• Nic de la Fuente

Neuro Strategies Hard Launch

Climate Change and Connectedness

Climate change is being discussed more than ever before in our lifetime. The consistent, dedicated, and relentless leaders in the field have worked for decades to get us to this current point of saturation within local and national media, and policy discussions from the international to city and state level. There is clear consensus that we need to get to net zero carbon emissions and a clear consensus around the highest contributing industries to climate change that need innovation, overhaul, and modifications (i.e., cement plants, the fossil fuel industry, transportation industry, industrial cattle operations etc.). There is also clear consensus that there needs to be an appetite for risk, and long-term venture funding to bankroll the new technologies and breakthroughs we need within those main industries.

The argument is that investors, (i.e. philanthropy and government) need to be investing in experimental innovations to achieve breakthroughs in key industries with the understanding that hundreds of millions of dollars may be lost while investing in breakthrough technologies that may ultimately fail. It is encouraging to see that level of financial dedication to transform the largest emitting industries. It is my hope that the same level of dedication will follow suit through financial investment in the community leaders, local government, local organizations, collaboratives, and school districts that are all working on addressing localized climate change initiatives.

While the high-level investment in technological breakthroughs is encouraging, that same appetite for long term investment does not exist within the equally important work among community organizations developing innovative breakthroughs on a community and neighborhood level. Most climate change literature throws in the towel when it comes to the politics, wedge campaigns, climate change deniers, finger pointing and virtue signaling that divides the climate community and keeps the everyday person disengaged. What I see is a glaring gap between that of a clear, focused plan to shift these big industries, and a clear admission that (1) experts do not know what to do about the divisive politics of the issue, and (2) they don’t know how to engage the everyday person and local communities. Compounding the manufactured division among the climate community is the systemic nature in which local organizations, government, schools, and community groups are pitted against one another in the competitive system to receive funding from foundations and government. The competition for funding facilitates silos, and can discourage communication, connectedness, and collaboration. In short, I see the competition for resources among nonprofits no different than I see politicians competing for votes. Both systems keep people from coming together around big issues like climate change for clear, collective goals for our communities moving forward.

However, that does not have to be the case. The more that our local organizations, communities, and local government come together and develop short- and long-term collaborative goals, the better the ability for local communities to shape how, and where money is invested, and ultimately build an appetite for long term, risk tolerant funding for community level initiatives and projects.

I work with many individuals, organizations and collaboratives who are brilliant in their efforts to convene and connect communities. Many of which are working in some shape or form, albeit not directly named, climate change work. In fact, I would argue that my colleagues who are geniuses of inclusive community connectivity are the most important people and organizations that we could be supporting during this time. Why? Because climate change is such a hard issue of which to create a sense of urgency around until your house bursts in flames from an ever-increasing fire season, your well runs dry, or your grandmother dies because the AC went out in the summertime in Phoenix. Without direct causation it’s a hard issue to get people engaged in, if they do not feel connected to a community and place.

By stark contrast, every person on this planet got to experience a global level of urgency from the Covid pandemic. We have an opportunity right now to capture and leverage those lessons learned by every person on this planet. The Neuro Strategies Hard Launch is an attempt to do just that. To make this happen we will deploy a creative gathering with an old cement phone booth from the 1800’s converted to a living time capsule to serve as the vehicle in which the Phoenix community can gather, lay out their dreams and aspirations for themselves and their community. This launch event will serve as the big bang, with the intention of breathing new life into cross sector communication, collaboration and partnership among the many people doing fantastic work in the field. The theme of the time capsule will correlate with the existing international focus on the year 2050, to reach carbon neutrality. Therefore, we will ask our community about their goals, plans and aspirations for their communities in 2050, and we will also ask how they plan to chip away at those goals within the next 5 years. Because this time capsule is a relic in time, we will plan to reconvene around this time capsule every five years, until the year 2050 to assess our growth, and rework our plans.

The consequences of climate change are dire, and like any other system, it’s the global poor that suffer the consequences. However, the message of doom and gloom has done little to mobilize those who understand they are the recipients of systemic oppression. This launch event is one of inspiration, connection, and humanity. There are brilliant people all around us, there are projects unfolding that many are not aware of, and there are policies being passed that can be leveraged. The local food system work is growing, the need for shade trees is clear, transportation and community planning is shifting, and our schools and local business are preparing for the education and jobs of the future. By convening our community with humility, open ears, and curiosity, we can expect to find the local solutions from the local community. Join us, let your voice be heard, and lay out your five-year plan that will guide your vision for the Phoenix of 2050 that you want to build for future generations.

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