The National League of Cities (NLC) awarded $10,000 to eight cities across the country this week in an effort to build capacity to "take action on climate change," with Roeland Park, Kansas, being one of them.
"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,"NLC's CEO and executive director Clarence E. Anthony said in a release. He added, "through collaboration, I'm confident that these local leaders will advance policies and programs to address their biggest local challenges."
The other cities in the 2019 Leadership in Community Resilience program are Anchorage, Alaska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Denton, Texas; Durham, North Carolina; Evanston, Illinois; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Park City, Utah.
Some cities, such as Durham, plan to explore solar power and energy storage.
Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly intends to boost efforts already underway in the Kansas City metro area.
"While we may have all been doing our own endeavors to combat climate change or to make our communities more sustainable," Kelly said, "we realize that the air that we breathe and the water that we drink doesn't stop at jurisdictional boundaries."
Roeland Park is one of the smaller municipalities in the area, but the effects of climate change, like drought and flooding, are widespread. Cities, like Kansas City, Missouri, have adopted their own climate protection plans. And organizations such as the Mid-America Regional Council have led community discussions exploring the potential impact on water, public health, energy, and housing.
"So what we want to do is to provide a mechanism by which we can collectively advocate together for our entire Kansas City metro area community," Kelly said, "to advocate for best practices, both at the local level, but then at the regional level."
Kelly will co-chair an effort with Councilwoman Lindsey Constance of Shawnee, Kansas, to establish a Kansas City Regional Climate Compact, to set goals "towards a more resilient, a healthier, and a more economically vibrant Kansas City metro area."
The first annual summit is scheduled for Sept. 14 at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. Plans are still in the works, but the likely keynote speaker and panel discussions will be open to the public.
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.