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Lessons from the Jefferson Center’s OH Climate Dialogue

We learned from our members at the 2014 NCDD conference that D&D practitioners are looking for ways to help their communities have more conversations on climate change, so we wanted to make sure to share this piece about a process model used by NCDD member organization the Jefferson Center to do just that. Their climate dialogue in Ohio follows up on similar efforts from last year, and offers some key insights on good process for discussing climate change.

We encourage you to read their piece below or to find the original by clicking here.


Northeast Ohio Dialogue on Water & Climate

On January 29th, 2015, the Jefferson Center hosted a one-day community deliberation event in Lakeland, Ohio as part of our ongoing Northeast Ohio Climate Engagement Initiative.

The event, the Northeast Ohio Dialogue on Water & Climate, brought together community members to identify the most significant challenges a changing climate presents for the long-term quality of life in the Northeast Ohio region and to assess the importance of water and climate issues relative to other local concerns. The Dialogue convened a demographically-balanced group of twelve Northeast Ohio residents to explore the local impacts of climate change and deliberate together to identify collective priority concerns.

Community Priorities

At the beginning of the day, participants identified their top policy priorities related to local quality of life to share with community and local leaders. Shortly after, Professor Terry O’Sullivan of the University of Akron joined us to discuss climate change and its impacts on the region. Participants spent the rest of the day deliberating with one another to identify top climate-related concerns before reevaluating their overall issue concerns to see if climate issues had become more important after the day’s activities.

The final community-generated list of top priority concerns included:

  1. The effects of climate change on local water resources
  2. Economic issues, broadly
  3. The direct effects of climate change on the economy
  4. Police-community relations
  5. Education

Event Evaluation

Participants were asked to complete pre- and post-event surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the Northeast Ohio Dialogue on Water and Climate and assess shifts in behavior.

9 out of 12 participants indicated their views on climate change shifted as a result of the forum.

11 out of 12 participants indicated the Jefferson Center was “very effective” in conducting a fair and unbiased event.

In discussion, participants emphasized the importance of a strong economy as the key concern upon which action on other issues depended. The group was particularly interested in learning about both the threats and opportunities climate change directly presents to Northeast Ohio’s economy.

Driving the Conversation

The Dialogue served as a pilot to test a novel framework for assessing community-driven responses to the impacts of climate change. We hope this one-day model of citizen education and deliberation will be used by policymakers and advocacy organizations to increase public involvement in developing and implementing responses to climate change.

We will continue to work with local policymakers, public officials, and other key stakeholders to incorporate citizen priorities in their planning process. We’re thankful to Freshwater Future for supporting our climate engagement initiative, and to our local partners for their help in organizing this community-oriented awareness and engagement forum.

You can find the original version of this piece at http://jefferson-center.org/northeast-ohio-dialogue-on-water-and-climate.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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