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Seeking community voices for local climate action

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Flagstaff city council talks climate emergency

On Jan. 28, 2020, 268 community members crowded into city hall as the Flagstaff City Council considered moving forward with a climate emergency resolution. 

The Flagstaff Sustainability Office is currently seeking applicants for Climate Advisory Groups that will inform the city’s pursuit of carbon neutrality.

“There are three Climate Advisory Groups that we're starting with this year; a youth group, a business group and an equity group,” explained Jenna Ortega, climate engagement coordinator.

The need for Climate Advisory Groups in general, and these three groups specifically, emerged organically from community input received through the numerous open houses and community forums hosted by the Sustainability Office during the Carbon Neutrality Plan’s development process.

“By no means do we think these are the only three important groups, and we do hope to support more groups in the future, but these are the three we're starting with,” Ortega said.

Application deadlines and start dates for the three groups will be staggered over the next three months.

The youth group is primarily geared toward students and young people who are “motivated to ensure that a youth perspective is represented in climate planning,” Ortega said.

“We’re encouraging [applicants] to apply their passion about the environment, equity, climate justice, and those who have an interest in leadership or civic engagement,” Ortega added.

The youth group application deadline is Jan. 25, and the group’s first meeting is set to take place in February.

“As for the business group, we’re hoping to get business representatives from the community,” Ortega said. “That can be anyone from a CEO to an employee of a local business. We want them to have an interest in collaborating with the city to integrate business perspective, priorities and innovation in climate planning.”

Application to the business group will be due Feb. 15, and they will begin meeting in March.

For the equity group, Flagstaff Sustainability is looking for applicants who have a desire to strengthen equity and advocate for the interests of communities who are disproportionately burdened by climate change.

“As a city government, we serve everyone,” Ortega said. “We want to find ways to ensure that we are hearing from and accountable to the many different voices and perspectives in our community.”

Applications to the equity group are due March 13, and the group will begin meeting in April.

 “Overall we’re looking for community members with different perspectives, different networks and different expertise,” said Ortega.

Once assembled, these three groups can expect to meet once a month to serve as the front line in representing community perspectives on climate change and the implementation of carbon neutrality strategies.

“The goal is that all of the recommendations of these groups will be presented and provided to (city) council,” said Ortega.

As these Climate Advisory Groups assemble in the next three months, Ortega expects there will be a learning curve as the Sustainability Office determines how to best provide for the needs of the group members. This could include provisions for general accessibility, transportation assistance, and potentially even monetary incentives, but nothing is certain yet. Ultimately, the hope is that the applicants will be driven by a genuine interest to participate in the process of forming a more sustainable community.

“Climate change is an issue that we're going to have to face,” Ortega said. “We're going to have to go about it together.”

People interested in learning more, applying, or nominating a fellow community member to serve on an advisory group can do so at https://gis.flagstaffaz.gov/portal/apps/sites/#/flagstaffclimate/pages/climate-advisory-groups. Deadlines to apply vary by group.

For any questions, please contact Ortega at jenna.ortega@flagstaffaz.gov or (928) 213-2145.

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