Community action for a better future
500 Cool Communities by 2020
There are over 5,000 communities across Canada. What if we helped them to organize for climate action?
We need to reach 36 million people across Canada and help them become part of Canada's commitment to climate action. We need to help them act in ways that help them improve their lives -- by saving money, coping with extreme weather, adapting to climate change, creating local jobs, improving their quality of life.
One of the best ways to connect with people is through our communities and the groups we belong to, but there is very little support for community planning and action. It's the missing link in Canada's climate plans.
It's time we organize our communities and harness the power and potential of community groups and volunteers in helping Canada shift to a low-carbon future.
Cool Communities are communities that are organized and ready to act. They will have the following five elements:
- a lead green group
- a community network of local groups
- a community scan of existing activities and assets
- a community climate action plan connecting climate action with community needs and opportunities
- action on the ground, including public engagement and community projects
Cool Communities are able to promote climate solutions that make sense for their community - matching climate action with social benefit. Solutions like:
- energy conservation,
- green energy,
- electric vehicles,
- local food,
- green jobs,
- green infrastructure, and
- complete communities.
Progress to Date
So how are we doing so far?
There is a tremendous amount of activity to organize communities to lobby for government action, but very little to organize communities as partners in climate action.
There are some excellent and longstanding programs and groups that support community action, including Green Communities Canada and Transition Towns, and there are many local green groups across the country. But when it comes to organizing entire communities for climate action or sustainable development, we have been unable to find current examples or any funding programs to support organizing communities for climate action.
- Community groups - over 100,000
- Community networks - 0
- community scans / asset maps - 0
- community action plans - 0
- community action - thousands of individual community projects with a climate action connection
While there is a strong level of volunteerism at the community level, the level of support for organizing an entire community is almost nonexistent.
We hope these numbers will change as more communities become aware of the value of a community network and climate plan, and as governments and funders integrate community organizing into their climate campaigns and plans.
Number of organized communities across Canada as of December 2017:
Press for government leadership
Ask your Councillor, MPP, and MP if there is funding for community organizing in their climate plan - assuming they have a climate plan! Tell them you would like to see a community organizing fund that would offer up to $40,000 for setting up a community network, drafting a community climate action plan, and raising community awareness about the opportunities for climate action.
Are you ready to organize?
The guide takes you through the six basic steps to organizing a community:
There are many other local groups in the community, and most of them will share an interest in climate action. A Cool Community brings them together to create a common plan and to support each other's ideas and activities.
Looking for Project Ideas?
We've got 50+ Ideas and links for community climate projects:
Canada's Cool Communities
Want to nominate a Cool Community?
We're looking for examples of communities that have organized themselves for climate action. Communities with:
- a lead group
- a community network
- a community scan
- a community climate action plan
- climate action on the ground (engagement or community projects)
If you have other examples or case studies, please let us know!
We're setting up a pilot project in the community of Parkdale in Toronto. See the Green Parkdale website for information
Other Community Models
Community organizing is nothing new (our twist is to focus on a community network and the co-benefits of climate action). Here are some other organizations and models you can connect with and that can also adopt a Cool Community approach.
Transition Towns is a global movement of community-led initiatives to organize and support the transition to a sustainable future. They start with a group of citizens coming together to form a Transition Town, and then grow from there to build working groups and networks around issues of interest.
There are a number of Transition Towns across Canada. Transition Guelph is great example of how well they can support local groups and initiatives.
Green Neighbours is a fast growing network of ward-based neighbourhood green groups in Toronto. The two oldest. Green 13 and Green Neighbours 21 have been active as volunteer community groups for years, raising awareness and collaborating on community projects.
In the early 1990s, several communities used the community action plan model to raise support across their community for setting up a lead organization - a green community. Green Communities are now Canada wide, and they excel in offering community programs.