Global climate change can be confronted with local action, and every community from the smallest to the largest has a part to play. Cook Inletkeeper has created a guide for seeking and carrying out climate actions that are impactful where you live and achievable with resources your community has.
Every technical solution needed to reverse climate change already exists. What’s missing is work to spread these solutions through the world. Anyone can begin that work by gathering their neighbors to discover what solutions fit the place they call home. The Local Climate ActionKit is our model for doing just that.
Cook Inletkeeper utilized the workshop model described in our ActionKit to initiate the following three community-led projects on the Kenai Peninsula:
In the early 2010s, author and environmentalist Paul Hawken convened scientists and policy experts to model, analyze, and rank the 100 most effective ideas for reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas. He called it Project Drawdown because its goal wasn’t only to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but to draw greenhouse gases down from the atmosphere – solutions that in the long term would reverse rather than merely stop climate change. In 2017, the project published their findings in a detailed book and website.
Drawdown’s most important innovation was to treat climate change less as an existential catastrophe than an engineering problem – solvable with practices that are emerging or already here. Its high quality and accessible presentation of these solutions lets non-specialists like us think more rigorously about climate action. Knowing that technical solutions to the climate challenge already exist means that responsibility isn’t in the technological sphere but the social, where communities can be moved to action by volunteers on the local level.
Our Theory of Change — From the Middle Out!
“Bottom-up change” describes individual and household behavior changes – things like replacing home lightbulbs with LEDs or bicycling instead of driving. At the other end of the spectrum, law or policy changes like carbon taxes or renewable mandates are called “top-down.”
Both these scopes of action are important, but we believe too many climate activists limit themselves by getting stuck in these terms. Making “bottom-up” lifestyle changes or pressuring for “top-down” transformation of national institutions does not cover all possible responses to climate change – indeed, they only cover a few. We hope this toolkit will get you thinking about the wide range of possibilities between, where we believe the most fruitful climate actions can occur: the “middle-out space” of projects that are neither about policy nor personal habits but can touch both by focusing on community action and local or regional-scale institutions.
Middle out change is larger than what an individual could achieve in the scope of their household, but within reach of volunteers working with local institutions such as businesses, churches, schools, town and borough governments, and rural electric co-ops. Don’t stop signing petitions and don’t stop biking to work, but think more about the opportunities closer to home, yet outside it.
What's in the ActionKit?
If this sounds like the kind of change you're ready to see in your community, this ActionKit is for you! Our ActionKit breaks down our process and how it can work for you. Creating change at any level can feel daunting. The ActionKit divides the process into the following four distinct phases that your community will move through over the course of about 12 months :
Ready for Local Climate Action?
Download the Local Climate ActionKit to begin creating change in your community today!
We're hosting a Virtual Kickoff on April 20th, 2021 to answer all your questions about creating change in your community with this tool!
Has our ActionKit influenced your organizing? We'd love to hear from you!
We are constantly working to improve the ActionKit and resources provided. Please reach out to let us know what you think!