City Climate Corner

Goshen IN: Climate Action with a Conservative City Council

Episode Summary

Goshen is a northern Indiana city of 35,000 people that has had a Republican majority City Council and a Democratic mayor for decades. Yet they've made strong progress on climate action. Learn how (hint - young people played a significant role).

Episode Notes

Goshen is a northern Indiana city of 35,000 people that has had a Republican majority City Council and a Democratic mayor for decades. Yet they've made strong progress on climate action. Learn how (hint - young people played a significant role).

Check out our bonus youth episode where we talk to one of the student leaders that helped inspire the Council to action.


Episode Transcription


Abby Finis  00:02

Cities produce more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Big cities get a lot of attention. But most household emissions in the U.S. actually come from communities outside urban cores, making them critical players in climate mitigation and climate justice. City Climate Corner explores how these small- and mid-size cities are tackling climate change and moving toward an equitable and sustainable future. I'm Abby Finis.

Larry Kraft  00:23

And I'm Larry Kraft. We're co-hosts for City Climate Corner.

Larry Kraft  00:29

Hey, Abby.

Larry Kraft  00:32

Well, today we are talking about Goshen, Indiana. And we interviewed three really interesting folks in early January of 2021. So what should folks be listening for?

Abby Finis  00:46

Yeah, I think Goshen is a really great case to highlight where you have a community that is politically divided. And oftentimes in those communities, you might run into some resistance when talking about climate change, for folks on the right. And so it might end up in conversations that don't go anywhere. But this community figured out a pathway forward where they could look into their shared values, their shared goals, and find really practical ways to start working on climate in the community.

Larry Kraft  01:28

Right. There were two other things that really stood out to me. One was the impact of the serious flooding issues they've had over the past few years. And also the impact of young people and how they impacted this issue, but how Goshen seems to have been able to just build youth into their approach to government in a really unique way.

Abby Finis  01:58

Yeah, there's, there's kind of a lot to unpack in this episode. And we're really lucky to be able to speak with the Mayor and the Director of Environmental Resilience, as well as Paul Steury, a community member. So we have a few different angles to hear from how they approach this effort and why youth is such a critical element in the advancement of their actions. 

Larry Kraft  02:20

Right. And then there was a little bonus bit at the end about a unique approach to climate education as well. So just some fascinating stuff going on here.

Abby Finis  02:28

Absolutely. Let's, listen to them. 

Larry Kraft  02:31

Alright, here we go.

Start of Interview, Intros, Goshen background

Larry Kraft  02:35

Welcome. Today, on City Climate Corner, we're going to hear from Jeremy Stutsman, the Mayor of Goshen, Aaron Sawatzky-Kingsley, the Director of Environmental Resilience, and Paul Steury, an educator and climate activist. Welcome, guys. Would you start by introducing each of yourselves and giving a little background on yourselves? Why don't we start with Jeremy.

Jeremy Stutsman  03:01

Well, thank you for having us today. Yeah, my name is Jeremy Stutsman. And I'm currently the Mayor of Goshen, serving my second term. And I spent eight years on city council before this. But before that, I had my own construction company, and was renovating some of our historic properties in the downtown area, and came to all of this with a biology degree from Butler University.

Larry Kraft  03:25

Fantastic, Aaron.

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley  03:27

Yeah, I'm Aaron's Sawatsky-Kingsley. I've been the city forester here in Goshen for almost 15 years. And then about a year ago, January of 2020, I stepped into the role of the Director of the brand new Department of Environmental Resilience here, which our mayor helped in many ways to create, spearhead, along with other folks in city structure and with with folks outside of the city structure such as Paul Steury. I've got three kids and we love living in Goshen.

Larry Kraft  04:03

Fantastic. And we're excited to dig into this interesting Department of Environmental Resilience. We'll get there but Paul, can you introduce yourself?

