24-hour Climathon gives Hoosiers a voice in tackling climate change locally 

click to enlarge The first Climathon was held in 2015 with 19 cities around the world participating. - CLIMATE-KIC.ORG
  • The first Climathon was held in 2015 with 19 cities around the world participating.
  • climate-kic.org
There is no question that climate change is a huge elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. But when it comes to making effective change to tackling the issue, the sheer magnitude of the issue can be more than overwhelming. The only way to tackle something big is a little piece at a time.

Essentially that is the concept behind Climathon. And Indianapolis is doing its part to by participating in the global event.

“Climathon is worldwide,” says Jeff Bennett, deputy mayor for community development in Indianapolis. “So, October 28 is when cities around the world are participating in various self-design challenges to try to solve the issue of climate change as it relates to their specific community.”

The first Climathon, held in 2015, included 19 cities around the world. This year there are 59 cities in 36 countries currently scheduled to participate in this event. The majority of the participants are in Western Europe, but there are others in India, China, Africa, the Middle East and South America. But only two cities participating in Climathon are in the United States — Indianapolis and Washington D. C. Only two more are located in North America — one in Canada and another in Mexico.

The concept of Climathon is simple — people within the cities that they live in brainstorm for 24 hours about ideas on how to address, stop, slow down and/or reverse climate change In their individual cities and neighborhoods. Topics for consideration include (but are not limited to) urban planning, infrastructure, housing, water use, waste removal and much more.

“There will be some information that goes out to participants that will outline how the 24 hours will go, but then literally it becomes a 24-hour idea generation and then design concept that gets judged by a panel at the end of that 24 hours,” says Bennett. “So it remains to be seem what type of projects we will get out of that conversation. It’s almost that the exercise itself is as important as the ideas that generated to get people thinking about this problem at a neighborhood scale.”

Specifically for Indianapolis, our Climathon initiative, dubbed INvision Resiliency, will be geared toward finding neighborhood-scale solutions. The projects the evolve from the 24 hours of crowd-sourced brain power will be piloted in the Great Places 20/20 neighborhoods in the city with the long-term goal of spreading environmental wealth into all Indy neighborhoods once deemed successful.

The projects selected by the panel of judges to pilot will be funded for start-up through a grant from the McKinney Foundation.

So, who exactly can participate in this monster brain-storming session aimed at making our little corner of the world better?

Anyone who cares about climate change and wants to make a difference can participate.

It could even be you.

“You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to have passion and a willingness to pitch in as either part of a team or as an individual,” says Bennett. “We want to cast a wide net and let’s see where ideas come from, from any source.”

Interested persons or groups can sign up to participate as a team or as an individual. The team concept is a popular one so the 24-hour event is covered without having to stay awake the entire 24 hours. Sign-ups for the event will be accepted through Friday, October 21 at SustainIndy.org or by calling 31-327-4000.

“We’re certainly interested in the concepts that come out of it, but what also interests me is identifying groups of people or individuals who like to be engaged on civic-related issues,” says Bennett. “So it’s more than just about someone’s passion for addressing climate change, but it’s their willingness to help us think creatively about lots of things, whether it’s storm water management or recycling or sustainability broadly defined. It’s always cool to find new energetic kinds of people who are willing to pitch in to make the city a better place to live."

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Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.

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