Groundwork: Active Austinites
What's doing at the grassroots level
Whatever the city may do (or not do), creative energy for climate action is also rising from the community. Austinites Jon Lebkowsky and Randy Jewart (of Austin Green Art) caught the fever from Bill McKibben at South by Southwest 07, then got involved with McKibben's nonprofit, 350.org. With Austinites David Armistead, Lauren Maples, and others established the Austin350.org website (350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon is the maximum limit recommended by NASA climate scientist James Hansen to avoid catastrophic global change). "Our goal is to build a community conversation about sustainability, starting with the 350 focus," said Lebkowsky, who's also involved with www.worldchanging.com. "People and businesses can sign up at Austin350.org, make a commitment to work at lowering their emissions, and say a bit about what they're already doing." For the International Day of Climate Action, Oct. 24, the Austin350 group is planning an "unconference" and a weeklong Commute-a-Thon event.
Brandi Clark and the Austin EcoNetwork have launched www.austineconetwork.com, an online community center for local sustainability, climate protection, and environmental efforts. The ACPP is also pursuing a Web-based social-networking site, with a local carbon calculator; possibly they could merge or share resources.
Several conversation and happy-hour groups have formed in the past year, as well. An informal coalition of local sustainability advocates called Bright Green aspires to serve as a community think tank. "There's really a lot of activity, discussion, and thinking about carbon, energy, sustainability, etc., but it hasn't quite cohered yet," said Lebkowsky. "The interest is certainly there."