Climate discussions launched with coalition of citizens and local nonprofits

by Contributed Content on September 18, 2022

Menlo Park’s response to a changing climate was the topic of discussion at a new series of Community Collaboration Sessions last week, where 30 citizens and nonprofit leaders gathered to discuss the city’s Climate Action Plan, short-term priorities, concerns about progress, and new ideas to mobilize more people across the city.

With the support of Menlo Spark, a local nonprofit helping Menlo Park reach zero carbon by 2030, city residents Nancy Larocca Hedley, Tom Kabat, Marlene Santoyo, Diane Bailey, and Jeff Schmidt kicked off the discussions in the Menlo Park Library and the Belle Haven Branch Library. After a short overview and updates on progress towards the goals in the city’s Climate Action Plan, the discussions focused on what’s needed now from city officials, staff, and community members.

“Our kids can’t feel helpless. We have to prepare them to face the challenges ahead and fight hard for big changes,” said Radmila Colic-Popovich, a local resident, and employee at Menlo Park City School District. “More youth climate change programs should be created now by the city, nonprofits, and parents — all working together for the next generation.”

Other topics included addressing adaptation for the Belle Haven community in the next update of the Climate Action Plan, using state funding to kick off a green jobs and apprenticeship program for students, focusing on changes to individual habits like diets and transportation choices, and getting more citizens to recognize climate change as a challenge as big as any war, social movement, or pandemic.

October’s discussion on environmental justice and November’s topic of electrification are both expected to provoke similar deep discussions and idea sharing. Future sessions on electric vehicles, sea-level rise and flood mitigation, the urban forest and tree canopy, and green careers are planned monthly throughout 2023. The ideas and citizen feedback from these meetings are being summarized by members of the Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commission and will be shared with the full EQC and the City Council.

Presentations and more information about future sessions can be found at https://bit.ly/3qwIoyo.

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