|Getting Started||What's Next|
|Finding Others||Joining ICLEI|
|Becoming a Cool City||Schools and Churches|
|Working w/Others||Keeping others engaged|
So what is a Cool City? These are cities that have made a commitment to curb global warming by signing the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Begun in 2005, the Cool Cities campaign empowers city residents and local leaders to join and encourage their cities to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future.
Global warming requires action at every level. Cool Cities not only brings real solutions to local levels it also showcases solutions for others to model and builds leadership to ensure solutions are implemented at state levels and nation-wide. Hybrid cars, energy efficient buildings, and renewable energy are just a few of the many ways to make this real.
Evanston, IL passed a resolution for 20% renewable energy - 5.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to power more than 500 U.S. homes annually by adding wind farms to their electrical grid. Warwick, RI has replaced all 113 traffic lights and 59 crosswalk signals with LED lights resulting in a 1200 ton reduction in carbon emissions. The city estimates that it will recoup its costs in about two years and save tens of thousands of dollars every year after that.
You can make this real in your city too! Volunteers across the country are joining and leading teams, guided by our detailed toolkit and resources and have the support of their peers across the country as well as an expert team. Our campaign offers you the tools you need to make a difference in your community.
Getting started is easy- click here for ideas on getting started in your community.
The next step is to work toward accomplishing the specific goals outlined in the pledge. Your campaign may ask for a carbon inventory and creation of a climate action plan, you might ask for the creation of a citizen task force, or you may have determined that your next step is to push for a specific policy in green buildings, green fleets, or renewable energy.
The key is to engage the community. Reach out and invite the participation of community partners. See Step 2 in our toolkit to find out how to get others more involved.
Your campaign group can ask your city to join ICLEI as a next step after signing the US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. You can help by providing basic information, but it is up to city staff to contact ICLEI directly (see below).
Frequently asked questions about ICLEI can be found on their website.
Local governments may apply for membership in ICLEI by downloading an application form and faxing or mailing it to ICLEI. ICLEI will invoice for yearly membership dues in the Council. Upon receipt of your payment, and subject to approval by the Executive Committee, ICLEI will consider your municipality or organization a member. A package with ICLEI’s publications and a letter discussing how we can work in a mutually supportive manner will be sent and the local government contact will be added to both the ICLEI e-news and annual Initiatives newsletter mailing list. Note that campaigns and individuals volunteers do not join ICLEI.
Schools and churches can be important allies and help carry out campaign actions (letter writing, for example) to persuade your Mayor to do the right thing). You can also ask your school principal or church leaders to make in-house greenhouse gas reductions, publicize the changes, and involve all stakeholders. If the Mayor has already signed on, ask for their support getting specific next steps accomplished with green buildings, green fleets, or support for renewable energy.
Look for ways to work together. Budget the time it takes to work in coalitions- the effort is worth it when done right. There are some things you can do jointly, and some things that you do in your own name. Be up front and clear about expectations and what you want in exchange. For example, which organizations will provide the principle spokespeople for the campaign? Who will host a statewide mayor’s event? Perhaps split up regional affiliates by geography and strongholds. Make sure everyone is working towards the same goals. If another group isn’t working toward the specific issues of your campaign, perhaps they are a better letterhead coalition member than a working partner on a steering committee. Always share credit.
This is why we suggest campaigns ask the Mayor to create a citizen task force. It helps keep control of the campaign, creates leadership opportunities, and keeps the focus on accountability.
Keep volunteers energized around exciting, doable goals. Make it urgent- even if you give yourself the deadline. For example, give yourself two months to collect 3,000 signatures to ask the Mayor to enact a green building incentive policy. Create an award for your campaigner who gathers the most petitions. Make a media event out of reaching your goal, and deliver the postcards with a creative media event. Give yourself a deadline and have fun reaching it.
Establish regular communications with your climate activists and community partners- a newsletter, twice-monthly e-mail update, or listerv.
Hold face to face meetings once a month. These meetings are a great way for the group to bond, share ideas, and brainstorm future events. Don’t forget the social aspect of campaigning.
Conduct ongoing events and activities. Publicize them ahead of time. Connect Cool Cities to one of Sierra Club’s greatest strengths- outings. Make an outing of a bio-diesel plant tour, a green building demo, or even a canoe paddle- invite a knowledgeable leader who can talk about how global warming affects the community.
Make a big deal out of the climate action plan- create a press release and get media coverage of the event. Prep reporters ahead of time on what it means. Use fun, highly visible tactics. Past winners include: CFL giveaways, clean energy film fests, hybrid car tours. Think of visible, bold goals like a wind turbine off the main highway exit (Washington, DC), green rooftops (Chicago, IL), or solar panels at City Hall- all solution-oriented examples that instantly speak to what our campaign is about.
Look for tie-ins to national events such as Earth Day, Step It Up, Live-Earth concerts. Set up house parties or tabling opportunities to connect.
Recruitment never stops. Develop campaign activities that encourage new people to get involved- don’t let your campaign devolve into three overworked people collecting data to complete a carbon emissions inventory with staff. Remember, this is a campaign, and the more people there are involved, the more momentum, the more visibility, the more numbers, and the more people asking for change.
Hold a planning meeting to review your goals. If the Mayor has signed on, focus on the next specific goal for green buildings, green fleets, or renewables. Work with allies, and use tactics that make sense for your new goals, i.e., US Green Building Coalition, Habitat for Humanity, and AIA make great partners for a green building campaign- use tactics that make sense for accomplishing that.
If You Have Additional Questions:
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