police vehicle. People were saying that the new armored vehicle was a threat to the minority communities. My question was, who are you talking to? Are you asking people from these minority communities you're talking about if they are actually concerned about a new armored vehicle.
Or did they have more pressing convert concerns involving law enforcement officers. Because when I talked to people in the communities, people were saying we're gonna be drastically affected. A lot of people didn't even know there was a new armored vehicle coming or that was even on the table.
But what they were concerned about were police hassling them on the front steps when they're sitting out on Saturday night. They had concerns this wasn't one of them okay. People said, kept chanting, at some of the meetings, Black Lives Matter. But obviously, they didn't matter enough for people to ask, other people in the neighborhoods, they were trying to protect.
Okay, the moral let the people speak for themselves. If you wanna make these determinations, have people who are actually who you think may actually be affected, and ask them does this matter to you? What do you see as the issues? And the answer may not be the answer you actually think it is.
In this case, it was not, well, they have concerns this wasn't one of them. And then the school system textbook review one of our textbooks in town contains offensive racial stereotypes real bad. And it was remembered for social studies or history book The school system there was a big response to it and the school system set up several committees and groups to begin reviewing perspective textbooks.
And the entire K through 12 curriculum with an eye towards diversity and inclusion. So I was on, I think every committee that they had because we started with teachers, school officials, professors, city officials. But we expanded the review and discussion groups and teams to include local parents from an inclusive and diverse array of neighborhoods.
We met with them after work at their neighborhood churches, community centers, and schools, and a lot of people showed up. Okay, we could have met at the City County building or the school system headquarters. But I'm certain the groups would have been smaller and a lot less diverse.
Okay, so what's the moral to this? Be actively inclusive, as we talked about before, working on anti racism, anti classism and anti subordination And meet the people where they live. And we can add and meet them at times they can actually meet when they were meeting with faculty and city officials and school administrators oftentimes we had meetings at lunchtime or at one o'clock.
Well, in the local communities, a lot of people actually work for a living and can't make it at those times. So we meet after work, and lo and behold, people showed up. So, that's all I have for today and I'll turn it over to my colleague Carolyn Townsend.
And await your questions.
>> Thank you, Professor McCrory, I will go ahead and share my screen. Okay, so hi everyone. As mentioned earlier, my name is Carolyn Townsend. Today I'll be talking about the process that I went through last summer to engage the community members and stakeholders in Evansville, Indiana.
So in southern Indiana, regarding our Climate Action Plan. There we go. So a quick overview I'll be talking just generally what is a Climate Action Plan. Then I'll outline what our general approach was. And then I'll specifically talk about how we engage with stakeholders, how we engage with community members, and then what our limitations were last summer.
So what is the Climate Action Plan? Essentially, a Climate Action Plan is a strategic roadmap that's created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a city, a community or even a company. It's a global planning process that's being used nowadays. It starts with establishing emissions reduction goals. So, those are our data driven goals that are used to kind of outline, okay, how much do we need to reduce our emissions, by what year?
So, for Evansville, we had three of them. It was reduced by 15% by 2030, 35% by 2040 and 50% by 2050. These goals were based on what's called a greenhouse gas inventory, which is a report where you collect a bunch of data that says where our emissions are coming from.
So we utilize those emissions reduction goals. And then the second part of the process is engaging with the community and stakeholders which I'll be focusing on today and essentially getting a bunch of feedback. So we utilize then the feedback that we get from community and stakeholders, our emissions reduction goals to establish data driven strategies.
So those are usually split by category like transportation, buildings and energy. And they can vary from things like promoting electric vehicle leasing and purchasing, to creating a retrofitting program for income qualified community members. So that's a very kind of overarching outline of what a Climate Action Plan is and the process.
So our general approach to the process was, number one, having equity as kind of a central priority. From what I've learned in my coursework, and then also previously working for other cities that historically, planning practices, particularly Environmental Planning practices, as we just heard Professor McCrory talk about. Does not or did not include low income community members, communities of color and organizations that represent those communities.
So going into this process, my supervisor and colleague, Timothy Weir, and I really kind of put our heads together and we're like, we wanna spend most of our time really making sure that we're engaging as many people as possible in this process. Because we wanted to create really strong buy in and awareness of this plan in order for the implementation to be successful.
