“In 2017, Kansas City had one of the worst winters on record. I was living in the Southeast side of the City when snow and ice storms damaged the infrastructure around my home, freezing all power lines and pipes within my neighborhood. My family and I were without electricity for five days. Our food spoiled and our bones shivered from below zero temperatures seeping through my poorly insulated house. I remember dressing my cat in an old t-shirt and cuddling with him and my family in the same bed so we wouldn’t be cold. Five days is a long time.”Jellie Duckworth, Climate Justice Worker, Kansas City Climate Protection & Resiliency Plan
Kansas City is currently in the process of updating their 2008 Climate Protection Plan. Using insights from the ’08 plan, and input from diverse external stakeholder groups, the city developed a new goal to have a carbon neutral, equity-focused, and resilient city by the year 2040.
The first phase of this new climate plan focuses on listening to the concerns and learning from the assets of community members so that the City can better understand how climate change is affecting its residents, especially those who have been historically marginalized. We intend to integrate this phase throughout the entirety of the plan.
The City is working with Brendle Group – a sustainability engineering and community planning consultancy based in Fort Collins, Colorado to facilitate the plan development. To ensure this process and the outcomes are equitable, the consulting team includes Sophic Solutions – a local change management consultancy centered in community engagement and diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies.
Additionally, in partnership with the City, Brendle Group hired two local Climate Justice Workers and a local planning intern whose work is rooted in facilitating community discussions, aligning community expertise with policy solutions, and centered on elevating community impact.
Critical research like Mid-America Regional Council’s Regional Climate Risk & Vulnerability Assessment will be paired with more detailed maps created by Brendle Group to help the city identify target areas where communities are most prone to be impacted by climate hazards and socioeconomic inequities. Among the most pressing climate issues in Kansas City right now include flooding, extreme heat, drought, and severe weather. This data, paired with energy usage data citywide and community input, will help inform strategies for reaching our climate and resiliency goals.
With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new AR6 Climate Change 2021 Report, the urgent need for equitable climate plans across the country is clear. But we cannot develop plans without listening to community input nor without addressing the historical and systemic challenges that disproportionately impact marginalized communities.
The solution requires all of us.
Because it’s impacting all of us.
We would love to hear your ideas on how we can create a more just and sustainable Kansas City while reaching our climate goals. We need to hear what isn’t working so we don’t replicate past mistakes.
Here are some ways to Amplify Your Voice:
- Reach out to your Climate Justice Workers – Justice Horn and Jellie Duckworth – to share your story.
- Visit the Climate Protection and Resiliency Plan’s Engagement Website. There you can learn more about the phases and goals of the plan and register to take a survey and share your story about how climate has affected you and your community.
- Share how you’ve been impacted by climate by adding them to the online mapping tool.
Sharing your story may motivate others to do the same.