Last week we had the opportunity to take a closer look at the top 2021 Climate Champions, the entities that earned 3 or 4 Stars in one or more categories. We have been working with a videographer to tell the story of our 2021 Climate Champions.
When you get up close our 2021 Climate Champions are inspirational and downright awesome.
You will see what I mean in a month or so when we share the video about these Climate Champions. In the meantime, to pique your interest, I will share just a few observations from the days I spent listening to these local leaders talk about their initiatives and tour us around their facilities.
Leading by Example
One of the themes I heard in our discussions with the Climate Champions was that they felt a responsibility to lead by example. A number of Champions talked about their organizational values and how specific climate-friendly activities (reducing waste, saving water or using renewable energy, e.g.) were consistent with those values.
The discussions were a good reminder that behind every local government or business are real people and, in the case of Climate Champions, those are people who care about their communities and want to do the right things.
Always Learning, Evolving
Another key theme was about learning and evolving. I did not hear one Climate Champion assert that their organization has it all figured out, that they are done taking action. Instead, the Champions were humble, they spoke about what they are doing and what they aspire to do. They talked about how small steps can lead to bigger steps and they expressed gratitude for the insights they gained from other organizations, including other Climate Champions. Frequently we say that sustainability is a journey rather than a destination and these Climate Champions illustrated that point.
Listening to the interviews prompted me to think about the cross-fertilization opportunities we have in the Climate Champions program. Definitely we will think more about how we can bring Champions together and facilitate more cross-Champion sharing.
Amazing Innovations in Plain Sight
The videographers took footage at various Champion locations across Dane County. In a few cases these were locations that were new to us while in some cases the locations were familiar. In every case, though, the Champion enabled us to see the location in new ways, to really appreciate the ongoing efforts to use resources efficiently and to inspire additional climate action.
Seeing the things I had not really seen before reminded me that climate action is all around us. Our friends and neighbors and people we do not know are taking steps to reduce emissions even as I write this. And all of it matters, all of it is part of the solution.
We created the Climate Champions program to celebrate and amplify leadership in our communities. We know these efforts will inspire others to take action. The stories will also provide a much needed dose of hope and momentum for everyone who cares about climate action. And that will lead us to more inspiring Climate Champions in 2022!
Kathy is the Director of the Dane County’s Office of Energy and Climate Change. In that role she's leading efforts to implement the Climate Action Plan. Prior to coming to Dane County, Kathy led Cool Choices and, prior to that, she led Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program.
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