Is it Hot in Here? You Can Help Your Community Begin to Adapt to the Changing Climate

Is it Hot in Here? You Can Help Your Community Begin to Adapt to the Changing Climate

The City of Chicago isn’t afraid of change. When scientists informed city planners that by the end of this century Chicago would feel more like Baton Rouge—they started to adapt. Since 2006 the city has implemented numerous measures to make the city more adaptable to the changing climate. They have performed infrared studies to find hot spots and planted more trees in those locations, broken up alleyways and installed permeable pavement, and installed green grass roofs. The commitment Chicago made to prepare for change now will strengthen their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

At Freshwater Future we believe that lasting change is often generated by citizens leading the charge. When it comes to climate change—our communities will benefit from being aware and prepared. Freshwater Future’s climate program offers trainings and grant funds to help community-based groups get started on climate work. How adaptable and resilient is your community?

Scientists predict the Great Lakes are going to see a variety of changes from climate change including: warmer daily high temperatures, increased evaporation of lakes, shrinking coastal wetlands, and more intense storms year-round.

You can help increase awareness about climate change and what it might mean for protecting the environment in your community. One of the first steps in helping your community adapt to climate change is to start talking about it. Stacey Smith with Onondaga Creek Conservation Council, and a Freshwater Future Climate Grant recipient, started talking with everyone she could about how they could improve the health of a creek that flows through Kirk Park in an urban section of Syracuse, New York. Her conversations resulted in a diverse team of community members representing the municipality, universities, state and federal agencies, elected officials, and volunteers from community groups, including youth and master gardeners. The creek is polluted, vegetation is sparse, and invasive species dominate what vegetation is growing. Stacey’s team flushed out a 5-year multiphase project to improve water quality, habitat, and make the creek resilient to climate change. Work has already started with the removal of invasive species. Later this summer native plants—trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species will be planted.

“Neighbors who see us on site have been asking to help out and participate in making their neighborhood better. This project is bringing life to the creek and also to the community.” Stacey shared.

Other ways to get started on climate adaption include:

  • Share materials like the ones found at Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange or CAKE;
  • Attend Freshwater Future’s next Climate Symposium (see info this page)
  • Apply for a Climate grant to help your community implement projects to be more adaptable and resilient—next deadline, December 15, 2011.
  • Call to discuss project ideas and grant proposals, request Vicki Deisner at 231-348- 8200.



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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.