So I'll talk a little bit more about that throughout the presentation. But one thing that we did was spend a ton of time reaching out to people. So as you can see from the graphic on the right, we had over 40 stakeholder meetings. We did over six community meetings and presentations and we held eight virtual public town halls.
I'll expand upon those later on. We also made sure to create a vision kind of from the beginning to kind of ground people in our meetings. So, I'm kind of talking about what we want Evansville to look like in the years to come. And then we spent a lot of time creating a really strong solid social media and kind of branding platform that kind of communicated climate change and Climate Action Planning very clearly and succinctly.
As well as kind of creating a hub for people to go to if they heard about the Climate Action Plan. And then a really important note that I think be allowed our process to be so successful and Professor McCrory actually kind of touched on this in his presentation was utilizing existing connections.
So, Timothy, my colleague, is a community leader in Evansville. He's actually the head of the Homelessness Commission in the government so he has a ton of connections to many different types of community leaders in many different fields and areas. And so rather than me kind of coming in as this person who's not from Evansville, and trying to reach out to people, he often facilitated a bunch of our introductions, because people were a lot more likely to trust him and know him than they were to know or who I am just, a graduate student kind of walking in.
So that was a really important key to our success. In terms of stakeholder engagement, we wanted to go beyond just engaging local environmental organizations. We wanted to really make sure we were speaking directly with local organizations that first, again Professor McCrory talked about, we have to talk to people who are being affected by those who are actually living in the area that we're talking about here.
So that's Evansville. So of course, we did include environmental organizations like the local Sierra Club Tractor or Tri State Creation Care which is a local environmental and religious organization. But as well as city department heads as stakeholders. But we worked with a lot of other organizations I'll touch on that in the next slide.
Another thing that we did that was really helpful for us was that whenever we had these meetings with stakeholders, we always kind of gave them a rundown of, hey, here's who we're already talking to, and who we've met with, who else do you think we should talk to?
Who are we missing? What, like areas of the Evansville community are we not touching upon yet? And then the third important kind of best practice here was that we really focused on developing these personal relationships with stakeholders. And that's why we had one on one meetings with a lot of like initial one on one meetings with them before we got later into the year and actually formed different specific stakeholder committees and subgroups.
We really wanted them to know who we were, why we were writing a Climate Action Plan, what it was and why we reached out to them and why it's important for them specifically to be involved. So, with that said, we reached out to a bunch of organizations that are not even listed on here but just a few of note that people might not consider traditional and environmental planning.
So firstly, we reached out to all of the African American fraternities and sororities. We reached out to them numerous times. But we were only able to meet with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, which is actually the oldest African American sorority in the US. So pretty cool to be able to meet with them, I'll talk about that more later.
We also met with the director of the African American Museum that's based in Evansville several times. We met with the public library a bunch and we know that they have really tight connections with reaching low income community members and we were able to do a presentation through them.
We also met with several leaders from HOLA Evansville, which is an organization that works with Latin x and Hispanic community members in Evansville. We also met with a coal organization which I'll talk about more later. But mainly because I've found from my studies and what I've just learned generally that fossil fuel organizations, particularly the working class.
Evansville is a really big coal mining city for those of you who are unfamiliar. And so we really wanted to include those workers and people who represent those people because I think there's an assumption that they don't believe in climate change. But be that there's no point including them cuz they're the quote unquote enemy.
But in reality, there's those people in the coal and fossil fuel industry workers particularly are feeling very threatened because their jobs are threatened to be taken away. So we really wanted to make sure they were included in this process and say, hey, how can this plan help you all eventually, this is something that's happening, how can we help transition?
And help your employees transition to working in the renewable energy sector. We also met with Berry Global and Alcoa, which are two large corporations that are headquartered in Evansville. And so Evansville is also known for having of huge air pollution problem. So, not only talking to people who are affected but the people who are causing the problems and saying hey, you know you're a big part of the problem.
