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The challenge that I am trying to address is how to find ways of developing climate solutions that reduce GHGs while also building healthy communities. I strongly believe that climate change represents an opportunity to shape and care for our communities in new and equitable ways.
Tell us about your role in your community or where you work
I am currently the Program Manager at the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation. My key responsibilities involve managing and providing strategic input into the design and evaluation of our suite of grant programs. This includes our core environmental grant program as well as the EcoCity Edmonton and CitiesIPCC Research Grant program which are partnerships with the Edmonton Community Foundation and the City of Edmonton. EcoCity Edmonton is focused on supporting community led projects that reduce GHGs and accelerate the Energy Transition. The CitiesIPCC Research Grant program is focused on supporting research that aligns with the 'Global Research and Action Agenda on Cities and Climate Chang Science' and fills research gaps identified by the City. Alberta Ecotrust is also in the process of developing two Low Carbon Innovation Centre’s in Calgary and Edmonton as part of the pan-Canadian Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) initiative. The mission of the LC3 Centres is to help cities reach their full carbon emissions reduction potential while unlocking co-benefits such as improved public health, increased mobility options, local job creation, and economic value. My role in this will be to work with a variety of stakeholders and communities in order to design climate solutions that can tap into these new resources. The intent is to support communities in their work to design bottom-up climate solutions that create valuable local benefits.
Tell us a story about a time you brought people together to improve your community.
A relevant example of this would be the formation of the Calgary Climate Hub. This was an example of a group of us getting together to form a Climate Hub in Calgary based on the model advanced by the Climate Reality Project (CRP). The intent of the Hub is to coordinate local climate initiatives across the country in order to maximize impact. While there was national coordination through CRP, what attracted me to this model was that each Hub would be hyper localized and able to set the parameters of their work, governance, and mission themselves. Each hub needed to be local, citizen driven and diverse. Principles that are essential to success. The result was bringing together several disparate groups that had been working in Calgary in their own silos (with mixed success), while also being able to open the group up to a range of different voices that hadn’t been in the conversation in Calgary at all. I’ve since taken a step back from the Hub as it has moved into formalizing itself as a nonprofit organization and bringing on part time staff. But the process of bringing different and new voices to the table and creating space to listen to each other, work together and imagine new and innovative solutions was an incredibly inspiring one.
What challenges in your community or the world are you trying to address?
While there are many inspiring exceptions to this, a great deal of climate change work is focused mainly on GHG reduction through the implementation of largely technocratic solutions without consideration of community impacts or the application of principles of equity. Thus, the challenge that I am trying to address is how to find ways of developing climate solutions that reduce GHGs while also building healthy communities. I strongly believe that climate change represents an opportunity to shape and care for our communities in new and equitable ways. The philanthropic sector plays a vital role in setting the terms and priorities for much of the charitable sector and as such I believe it’s important to bring a community building, or community economic development lens to our Foundation’s work.
What do you want to learn in this program? How will you use that in your work?
There are many different skills that I would like to learn in the program, but fundamentally I am interested in learning how to navigate a participatory process wherein communities develop solutions that create economic, environment and social benefits. Solutions that do not leave the environment and social spheres as secondary to economic considerations, but rather place them on equal footing with each other. Our upcoming LC3 work presents an opportunity to empower communities, in particular traditionally marginalized communities, to develop and implement projects that increase economic opportunity and wellbeing while simultaneously reducing GHGs. It’s my hope that as we develop partnerships and projects with communities the CED process will be able to reframe and refocus our traditional philanthropic work to include a more human centered and equitable design. Lastly, through LC3 we’ll be working closely with community groups, local municipalities and industry. I’m hoping that the CED approach and framework will give our Foundation the tools and shared language to build bridges between these three groups.