KLA Perspectives

Tools to Leverage for Online Earth Day + Community Engagement

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Apr 21, 2020 1:32:15 PM

This week is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but all the typical ways we would celebrate -- local Earth Day fairs, park clean ups, school projects -- are not possible during a time of COVID19 social distancing. And it’s not just Earth Day events. Communities large and small are kicking off or in the middle of community engagement efforts for sustainability, climate action and resilience plans.  

The show must go on. 

And we've captured here some of the ways to keep momentum going on these important issues -- including Livestreaming, virtual meetings (with breakout rooms, polling and more),  social media content, storymaps, and more. 

We're looking forward to seeing all the creative ways local governments and nonprofits are engaging people in virtual events and activities on Earth Day and beyond. 

Shout out to Nashua, NH, for letting their residents explore all the renewable energy installations in town virtually. We worked with them to add this "storymap" feature to their newly revamped Livable Nashua Dashboard utilizing the Knight Foundation's free StoryMap tool.  Click on the image below to check out how Nashua is showcasing their clean energy progress in an innovative way. 

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Community Engagement in an Age of Social Distancing

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Mar 19, 2020 4:03:38 PM

We hope you and your family are staying healthy and safe during these scary times. The threats to our public health and economy are unprecedented, yet the responses of communities nationwide rallying together while staying physically apart keep us going. 

May you also find success transitioning to working from home (as you can see, we moved a team strategy session to Zoom with plenty of smiles), keeping your kids educated and entertained, and tracking down toilet paper and wipes. 

The uncertainty around the trajectory of COVID19 makes it unlikely that any public events will go forward as planned this spring -- including Earth Day (the international celebration has moved to a digital mobilization event) or community engagement around sustainability, climate and/or resilience planning. Even smaller stakeholder meetings will be impacted.  

Cancellation is not your only option! Be resilient! In fact, for the sake of our communities and our planet, the show must go on in some shape or form. There are plenty of options for creative workarounds.

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Karen Kao Joins KLA as Project Manager

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Feb 24, 2020 2:24:09 PM

If there is one thing the KLA team has been so far in 2020 it's BUSY! With a raft of new sustainability, resilience and climate action work, we are thrilled to welcome Karen Kao to the team as Project Manager!

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Welcome Kari Hewitt to the KLA Team

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jan 11, 2020 1:55:01 PM

New year, new face at KLA. We are thrilled to welcome Kari Hewitt to the KLA Team as Director of Client Services. She joins us from VHB after 10 years, most recently as Director of Sustainability -- and where she and I worked together. 

Kari will hit the ground running leading our work with the State of Delaware in developing their Climate Action Plan, supporting our MVP action grant clients in Massachusetts, and continuing to expand our reach throughout the country.

Many of you already know Kari and will share our excitement about adding her expertise and energy at this critical time. For those who will just now have the pleasure of working with her, I did a quick Q&A with Kari so you could hear from her in her own words. 

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Denver's Chief Storyteller on the Power of Stories to Engage Your Community

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Oct 29, 2019 12:35:14 PM

In the local government world, we are constantly trying to push information OUT to members of our community. A new initiative. Results from a previous initiative. A planning process. A public forum. A revamped website. Even when we’re seeking people’s feedback, we’re asking them *our* questions in a survey.  

Which is why I found my recent conversation with Rowena Alegria for KLA’s SAS Talk with Kim podcast so fascinating. Alegria has the supremely cool title of Chief Storyteller for the City and County of Denver, Colorado, and the even cooler goal to “change the history of Denver,” one story at a time. 


Her team’s approach -- the core of which is a “storytelling lab” -- has had the amazing result of turning interactions with residents into two-way conversations, the holy grail of community engagement. And these aren’t just the usual suspects. Denver’s storytelling labs have drawn a diverse array of Denverites and catalogued stories that you won’t hear at a typical public meeting. 

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Topics: community engagement, storytelling

Massachusetts' MVP Program: New Funding Will Keep Driving Local Climate + Resilience Action

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Oct 3, 2019 3:19:32 PM

Concord. Devens. Dedham. Holliston. Holyoke. New Bedford. Milton. Northampton. Wakefield. Watertown. Wellesley.  Weston.  

To say we’ve been busy helping all of these clients with their Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) work is an understatement. We tap our experience working with cities of all shapes and sizes nationwide -  from Encinitas, CA, to San Antonio, TX, and West Palm Beach, FL - and bring to the table a range of innovative approaches to climate, resilience and overall sustainability with strong results for smaller Massachusetts communities.  

