Asheville Office of Sustainability engages BIPOC communities on climate justice initiative

Asheville Climate equity illustration


On Jan. 28, 2020, Asheville City Council passed a Resolution Endorsing Declaration of a Climate Emergency and Emergency Mobilization Effort to Restore a Safe Climate. You can read a copy of the resolution at this link.


The City’s Office of Sustainability would like to provide a community update on work related to this initiative since the resolution was adopted.


The Office of Sustainability began the work related to this initiative shortly after it was passed through outreach and community engagement designed to help inform the City’s response. As we move into 2021, the Office of Sustainability’s Climate Justice Initiative continues in partnership with Tepeyac Consulting. 


Engagement in 2020 yielded the development of the Climate Justice Data Map to help identify BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) communities most greatly impacted by climate change and a “Listening + “Learning” report from community leaders. Check out a summary of what City staff learned through this listening here. The Office of Sustainability would like to send a huge THANK YOU to all the community members who took the time to participate in these interviews and shared their valuable insights. 


Through this initiative, four (4) BIPOC communities were asked to participate in Story Circles, offering opportunities for frontline communities to come together around a conversation about their experiences, concerns, and ideas for climate resiliency and climate equity in their neighborhoods. This storytelling approach can build relationships, unveil the nuances of the barriers frontline communities experience in accessing services and supports, and potentially engage new leadership for further participation. 


Through the Office’s Urban Sustainability Directors Network Grant, the City is partnering with Word on the Street to create a photo project to document and reflect the realities of climate threats and climate resilience within their communities. Grant funding will support public kiosk display of the work and pay participants for their art and time.


Through this work with Tepeyac Consulting the City will craft a community-lead definition of Climate Equity and Climate Resiliency to help lead the City into the second phase of the work, creating a screening tool to be applied to City plans; providing an equity perspective from our BIPOC community members.


For more information, visit the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability webpage.