Ashland Climate Challenge
The Ashland Climate Challenge has officially been “Kicked Off”! On November 15th 2016, over 300 people streamed into the Historic Armory to learn about the Ashland Climate Challenge and the community-wide Climate and Energy Action planning process that is now underway. Ashland is on the road to a clean energy future.
The Kickoff was opened by a talented group of young musicians – the Daniel Chávez Quartet. Mayor John Stromberg welcomed the crowd. Next, we heard from Dr. Scott Denning, Atmospheric Scientist with Colorado State University. Dr. Denning described how climate change is simple, serious, and solvable. It is simple because we have had a basic understanding of the heat storage properties of CO2 and other greenhouse gases since before light bulbs were even invented. It is serious because our climate defines where we live, how our homes are built, and what foods we can grow. As climate change accelerates, our basic systems will have a hard time keeping pace. And the good news is that climate change is solvable – experts have estimated that it would cost 1% of global GDP to change our energy systems away from fossil fuels. We’ve made changes of that magnitude before, and with great pay back in local economic growth, higher quality of life, better health, and other benefits. In fact, one of the most notable investments of that magnitude was when much of the world invested in indoor plumbing. And boy was it worth it.
Dr. Denning’s talk was followed with powerful and mesmerizing poetry and music from OSF performers Kimberly Scott, Carolina Morones, Miriam Laube, Mildred Ruiz Sapp and Steven Sapp of UNIVERSES, and Claudia Alick of Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Performances were interspersed with panel discussions and presentations about the City’s support for a community-wide Climate and Energy Action plan and the recently appointed Ad-hoc Committee tasked with guiding that process. We also heard from other cities and SOU about how they are tackling climate change. Speakers included Bryan Sohl, Roxane Beigel-Coryell, Adam Hanks, and Matt McRae.
Mark Yaconelli worked his storytelling magic by reminding us about the woman who joined a search party last year, only to discover that they were searching for her. Just like this young woman searching for herself, we have been waiting for someone else to tackle climate change. We are waiting for others to come along and take the initiative. Yet it is up to each and every one of us to reduce our emissions and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, vehicle by vehicle and household by household. It is past time to get started, but we can get moving quickly and make great strides in our communities. And as Dr. Denning pointed out, we can expect a huge return on our investment! Cleaner air, healthier people, local economic growth, and monetary savings over time.
Finally, James McGinnis, Satchel Podolfino, and City Councilor Rich Rosenthal introduced the “Conversation Café.” This portion of the program was invaluable, as it allowed people to meet their neighbors, talk about their community, and develop solutions for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and creating a clean energy future for Ashland.
Figure 1. Individual actions by 2030. Participants were asked to discuss what actions they were willing to and/or planning to take in the next 15 years.
Figure 2. Vision for Ashland in 2030. Participants were asked to discuss the vision they have for Ashland over the next 15 years, including actions the community as a whole should take. Results from the Conversation Café were combined with results from the same question from 65 surveys collected throughout Climate Week.
Not happy with just a single day of climate change awareness and engagement, Rogue Climate led the charge in extending the effort to an entire week (10 days, actually) of art, speakers, movies, workshops, and other events bringing climate change and local action to the forefront of peoples’ busy lives. These included:
- Hanson Howard Photo Exhibition "Beauty in the Time of Climate Change”
- Snowflake art project with over 400 students
- Rally to stop to proposed LNG pipeline
- This Changes Everything at the Varsity Theater
- Presentation on jobs training and solar installation programs for low-income communities
- Youth Climate Action Training with Our Children’s Trust
- Wild and Scenic Film Festival
- Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Community gathering
- Cowspiracy screening
- Celebrating SOU’s Commitment to Climate Neutral Practices
- Community Bike Ride
- The Hearth storytelling about “Rising to the Challenge”
- 21 Climate Change Theater Action
Results by the Numbers
- Number of people who participated in Climate Week: Approximately 876
- Number of people who attended the Ashland Climate Challenge Kickoff: Visual count = 350. Sign-in = 271. Daily Tidings estimate = 500!
- Number of people who filled out the Ashland Energy Survey during Climate Week: 65
- Number of people who liked the Facebook page: 135
- Number of people currently “enrolled” in the Ashland Climate Challenge: 43
- Number of local business sponsors for the Ashland Climate Challenge Kickoff and Climate Week: 26
- Number of Non-profit sponsors for the Ashland Climate Challenge Kickoff and Climate Week: 17
- Number of organizations and individuals on the planning committees – both the Kickoff planning committee and the Rogue Climate planning committee: 19
The Ashland Climate Challenge was featured in eight different media stories in the Ashland Daily Tidings, on KTLV and on the Jefferson Exchange.
- Jefferson Exchange with Matt McCrae, Scott Denning, and Marni Koopman: 11/13
- Our View: Climate Week Warms Up
- The Challenge is On During Ashland Climate Week
- Guest Opinion: Take the Ashland Climate Challenge
- Southern Oregon Artists Address Climate Change through Art
- Students Prepare to Combat Climate Change
- Ashlanders step up as climate protectors
Keith Henty Photography provided professional photography services throughout Climate Week and the Ashland Climate Challenge free of charge. Some of his photographs are included here. For more photos, please visit the Ashland Climate Challenge website.