This plan is gonna try and help fix it, how can we work together on this? So that's a bit about stakeholder engagement and then I'll talk a little bit about community engagement and then kind of bring it all together. So, how did we reach the public? So, as everyone on the call knows last summer was in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown, so everything that we had to do was 100% virtual.
And that was advantageous in some aspects in that we were able to have lots of different one on one Zoom meetings with stakeholders. But it also caused a lot of limitations which we'll talk about in a moment. We one of our biggest ways that we reached the public was through a community survey that we launched and we received over 1800 responses on that which was pretty great.
And there are two main reasons why I think that we were able to see that success. First of all, we had an incentive for people to take the survey. We reached out to a local pizza place that's based in Evansville and they allowed us to give out a coupon to anyone who took the survey and it was a pretty good coupon too, I do say so myself.
We also made sure that in every single meeting we held whenever we were featured on we were on a lot of local news stations and reached out to radio shows that we always promoted the survey. And said, hey, if you wanna get involved in any way, the first thing you can do is take this survey.
So that was really vital on giving us feedback for the plan. We also held those virtual town halls, like I said before those were hour long meetings that people could sign up through Zoom. And the first half of the presentation was dedicated to talking about climate change, how it's going to impact the Evansville community.
And then the second half was dedicated to a facilitated conversation where we were just asking for feedback. And listening to the people who attended on how they've already been experiencing climate change and what they'd like to see in the plan to help them out. We also gave instead of doing just the public meetings, which is kind of what the virtual town halls were, we wanted to go specifically to organizations and go to them rather than make them come to us.
And we gave presentations to specific organizations and groups. So Alpha Kappa Alpha, we went to one of their monthly meetings, we went to a local NAACP meeting. We presented through the Public Library, we presented through Berry Global, we presented to the group of coal people from the coal industry.
And we also gave a presentation to people through the Chamber of Commerce. So in an attempt to reach local businesses, so that was kind of the two ways we had people come to us if they could through town halls, and then we would try and go to as many folks as we could.
Lastly, and most importantly was, not most importantly, but lastly, I created this website through Squarespace. That was one of the first things I did because I really wanted there to be a hub or a way for people to reach us if they couldn't attend any of our meetings.
And even though we had all of our town halls were at different times, we had a lot of them in the evening and some in the mornings. But this acted as a hub for everyone, so they could take the survey, they could sign up for town halls, they could reach out to us and say hey, we want you to come present to our group.
They could contact us directly, and then they could learn more about what a Climate Action Plan is, reach our social media. So cuz we had Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and this was really important because I found that it's been really difficult to engage with local government. A lot of times we were based out of the mayor's office in this, local government websites can be difficult to navigate.
A lot of people don't know they can reach us, so if people heard about us through word of mouth, they could just go to climateevents.com and learn more about the process and get involved. A couple of things that we really tried to do when we worked with the public was talking about climate change as a local issue.
And explain it very clearly and not assuming what people already know or don't know. There's a variety of knowledge with people coming to our meetings that we were talking to. But really talking to people and gearing these meetings specifically to these organizations and explaining why it's relevant to those people.
Because I think people an unfortunate aspect of climate change is that it's been framed as an environmental problem, but it's a problem that is relevant to everybody. We also wanted to make sure we were listening to every single person's viewpoint and communicate with them clearly with visuals. And really show that we cared about what they had to say that we were giving them the time that they deserve for their voices to be heard.
And then lastly, meeting people where they're at I kind of mentioned that before. Not only in going to people people's organizational meetings, but meeting them where they're at in terms of their knowledge level. Strategic planning in cities is something that I think most people don't really know about.
And so trying to make that something that's understandable and really clearly communicating here's why it's important for you to be involved. And also don't assume what people think or feel about climate change. One thing that we learnt with working with people from the coal industry was that they all believe in climate change and they know it's a problem.
But they have a different viewpoint on how we utilize natural resources, so that was really important insight to gain. So lastly, kind of just limitations to this whole process, of course was COVID-19. And because of this, we were not able to have in person events. So, as you heard Professor McCrory talking about going to these in person events when we met with the African American History Museum director.
She said the best way to reach people was going to community centers, going to schools, churches, but we were not able to do any of those things. It would have been really great to go knock go door to door and talk to people but none of that was possible.
