Climate Action Collaborative: We need your help to accomplish our climate goals

Gina McCrackin
Climate Action Collaborative
Gina McCrackin

Rochester, Michigan. One measly drop in a vast sea of suburban development that is Metro-Detroit. One might think it would be hard to develop an environmental ethic while living amongst urban sprawl, but I found my havens.

I was fortunate to grow up in one of the only homes in my suburb that backed into an undeveloped wooded area. The Paint Creek River flowed through my backyard, and a large pond behind that, where I’d catch fish and crawfish, and squint into the distance looking for turtles perched on felled trees. These are the childhood memories — the moments of inspiration and simple joys — that forged my reciprocal relationship with the Earth.

Fast forward to 2014, and a place not too far from my home was making national headlines: Flint, Michigan. As I watched the Flint Michigan Water Crisis unfold before my eyes, I began to understand that the state of our environment is not just happenstance. We sit upon a legacy of decisions from our predecessors and hope that their decisions, and the decisions we make today, are in good faith.

Unfortunately for Flint, Michigan, and many other communities across the nation, much of this legacy has been rooted in systemic environmental racism. This was a sobering realization for me. Armed with a love for my environment from my childhood, I now added a desire for justice and ethical leadership to my arsenal.

I moved to Colorado in 2016 to attend Colorado State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. At CSU, I worked as the deputy director, and then director, of Environmental Affairs for my student government. I also served as an ambassador for the Energy Institute, an intern for the Center for Collaborative Conservation, and as a research assistant for the hydrology department.

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While in these roles, I started the university’s first community-based textile and thin-film plastics recycling programs, organized and sat on a panel discussing the city of Fort Collins’ renewable electricity commitments, helped pass legislation for a $100,000 student-funded solar array, and represented student interests on the CSU President’s Sustainability Commission.

Upon graduating from CSU, I moved to Logan, Utah, to begin a research program at Utah State University, receiving a Master of Environmental Sociology. Coupling sociology with my background in natural resources allowed me to study the intersections of social inequality and environmental issues, in many ways coming back to my Flint, Michigan-inspired roots. For my thesis, I examined how climate change was being discussed differently between Indigenous and Western news media outlets. It was a privilege and honor to work closely with the Indigenous community in northern Utah.

Yet, when I was living in Utah, I realized just how much I missed Colorado, as most people who leave this great state do. I decided to re-orient my job search and climate work toward Colorado and found myself at one of the best organizations, situated in one of the best communities, in the state. It is an honor to work at Walking Mountains Science Center and serve the Eagle County community through my work — which we’ve been doing a lot of.

On May 23, I started my first day as the Climate Action Collaborative manager and kicked off the CAC’s quarter two working group meetings. We have some ambitious goals for this year, many of which are progressing quickly.

Thanks to Lotus Engineering and Sustainability, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and the state of Colorado, we will be partnering to develop an Eagle County Code Cohort, and assisting municipalities in passing the 2021 IECC building codes, a big step toward sustainable, energy-efficient buildings.

Additionally, with the help of each municipality, we will be crafting an Electric Vehicle Plan for the county, helping to build out infrastructure to accommodate the projected rise in EVs across the state. Other goals on our horizon include passing a building benchmarking ordinance, expanding rooftop solar accessibility, doing a carbon sequestration accounting, and acquiring an anaerobic digester, all of which advance our Climate Action Plan goals. We have a big agenda ahead of us, and our community’s support is critical to accomplishing it!

Gina McCrackin is the new Climate Action Collaborative manager at Walking Mountains Science Center. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

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