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And Five More Adaptation Planning Ideas

Bruce Riordan sent us his "unofficial takeaways" from the climate change adaptation workshop organized by the Kresge Foundation and the Geos Institute (Portland Oregon 2012). Riordan is the Climate Strategist for the Bay Area Joint Policy Committee. Here's an excerpt. For the longer list, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  1. It's not "climate adaptation." It's protecting the health of our vulnerable seniors, keeping our critical roads, airports, etc. in use, saving our bay, making sure we have enough water (homes/agriculture/wildlife), keeping the power on through big storms...
  2. Listen first. What is important to you and your community right now? (Probably not "climate change.") What changes--weather, animals, growing season, etc.-- are you noticing in your neighborhood, community, or region?
  3. Personal relationships. We are often way too in love with our plans, strategies and science. (Problem: My slides didn't convince them. Solution: more slides!) At least half the battle to really move a community to adaptation work is who trusts you, who you know, etc. Similarly, a few great and trusted champions can turn a whole room.
  4. Mainstreaming. Make sure that climate impacts are not seen as something separate and exotic, but are integral parts of general plans, zoning codes, hazard/disaster mitigation plans, transportation plans, infrastructure maintenance plans, etc. Show overworked public agency staff that they are already considering/doing some of things--now climate adds another element or twist.
  5. Is this plan necessary? Most local government planning departments aren't exactly awash in resources these days. A call for a comprehensive adaptation plan may go 100% nowhere or, if undertaken, become just a recipe for "shelf candy." Instead, look at the 2-3 most pressing issues in a community and focus on them first. Or, pick one initial topic that looks like an easy winner.

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