Boulder next weekend is hosting a virtual climate forum for residents across the city.
The demonstrative forum on Nov. 14 kicks off a neighborhood-level engagement process and will inform residents about a pilot program where Boulder in 2021 plans to support three neighborhoods in creating individual climate action plans tailored to each community’s goals.
To do this, the city contracted with Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action, or ANCA, a Denver-based organization designed to create climate action on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood level. ANCA representatives will take part in next Saturday’s forum and help guide the process moving forward.
The neighborhood climate action plans emphasize individual and community efforts.
David Ensign, resident and forum planning committee volunteer, said the program is perfect for a community such as Boulder, where people “have shown a very high level of local action.”
“They like to jump in and support the city of Boulder’s climate action plans, policies,” he said. “We do need, of course, very good public policy to address our climate change challenges, but individual action is a huge part of that as well.”
The plans will be unique to the neighborhood. Ensign said each climate action plan can range from simple, inexpensive tasks such as coordinating days where residents commit to riding the bus, biking or walking to work to larger, more expensive ones such as a particular home committing to install a geothermal heating system and then sharing information about it with the neighborhood.
On a city level, Boulder will be there to provide support.
“The city’s here to support individual and community action and not be at the center of this work,” Boulder Sustainability Coordinator Elizabeth Vasatka said.
The city sees it as a means of promoting community while advancing its climate goals.
“We’re excited to offer — even in a pandemic, even in a particularly divisive time in national politics — an opportunity for community building around a topic that is as urgent and important as climate change,” said Emily Sandoval, city spokesperson.
Vasatka agreed, noting she’s hopeful the forum will build neighborhood unity.
“If you know your neighbors, you’re more apt to help your neighbors,” she said.
While Boulder has limited resources through ANCA, Vasatka said it’s committed to continuing the work. Three pilot neighborhoods will be selected, but Boulder intends to support any that show interest. It’s just a matter of timing, and the work may need to be spread out.
To be selected for the 2021 pilot, neighbors should discuss interest and attend the Nov. 14 forum. Then they’ll be required to submit an interest form to be reviewed by the city’s climate initiatives team and ANCA and will be informed of acceptance by the end of the year.
Once selected, neighborhoods work with the city and ANCA to develop climate action plans before having a virtual forum with their neighborhood.
The initial Nov. 14 event will be held virtually. It begins with a morning session from 9:30 a.m. to noon with vision-setting sessions and presentations from local climate experts. Guests then break for lunch before returning for an afternoon session from 2 to 4:30 p.m. where they will identify action areas and get to know each other.