NETWORK UPDATES
2020 Workgroups Announced 
Votes are in, and SSDN members are ready to tackle seven new topics for our 2020-2021 workgroups. Doodle polls seeking your availability for the workgroups have been sent out and are due by June 3rd. If you are a member of SSDN and would like to participate in any of the workgroups below, please send an email to Vanessa King and she will provide you with the information you need to get started. 

  • Stormwater Management and Green Infrastructure
  • Transportation Electrification
  • Sustainable and Resilient Land Use Planning and Policies
  • Waste Reduction Strategies
  • Greening Government Operations
  • Planning for Sustainability and Resiliency
  • Green Buildings

Virtual Annual Meeting Summary Highlighting Successes and Lessons Learned

Like many organizations around the world, the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SSDN) had to reroute network engagement plans amidst the growing COVID19 pandemic. SSDN decided to shift to a Virtual Annual Meeting, holding all nine breakout sessions and one plenary presentation on Zoom during the first week of May. Though this switch was challenging, it came with many added benefits. Moving to virtual sessions allowed for the inclusion of additional supportive staff, not just the primary and secondary members of SSDN, to participate. This change also allowed SSDN members to connect with each other casually via the two Happy Hours that opened and closed out the meeting. We also pivoted by scheduling the meeting across the entire week rather than cramming sessions into two days as previously planned for our in person meeting. This change helped accommodate everyone’s ‘new normal’ of balancing family and work throughout their days. Overall, the biggest lesson learned is that you can’t beat face to face interactions, no matter how informative a virtual session might be. But members really expressed appreciation for the opportunity to connect virtually, and SSDN staff will plan additional online opportunities throughout the year to deepen connections whenever possible. Post-pandemic, meeting in person will remain a focus for our network, as it is the biggest driver of building relationships amongst local government sustainability professionals throughout the Southeast. We are already looking forward to the May 2-4, 2021 meeting in Savannah!

SSDN thanks all their member communities for showing up to the Virtual Annual Meeting with their thinking caps and enthusiasm! 

NETWORK IN ACTION

SSDN shares story on SSCF Project in New Orleans, LA

Last week, SSDN published a story ‘A Green Lining to New Orleans Storm Clouds’ about a new coalition of organizations in the Big Easy and the progress they are making to tackle the city’s long standing flooding issues. Each nonprofit in the coalition offers a different service aimed at reducing the effects of climate change in New Orleans through green infrastructure and community engagement. 

Huffington Post Article Highlights SSCF Project in Duck Hill, MS

The Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund Project in Duck Hill, MS received much deserved attention this week in an article ‘How Some Mississippi Teens Are Saving Their Town From Climate Change’ published in the Huffington Post. It’s a beautiful story pulling together climate change solutions and education, and the difference the two can make in a small rural community in the South.
SUSTAINABILITY IN OUR COMMUNITIES Tybee Island, GA Named One of America’s Best Restored Beaches

Over the course of three years, Tybee Island has been working to nourish its coastline and environment and has been recognized for their great efforts to restore its beaches.  Along with four other US Beaches, Tybee is honored to receive a 2020 Best Restored Beach award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA).
Learn more about their efforts and the award in the full press release

City of Orlando, FL is the Inaugural USA Member of Cities with Nature Initiative

The City of Orlando recently joined the CitiesWithNature initiative as an inaugural USA member and will continue to move forward efforts to enhance environmental protection, stewardship of natural resources, and work towards finding a balance with natural systems and ecology.  The initiative offered by ICLIE will soon open a Knowledge and Research Hub along with a Community Hub that will be open to all cities around the world. Visit the link above to learn more about this unique initiative and how you can register to participate. 

Palm Beach County, FL Selected to Participate in the USGBC’s 2020 LEED for Cities and Communities Grant Program

Funded by a grant from Bank of America, the LEED for Cities and Communities program helps local governments, planners and developers committed to accelerating progress on climate change, resilience and social equity planning, measure and track performance using LEED. Participants receive access to education resources and technical support as they pursue LEED certification. See the full list of 2020 participants here.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT 
Grace Levin: Sustainability Coordinator, Knoxville, TN

Grace joined Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability in May 2020. Grace returns to her native East Tennessee after almost 6 years in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she kept herself busy balancing professional development, national service, and volunteer leadership. Most recently, she served as Programs & Communications Manager for the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, a nonprofit working to accelerate the cleantech economy of the Triangle region by supporting and marketing smart cities, sustainability, and technology successes. Prior to RTCC, Grace served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the City of Raleigh, engaging the public on energy and greenhouse gases while providing internal support for staff – including projects related to SSDN! 

As Sustainability Coordinator, Grace will help manage, analyze, and report Knoxville’s energy and GHG data, as well as provide assistance on building performance, mobility programs, and community partnerships. She is perhaps most passionate about bringing back the city’s International Biscuit Festival (last held 2017) and welcomes suggestions on how to convince her boss it should be a sustainability priority.
Grace has a long history with sustainability and service – from growing up next to the Smokies and a high school science job chasing turtles to a sustainability degree and years of volunteer leadership with an environmental group – and she’s thrilled to make this her full-time job. She looks forward to mastering GHG data, supporting the city’s new Climate Council, and learning from SSDN partners.
Outside of work, she gardens, crafts, bakes, reads, and spoils her dog. 

NEWS AND RESOURCES

News:
Bloomberg: Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: Restoring the Economy with Climate Solutions: Recommendations to Congress
American Flood Coalition and American Public Health Association Dual Disaster Handbook
2021 Roddenberry Fellowship Applications Now Open
Carolinas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award Now Accepting Nominations- Deadline June 3rd. 
USDA to Support Community Compost Projects in Local Governments with Grant- Deadline for applications: June 26th. 
HUD’s Distressed Cities Technical Assistance Program

Events: 
Advanced Energy Economy Webinar- June 3rd: Net Energy Metering and State Authority: What’s at Stake for Advanced Energy in FERC Petition
Southface Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable- June 5th: Repurposing Industry in the Face of COVID-19
USGBC Webinar: Urban Nature- Ensuring Access to Green Spaces for All

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Sustainability Program Coordinator, Town of Apex, NC

CALL TO ACTION
Take time to step away.
With many of us working from home (some with kids), and the current state of our nation providing a heavy dose of anxiety, we all need to be more aware of our need for mental health breaks. Take a break from it at some point during the day. Take a walk, sit in the sun, jump in the pool, read a book, just breath.