Paul Steury  04:12

So I'm an educator, I was a professor of environmental education at Mary Lee Environmental Learning Center for 15 years. I got tired of commuting, so I became a science teacher at a local middle school and found out how difficult working with seventh graders was. But I'm actually back to be in as another high school science teacher and working with kids that are at risk. We're gonna be talking biology, chemistry, physics, but I'm trying to wrap that all around climate.

Larry Kraft  04:48

Well, let's start by maybe getting a bit of background on Goshen. Jeremy can you tell us a bit about the city. 

Jeremy Stutsman  04:55

Yeah, Goshen.You know, I don't know how far back you want to go, but we were founded in 1831 and currently Goshen is roughly 33,000 people. We think it's going to be closer to 35-36,000 when the census is over. Our community is just very, trying to think how I want to say this. We support local. So our local businesses are strong here. Our main industry is the RV industry. So we are heavy in manufacturing. But we have just a tremendous amount of entrepreneurs and small business owners. So we have a really unique set of businesses in Goshen that you can find just about anything in. And it's a great community for collaborating, working together. And we've done very well over the years of pushing our political differences aside to make sure that we're doing the things that need to be done to help build a more vibrant and inclusive community.

Divided Government

Larry Kraft  05:54

You mentioned the political differences. I noticed that the Goshen City Council is pretty split between the Republicans and Democrats. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jeremy Stutsman  06:06

Yeah, well, Goshen sits in the middle of Elkhart County, we’re the county seat. And Elkhart County is a heavily republican area when you look at the state and the national elections. But the city of Goshen at the end of this term, for me, this will be 36 years in a row that we've had a Democrat mayor in the city of Goshen. But at the same time, almost that entire 36 years, we've had Republican controlled councils. So our community, the way they vote, they try to really keep things split between the two, which I think is a good, good way to go. It forces both sides to really work with each other. We've just always, for whatever reason, those who have been elected here, it's not that we don't have our political differences and arguments. But we always, always find a way to deal with the situation at hand. And no matter whether I win or lose, or one of the other side wins or loses, we all get on board and make whatever was passed the best possible. So it really sets a scenario for a community to come together, find those things that you can work on together, and keep your community moving forward at all times.

Goshen Climate Impacts

Abby Finis  07:17

Aaron, you've been the city forester you said for about 15 years now and probably have some of the more firsthand experiences with natural disasters in the community. Can you talk a little bit about what you have seen in terms of what might be climate related impacts that Goshen has experienced?

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley  07:38

Yeah, well, I don't know that I would say I have more experience or greater experience than anybody else. It's partly the nature of our community. It's a small city, but also just the kind of people that we are is that we tend to all get involved. So I'm in 2018, we had historic flooding here, in February, that affected everybody in different ways. You know, it did to different degrees. I mean, there were folks whose homes were clearly inundated and had to leave. There were homes that had to be demolished in the wake of that. Businesses that were affected. Our most centrally located grocery store was out of business for nine months. Is that correct, Jeremy, nine months?

Jeremy Stutsman  08:27

Yes. Correct. It was roughly 250 structures throughout Goshen that were affected by this flood.

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley  08:34

Yeah. That was a disaster. That was a moment that, you know, it's maybe hard to pin it directly on climate change. But it is the kind of impact, which climate change models for Indiana in Elkhart County, clearly predict. These are the kinds of impacts that we can expect. We're not going to see forest fires on our doorsteps here. We're not going to see hurricanes blowing up in our faces. But we can expect to have greater precipitation events, especially in the shoulder seasons, the shoulders between seasons, late winter, early spring. And so this event clearly fits that prediction, that projection, and it served as a wake up call for us to think about what climate change will actually mean for us, and how we need to begin to prepare for it. I'll also just quickly mention emerald ash borer, so emerald ash borer is not attributable to climate change per se. But I do attribute the phenomenon of emerald ash borer and invasive species to the same kinds of behavior, human behavior, that have caused climate change. That is a willingness to engage the physical world in a way that is detrimental to ecosystems in which can therefore then ultimately become detrimental to human economies.