And if it had been, I think that we would have had a much greater reach in reaching the community overall. Also, a lot of community organizations weren't meeting last summer, either they're on summer break or they're on hiatus because of COVID-19. So that created a barrier we were not able to meet with all the people we wanted to.
And then also we wanted to engage the youth a lot, but the school was not in session over summer. And then we worked on the plan from May through December and in the fall, we met with one school classroom. We did a presentation to them but we wanted to host a student led group but it was not possible because of just the many struggles that were going on in the educational system at the time.
So, those were some of the limitations, there's many more to be said about this process, but I wanna to keep it as brief as possible. But I'd be happy to answer any questions that you all have. Thank you for listening, I'm gonna go ahead and stop sharing. Well thank you so much Carolyn and Professor McCrory, what an enlightening and eye opening set of presentations.
And they're such consistent themes of but the need to really build partnerships and the ability to build partnerships even if their agendas, their timeframes, their mandates are different. There are ways to go about doing it and there's ways to do that with equity first and foremost in mind.
So thank you so much, it's was very eye-opening. We are gonna open it up to questions now, and remember, you can enter the questions to the chat function, Easy enough to do, or we can just unmute yourself and ask a question, but probably better to do the use a little raise hand option.
So both options will appear on your control bars. When you hover your mouse over the Zoom window. And, feel free to do that Beverly will be checking over the questions and addressing them to the appropriate people. I will start off with a question actually back to you, Carolyn.
What, how do you think the school engagement might have the more active school engagement? How do you think that might have changed your final outcomes?
>> I think it would have really substantially changed the outcomes because we met with several community like school leaders, former principals and teachers and we got a lot of students actually showing up to our Zoom town halls.
But so there was very clearly a lot of interest from school leaders as well as students themselves. And if we had been able to get them involved, I think that as the plan gets implemented over the next 30 years, we could have created a lot of programs like internship programs for students, community program like after school programs.
For kids to get involved in actually implementing the plan, for example, a big part of our plan was local food and agriculture. So educating the community about growing food locally and learning how to garden. Those are things that could have been incorporated really well if we have been able to talk with kids up front, but at the same time, it's a 30 year plan.
And just because we weren't able to talk to them and to the extent that we wanted to, doesn't mean that it's not possible in the years to come.
>> Great, thank you.
>> And we have a question from Joe. When it comes to facilitating these discussions, what have the two of you found to be a good ratio between presenting and listening to get a good dialogue?
>> I can start I guess, find that the less that we talk the better. We're they're not necessarily the primary reason of meeting with communities and stakeholders is to hear what they have to say and what knowledge they can provide us with. But I think, having a quick presentation at the beginning to give that important context.
At least for climate action planning, about what climate change is. What is the climate action plan is really key to kind of make sure everybody's on the same page. As I was saying before, not assuming what people already know. And then connecting it to their personal lives, that was a big thing that we did.
We always had a Zoom poll where we would ask people what effects of climate change have you experienced and we would list. A bunch of them that are already happening in Evansville and that really got a lot of people like, whoa, I didn't realize that this is climate change, and I'm experiencing this and it really helped create that conversation.
But yeah, the less that you talk, while still priming the audience with information, I think the better.
>> I agree, 100%. You want a ratio, I'd say 80:20 or 70:30 pro listening. But I'm Mr. Anti subordination and you don't go into someone else's neighborhood. And do all the talking is that is by definition, subordination there.
They have opinions, they know their neighborhood, they know the area better than you, not less than you. So maybe we should listen to them and see what they have to say. And the one example that I gave, I didn't really get into this, but that was one of the big problems that they had when they went down South to talk to people, the environs did all the talking.
It's probably 80, 20, the environs one right after another it's like they were having a panel discussion amongst themselves. And they're talking about hazardous waste and air pollution in the areas and they just talked and talked and people were furious. Say, if all you gonna do is talk, why don't you leave us some money?
Give us a cheque, and then go back to these coasts. We don't we don't need you here. Why don't you write us a cheque and get out When we went down the next time, there was less talking probably still too much. And I didn't talk at all, I didn't speak at all because I spent most of the time taking notes on what they were saying.
