Linn County wants to know how climate change is impacting residents, what actions should be prioritized

Cedar Rapids climate march, Dec. 6, 2019. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

Linn County wants to know how climate change is affecting its residents and what climate action the county should prioritize. The county’s sustainability department is collecting public input through an online survey.

The survey asks how residents think about climate change and what challenges they faced during climate disaster events, including the derecho and the 2008 flood. The survey also asks what type of climate action is most important to residents, and potential barriers to taking action.

Linn County’s Sustainability Program Manager Tamara Marcus told Little Village earlier this year it is important to give residents a platform to share their opinions regarding climate action.

Marcus emphasized it is vital to create a space where people can ask questions, voice concerns and advocate for themselves because community input is “equally and sometimes even more important than any study you could reference.”

“People know what they need, especially those who don’t have what they need,” Marcus said. “… I think part of this work is reimagining these traditional processes of government and how we have approached climate adaptation or even other reform work within communities previously.”

Marcus, the county’s first sustainability program manager, started her position about a week after the Aug. 10 derecho. She said it would be a “missed opportunity” to fail to look at the derecho’s impact on residents because of how “this shared natural disaster… impacted people differently.”

Linn County Sustainability will also use community partner focus groups to get more input on climate action needs, according to a news release. The groups will be led by Mount Mercy sociology professor Thadeus Atzmon and will help determine the county’s next steps.

Participants will be from 13 various organizations and nonprofits, the NAACP, Linn Clean Energy District, HACAP, Trees Forever, Iowa Renewable Energy Training Center at Prairiewoods, Feed Iowa First, Indian Creek Nature Center, United Way of East Central Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, AmeriGas, Linn County Planning and Department, Marion Alliance for Racial Equity, and the Cedar Rapids Solid Waste & Recycling Division.

The online survey will close on Friday, April 2.

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