Abby Finis  10:14

Absolutely. What has been the impact of emerald ash borer on the city's canopy?

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley  10:19

So as the Maple City, that's our moniker, we're fortunate that compared to other cities nearby Elkhart, just up the road, Fort Wayne a little further down the road, where they had ash populations in their urban forest, up to 20% and 25%. We, as the Maple City, we're only at about 6%. It's a little bit different in our floodplains, where ash populations may have been closer to 10 and 12, maybe 15%. But on our streets, we didn't lose a lot. But again, that served as a wake up call about being so heavily maple, because the next big thing could be somebody that goes after maple.

Department of Environmental Resiliency

Abby Finis  11:04

Yeah, and, you know, just thinking about the trees and flooding and preparing for that, I imagine part of that wake up call  is thinking about well, what do we do. And Mayor Stutsman, you came up with this initiative to create a whole department of Environmental Resiliency. Can you give us a little bit of background on the history of that department? And the creation of it rather? 

Jeremy Stutsman  11:27

Yeah, you know, Aaron touched on some of the things that we've been seeing here locally that definitely are showing us the proof of climate change. So coming into this, I've always been a very environmentally friendly person. But coming into this job, I knew that I wanted to try and take the city a step further than when we had gone in the past. 2016 - The first thing that I did with our youth in Goshen was I appointed a high school senior to our city council, as a youth advisor to the Council, the senior sits on the council, comes to all our meetings, participates in our discussion. State statute doesn't allow us to count their vote. But we do allow them to vote as a ceremony piece of this all. And it's been an absolutely great process. Because one great thing about that is we bring in the county voting system, the computers and all everything we use to actually vote for our elections. And they run an entire election within the high school there so that all the students get to learn how to vote and the importance of it. So the student body is actually picking their representative. 

So a few years ago, our representative, we were meeting with the youth caucus and trying to figure out what it was they were really wanting to identify and to work on. And this would have been in 2000, late 2018, early 2019. And so the students at the time, which Paul Steury's son was one of them, the students at the time were really, really interested in environmental issues. That's something that as a city, especially a more conservative area, we've had trouble pushing some things forward, just because of the arguments that happen because of the divisive nature in this country of talking about climate change. So when the students decided they wanted to work on environmental issues within Goshen, I proposed to them that maybe they would put together a resolution that they could then present to the city council. And that resolution ended up passing, I believe it was late April, around the 23rd or 24th of April in 2019. And it was a great resolution gave a lot of background, what we've been seeing, what's going on, and where we want to go with our community so that resolution ended up setting the stage for our Climate Action Plan, which Aaron and his team are working on right now to be carbon neutral by 2035. It reinforced our 45 by 45 plan for our tree canopy. And it just really set the stage for moving forward with bigger pieces to start really affecting what we're doing here with our carbon footprint. And from that resolution, we were able to then also get the city council to allow me to start the first environmental department in Goshen, which is our Resilience Department led by Aaron. Having the youth involved and having them come forward and participate in that way, it was amazing to watch. A council that we had trouble getting things moving forward with in the past voting unanimously for these new big steps. 

Jeremy Stutsman  14:39

And then one thing I worked hard at doing during this whole time was knowing that the discussion of climate change can be divisive for some people, some people hear that they shut down, they stop talking, they stop thinking. So I tried to take that whole piece out of it. You know, saying it doesn't matter if climate change is real or not, we don't need to argue about that. I believe it's real, I know what's happening. But what we need to be looking at are what are those things we can be doing that help make our area and our environment healthier? Help us save money in our homes and our businesses.  And help us become a more sustainable area. Doing it that way, there were a lot of people that were then able to say "Okay, I can get behind that we're saving some money, or we're making this last longer." So it really helped to, to get rid of the divisive nature, the discussion and focus on those good things that we can be doing now to move forward.

Youth Involvement

Larry Kraft  15:37

It sounds like the way you talked about it, reduced the divisiveness of it. It sounds also like the youth being involved, reduced the divisiveness of it. Is that accurate?

