In December, Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly and Shawnee Councilmember Lindsey Constance organized a workshop at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village that brought more than 120 elected officials from across the Kansas City metro together to discuss how local leaders could work together on strategies for addressing climate change and preparing the area for its effects.
This week, the National League of Cities announced that it would award a $10,000 grant to Roeland Park to continue efforts to organize a metro-wide response to climate change. While the city of Roeland Park is the designated recipient of the grant, Kelly said the money would be used in large part to continue the cross-city regional collaboration that began late last year. The organizers of the December workshop have gone on to create a group called the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition that will focus on “drawing down greenhouse gases, improve climate resilience and generate corresponding economic, social, health, and quality of life benefits,” according to its website.
Kelly said the grant money will help the group organize a summit at Johnson County Community College in September that will focus on developing relationships between municipalities and county governments on local strategies for climate change resiliency.
“There has been momentum in the metro region amongst elected leaders to do our part toward creating a resilient and greener metro area, but we needed a vehicle in which to work together,” Kelly said. “We are excited that the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition can serve that role, and very proud that Roeland Park is at the forefront of this effort.”
The summit, he said, “will be a big part of what we’re trying to do, bringing knowledgeable individuals in the field together to help us develop our own regional resiliency model.”
Other cities awarded Leadership in Community Resilience program grants through the National League of Cities this year are Anchorage, Alaska; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denton, Texas; Durham, N.C.; Evanston, Ill.; Jersey City, N.J.; and Park City, Utah. The program also provides grantees access to subject matter experts and technical assistance through partnerships with the Thriving Earth Exchange and ecoAmerica.
In announcing this year’s grantees, National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony said that, “From the western fires to the increased hurricane activity ravaging the coasts, climate change is a real threat to our nation’s cities, towns and villages.”
“Through collaboration, innovative approaches, and an unmatched passion for supporting their communities,” he said. “I’m confident that these local leaders will advance policies and programs to address their biggest local challenges.”
Freshman Rep. Rui Xu, whose 25th District covers much of Roeland Park, had made climate change policy a focus area during his campaign last fall, and said he was excited to hear Roeland Park had been awarded the grant.
“Climate change is going to be one of the defining issues of the next several generations, and with progress slow at the state level, I am very thankful for Mayor Kelly and Roeland Park taking leadership at the local level,” Xu said in a statement.