So when they said, okay, you guys are better this time than you were last time but you still talk too much, nobody's listening and I said, I have a whole notebook full of notes. I think I heard a lot of what was said, they were mad at me because they weren't really mad but they sort of thought I was window dressing and but set it in more derogatory terms.
But that's fine, I expected that. But then we had the after set, and then things worked out after some tense conversations and things worked out extremely well. And I had looked at the notes I accepted actually when I went back to my room, I went over the notes some more.
So, that when we had our next meeting the next day, but we didn't end up having a meeting. They actually ended up taking me around instead to show me their problems and show me examples of what they were talking about when they got to speak when they were allowed to speak at their own meeting, okay.
>> I Have a question from Jennifer. What suggestions do you have for building long-term relationships with community leaders and community members that outlast the planning and formal engagement process?
>> Sure, I would say making sure that from the very beginning in the planning process, you're approaching people and saying this is a 30 year plan, and the city cannot do this alone.
The Mayor's office can't do it alone, here are the what are the assets you have? What are you already doing about climate change? How can you take leadership in this and what I did in the planet self was I asked permission of course first for these organizations, but I named them as partners and implementing some of the strategies.
And then moving forward making sure that one thing that Evansville is planning on doing is hiring a sustainability director. And so their job is going to be implementing this plan and so they will be consistently being in contact with people as they go through and implement strategies. That organization is listed on there.
They know they're responsible for it. But really like I was saying before of developing those really strong relationships from the beginning, a lot of this is about developing, like not friendships but rapport with these people. So that they, you know each other and so you know what's going on and you know what your role is going to be moving forward.
>> I think that one of the things that you can do is make sure that you actually incorporate their ideas into whatever plan or policy you're coming up with. And make sure that they know that those ideas have been incorporated, highlighted. Tell them, go back and say, remember we talked about this, I tried to make sure that this is in, can you double check this and make sure I got this right?
So that they have long term buy in on the plan and remember that you represent whoever it is, who did this, that listened to them and incorporated their ideas. I also, again, can't highlight enough the after set, the fact that you can have meetings, big meetings, but you can also have smaller meetings with smaller groups of people.
One of the things that we did a lot, especially after I came on board was, we would have big meetings, but then we'd have smaller meeting, dinner meetings or meetings at the local, whatever. There was one meeting that we had in someone else's hotel room when they came to DC.
They set an after set meeting in someone's hotel room, and there was probably 10 or 15 of us in the hotel room going over and cranking out ideas until, I don't know, one or two o'clock in the morning. We were just cranking, working on different ideas. Do you think we can get by on this?
I am 100% positive you can get by on this. So it was great. And again, a lot of the people I'm talking about are my friends to this day.
>> The next question I have is from Matthew, and it says, based on the results and experiences, what has been the most successful method of inviting community members and organizations to join the conversation and action plan around climate change?
And then also how do you best identify those communities that can and should be engaged with.
>> Okay, so for the first one, well, actually, I'll start with the second question, how do I identify people? So kind of what I was saying before, when we had our initial conversations with people asking them who are we missing, but also kind of sitting down and brainstorming.
I did a lot of research on, what are the existing groups and organizations that are in Evansville, just Google searching. I think that's kind of step one. And, kind of thinking about different areas of society of where people gather. So, we did actually reach out to a lot of churches in the area, but none of them got back to us unfortunately.
But reaching out to these religious organizations, educational, we talked to a lot of universities. What are different areas of society that people tend to congregate and spend time in, would be a good way. I'm kinda just like laying out, what are the traditional groups that are addressed in climate action planning?
And I did that by looking at a lot of existing climate action plans, they list out who their stakeholders are. So okay, these are the people who are normally reached out to, who's missing? And just kinda making sure you're filling in the gaps and constantly cross referencing with other people, because I knew that with my experiences, with my colleague, Timothy's experience, we're only two people, we don't know everything.
And then, could you repeat the first question again? Sorry
>> No, you're fine, based on results and experiences, what has been the most successful method of inviting community members and organizations to join the conversation around acts of climate change.
>> I think kind of also, and I think Professor McCrory could definitely speak to this too, developing personal relationships one on one with people and really demonstrating that you're listening to them.
