By Steve Thompson, Executive Director
Through a new partnership with Montana universities, local governments, and community groups, the National Center for Appropriate Technology has launched a new initiative to strengthen community-based climate resilience across Montana.
To get the project off the ground, NCAT is partnering with Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) to host two AmeriCorps VISTA members in Butte. With guidance from NCAT’s clean energy and sustainable agriculture staff, they will help develop climate resilience plans locally and across the state.
We invite applications from motivated individuals committed to public service and eager to work on local climate solutions. Applications are available here, through MTCC – scroll down through Butte AmeriCorps listings – with an anticipated starting date of early November 2021.
One VISTA position will focus on supporting the City and County of Butte-Silver Bow to coordinate a multi-stakeholder group that will design a climate adaptation and green energy plan, in partnership with Montana Tech University. The county’s project will be supported by a National Science Foundation grant through a pilot project led by EcoAdapt, a national nonprofit.
The other VISTA position will work with the Climate Smart Montana network of communities, which is coordinated through Montana State University, to develop an action plan to boost community resilience under strategies outlined in the Montana Climate Solutions Plan. The state plan was adopted by state agencies and former Governor Steve Bullock in 2020. One strategy envisioned in the plan is to establish a statewide AmeriCorps program focused on community climate solutions.
The Montana Department of Commerce also will be a partner through its Montana Ready Communities Initiative. In January 2021, NCAT partnered with Commerce to finalize the AmeriCorps VISTA-developed Montana Resilience Framework for Communities, a step-by-step process for communities to develop local resilience plans, including both adaptation and energy transition planning.
For both Butte and Montana at large, this is a good time for communities to focus on resilience. Even as another Covid surge continues to create uncertainty and stress, another hot, dry summer have underscored the impacts of the climate crisis across Montana. Wildfires have scorched nearly 1 million acres so far this summer, and communities have choked on smoke. Parched rangeland has driven many ranchers to sell off livestock, and historically low river flows have left fish, anglers, and irrigators high and dry.
At the same time, innovative businesses and communities are finding ways to strengthen Montana’s economy through a transition to clean energy solutions, reducing the emissions that are the root cause of increasing weather extremes and climate warming.
Resilient communities engage residents to understand and prepare for potential disruptions, stresses and shocks. They look for ways to build local self-reliance and community support systems for their most vulnerable residents when far-flung supply chains are disrupted by economic or natural disasters. And they actively engage in economic initiatives to participate in the clean energy transition that is accelerating around the nation.
If you share NCAT’s commitment to building resilient communities, please pass along the word about these exciting VISTA service opportunities.