Jeremy Stutsman  15:52

Absolutely. Absolutely. That's one thing we've noticed with just having the youth advisor on the city council. The council members, like I said earlier, we've always done a good job of having those difficult discussions and coming out of them still working together. Doesn't mean it doesn't get heated in those rooms when we're talking. But since we've had the youth advisor on City Council, and I, you know, I was on City Council for eight years before Mayor here. Over this, this 14 year period now, I've noticed that with the youth advisor, the council members are more open to discussion and a little calmer, even when it's, you know, a passionate discussion. And for the vast majority of the community members that come to speak to us, it also takes them to a different level of decorum. And, you know, it takes that excitement down just a little bit and really allows all of us to discuss. And I can tell you, there's been a couple times where it's gotten heated in that room. And the youth advisor at the time has made comments of "I'm surprised adults act this way, or I'm surprised you guys are trying to do it this way." It really helps calm down that room. 

Larry Kraft  17:07

I love that. Our cities share something in common. I won't go into it much. But back a few years ago, we had a youth group come before our city council, before I was on council, but push the city to adopt a resolution on climate change. And that just kicked off a whole bunch of phenomenal stuff here. So it sounds like there's some similarities.

Jeremy Stutsman  17:32

We may have noticed what you had done and copied it a little bit.

Paul Steury  17:38

There was a very conservative council member who stared at the youth after they gave their presentation, which was a fantastic presentation for 16 to 18 year olds. And he just stared at them and said, "This is not about me, this is about you and your future. I vote yes." And it was just... it brought tears to my eyes.

Larry Kraft  18:01

Yeah, I guess advice to other folks listening to this and other places around the country is if you can connect with young people and get them involved in this effort in your cities, in an authentic way, it's so powerful. 

Goshen Climate Priorities

Abby Finis  18:17

Absolutely. So that kind of sets the stage for "well, now you have this department, what are you going to do with it?" Aaron, you've been in the role as Director for about a year now, I think. What are the priorities of the department? What are you working on?

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley  18:33

Yeah, well, I'll just I'll just back up quickly, just to say just to underscore what both Paul and Mayor Stutsman said about the youth involvement and the way that that really provided the impetus. I was there at that meeting to, and witnessed the way that their passion came through and inspired the council members and everybody else who was there too. So some of the important things that that resolution, a non-binding resolution, mind you. Several of the things that it pointed to or that it asked for was a goal of net zero emissions by 2035. A Climate Action Plan, a canopy goal to increase from currently 22% to 45% by 2045. The mayor mentioned that that's pretty dear to my heart as the forester is the city forester. But clearly, those three pieces all fit together, right? All work together toward the same big goal, which is how to create a city which is ultimately more sustainable and more resilient and more equitable. 

We have focused across this past year, very heavily on creating a Climate Action Plan. And Paul was very instrumental in also writing an environmental education curriculum. With some other community members, for our schools. That wrapped up about halfway through this past year through 2020. The climate action planning is ongoing. And in fact, we hope to bring a first draft to city council here later on this month, in January. And our strategy and again I need to credit Mayor Stutsman, with this part of the vision, our Climate Action Plan is, at this point, limited to local government operations, rather than a community wide Climate Action Plan. I think this is a pretty astute kind of move, because what we've said in effect is, before we ask the rest of the community to take these steps, as a community, you know, as a cohesive group of people living and working together, we're going to take the step first as your local government to get our own house in order to understand what's involved. So that we can be an example so that we can be a clearinghouse on information. So that as public employees, we can answer questions about what it is we're doing and why we're doing it and how it benefits the way that we operate. And also so that we can say, look, we can pass these benefits on to you are our employers, the taxpayers, in many ways, you know, not only in terms of the emissions that we're reducing, but also in the way that we become more efficient in the way that we operate. We are finishing up our initial draft of this local government operations Climate Action Plan, LGOCAP. We get that to city council and begin to go through that process, I feel really, really good about what that process has been like. We've been able to participate in a cohort of 12 other communities around Indiana, organized out of IU in the Environmental Resilience Institute there, which has just been a fantastic way for a city like Goshen that is coming into this with little in terms of expertise or experience for drafting this kind of a plan. So we've been able to coordinate and work with other communities that are going through the same process, and and then ultimately adopt and adapt for our own purposes, right? And that included a really wonderful couple of grad students this past year 2020, and the year before 2019, who helped us with with doing greenhouse gas emissions inventories, as well as projections and figuring out different components here. The plan, the hope is that our government operations Climate Action Plan passes shortly. And we begin to work at that. And already now, we are beginning to shift gears towards a community wide Climate Action Plan.

Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley  23:14

I'll be having a conversation with another one of our council members next week, just to kind of help lay out some of the groundwork for that. I need to have more conversations with the mayor, to "Hello, Mayor." And in many other folks, obviously, across the community, that's the important piece of community-wide Climate Action Plan is how to engage all the different constituent groups that need to be engaged. But that will be the next step for us, including goal setting for that purpose. So I'm really excited about that process. That's going to be a big process. But it dovetails very nicely with, for instance, our canopy goal because our canopy goal cannot be limited only to government owned property. It has to include everybody within the city to get on board. So we're building that capacity to

Abby Finis  24:14

Yeah, I'm just thinking about kind of the aerial view of the city of Goshen, and the northern end does actually look fairly heavily forested and maybe more residential, and then the southern end, as you mentioned, maybe before that there's RV manufacturing, that happens there. And so how important is it to bring those constituencies along, that are such a prominent piece of your community?

Jeremy Stutsman  24:42

You know, I think that it's really important that we bring all the pieces of our community along with us. The nice thing in Goshen that Aaron was talking about, how we're working on the plan and hoping to have that passed by council here this year, yet, this spring. But then we're already doing a tremendous amount. We're already be going through the city government and checking off all those easy boxes and also taking the next level up to keep our city government as efficient as possible. But at the same time, the city's in some instances, it's actually finally coming alongside some of the industry. The amount of solar we have in Goshen is just, we have an enormous amount of businesses and residents and churches that have been putting in solar over the last few years. And if you compare our solar production per capita to some of the biggest solar known communities in the United States, we're near the top of the list as far as per capita solar production. So you know, in some instances, the city's finally coming up to where the businesses already are, a lot of our RV industries are putting a lot of effort behind zero waste, and also solar. And then you got our forested area where people are planting more trees. And so everybody's working on a piece that all fits together for our environment. And we're really working hard to just be that either the leadership or the group that says, hey, this is going great. Let's keep it up, to bring everybody together. So we keep taking these good steps. And, you know, having people like Paul Steury here in the community to keep hounding us and reminding us when we've taken too long of a break is always great, too. So Paul's a fantastic cheerleader to keep us moving while we're trying to keep everybody else moving.

Climate education curriculum

Larry Kraft  26:31

That's great. Paul, maybe I got a couple of questions for you. As you finish this initial Climate Action Plan for local government operations, and then shift to community engagement. How well do you think the community prepared for that? And then also, I'd love to hear comment on this curriculum you've developed? 

Paul Steury  26:56

Sure. So Jeremy talked earlier about how conservative county is, and it's a two to one ratio of Republicans to Democrats. And the reason why I know that is because I ran for county council this past fall. And why am I mentioning that right now is because marketing is number one in basically all things. Is the community ready? Goshen is 50%, Republican 50% Democrat, probably, meaning we're gonna have to educate all and that's gonna have to take a big marketing push, marketing plan to help promote all the fantastic ideas that are coming up. A lot of people need to know the "what's in it for me" aspects. And that's sometimes difficult to do is how to reach the people that aren't too interested in saving the world. Then maybe because their worry bowl is too full, you know? Maybe because they can't think about these bigger pictures. And so how are we going to how are we going to educate them? 

