Understanding community perspectives of climate resilience in the Puget Sound region

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $2,990

Letter of Intent:

Background

The aim of this project is to better understand how frontline communities define climate resilience and identify perceived factors that support or undermine resilience. Frontline communities are communities most affected by the impacts of climate change, and are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and lower-income compared to state averages. Our ultimate goal is to use this enhanced understanding of resilience to support programming and policy development related to the Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), that will transition the state to clean electricity by 2045. The linkage between the proposed effort and the CETA is through ongoing collaboration by the WA state Department of Health (DOH), climate justice coalition Front and Centered (F&C), and several UW groups, including the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE), the Climate Impacts Group (CIG), and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS). The CETA requires a Cumulative Impacts Assessment (CIA) of the health impacts of fossil fuel pollution and future climate change on WA communities, which will guide policy decisions by state departments. This CIA will include a tool, based on work by DEOHS alumna, Esther Min, with F&C, which has mapped environmental health disparities across Washington. Resilience related to climate change is defined by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions as “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate.” Better understanding community perspectives on resilience can open our understanding of potential solutions. Currently, the CIA tool does not account for resilience, though it has been identified as a priority area for inclusion in future models. Resilience is highly subjective, and to meaningfully capture it, it is imperative to center the perspectives of frontline communities. To fit the scope of this funding opportunity, this project will focus on Puget Sound, and findings will guide future engagement around Washington.

 

Goals

Engage diverse community leaders in identifying factors related to climate resilience for frontline communities in the Puget Sound region. Identify pathways for continued research related to climate resilience with frontline communities in Washington.

 

Activities

This project includes five Zoom focus groups with 5-7 community organizers and leaders from frontline communities in the Puget Sound region. Focus group participants will be recruited through F&C and compensated at a rate of $50/hour. Discussions will focus on factors that have affected community ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to environmental hazards. Information from these focus groups will be transcribed and coded into preliminary themes. Once the themes are assembled, participants will be given a chance to provide feedback through a written summary or participation in a voluntary Zoom town hall. Feedback will be incorporated into a final report and development of communications materials for CHanGE, Front and Centered, and other interested partners. Recommendations from the project will be aimed at developing elements of the CIA tool related to community-identified drivers of climate resilience.

 

Timeline:

August: literature review, prepare for focus groups September: hold focus groups October: analyze focus group data and synthesize Early November: hold town hall event, incorporate feedback Late November: develop final reports and materials

 

“Climate change affects all, but not all people are affected equally.” - Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program As the impacts of climate change are increasing in intensity and frequency, we are seeing a growing disparity in how these impacts manifest within different communities (Snover et. al, 2013). BIPOC communities, as well as low-income communities, are at greatest risk for climate impacts. Their experience heightened vulnerability due to the cumulative effects of systemic inequality, compounded by racism, income, living conditions, age, location, occupation, health, and language barriers, as well as disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards (UW Climate Impact Groups et al., 2018)(Yuen et al., 2017). These disparities are often the result of structural and institutional racism and discrimination, perpetuated both in policy outcomes as well as traditional top-down policy-making and implementation processes that often fail to include the perspectives and priorities of the communities most impacted (Yuen et al., 2017). Snover, A.K, G.S. Mauger, L.C. Whitely Binder, M. Krosby, and I. Tohver. (2013). Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Washington State: Technical Summaries for Decision Makers. State of Knowledge UW Climate Impacts Group, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Front and Centered and Urban@UW. (2018). An Unfair Share: Exploring the disproportionate risks from climate change facing Washington state communities. Yuen, T., Yurkovich, E., Grabowski, L., & Altshuler, B. (2017). Guide to equitable, community-driven climate preparedness planning. A report prepared for the Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

 

This project is intended to solicit community perceptions regarding factors that affect climate resilience, and start a conversation around integrating the concept of resilience into how we quantify climate impacts in Washington state and how to promote the resilience of the most highly affected, in particular. While the first version of the CIA tool is expected to be released in December 2020, researchers are already starting to workshop ideas for future models or parallel tools, and the timing of this project aligns well with expanding our understanding of climate impacts to include the role of resilience for subsequent projects. In the short term, the project will be evaluated based on its ability to meet to following goals and objectives: 1.To engage diverse community leaders in identifying themes related to resilience to climate impacts for frontline communities in the Puget Sound region - Objective 1: At least 25 community leaders and organizers representing at least five organizations/communities will participate in a focus group between September and October 2020. - Indicators: number of focus group participants, number of organizations represented - Objective 2: At least 50% of focus group participants will give feedback on research findings - Indicators: number of town hall participants, proportion of town hall participants who had participated in a focus group, number of participants who give written feedback on research summary 2. To identify pathways for continued research and programming related to climate resilience for frontline communities in Washington state - Objective 1: In the reports to CETA/CIA and CSF, include recommendations of next steps for continued research and programming - Indicators: completed recommendations section of final report, recommended outreach plan for developing indicators of resilience and related factors, gathering additional data, potential sources of quantitative data, potential data gaps, and implications for public health practice and policy

 

- Compensation for interviewees: $1000 ($50/participant x 20 participants)
- Researcher time: $1490 ($20/hour x 74.5 hours)
- Second coder’s time: $500 ($20/hour x 25 hours)
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Total: $2990

 

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Leah Wood