Empowering Citizens to Adopt Low Carbon Lifestyles: Strategies and Tools for Behavior Change, Community Engagement and the Reinvention of our Cities

March 29, 2012 - 12:00pm
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In 2006 Empowerment Institute, founded by David Gershon, began testing a community-based, behavior-change carbon footprint reduction program called Low Carbon Diet. The program consists of twenty-four actions to reduce one's carbon footprint by at least 5,000 pounds in thirty days and to help others do the same. It is based on the Empowerment Institute’s two decades of experience working with 20,000 people organized into neighborhood-based peer support groups—EcoTeams—who reduced their environmental footprint 25 percent in cities, ranging from the environmentally progressive Portland, Oregon, and Madison, Wisconsin, to the more middle-of-the-road Columbus, Ohio, Kansas City, Missouri, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Low Carbon Diet program helped bring attention to personal action and community-based solutions as a way to address climate change, and was driven by a diverse group of stakeholders, including local governments who were wishing to engage their citizens; faith-based groups like Interfaith Power and Light representing some 5,000 congregations, wishing to engage congregants; and environmental groups, like Al Gore's Climate Project, which gave the book to the 1,000 people he trained to lead his “An Inconvenient Truth” slide show. This interest resulted in the development of a community engagement strategy called a Cool Community. Over the last several years this behavior change tool and community engagement strategy has spread to over 300 communities in thirty-six states across America (46 in California) as well as  China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. US participants are achieving a 25 percent carbon footprint reduction and reaching out to fellow citizens to accomplish the same. Cool Communities are also developing robust, long-term carbon reduction capability by building the community leadership, carbon-literate citizenry, and political will necessary to move the community toward even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  But a Cool Community does more than just address a city’s carbon footprint; it also enables it to enjoy the immediate practical benefits of green economic development, more livable and resilient neighborhoods and greater environmental sustainability. In this seminar, David Gershon will explain Empowerment Institute’s proven behavior change and community engagement methodology and discuss his plan to take the Cool Community model to scale through an initiative called the “Cool City Challenge” in the three California cities of Davis, Palo Alto and Sonoma and three neighborhoods of comparable size in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The ultimate goal of the Cool City Challenge is to develop a game changing intervention to address climate change from the bottom up that can be scaled worldwide. TO ACCESS THE RECORDING OF A SIMILAR PRESENTATION MADE BY DAVID GERSHON PLEASE VISIT https://secure.digitalcontentcenter.com/shop/830213/products/  

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