Community Workshop in Albany

January Great Story by Lizzie Carrade, 2018-19 Bay Area Climate Fellow

Right around 6:59pm on January 16, the City of Albany Council Chambers was filled with community members eager to learn more about and participate in the planning process for the City’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, “CAP 2.0”. As my site supervisor and I set up the room earlier that afternoon, we went back and forth debating whether or not we needed to set up more chairs, but settled on the number 40. It was a rainy, stormy day in the Bay Area, and we expected that many people would not want to face the rain to make it to the workshop.

To our surprise, as community members continued to make their way into the Council Chambers, all the extra chairs that we had stacked in the back of the room were being taken, and when the chairs ran out, people moved to the back of the room to stand. By about 7:10pm we had over 60 members of the community present for the staff presentation.

My Site Supervisor delivered the opening staff presentation to the crowd. She shared information about how Albany will be affected by climate change, as well as what the City of Albany has done to date to address climate change.  After the presentation, attendees scattered throughout the room to stations of their choosing, to brainstorm unique emissions reduction strategies for different emissions sources (transportation, energy use in buildings, consumption) and climate adaptation strategies. After about 45 minutes of brainstorming, attendees had the opportunity to review the brainstormed ideas at each station, and place color-coded sticky notes on the ideas they liked the best, the least, and those that they would be most willing to spend money on. The conversations had and ideas generated at each station were impressive and inspiring. The brainstormed strategies and feedback from the workshop will be very influential in the development of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.

My favorite part of the workshop was the opening activity, which was inspired by the CivicSpark Community Engagement Technical Training in December. We asked community members to write down on a notecard how they hope Albany will have changed by 2050. Community members were then encouraged to tape them on the wall above the sign-in table. Many of the answers made me smile.

Some of my favorites included:

“Zero Waste City!”

“More Trees!”

“By 2050, we will be ahead of targets on reductions – through largely positive lifestyle CHANGES”

“> 1/2 of residents will feel comfortable biking to all destinations in town.”

The night demonstrated to me how essential community engagement is. Not only were we excited to see so many community members engaged in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan planning process, but we were also provided with an incredible number of unique ideas for mitigating climate change in Albany, and have a better idea of what strategies are feasible and not feasible. I look forward to engaging with the community further on matters related to the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.