A little more than a year after a new coordinator took over the Sustainability and Resilience office, the city council voted to add two additional employees to the one-person operation.
“With a better staffed sustainability and resilience division we can start to make much more progress on implementing our climate action and resilience plan and also on communicating our progress to the public,” said Cara Pratt, the city’s Sustainability and Resilience coordinator.
Pratt, who entered office in October 2021, said there is a “renewed focus on climate action and resilience within our community.”
From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 28, the city is also relaunching its quarterly community climate action meetings at the Morton Civic Center.
“It’s a space for people to come and share either what they’re doing at home, or at their businesses or their institution, and just a space for networking and planning ahead,” Pratt said.
The city’s CARP work
After adopting its Climate Action and Resilience Plan, or CARP, in 2018, the city adopted an action agenda draft: a series of steps the city plans to take to align with its environmental goals, ranging from zero waste to energy. A key item for the first quarter of this year include a $0.15 plastic bag (and an eventual ban), expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and installation of solar energy at municipal buildings.
“We’re at a really important time for climate action and resilience investment,” Pratt said, citing the Inflation Reduction Act and other federal initiatives centered around climate action.
Still, there is much debate about how to combat climate change. A number of small business owners, leaders and community members expressed deep disapproval for a recently proposed bag tax at the city council meeting Monday, Jan. 9,
“I strongly encourage you to consider the effect on small businesses and find a way to work with the small businesses instead of against them,” said Katherine Gotsick, executive director for the Main-Dempster Mile business district, who said she also spoke for Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley.
The proposal was tabled and sent back to the Human Service Committee by the City Council.
With climate action efforts, Pratt said there’s a focus on the negative instead of all of the opportunities to improve communities and neighborhoods. Pratt said that climate action work is a marathon.
“We have to take advantage of any renewed attention that’s focused on sustainability work and environmental justice work,” she said. With the sustainability office expanding, she said she hopes for greater interaction with the community moving forward.