Topic: Blog

2018 Great Lakes RALA Awardees

Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards

Congratulations to 2018 Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Award honorees Chris Swanston, Matthew Gray, Jessica Hellmann and Heather Stirratt! Thank you for your contributions and leadership in the field of climate adaptation.


Winner

Chris Swanston

Director, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub

Houghton, MI

Twitter: @USDAClimateHubs

Chris Swanston is a leader among Great Lakes adaptation professionals, directing both the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) and USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub. Through his leadership, he has transformed the way many people approach climate adaptation in land management and forestry. His vision is clear: there is a need in the field to bridge the gap between science and action communities. Chris created the Climate Change Response Framework (CCRF) as an integrated approach for responding to climate change through partnerships, vulnerability assessments, adaptation resources, and real-world demonstrations.

As a strong communicator, he has built his team of one to a team of twenty. Vibrant with expertise in climate impacts modeling, ecosystem adaptation, and forest carbon management, the efficacy of the NIACS team has culminated into a high-performing, collaborative, and trusted organization dedicated to serving the needs of land owners and managers across the region. Thousands of natural resource professionals have learned about climate change adaptation through CCRF presentations, trainings, field tours, and more than 250 real-world demonstration projects that use the Adaptation Workbook. Prioritizing respect for local knowledge and individual landowners’ perspectives on managing risks, NIACS team members are coaches for smart adaptation decision-making. Chris’s ideas are central to the adaptation work done at NIACS, and these ideas have ensured success for many. We are honored to honor Chris Swanston as the Winner of the Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Award. Congratulations, Chris!

 


Special Recognition

Matthew Gray

Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland

Cleveland, OH

Twitter: @sustainableCLE

Since returning from a Fulbright in Mauritius and joining the staff of the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Matthew Gray has been working to both reduce greenhouse gases and increase resilience of the City of Cleveland. As a positive role model for other cities in the region, Matt has led efforts through the Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network to create a template for climate change vulnerability assessments to help other cities move forward on climate adaptation. Matt has revamped the Cleveland Carbon Fund to include adaptation work, and co-leads an effort to develop a regional network of cities working on climate adaptation to streamline adaptation efforts.

Matt has worked tirelessly to promote equitable adaptation in Cleveland’s Climate Action Plan and has reached out to numerous city departments to encourage climate change mitigation and adaptation in internal planning efforts. As a city liaison forging strong relationships among organizations in Cleveland to support and carry the work forward, he organizes learning events with partners and an annual Sustainability Summit that brings together leaders from across the city to discuss priorities. We are happy to recognize this work that is so beneficial not only to the people of Cleveland, but to the entire region. Congratulations, Matt!

 


Special Recognition

Jessica Hellmann

Director, University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE)

Minneapolis, MN

Twitter: @JessicaHellmann

 

Jessica Hellmann is an Ecologist studying the effects of climate and other global changes on ecosystems and the people who depend on them. She is dedicated to finding solutions to environmental threats that improve human livelihoods and ecosystem health. A civic leader dedicated to integrating climate adaptation into other fields, she regularly advises organizations such as the Great Plains Institute, Climate Generation and other nonprofits about often-overlooked strategies for adapting to climate change. Jessica envisions a network of change agents for climate adaptation with broad reach within and outside academia. Through her leadership of IonE and the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, she asserts that powerful networks informed by research and education are what is needed to create a hopeful, climate adaptive future. Jessica has taken the Urban Adaptation Assessment to the next level of impact and effectiveness by expanding it to 240 cities in the U.S., integrating a novel approach to measuring social equity.

Additionally, Jessica has led research showing changing climate conditions can influence both species distribution and the rate of evolution by examining modern day and museum butterfly species. Emphasizing her ability to learn and teach on the fly as a skilled science communicator, Jessica is routinely called upon by leading media outlets around the world such as CNN, NPR, Fox News, The Telegraph and the Chicago Tribune to provide expert input on topics related to adaptation and ways to minimize adverse impacts to people and nature. We are very grateful for her contributions to the field of adaptation and her presence in the Great Lakes region. Congratulations, Jessica!

Tune in to hear Director Jessica Hellmann present her vision for the future of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

 


Special Recognition

Heather Stirratt

Great Lakes Lead for NOAA’s National Ocean Service at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management

Twin Cities, MN

Twitter: @noaaocean

Heather Stirratt’s work on climate change adaptation motivates communities across the Great Lakes Region. From her NOAA National Ocean Service office in Twin Cities, MN, she has worked with researchers, municipalities, and students to ensure communities receive the support that they need to advance climate-informed decisions at multiple scales. Heather sees the need for broad capacity building. She has acted on this vision through the development of the Great Lakes Climate Training toolkit and of city and neighborhood specific resources in collaboration with the Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative.  Heather has a demonstrable ability to think holistically about climate change and its related impacts. She is remarkably capable at bringing together the branches of federal government to serve the needs of the whole region.