So the curriculum is basically about, it's K to five, and I call it from Joy to Action. It's also getting to know our Goshen. And it's a reason why I call from Joy to Action is because David Sobel, pretty famous environmental education professor, based out of Antioch University, he says, "you don't really want to give young kids any kind of worry or despair before the age of 10." Kindergarten, you go into the forest and play. First grade, you go out and discover nature around your school and your neighborhood. Second grade, you go back to the woods and do in-depth observations. And third grade, then you start getting a little bit more active, and you become a citizen or community scientist, and try to help out your community through research. And here in Goshen we're going to be helping out city Forester, which is fantastic because it offers empowerment. Fourth graders are going to discover local food and local food acquisition. But also they'll be identifying wastes in their cafeteria. And then fifth grade, then they'll learn about environmental issues and environmental problems. And then they'll try to discover solutions and then take their solutions to whatever they feel is correct because it's not the teacher's job to push them a certain direction. It's supposed to offer them enough knowledge that they can make good decisions, and then they'll want to take steps to make Goshen a better place. I mean, in my opinion, I think it's a great curriculum. So, I'm excited to see it happen. And I thank the city of Goshen and everyone that helped make it reality, which is not reality yet, because of COVID. They decided to postpone it one year, until it becomes a little less chaotic.

Larry Kraft  30:39

I have to say, I'm so impressed with the way you all are tackling this on multiple levels, from education, to the forestry to local government, and also how you're putting it in the context of not just climate, but how this impacts people's everyday lives and can make their everyday lives better, save them money, etc. So excited to see where y'all get with this. 

Abby Finis  31:12

Yeah, is there anything else anybody wanted to share? That you're most excited about implementing?

Jeremy Stutsman  31:19

You know, I think that throughout this whole time, you just mentioned, you know, how we're trying to bring people along. One of the things that we really push too with our council during the votes for the department and for the resolution was, you know, talking about our landfills, trying to encourage people to recycle. Some of the council members didn't care about recycling, don't care about the landfills. But we pointed out to him that, you know, when these landfills get full, it's very, very expensive to set up new ones. That was the one hook right there that grabbed one of our council members, because he knew that would save a lot of tax dollars in the future. So you know why you'd wish that everybody would get on board for the reasons that I see are the right reasons. Just being environmentally friendly and doing what we need to to protect our world. At the same time, as long as they get on board in some way, I guess that's all I really care about. And I'm just so excited to see Aaron and his team continue to build over these next couple of years with our newest department. And just seeing what we can do and what kind of outreach we can do within this community to help share what we learn. I'm sure we're going to be learning from others at the same time. I've got a great group of environmentalists that are my Mayor's Environmental Advisory Council, and they've been a great resource for Aaron. Paul's on that group. We got people from Goshen College and Goshen schools. And we just got an absolutely great group there for helping us to bring together all this information, consolidate it, and making sure that as we're doing projects, we're picking the projects that obviously we can afford to do because budgets do rule a lot of this, but picking the projects we can afford to do but also making sure we're doing those projects that put those dollars to the best use for environmental reasons. So it's great to see all this coming together. I love watching Aaron, kind of develop his team and build this department so that we can keep things moving forward and Goshen.

Larry Kraft  33:19

Fantastic. Well, thank you. Thank you guys all very much. This was great.

Jeremy Stutsman  33:26

Thank you.

Abby and Larry debrief

Abby Finis  33:30

Okay, so we just heard from Goshen, Indiana. Larry, what were your key takeaways?

Larry Kraft  33:36

Oh, as we said early on, there's so much to unpack in this. The youth for me, the way they impacted the tenor of the conversation, but the way that they have it set up that they're involved on city council all the time, I think is really interesting. And something I'm now thinking about for where I am on Council. So that was one thing for me. And then another is an area where sometimes I haven't been in favor of where folks start with local government operations, you know, thinking that you got to go for the full community. But it's interesting that this was an on ramp for them to, you know, get the community on board and maybe prove their approach before going community-wide.