And with a new round of MVP funding just announced, we're ready to keep rolling. 

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New Resource! 4 Steps to Add Street Teams to Your Equity + Community Engagement Efforts

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Sep 25, 2019 10:17:17 PM

KLA's Summer Intern takes a look at our latest resource, a 4-step guidance document on adding "street teams" to your community engagement strategies.

By: Claire McCoy

We know that one of the most effective ways to effectively engage your community during a planning or similar process is to get out in the community. To be present at community events. To convene small get-togethers. To show up at the places where people live, work, play and commute. 

But for busy local government staff, that can be a time and resource intensive exercise. And you might not be in the best position to get honest feedback. 


That’s why a key ingredient for robust, equitable engagement is street teams. 

Given the questions about and interest in street teams on our recent Equitable Engagement webinar, we pulled together a resource on the topic. It includes:

  • a detailed 4-step Recruit-Train-Coordinate-Evaluate process
  • best practices for getting your municipality’s first street team up and running
  • pro tips
  • resources like job descriptions and contracts 

Download our 4-Step Street Teams Guidance

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Topics: community engagement, equity, planning, youth outreach

Charlottesville's Youth Opportunity Coordinator on Reaching Young African American Men

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Sep 23, 2019 9:55:00 AM

Guest post by Annie Suttle, KLA's Director of Marketing and Communications and Charlottesville, VA, resident.

Equity is a nut many cities are trying to crack, often creating new staff positions to get to the root of the problem. That includes Charlottesville, Virginia’s Youth Opportunity Coordinator, charged with outreach primarily to young African American men, who joined us for a recent episode of our Sustainability Action Series podcast. 


Equitable engagement has been a prime area of focus for KLA and our clients in recent years, as cities from Indianapolis, IN, to New Bedford, MA, have worked with us to bring to the table folks you don’t always hear from -- and often the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in our communities. 

So I took notice when my local community publication Charlottesville Tomorrow ran a piece about the city’s relatively new Youth Opportunity Coordinator, Daniel Fairley. The position and its charge seemed like a unique way to start tackling the problem in a place with a sullied reputation on this front. Let’s be honest, you hear “Charlottesville” and you probably think of it as the scene of the deadly white supremacist “Unite the Right” events of August 2017. Locals also know that just a year later the New York Times and Pro Publica ran a zinger of a story about the persistent racial divide and achievement gap in Charlottesville City Schools that led to, among other changes, a series of public forums, revamping of the gifted program, and the hiring of the first supervisor of equity and inclusion

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Portland + South Portland: Two Cities. One Climate Action Plan (New Podcast!)

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Aug 13, 2019 3:19:39 PM

In our latest podcast, Kim talks with Portland, Maine's Sustainability Coordinator and South Portland's Sustainability Director about breaking the mold with their joint climate action plan, One Climate Future. 

In the spirit of “we’re in this together,” countless neighboring cities and counties have worked side by side on climate and sustainability initiatives. True collaboration -- like developing a single climate action plan -- is rare, but Portland and South Portland, Maine, are breaking the mold of what is possible.  In fact, as we were writing this post we learned that two Florida cities -- Oakland Park and Wilton Manors -- released “what is thought to be the US’ first joint climate action plan [called Two Cities, One Sustainable Future] by neighboring municipalities” (according to Smart Cities World). 

KLA is lucky to have been involved with the Portland and South Portland One Climate Future initiative from the early stages, including helping to develop the name and branding. 

I recently talked to Portland’s Sustainability Coordinator, Troy Moon and South Portland’s Sustainability Director, Julie Rosenbach about the roots of this unique partnership and where these two cities are headed together. 


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It's Earth Overshoot Day. Time to #MoveTheDate

Posted by Kim Lundgren on Jul 29, 2019 2:43:19 PM

Today’s the day. Earth Overshoot Day. July 29, the earliest it has ever been. It marks the date when “humanity’s demand ecological resources (fish and forests, for example) and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.” 

From now until December 31, we’re living beyond our means. 

The KLA Team is joining the #MoveTheDate movement by posting our selfie photos and videos about why we need to move the date and the steps we’re taking to get there. 

Watch below! 

You can do the same (tips here) -- it’s easy just add #MoveTheDate!

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