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New Green Umbrella collaborative seeks to bring the Tri-State together on climate solutions

Cardboard protest sign saying "there is no planet b"
Markus Spiske

Green Umbrella is launching a Regional Climate Collaborative to help governments, organizations and communities across the Tri-State work together on climate solutions.

Climate Policy Director Savannah Sullivan says the collaborative will "serve as a network for public agencies to better understand our regional climate impacts, as well as prepare them to advance adaptation and mitigation solutions in their communities."

She says that includes sharing information and best practices, creating opportunities to work together on projects, and get assistance with technical issues and securing funding.

All municipalities, businesses, community members and governments in Green Umbrella's 10-county region — some 200 entities — are able to participate. The region includes: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties in Ohio; Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties in Kentucky; and Dearborn and Franklin counties in Indiana.

Sullivan notes local municipalities and local officials can sometimes be the first to experience and deal with the effects of a climate impacts. She points to issues such as extreme heat, flooding and severe storms.

"These events increasingly are upending everyday life and the infrastructure that communities depend upon. While efforts to adapt to these impacts are certainly already underway, many local governments face severe funding and capacity constraints."

Enter the Greater Cincinnati Regional Climate Collaborative to help find and fund communal solutions.

Working together can also help out when an issue in one community affects another community. Sullivan uses stormwater as an example.

"Climate equity issues exist across jurisdictional boundaries. If you're downhill from your neighboring jurisdiction, you will receive their stormwater in addition to yours. So how can you collaborate to figure out how to address the stormwater with your neighbor that you're receiving?

"Similarly, as developers began favoring land that is less exposed to climate impacts, we will have to grapple with the effects at a regional level of climate gentrification, displacing marginalized community members within and outside of their current city," she adds.

Examples of the collaborative in action are already underway. Sullivan points to Colerain Township, where local leaders as well as the chamber and several companies wanted to work on sustainability and climate issues, but lacked staffing and resources.

Together they created "Team Up to Green Up."

"Over the last year, we have already seen them take action to create an Adopt-a-Block waste program, where they worked with the township government and community partners and Rumpke to get folks to sign up for waste pickup along key corridors in Colerain. They have also taken steps to accelerate a street tree program to address extreme heat and beautification needs."

They also recently got approval to build out a solar array to capture solar energy.

Green Umbrella intends to kick-start the work by asking people to participate in a survey to help understand people's lived experiences, their needs and where their interests lie.

"In order to transform public sector action, we really need a big picture of what are the impacts and how can we take steps towards a shared vision," says Sullivan. "From there, we look forward to creating different working groups."

Another first step will be creating a "regional action playbook," which Sullivan defines as "a menu of tailored sustainability climate actions that people can pick and choose from as they figure out what they're able to implement in their jurisdiction."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.