New series seeks to empower people, provide tools for fighting climate change

“The whole idea is providing people with tools and empowering people.”

Climate change is a global challenge, but steps to combat it can be taken at home, said organizers behind an upcoming event series that focuses on understanding and reducing the generation of greenhouse gases.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint is a five-part webinar series led by Juneau Commission on Sustainability and AARP Alaska Community Action Team volunteers that starts Wednesday. It will focus on steps people can take to reduce their carbon footprint and build climate-resilient communities across a series of roughly 90-minute discussions held every other week through May 4.

“The whole idea is providing people with tools and empowering people,” said Linda Kruger, one of the series’ organizers during a recent video interview. Kruger, who described the series as the brainchild of Dr. carolyn Brown, was joined by a few of the other folks responsible for the upcoming series.

Event organizers said climate change can feel oppressive, and the goal is for the series to offer hope as well as specific examples of how to be part of the solution.

Topics to be covered by the series include carbon footprints at the community level; how to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings while saving money; transportation as a climate solution; reducing the carbon footprint of food and waste; and mental health and climate change.

Steve Behnke, an event organizer and JCOS member, said the series will mostly focus on at-home and local-level actions. But it will also include some time for bigger-picture topics and policy discussion.

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“We want to give people some pretty concrete things and then take them back out to the broader level,” Behnke said. “One of the messages we’re hoping comes through in all of these things is they can help you, but they can also help the bigger cause.”

Aside from AARP Alaska and JCOS, Reducing Our Carbon Footprint will feature participation from about a dozen other agencies and entities in the community. Organizers credited Brown with placing an emphasis on outreach to many organizations. Brown said reception to the idea has been warm.

Brown said organizations contacted included Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Juneau League of Women Voters, United Way of Southeast Alaska, Juneau’s state Legislature delegation, Healthy Alaskans Coalition, Juneau Economic Development Council, the City and Borough of Juneau and two churches.

Kruger said outreach to many organizations is a great system for getting the word out and building community, and event organizer and JCOS member Anjuli Grantham said pulling together a coalition of solution-minded people to make the series happen is a success in its own right.

“I feel like this is such an example that everyone has skills assets and networks and when we come together, we’re able to do good things,” Grantham said.

While the conversation and nearly all of the panelists will have strong Juneau connections, the events will be open to a larger audience.

Kruger said it is being promoted throughout the state via AARP Alaska and many of the topics could be applied to other locations.

“This will be broadcast to anyone across the state for anyone that’s interested in signing up,” Kruger said.

People can sign up for the event online at https://states.aarp.org/alaska/reducing-our-carbon-footprint. The events are free, but registration is required.

Know & Go

What: Reducing Our Carbon Footprint, a five-part event series.

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 9 and 23; April 6 and 20; and May 4.

Where: Registration and more information about the series is available online at https://states.aarp.org/alaska/reducing-our-carbon-footprint.

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