Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action is a Community Forum Program that gathers residents to create shared, place-based climate action on a block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood level. The Denver program has been supported since its inception in 2015 by a collaboration of three partner organizations: Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN), Metro State University of Denver (MSUDenver) Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and ICA-USA. Each Climate Forum promotes individual, planet-friendly activities, as well as specific, self-selected group action plans based on each neighborhood’s specific, identified environmental needs. Each forum is led by a ToP or IAF facilitator and organized by a local neighborhood planning committee.
In Denver, Colorado, since early 2017, over 160 neighbors from seven Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action Forums, are working on 20 local carbon-reducing initiatives. We know that 11% of the methane in the atmosphere is the result of human excess—much of which can be eliminated by composting. We also know that behaviors of food reclamation, and oil-based transportation modes can be personally modified. We recognize that the foundational need for impacting climate change is to change culture through changing values and human behavior. How did we do that?
The Forming Stage: The city of Denver has 79 neighborhoods. The initiating committee for the program began with a demonstration event with participants from 22 of the neighborhoods, and with seven resource organizations including groups like Denver Water and the EPA. Partner organizations included Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN) and Metro State University of Denver- Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences(EAS) , and the ICA. Each performed a specific function for each forum. This new committee consisted of eight members. During the first year of the program, students from the EAS department were trained in the ICA’s Image Change and Forum methods and in the procedure for setting up a Forum in a neighborhood.
Each Forum has these four parts: 1) The introduction to the partner organizations, and to the scientific realities of climate change. A trained Al Gore volunteer has been invited to do the opening, 15 minute presentation on climate. 2) The Vision workshop–”What would be in place in your neighborhood if neighbors were working together now to reduce their carbon footprints?” 3) The Reality Workshop–what are your neighborhood’s constraints (blocks) and their advantages in getting to this vision? And 4) “What actions will take all of this into account and form into action plans?” Local merchants and concerned citizens donated goods and contributed to pay the professional ToP (Technology of Participation) facilitators. All donors and sponsors received recognition on the program’s website (created by the students) and in the final document of results. (see www.accelerateclimateaction.org). The format is the same as the full day Town Meeting ‘76 format, but with the additions of a specific theme or focus/issue (climate) and the climate science, expanded context.
The Foundational Understanding: Based upon Imaginal Educational understandings, we know that images are what drive human behavior; that images are formed by messages—messages from social media and personal experience; that images, protected by consumer-based values can be changed by new messages. Through this program, current science-based messages regarding earth in peril, blast through these values and help to form more accurate images of the causes of climate change. The result? Visible and creation- caring, new behaviors. (Link to Imaginal Education)