Equity in Practice

Applying Equity to Our Work

SSDN Members' Equity Statement

SSDN members know inequities in our systems and policies limit positive outcomes and quality of life for all of us. Members are committed to establishing and advancing equitable communities for all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, economic status or any other status. Additionally, members also know that race and ethnicity are the primary predictors of a person’s outcomes across all social indicators and societal systems. Therefore, the network prioritizes racial and ethnic equity to dismantle the policies and systems that have created and sustained these inequities. When we achieve racial and ethnic equity, we believe that all people in the region will benefit.

Additionally, SSDN members recognize that those who contribute the least to climate change are those that are most vulnerable to the threats caused by a changing climate. Therefore, SSDN members have a unique responsibility in their roles to address climate equity, which involves addressing:

Responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions contributions and generators;

Disproportionate distribution of climate change burdens and vulnerabilities; and

Just distribution of the benefits of climate protection efforts.

This requires climate strategies that deal with the systems that contribute to climate change, the conditions that perpetuate existing inequities, and the effects of climate change and their distribution. SSDN members believe that the actions local governments take to adapt to or mitigate climate change must provide benefits across the community, and at the very least not cause more harm to those in their communities who have been or will be most affected by climate change.

No matter where members are in their efforts, they are committed to challenging the ways in which racism, inequality, and privilege intersect with their work to address climate change.


Knoxville’s long term commitment to energy efficiency and developing equity partnerships pays dividends for struggling residents

March 18, 2022

As any local government official knows well, strong community partnerships aren’t developed overnight. Establishing ties that yield meaningful impacts takes time to cultivate and a commitment to shared goals.  The City of Knoxville knows a thing or two about what it takes to form a solid partnership and, through their long term commitment to equity-centered…

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Town of Cary, NC Supports the Walnut Creek Watershed

February 3, 2022

In 2018, SSDN awarded the Town of Cary a grant through its Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund program, supported by Kresge Foundation and The Kendeda Fund. This award catalyzed the Town’s investment in watershed protection and restoration, and bolstered its leadership as the headwaters of Walnut Creek, the critical watershed in the Research/Triangle area of North…

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Nashville’s Partnership with Goodwill Industries Leads to Green Jobs for the City

May 20, 2021

Resilience is the result of sustainability being the driving force of a community’s growth. With this in mind, SSDN’s Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF) provides governments in the Southeast with the financial capacity to foster tangible, resilient growth in their communities. Equipped with a $300,000 grant from SSDN, Tennessee homeowners are now able to rely…

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A Green Lining to New Orleans Storm Clouds: How a new nonprofit coalition is teaching neighbors how they can create solutions for flooding in their community

May 15, 2020

A new nonprofit coalition called Umbrella is teaching neighbors in New Orleans Hoffman Triangle how they can create solutions for flooding in their community

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Connections Create a More Sustainable Tennessee Valley

April 3, 2019

Tennessee and Alabama local governments are building relationships with TVA to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and work toward alternative power sources.

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A photo of community members in Orlando, FL, working on relieving food deserts.

Interweaving Equity into a Sustainable South

April 2, 2019

SSDN members understand that groups that have been marginalized by economic systems or racial biases are more likely to find themselves disproportionately affected by climate change, energy costs, and other environmental threats.

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Group meeting of three residents of Duck Hill, MS.

Duck Hill, MS, is on the Rise

March 1, 2019

Inland small towns and rural areas are feeling the very real effects of stronger storms and intense rainfall. This includes the tiny town of Duck Hill, Mississippi, with a population of roughly 1,300.

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Image of flooded areas in Charleston, SC

Adapting Climate Approaches in a Changing Charleston, South Carolina, Neighborhood

March 1, 2019

In a city like Charleston with deep cultural roots and more historic buildings than you can count, the effects of growth on neighborhood preservation and the growing impacts of climate change demand a new approach that can address both issues simultaneously.

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Workers in Savannah, Georgia, complete sustainability tasks to improve green infrastructure.

Savannah’s Homegrown Green Infrastructure

February 4, 2019

With several public and private partners, Savannah’s Office of Sustainability is creating a new way to replenish trees and revive hope for some of the city’s marginalized neighborhoods.

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Alice and Yulia with supplies demonstrating weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades in Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina.

Reducing Peak Energy Demand in Buncombe County, NC

January 31, 2019

Peak demand in the county during the colder months has more than doubled in the past several decades as the population has grown, and many of those energy users are low-income families that struggle with the cost of heating.

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