Tempe’s Earth Month sustainability initiatives designed to engage youth

Plants help cool the environment. Tempe is celebrating Earth Month with several sustainability opportunities.  –Tempe photo

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Tempe, in conjunction with Arizona State University, will launch sustainability initiatives to celebrate Earth Month throughout April.

Among them are updating Tempe’s climate plan and engaging residents, accelerating youth climate engagement and a climate-justice training day to honor Dolores Huerta. It is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

On April 6, climate stories will be posted at Escalante Park, Papago Park, Kiwanis Park and Clark Park so residents can provide direct feedback on the future of climate justice in Tempe. The stories were developed by ASU graduate students as part of a course facilitated by Dr. Marta Berbes and Dr. Lauren Withycombe Keeler, with guidance from Dr. Braden Kay, Tempe director of sustainability.

In November 2020, Tempe’s Office of Sustainability was awarded critical support by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to accelerate its climate action toward cooler, more equitable and healthier futures. The Cool Kids, Cool Futures, Cool Places grant builds on Tempe’s ongoing partnership with ASU and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission and community arts programs.

Cool Kids fosters resilience to extreme heat by empowering youth to evolve into catalysts with the assistance of a broad community-of-support network through three transformational positions:

  • Artist and creative expression, which are powerful channels to celebrate youth identity, knowledge and experience. These are powerful opportunities for community resilience building.
  • Cities, counties and regions creating access to pathways for youth to participate in policy conversations. In Cool Kids, policy discussions center on youth expertise and perspectives that can ensure that the region tackles extreme heat, allowing for a livable future.
  • Pursuing thriving, inclusive communities. This is a collective responsibility and youth, including the Youth Councils in Cool Kids, are catalysts toward cooler, more equitable and healthier futures.

Through this grant, youth councils in the Escalante and Gililland neighborhoods will create cooling plans and projects, principles for cooling and regional cooling agendas in school years 2021-22 and 2022-23.

Applications for youth councils will open in May. Tempe is recruiting artists to join the program.

More information will be announced in April at tempe.gov/SustainableTempe.

Tempe’s Office of Sustainability, along with partner Unlimited Potential, will host Dolores Huerta Day Youth Climate Justice Virtual Training 3 p.m.-5 p.m. April 10. To register: tempe.gov/DoloresHuertaYouthTraining.

Students in eighth to 11th grade will gain skills in how to use social media for community organizing and advocacy.

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