Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Growing Climate Solutions Create Path to Positive Southwest Florida

Founding members (L-R: Rob Moher, Conservancy of Southwest
Florida; Dr. Greg Tolley, FGCU; Jennifer Roberts, ecoAmerica; Dr.
Mike Savarese, FGCU; Dr. Bob Gregerson, FGCU; Myra Williams,
Community Foundation of Collier County; Dr. Heather Skaza-
Acosta, Conservancy and FGCU; Sara Owen Southwest Florida
Community Foundation; and Tessa LeSage, Southwest )

Founding members (L-R: Rob Moher, Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Dr. Greg Tolley, FGCU; Jennifer Roberts, ecoAmerica; Dr. Mike Savarese, FGCU; Dr. Bob Gregerson, FGCU; Myra Williams, Community Foundation of Collier County; Dr. Heather Skaza- Acosta, Conservancy and FGCU; Sara Owen Southwest Florida Community Foundation; and Tessa LeSage, Southwest )

When local organizations, businesses, community foundations, faith communities and communities of health professionals and environmental educators, as well as citizens join together in partnership to build a grassroots coalition movement for creating positive change, they are demonstrating elements of the new worldview that author Charles Eisenstein wrote about in his latest book, Climate: A New Story. Such broad-based partnerships demonstrate not only the reality of Aristotle’s words, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but also the foundation of systems thinking and evidence of an emerging new worldview that is showing up in Growing Climate Solutions—Path to Positive Southwest Florida.

This three-year partnership to align community resources in an effort to address issues related to our region’s changing climate was recently formalized by the Community Foundation of Collier County, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “The founding group, Growing Climate Solutions – Path to Positive Southwest Florida, will work to build a coalition of residents across key community sectors with the goal of engaging stakeholders through educational and awareness-building efforts and in providing research and information that leads to local climate solutions that sustain our communities,” advises Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

“It’s exciting that everyone is prepared to drop everything to help and engage with the process to make things happen. This level of action infuses the project with a greater sense of urgency,” says Moher.

Partnering with ecoAmerica, a rapidly growing network of more than 200 mainstream institutions and leaders from outside the traditional environmental movement is essential. The national group, which will serve in an advisory role and help the coalition build education and outreach programs, builds institutional leadership, public support and political will for climate solutions in the U.S. Path to Positive Southwest Florida plans to learn from their critically sophisticated research around communication, climate and diverse sectors.

Growing Climate Solutions will be a bottom-up and top-down effort engaging communities in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties in finding commonsense, science-based solutions to address the emerging issues related to our changing climate with its more intense hurricanes, flooding and worsening water quality problems,” notes Moher.

Looking for broad representation by more than just mayors and congressional members the coalition wants to empower the entire community and its leaders to initiate change, beginning with learning how individuals, communities and businesses can strengthen their resilience.

“We have to remain positive in the face of urgency. We can’t be about the sky is falling, because panic is a wrong response that won’t help us to protect, restore and maintain the competitive advantage of our area’s unique characteristics, such as the conservation areas and mangrove forest that are our greatest defense. The 10,000 Islands took the brunt of Irma,” explains Moher.

The coalition is also looking to decrease the region’s footprint of greenhouse gases. “We’re casting a big net and urging everyone to be part of conversation. Anticipating a lot of community engagement in this major initiative, the Conservancy is hiring a full-time senior regional coordinator, thanks to philanthropic support. We’re looking for someone with great communication skills who can lead and collaborate; a bridge builder who is open-minded and capable of talking across sectors to handle our Blue Zones for climate change,” advises Moher.

There will be no superheroes in red capes flying to save the day. The partnership of teams working in collaboration, connectedness and unity to refocus away from impending catastrophe and doom is a powerful concept capable of cultivating meaningful connections and real, actionable steps to care for our natural world in Southwest Florida.

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