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City of South Pasadena – Involving the Public in Climate Change Action

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Civic Engagement

Community involvement in South Pasadena has enriched the city’s efforts to address climate change and provide information to residents.

Community:South Pasadena (Los Angeles County)

Population: 24,574


South Pasadena encourages residents to become involved with the city’s efforts to raise awareness and stimulate action on climate change by serving on a city commission, collaborating on a bicycle master plan, and volunteering to plan the annual Green Living Expo/ Clean Air Car Show/ Film Festival.

Program Highlights

  • Over thirty local residents, including city officials and youth commissioners, meet monthly to plan an event now in its third year, that draws 5,000-8,000 people annually to learn about climate change and a variety of green practices.
  • Residents serve on the city’s Natural Resources and Environmental Commission, which recently proposed a green purchasing policy for city agencies.
  • Over one hundred residents participated in creating and revising a master plan for bicycling in the city.

Lessons Learned

  • Understand your target audience and be able to provide information in non-technical terms to different people who may not understand the complicated terms and concepts involved in climate change.
  • Let people know how climate change affects them individually, such as by talking about how air pollution affects their children’s and pet’s health.
  • When designing an event to raise awareness about climate change, offer a variety of activities so you can cast a wider net and attract more participants; offer a comprehensive event that includes the entire family.

The Rest of the Story…

Many Opportunities to Get Involved

Residents in South Pasadena have several options to get involved in efforts to address climate change and to help educate and inspire their neighbors to take action.

Annual Event Highlights Climate Change and Sustainability Information

The city holds a popular free Clean Air Car Show/ Green Living Expo/ Film Festival, which has drawn growing numbers of attendees each year. At the second annual event in 2008, about 8,000 people from the region attended. The event offered an array of activities for the whole family.

The event’s success is due in no small part to the dedicated group of over thirty residents who meet monthly to plan and organize it. Small groups are formed to discuss specific topics. Organizers have included youth commissioners, elected city officials, state agency representatives, representatives of the local gas utility, and community members interested in environmental issues.

The goal of the event is to inform the public about how to reduce their carbon footprint and to make them aware of the implications of not doing so. It also provides them the resources to take individual action to address climate change. A variety of activities and presentations are available for attendees who are knowledgeable about environmental issues and want the latest information and those who are new to the topic. The event includes a car show, film and lectures, demonstrations on installing home solar systems, xeriscaping, and creating water-wise gardens.

Residents Involved in City Commissions

Residents also volunteer to serve a three-year term on the city’s Natural Resources and Environmental Commission. Commissioners advise the city on a variety of environmental efforts. For example, the commission recently proposed a green purchasing policy for city operations that is currently under review.

Over one hundred South Pasadena residents participated in creating the city’s bicycle master plan. Originally drafted in 1998 and currently undergoing revision, this plan is the result of parents expressing concerns to the Mayor about the need for safe routes to school and safe places for their children to ride their bikes. An ad hoc committee appointed by the city council is working to update the plan.

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board. 


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