How does a concerned community member effectively lead local climate projects? The Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA) encourages helps folks do just that. Co-run by Vital Communities and the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup, 2CLA offers in-person and virtual meetings, guest speakers, group discussion, a project development workbook, and collaborative work time. The group explores climate change science, mitigation, adaptation, and migration – all with an eye towards equity and lived experience. Cohort members also have the change to develop their project design and leadership skills in order to lead successful community action. The current class includes 22 Upper Valley residents ranging in age from early-twenties to mid-seventies. See the series here.
December 2022 concluded Vital Communities’ third cohort of the Climate Change Leadership Academy. Participants wrapped up their time together by watching each other’s ‘lightning round’ presentations on their ideas for local climate change projects. Their project ideas span from using music and art to raise money and awareness about climate change issues; engaging with local energy committees on community solar ventures; facilitating energy audits and climate action plans within local institutions; engaging local schools in projects with composting and food forests; and facilitating local climate education and organizing spaces. One participant commented, “It was incredible to see the myriad directions we went in with our projects and to hear experiences other than my own.”
Cohort members have spent the fall preparing to lead their own climate projects by learning about a variety of climate change issues and hearing from local community climate leaders. The group got to explore climate science, mitigation, adaptation, migration, and communication, as well as the different ways to lead change at a local level. Folks practiced project design and management skills like project ideation, building a team, communicating to an audience, and gathering feedback. One cohort member reflected, “I was impressed with the breadth covered and diversity of topics covered! It gave me a lot of the information I’ve been avoiding (because it scares me) while also giving hope. I learned a lot!” Participants will have access to all the learning materials from the program to ensure that they can continue to reflect on and incorporate what they’ve learned.
Although the structured learning portion of the program has concluded, participants will have the opportunity to stay connected with one another and Vital Communities moving forward. Alana will continue to offer Office Hours on a monthly basis through the winter, spring, and summer to provide people with the opportunity to check in, connect, and get feedback and support on their ideas. Everyone has also been assigned a 2CLA buddy. These buddies will be able to stay more closely connected on their progress and hold each other accountable. Participants expressed a strong desire to stay invested in the relationships they spent the fall building. One person offered, “The true value of 2CLA comes from making so many connections with other climate-concerned Upper Valley residents. I was able to meet so many new people and learn about the local ways in which each of us are working towards a greener future. It brought me a lot of hope to meet these individuals, and I hope to work with all of them on local climate change-related projects in the future.”
The 2022 cohort of 2CLA was an overwhelming success and we’re excited by ideas already in the works for the 2023 program!