Four Fridays in May: Climate Solutions for Leaders

Webinar Series

Hosted by 
SFU, Faculty of Environment, Professional Programs and Partnerships
SPEC, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC)
With funding from Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) 

May 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th
10 am to 11:15 am
On-line via Zoom

Join emerging climate action leaders to explore a solutions oriented and creative communications approach to climate action. The series is offered over four sessions in May, once a week. You will hear stories from the frontlines of GHG emissions reduction in transportation, energy conservation, green streets and waste reduction. You will learn what engagement strategies work, how the project narrative is shaped and reflect on lessons for your own community-based climate action. Handout materials will be provided for each session.

If you would prefer not to register through Eventbrite please contact Joanna at

Hosted by

Joanna Ashworth, Faculty of Environment, SFU; Oliver Lane, Executive Director, SPEC; and Tara Mahoney, GEN WHY Media.

Format for Each Session:

  • Welcome and Context Setting – Creative Communication + Community Assets = Climate Action;
  • Case Examples from Vancouver and other communities;
  • Small Group Breakouts for discussion;
  • Reflections from local practitioner or issue expert; 
  • Plenary Debrief – Implications for Action.

Program Outline:

Sector of Focus + Creative Communications + Community Assets = Climate Solutions Leadership

Why focus on energy conservation, active transportation, waste reduction and green streets in this series? These sectors are identified as sites for the “big moves” needed in urban centres to significantly reduce GHG emissions. Many cities have identified these domains in their climate emergency agenda: i.e., energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings, active transportation, waste reduction and protecting and enhancing green streets.

Why focus on climate narratives and cases? Research has shown that providing a vision of a low-carbon future is inspiring and empowering. Fear of the impacts of climate change is paralyzing without creating opportunities for efficacy and agency. We want to show participants viable solutions that embody the desired future, e.g., zero carbon, zero waste, active transportation and green streets initiatives that are happening now -- and make these models visible and accessible so that we can learn from them about creative communications, climate narratives, and collaborative leadership.

What is the role of research? This series will integrate communications theory, environmental science and draw on specific research insights from urban planning, resource management, ecological restoration, and energy policy. Community initiatives such as the ones that will be highlighted in this series will be used as “springboards” for deeper conversations. The cases presented represent innovative practices that are effectively responding to GHG emissions in particular sectors. The cases provide experience-based learning for the participants to explore, analyze and see the application to climate solutions that they are developing in the community. 

May 7 - Session 1 Energy conservation/transition

Practitioner/issue expert: Rose Murphy Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Environment, SFU

Case examples:: 

  • Co-op Power: A consumer-owned sustainable energy cooperative within a regional network energy cooperatives based in Massachusetts. They are working to create a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future.
  • Cool Neighborhoods is a community-based program launched by North Shore residents that fosters community engagement to support homeowners in reducing and conserving energy in their homes, understanding how simple changes affect their own lives and the world. 

Discussion Questions:

  • How could arts and culture be leveraged to make energy conservation/transition campaigns more visual, intersectional or visionary?
  • How could food, relationships, or recreation be leveraged to target specific groups in energy conservation/transition?
  • What are the existing networks and/or strategic alliances that could be leveraged to convene ‘unlikely bedfellows’ in energy conservation/transition engagement campaigns?
  • What research would support this work? 

May 14 - Session 2 Active transportation

Practitioner/issue expert: Dr. Meghan Winters, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU

Case examples: 

  • Everyone Rides (Hamilton, ON): An initiative that increases access to its bike share system, through subsidized memberships, learn-to-ride lessons, free monthly group rides, training on the bike share system and translation for newcomers to Canada.
  • Bike Host (Toronto): A project of CultureLink Settlement and Community Services the program loans newcomers to Canada a bicycle and pairs them with a local cycling mentor. The program has been offered for over eight years and has expanded into surrounding suburban communities.
  • People for Mobility Justice: A grassroots education and advocacy organization based on Los Angeles committed to seeding critical consciousness about mobility justice across all communities.

Discussion questions:

  • What are ways transportation campaigns can better highlight issues of class and racial justice?
  • What are the “common sense” arguments for public/active transportation and how should they be communicated?
  • How can transportation leverage the experience economy and/or speculative design to create an accessible and inviting local culture around public/active transportation?
  • What research would support this work?

May 21 - Session 3 Waste Reduction

Practitioner/issue expert: Sophia Yang, Threading Change

Case examples: 

  • Food Share Toronto:  An organization offering community-based food initiatives and  food justice programs forthose most affected by poverty and food insecurity. 
  • Threading Change: A radical ethical fashion organization working at the intersections of education, research, and visualization, whilst advocating for those who have been the most undermined by the fashion industry. 
  • Thingery:  Community owned lending libraries of things. They work with local community members to understand who wants to be involved, what wants to be shared and what locations are available to host a Thingery. They then work closely with the local community group to establish a local branch as a non-profit co-operative.  
  • Buy Nothing Project: A decentralized project that uses social media to facilitate local groups to form gift economies. It has become a worldwide social movement, with groups in 44 nations. 

Discussion questions:

  • How can waste reduction be visualized and/or communicated in ways that are inspiringe action and spark action?
  • What impactful do community-level waste reduction efforts look like?
  • What are the most effective forms of local advocacy that influence food waste reduction and how could communities pursue these channels?
  • What research would support this work?

May 28 - Session 4 Green Infrastructure in Urban Centres

Practitioner/issue expert: Stephen Shepard and Cheryl Ng, Cool 'Hood Champs, UBC Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP)

Case examples: 

  • Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust: A US-based organization that brings together a community land trust model and a conservation land trust model to reimagine land access and conservation in ways that uplift global Indigenous, Black, and POC relationships with land, skills, and lifeways.
  • 12,000 Rain Gardens in Puget Sound: A campaign that promotes rain gardens to address problems by untreated, uncontrolled stormwater runoff and improve climate resiliency in urban areas. Stewardship Partners is an organization that acts as a clearinghouse for information and resources, including in-person events and training for people interested in learning to build rain gardens and other land conservation initiatives and research.
  • Green Bloc Neighbourhoods: A  grassroots initiative where neighbours work together to collectively reduce our ecological footprint through neighbourhood-based actions, such as building community gardens & pollinator pathways; hosting park-based, street-based, and school-based fun/educational activities (such as walking & wheeling programs); and hosting zero-waste workshops and building sharing libraries. They focus on events and activities for families, particularly inter-generational activities where young kids and kids at heart are the focus.
  • Resilience Force: A US-based organization that supports the workers who prepare, protect and repair communities in the wake of climate disaster.
  • Cool 'Hood Champs is a fun, action-driven, place-based workshop series that trains participants to lead climate action within their own neighbourhood. They recently won the City of Vancouver's Greenest City grant to scale up our program across more neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

Discussion questions:

  • What are the barriers to community-led green infrastructure projects and how can they be alleviated?
  • How could visualization or design fiction be used to spark inspiration for green infrastructure projects?
  • How does green infrastructure improve quality of life and climate resiliency  for underserved communities and how can this be communicated in compelling ways?
  • What research would support this work?

Supported by: 


Email Joanna Ashworth at