A natural engagement specialist, Heather brings people together for a common cause, routinely communicates complex challenges, and truly meets people where they are. Her ability to build and work within teams from across a range of federal agencies — as well as coordinate numerous regional NOAA activities — highlight her power of persuasion and tenacity. When she brings together this potent combination it leads to successfully implemented projects, groundbreaking reports, and successful, engaging events. Her ability to summon resources makes her a terrific ally on a project and one of the most effective adaptation professionals in the Great Lakes region. We are very happy to award her with this Special Recognition for her contributions to the field of adaptation. Congratulations, Heather!

 


 

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Mentorship Spotlight: Creative Thinking for DEI Solutions

In the latest episode of our ASAP Mentorship Program, we learn that a common theme that has come out of this mentorship pair’s discussions is the need for creative, out of the box thinking for solving complex problems. Vidya Balasubramanyam (Mentee) is a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow working in New Hampshire’s coastal communities. She leads the Smart Shorelines project to inform the siting and socialization of living shorelines in New Hampshire. Josh Foster (Mentor) is an adaptation consultant and active ASAP Board Member who has over 25 years of experience working on climate change science, policy, and adaptation in the federal and non-profit sectors.

ASAP California

ASAP at the California Adaptation Forum

Are you coming to the California Adaptation ForumASAP is blanketing the forum with member presentations, daily newsletter coverage (via the Daily Digests), and plenty of opportunities to meet and network with other ASAP members. Below are a few sessions that you can meet-up with other ASAP members and stay up to date on ASAP activities:

Join us for an ASAP-hosted Accelerator Workshop and In-person ASAP Member Meeting on August 29 (RSVP). The Accelerator Workshop, From National to Global: ASAP Members Lead the Transfer of Adaptation Best Practices to the Global Climate Action Summit, will provide members an opportunity to generate a white paper on the best practices and needs identified during the California adaptation forum to share at the Global Climate Action Summit in September. Workshop participants will draw on the ASAP Daily Digests and their own experiences, to synthesize the knowledge, experiences, and skills shared during the conference. The second half of the workshop will serve as an ASAP In-Person Meeting and will feature brief presentations on the organization’s growth and accomplishments over the past year and current member activities. Working in small groups, members will provide recommendations for how ASAP can continue to support member needs and grow the organization.

Are you a Resilience Dialogue Alum or just want to learn more about the program? Join us for breakfast on Wednesday, August 29. ASAP will host a Resilience Dialogues Community Meeting where participants will hear updates from the program’s alumni communities and engage in a facilitated, online and in-person conversation about enhancing local community capacity for building climate resilience.

We are also thrilled to be honoring recipients of the 2018 California Regional Adaptation Leadership Award (RALA) during Wednesday’s Forum plenary.

For ASAP members who can’t attend, be sure to watch for the CAF Daily Digests! We will be sending out a special daily edition of the ASAP Member News that will include a list of ASAP member presentations at CAF and summaries of the day’s events. Follow us at @adaptpros with hashtag #CAadapts on Twitter to learn more about what is happening on the ground!

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For A More Resilient Rural America   

Contributed by Gwen Griffith, Model Forest Policy Program 

(a shorter version of this story appears in our ASAP member newsletter June 28, 2018)

Rural communities are highly dependent upon natural resources that are affected by climate change. These communities also face particular obstacles in responding to climate change that increase their vulnerability to its impacts.” National Climate Assessment 2014

Across America, less than 20% of the population (~ 60 million) lives on 95% of the land that we call “rural” America.  They are the vital stewards of the sparsely populated landscapes of small towns, watersheds, forests, grasslands, deserts, and farms. These lands provide nature’s services that 80% of Americans depend on for air, water, food, fiber, habitat, and recreation. Despite the importance of managing rural lands for climate resilience, underserved rural communities lack the capacity to tackle climate impacts on their own.

Recognizing this critical challenge, the Model Forest Policy Program is embarking on a new approach to meeting the particular needs of rural adaptation with the Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP),  developed in collaboration with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and the NOAA Climate Program Office and funded by the Climate Resilience Fund and Harmonic International, Inc.

