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Citizen Science: Mapping Urban Heat Islands in Richmond, Virginia

The urban heat island mapping project in Richmond, Virginia is a collaborative project that brings community members together to collect temperature variation data in order to design community-scale adaptation plans. Richmond is a highly populated city that has encountered increased urban heat island effect in recent years. While current technology such as satellites can provide city-scale urban heat data, a more detailed, block-by-block examination of temperature variation in each community has to be studied to understand which communities are most vulnerable to the extreme heat. "Citizen-scientists" were gathered to help measure temperatures in their own city, and related human activities or land use. The citizen-scientists included students from the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University; the Virginia Academy of Science; the City of Richmond’s Sustainability Office; and Groundwork RVA, a nonprofit focused on empowering local young people in the communities.  

Resource Category: Monitoring and Reporting

 

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Community Heat Relief Plan

July 2019

The City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania addresses extreme heat and social disparities in its Beat the Heat Hunting Park Community Heat Relief Plan. The plan provides a roadmap of how to conduct an inclusive climate planning process through a community-based approach to combat urban heat emergencies. Beat the Heat was released in July 2019 by Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability (OOS), in response to increased heat being identified as one of the main climate change threats in the city. OOS found that communities, where low-income residents and residents of color reside, are also most vulnerable to the heat. To cope with the heat disparities, OOS initiated the Beat the Heat pilot project in Hunting Park, which was identified as the most heat vulnerable neighborhood. The purpose of the project is to learn the causes of heat disparities and utilize a community-driven decision-making process to generate possible solutions for staying cool in the future. The plan is a collaborative work effort of city agencies, Hunting park organizations, residents, and community groups. Through the community engagement process, three priority areas were identified: 1. Staying cool and safe at home, 2. Staying cool and safe in public spaces, and 3. Greening and tree planting. The plan also provides a step-by-step Beat the Heat Toolkit for other urban communities to reduce social inequities and build climate resiliency.   



Resource Category: Planning

 

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Chicago Participatory Budgeting Project and Rulebook

In 2009, the Chicago 49th Ward Alderman, Joe Moore launched the first participatory budgeting process in the United States in the City of Chicago, Illinois. When participatory budgeting was first introduced in the City, Alderman Moore used the process to engage with his constituents regarding how the community would spend its $1.3 million in discretionary capital funds. Since this initial introduction, the participatory budgeting process in Chicago has proved a rousing success. In 2012, the Great Cities Institute partnered with the Participatory Budgeting Project and community-leaders from the area to launch PB Chicago to spread the budgeting process throughout the city. PB Chicago has now engaged with over 13,000 residents in 12 different communities, allocating over $18 million in funding to community-chosen projects varying from tree planting to establishing bike lanes. By focusing a majority of their outreach on marginalized and underserved communities, PB Chicago ensures not only that policymakers and city officials hear these residents’ voices, but that these same voices have the opportunity to effectuate change within their own communities as well. 

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Well Farm Stormwater Management Project - Peoria, Illinois

May 2018

 

 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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New York City Participatory Budgeting and Rulebook

2011

In 2011, four New York City Council Members partnered with several community-based organizations and launched a Participatory Budgeting process to allow residents to vote to allocate a portion of the council’s capital discretionary funds. The Participatory Budgeting New York City (PBNYC) process involved the city allocating funds to finance physical infrastructure projects, such as schools, parks, and public housing that benefit the public, that cost at least $50,000 and have a lifespan of at least five years. Residents were able to visit the website to review eligible projects and then submit an idea for consideration. The process gave residents the opportunity to vote during a nine-day Vote week for the city’s fiscal budget and implemented by city agencies. PBNYC is one of the largest and the fastest-growing participatory budgeting process in the United States which also ensures that low-income people and people of color can participate in the process. Currently, the majority of participants, around 57%, are identified as people of color. 

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Minneapolis Resolution Establishing "Green Zones"

April 28, 2017

On April 28 2017, the Minneapolis City Council approved a final Resolution establishing a Green Zones policy to facilitate community-led planning in socioeconomically vulnerable neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Minnesota with the goal of prioritizing city initiatives to combat a range of resiliency challenges. Within Green Zones pilot areas, city officials will work with the community to develop work plans, focused on specific neighborhoods, that will be designed to prioritize initiatives and link city policies on economic development, gentrification, racial equity, and climate resiliency, to achieve an equitable distribution of resources.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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California’s Urban Greening Program

September 2016

California’s Urban Greening Program, created by SB 859 in 2016, is a competitive grant program that funds local green infrastructure projects to reduce emissions, expand green space, and create more sustainable communities. Administered by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), the program is part of "California Climate Investments," which refer to the more than three dozen programs that are funded by the state's cap and trade auction revenues. Urban Greening projects can be used for improvements such as tree planting, park creation or enhancements, green streets and alleys, greening of public lands and structures, and more. The program's selection criteria ensure that projects proposed by, benefiting, and building partnerships in disadvantaged and critically underserved communities will be prioritized for funding.

Resource Category: Funding

 

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We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective, Detroit, Michigan

August 2016

We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective (WPD CRC) is a collaboration among community activists, academics, researchers, and designers in Detroit, Michigan studying the impact of water insecurity, water policy, social equity, and health among local residents. The research process included (1) mapping the geographic impact of water policies on the city; (2) conducting a city-wide community survey to assess the health needs after a disaster; (3) a citizen science project to test the impact of water shutoffs on residential water quality; and (4) a story mapping project to support youth in telling individual and collective narratives about the impact of austerity on their community. The community based participatory research process has provided statistically significant data to demonstrate the impact of policy interventions on water insecurity and psychological distress among residents.  WPD CRC serves as an example of how community participatory research led by community-based organizations can effectively collect qualitative data from local communities and further apply to policy development. 

Resource Category: Organizations

 

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USDA Urban and Community Forestry Program

This U.S. Forest Service program aims to promote forest health and enhance community resilience in both urban and rural communities through information and technical assistance. One of the program’s strategic focus areas (as outlined in the 2016-2026 Ten-Year Urban Forestry Action Plan) is Diversity, Equity, and Leadership, with program goals including engaging underserved communities in urban forestry efforts, increasing workforce development opportunities in community forestry, promoting expanded collaboration, and more. To promote the goals underlined in its Action Plan, the U.S. Forest Service provides grants under its National Urban Forestry Challenge Cost Share Grant Program. 

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Portland, Oregon Tree Code

2011

In 2011, the City of Portland, Oregon developed a new tree code in order to preserve the urban forest and to actualize goals in the city's 2007 Urban Forest Action Plan. Prior to the new tree code, tree-related regulations were inconsistent with city policies and processes relating to planting and removal of city, street, and private trees. Recognizing that trees provide environmental, social and economic benefits to the city, the City of Portland established a legal framework and clear permitting processes to regulate trees in both development and non-development situations.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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