And what Professor McCrory literally just said, going back to these people and continuously following up with them and saying, hey, I heard what you said and this is how I'm putting it in the plan, or continuously building those connections with people and making it personal
>> I'm not a climate change person, I'm a hazardous waste, solid waste, water, water pollution, so I can't be specific for climate change, but I have to agree with what Carolyn just said.
You have to bring it home. It has to become personal. So, I don't know how many different ways that you could show how climate change affects you. And I think Carolyn already talked about this. Yeah, I mean, You can't show polar bear stranded on the ice in Evansville, it's just not gonna work for you.
I'm gonna tell you right now, it's not gonna work. But there are ways that you can show this is affecting you right now, not, 20 years from now, right now. You go to the farmers' market in Bloomington and I bet you, you can talk to them about how climate change is hurting the local farmers in this area, because if it's not flooding, it's droughts.
And they can't go to market, they can't make money, they can't feed their families and they're telling me how they're gonna lose the farm. So it's not polar bears, they can't eat the farms is going belly up, okay? There's ways that you can show people that this affects you.
But for the second part of your question, Carolyn already said it. Beverly, can you repeat that again, because I was in complete agreement and I spent more time shaking my head up and down than writing something.
>> How do you best identify those communities that can and should be engaged with.
You have to have help, and that's what Carolyn said. Yeah, you have to have help. You can start out with local leaders. But again, those can't be the only people you're talking to. I thought it was brilliant that you and your colleague, Carolyn, went to the Black Greek Organization, what?
I had never even thought about that as a possible way to increase participation and find other people who can participate. But certainly, the local religious leaders are always a good start, the local organizations, NAACP and alike can help. And you say, who else should be at the table?
Well, who do you know who actually lives in the neighborhood? And then come up with five or six people off the top of their head. This has to be dynamic. It has to be adaptive, it can't be static. There's always gonna be the question, should someone else be at the table right now?
And that's fine, because the more information you have, the better job you can do at serving we, the people
>> One question I have is, and I don't know how much time, we have about five more minutes left, so any questions that we do not get to, I will take a note of them and ask the speakers if they would be willing to provide responses which we can include in our follow up email.
But one question I have, is how can we as advocates help to make sure all voices are valued in an equitable way while still being inclusive in a way that fosters mutual respect and partnerships?
>> I feel like I'm kind of sounding like I'm beating a dead horse but the aspect of listening I think is really important.
One thing that I did a lot in meetings was just being really upfront about how I don't have all the answers and that I don't know everything. And that's a big part of why I'm trying to talk to as many people as possible, particularly when talking to communities of color or low income communities throughout the process of asking what their experience has been and not doing a lot of talking.
And I'm trying to think of specific instances but if I had ever said something wrong or something that upset someone being really upfront in saying I'm that was not appropriate. And I'm sorry and being really honest and just apologizing and owning it, owning my whiteness that I don't know everything.
I can't ever and how can I learn from you?
>> So along the same lines, let's flip it around. You say owning your whiteness. Well, I don't live in Franklin, Indiana and they're having a lot of problems there right now. If I go there, I don't go in as if I know everything that's going on and all the problems and issues associated with the soil, air, and water contamination in Franklin.
I guess I could find out by actually asking people and saying what are the issues? What do you see? And what kind of help or people, how can I help you? Because I'm serious, that's one of the next things I want to work on because to me, it's outrageous what's happening there.
I don't see how this could happen and could be happening in 2021. This is just incredibly bad. But I can't go in with all the answers. I don't even know all the problems. They live it, and they know the problems. So I need to ask them, what are the problems?
And then we can start figuring out what the solutions are, okay?
>> Well, thank you guys so much for presenting today in your presentations on how to effectively communicate, environmental topics. I really enjoyed hearing and learning about the different approaches you can take to ensure that you are remaining inclusive and representative of the entire community.
As I mentioned before, we do not have time to get to all the questions, but I will ask to see if we can send up follow-up answers in our email. That will go out next week and along with the online webinar. Thank you guys all.
>> No, thank you, this is very good.
I appreciate you guys putting this on.
>> Thank you so much.