The overarching goal is to accelerate rural climate action by strengthening the ability of adaptation professionals to meet the needs of underserved rural communities and operate from a more sustainable funding stream.  The project objective is to co-produce and beta test an innovative adaptation training module that enables and motivates rural leaders to take action on a specific, priority adaptation strategy. Using a co-production model, the training content and delivery methods are developed in consultation with rural users and adaptation service providers. The selection of the training module topic depends on input from adaptation professionals and rural users to understand their priorities and needs. The resulting training module will be a time efficient process that fits the particular needs of rural leaders. The first step in user engagement is the rural resilience service provider survey, which is available at this survey link. We strongly encourage climate professionals of all disciplines to take this survey now and contribute to the design and success of the project. The survey findings and training module will be a resource for all adaptation professionals and rural leaders. Thank you for taking this survey and contributing to rural resilience where ever you are!

Survey Link:

https://icmaresearch.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8cOLnOdsz2Wc53D

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My Pride in the Ocean at Play

I’m pretty sure I can check “Celebrate National Oceans Month” off my list for June. I crossed Boston Harbor on the ferry to Hull, Massachusetts and enjoyed the town’s seashore. I celebrated a friend’s wedding on an island in Lake Ontario. I enjoyed an evening paddle at the mouth of the Charles River, just yards from the Atlantic. And how could I forget the endless hours of watching and listening to Disney’s Moana with my 2-year-old?

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Local Solutions in 2018: Reflections from the Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference

ASAP staff welcoming current and prospective members at our conference booth

The ASAP Team was excited to be a part of the Local Solutions Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire earlier this month. We presented the 2018 New England Regional Adaptation Leadership Award, debuted our new training: Becoming Principled Adaptation Professionals and Transforming our Field of Practice, and spoke about volunteers accelerating adaptation action during a panel about encouraging residents to be spokespeople for adaptation. But far and away the best part of the conference was reconnecting with Northeast-based ASAP members. We’re grateful to be able to share reflections from two of them, Melissa Ocana and Lisa Graichen.

Both Melissa and Lisa enjoyed connecting with colleagues about developing and maintaining climate-related collaborative networks. Melissa coordinates the Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network (Mass ECAN) via her role at University of Massachusetts Extension. Lisa, who works with University of New Hampshire Extension/NH Sea Grant, is an active member of the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (CAW). Melissa said, “this conference was a helpful reminder that our network can learn much from and contribute to other networks in the region. It was insightful sharing with coordinators of networks such as the Climate Leadership Network for higher education, Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), and NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup.”

Melissa helped facilitate ASAP’s workshop on “Growing into Principled Adaptation Professionals.” During the workshop, participants used ASAP’s Living Guide to the Principles of Climate Change Adaptation to create a checklist of questions to help assess how their work is reflecting best practices in the adaptation field. This exercise prompted participants to ask questions like:

  • “Am I using the most up-to-date science?”
  • “Who would feel left out/ who should be at the table?”
  • “How does this leverage collaborations?”
  • “Am I factoring in uncertainty and leaving room for adaptive management?”
  • “How am I measuring success?”

“We don’t often get the space or time to reflect on our practice with fellow adaptation practitioners who get ‘it,’ so I appreciated this session,” said Ocana. We appreciate you, Melissa! And we appreciate the Massachusetts state government-led resilience work you’re helping support: the MVP Program and integrated State Climate Adaptation and Hazard Mitigation Plan.

ASAP Executive Director Beth Gibbons with RALA winner Sherry Godlewski of the NH Dept. of Environmental Services and conference host Michael Simpson of Antioch University

A highlight for Lisa was watching NH CAW co-chair Sherry Godlewski from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services win the ASAP Regional Adaptation Leadership Award (RALA). (And a highlight for ASAP was giving out the award!) Also, Lisa noticed that at climate conferences like this one, there is a growing focus on creative outreach and engagement approaches, climate impacts on mental health, and the importance of equitable adaptation. Hearing about interesting projects and practices, such as the one in Richmond, Virginia, that combined science museum education, art, video, and citizen science to make progress on urban heat island issues in the city, was a valuable piece of her conference experience.

ASAP member Rachel Gregg from EcoAdapt presented on monitoring and evaluation

Lisa and Melissa both appreciated hearing colleagues share their challenges in addition to their successes. Lisa said, “Several colleagues and I were (sort of) joking that we’d love a session at a future conference that focuses on failures! Sharing both kinds of lessons is important (and cathartic!)” Melissa noted that she found the session hosted by ASAP partner EcoAdapt on monitoring and evaluation addressed critical, difficult, and often overlooked aspects of adaptation work. “The truth is that it’s hard to measure success of adaptation actions.”

We share Melissa and Lisa’s sentiment that the best part of the conference was the people. Lisa summed it up well when she said, “I left with a much-needed boost of optimism, knowing that so many fantastic people are working hard on climate adaptation around the region.” We’re grateful to the Antioch University Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience for hosting such a successful event, and are already looking forward to Local Solutions 2020.

What’s NOAA Done for me Lately?