Abby Finis  34:29

Yeah, I think that can be a really effective approach. We often talk about these four tools in your toolkit. If you're a city, you can incentivize, you can encourage, you can regulate and you can lead. And I think that that leadership piece is maybe often under the radar and you don't always see the things that cities are doing. But when it comes time for them to ask the community at large, "Hey, we're all in on this. We need To increase our efficiency, we need to improve our resilience" and the community looks back to you to say, "Well, what have you done?" Well, now you have this whole list of actions that you've taken to start with city operations and get your house in order before moving out to the broader community.

Larry Kraft  35:15

And things that you've learned along the way to help others that try to start down that path to so yeah, it can be effective.

Abby Finis  35:24

Yeah. And I mean, you mentioned just the importance of engaging the youth. And that's obviously a theme throughout several of these episodes in this podcast, and something that is really important to you. But each time I kind of hear that story of the kids going before the council, and just the the reaction from council members who lean more conservative, who don't necessarily see climate in the same kind of way that the folks on the left tend to, looked at it from a different perspective and was willing to be open about that. And understand this is something that's long term impact, and is going to have these consequences for this younger generation. So he's going to step outside of his self in his own personal motivations and make decisions for this younger generation. So I thought that that was really a key moment for the city.

Larry Kraft  36:22

I've also seen that kind of stuff in many places. And obviously, I talked about it a lot. But every time I hear about it, it just kind of gives you some chills, right? Because it is so powerful. And so I love hearing those stories. One other thing that I found interesting is how they've using a tree canopy goal, and building that in. And I've seen that that can be a really non-confrontational, non-divisive on-ramp for people into climate action.

Abby Finis  36:55

Yeah, I am a bonafide tree hugger, and I will certainly advocate for planting more trees as appropriate. I think, you know, with planting trees, it's important to do it with the community, and it can be a community-building exercise, but you want to make sure that people are involved so that there's trust between residents and the government, and you know who's going to be taking care of those trees so that they don't just get planted and not watered, and, and don't make it. So I think, you know, all around planting trees can really be great action for cities to take.

Larry Kraft  37:33

What do you think about that solar penetration they have there.

Abby Finis  37:36

you know, I looked into that a little bit. And I think that the utility for a short time offered a really amazing incentive, that if you caught wind of it, you know, why would you pass it up? I think it's something like 30 cents a kilowatt hour for production. And yeah, it'd be worth checking that out more. But I think it got a little too popular because they are not offering that incentive any longer.

Larry Kraft  38:01

Huh, interesting.

Abby Finis  38:03

But you know those are the kinds of incentives that we need if we want to see some more distributed generation on the grid.

Larry Kraft  38:12

I guess the other one thing to mention is that climate education plan that Paul has put together with folks, there is another avenue to bring everyone in, that's really positive to hear for the long term for keeping things up.

Abby Finis  38:26

Do you remember the first time you learned about climate change? I can remember being in probably fifth grade, and we got the Weekly Reader and the cover was "What is the Greenhouse Gas Effect?" And then the next time I really hear about it is like An Inconvenient Truth, so you know, 15 years later?

Larry Kraft  38:46

Well, my fifth grade experience was a wee bit before yours, so I don't know I probably was in my 30s before I heard about it.

Abby Finis  39:00

Yeah, I see it is a changing tide and in more people learning about our interactions with the planet and both opportunities and challenges that exist with climate change. And so I think that that's helpful. The more people can learn about it, the more proactive we can be in solving this problem. 

Abby Finis  39:27

We hope you enjoyed this episode of City Climate Corner. If you like what you're hearing, make sure to subscribe and give us a review. If you're able, become a monthly supporter through Patreon. As always, you can find more information on this topic and resources from each episode's guests on our webpage If you have an idea for the show, send us an email at or find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Larry Kraft  39:50

City Climate Corner is produced by Abby Finis and me, Larry Kraft, edited by me. Music by...

Abby Finis  39:56

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

Larry Kraft  39:58

Thanks for listening. And we'll see you next time.