 

Recent announcements regarding the proposed budget cuts to NOAA have a lot of people wondering: What does NOAA do for the adaptation community, and what can the adaptation community do for NOAA? ASAP compiled an A to Z on Adaptation at NOAA to help answer those questions.

AC4 – Part of the FIREX program on fire research, prevention, and management. The AC4 program funded 10 new projects last year alone: 17 individual grants totaling $6.5 million to universities and non-Federal research laboratories.

Building Resilience in South Carolina’s Lowcountry through Regional Partnerships – This Sea Grant Program helps communities in South Carolina plan for and adapt to the area’s increasing flood challenges.

Climate Program Office – Situated under the Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the CPO brings physical and social science together to address pressing climate challenges on a national and global scale.

Digital Coast – This website serves tailored data visualization, information, case studies, and trainings for communities and decision makers along U.S. coastlines.

Ecosystem Services – Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides to people.

Fisheries – Anglers took 61 million recreational fishing trips last year, caught 300 million fish and reported releasing 57% — awesome reporting!

Great Lakes Integrated Sciences & Assessments – A Great Lakes program distributing over $1.2 million in adaptation grants to over 54 partners across eight states and the province of Ontario.

High Plains Regional Climate Center – The climate data hub for our agricultural heart. HPRCC informs, protects, and serves tribes and agricultural communities in the central United States.

Ice Coverage & Extent – NOAA tracks changes to snowpacks on mountains and ice extent on the Great Lakes, regionally relevant climate change impacts. Of course the Arctic tracking informs shifts in our global system and we rely on NOAA to keep tabs on these shifts as well.

Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve – Located at one of the least-disturbed estuaries in the Northeast Corridor, this reserve’s researchers’ enhanced understanding of salinity and sea level rise inform adaptation programs across America.

Kachemak Bay NERR – This Alaskan NERR is ground zero for loss from sea level rise and permafrost loss, making it among the places in the U.S. most at risk from climate change. Lessons from here are being applied to climate-risk communities across the country.

Louisiana Coastal Zone – Varying from 16 to 32 miles inland from the Gulf Coast, the coastal zone spans 10 million acres and includes 40 percent of the nation’s coastal wetlands.

Minnesota Sea Grant – Off the =beaten path of adaptation, this Sea Grant program puts climate change front and center in work related to green infrastructure, coastal management, and water resource trainings.

NIDIS – This brainchild of the Western Governors Association delivers easily accessible drought information and administers the Drought Early Warning System that informs tribes, farmers, ranchers, and water managers across the country.

Observations – Nothing compares to observed data when it comes to make the case for climate change action. Observations are irrefutable and irreplaceable. The National Weather Service collects some 76 billion observations and issues 1.5 million forecasts and 50,000 warnings.

and

Oceans – There is only one global ocean! NOAA observation and management  teams monitors this essential resources and informs us on how prepare for climate impacts and curb our future climate footprint.

Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments – With its unique engagements with landfill operators, ranchers, and beach resorts, this RISA is a leader in private sector engagement and the business of adaptation.

Quarterly Climate Impacts & Outlooks – Quarterly outlooks inform regional decision making by providing case studies on impacts from the past season’s weather and providing insight on what’s coming up next.

Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments – As NOAA’s social science home, this program supports hands-on integration of climate information and data through 10 regional programs and distributes over $10 million annually to universities across the country.

Sea Grant Network – This is the service home and work horse of NOAA. Sea Grant meets people where they are in schools, at docks, on the river and at the water’s edge across the country through research, extension, and education.

and

Satellites – Data from NOAA’s satellite network protects us every day and constantly enhance our understanding of our changing planet.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge – Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) plays an increasing role in the work done across the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), RISA, and Coastal Management programs.

U.S Climate Resilience Toolkit – The definitive source for case studies, decision support models, and data and visualization tools. This is the one stop shop for taking adaptation programs from planning to implementation.

Virginia Sea Grant – Building coalitions, advancing fellows, engaging with ports, military installations, rural and coastal communities, this Sea Grant program’s portfolio of adaptation accomplishments stands out.

Weather – Weather, water and climate events cause an average of approximately 650 deaths and $15 billion in damage per year and are responsible for 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters. NOAA tells you when it is safe to sit on your porch and watch the storm roll in or hunker down and wait it out.

eXplorer – Climate eXplorer allows the user to layer information including health, land use, economic, demographic, and climate data necessary to have a holistic view of impacts and adaptation opportunities.

You! – NOAA’s program support the climate observations, research, engagement, training, resource development and more that you use everyday to do your adaptation work.

Zulu – Sometimes you need a simple Zulu Time conversion chart – NOAA’s got that too.

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