WRN Ambassador Recognition - Center for Sustainable Communities (Atlanta)

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  1. What is the mission of your organization?
    Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC-ATL) is a non-profit organization that began in 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. Since that time, the Center for Sustainable Communities, has initiated and completed several projects designed to make metro Atlanta communities more livable, prosper us , mobile and eco friendly. The mission of CSC-ATL is to provide communities with the resources and education to make their living environments more environmentally just and friendly, cleaner, healthier, and safer and more climate resilient. With over two decades of experience, the CSC-ATL also promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education with both Pre-K and K-12 public schools and agencies. . The CSC works closely with local colleges, universities and agencies and also has developed partnerships to help address health disparities in environmental health for vulnerable communities. The CSC also works with advocacy and policy organizations for the proper development of energy and environmental policy.

    In 2014 the Center for Sustainable Communities conducted nearly 30 community based projects reachiing nearly 3 million residents. Some more notable projects included efforts to help establish an EcoDistrict in West Atlanta which provide comprehensive community regeneration for degraded communities. Since 2012, CSC-ATL has partnered with Residents, Resources and Communities to help low income residents live in healthier and more energy efficient homes in Reynoldstown. We also work with the Emory Urban Health Initiative to build and operate urban agriculture and community garden projects on the West Side of Atlanta to help eliminate food deserts, and reduce health disparities. In addition, we are working on issues of climate resiliency, adaptation and mitigation through association with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its Weather Ready Nation initiative and FEMA and others by providing training, readiness drills, and instruction on disaster mitigation in vulnerable communities.

    At B.E.S.T. Academy, CSC-ATL conducts STEM education classes to build a "maker" laboratory and programs in energy, environmental science, engineering and urban gardening to help the school obtain STEM certification.

    CSC-ATL for nearly five years has worked extensively with many stakeholders including government agencies, universities and colleges, local agencies, professional associations, national laboratories to launch the Advanced Atmospheric Research and Monitoring Station (AARMS) project. The approach of the AARMS project is to design, integrate and install advanced instrumentation and equipment on a 140-ft tall tower located in the Fernbank Forest to collect long-term meteorological and atmospheric data. The AARMS project aims to support academic atmospheric and meteorological research by adopting rigorous standard operating procedures for instrument deployment, maintenance, and data collection. The project consists of five components; ( 1) a research station ( weather, climate, atmospheric; (2) earth science laboratory, (3) stem education, (4) urban outreach and (5) community engagement. The unique location of the tower in an urban old-growth forest in the Southeast U.S. and the capability to install instrumentation at different heights above and below the tree canopy make the AARMS project applicable to a variety of research topics, such as atmospheric chemistry, weather and climate change, air quality, and environmental epidemiology etc.

  2. What has your organization done to promote a Weather Ready Nation? (ie., What Did Your WFO recognize you for?
    Building a Weather­Ready Nation is not an easy task but we have taken on the challenge in earnest. We have created a large­scale collaborative of stakeholders to meet inregional forumsto make recommendations on adaptation and mitigation strategy; building robust weather and climate monitoring stations and earth science laboratories; creating school based K–12 educational programs; coordinating drills and exercises with FEMA (America's PrepareAthon) and local organizations; participating incity–scale planningfor resiliency and climate action planning with a broad set of stakeholders; convening community based forums and meetings that included severe weather preparation; conducting tours with elected officials, neighborhood and community leaders at the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel; participating in forums at the White House on severe weather and climate change and applicable policy. The Center for Sustainable Communities also recently recognized for assisting Raytheon in its design and creation and delivery of a K-12 application to teach emergency preparedness nationally. In addition, Mr Harris was nominated by NOAA personal as a White House Champion of Change in Climate Equity.

    Recently we were recognized by the local WFO for the following see below

    (1) Visit and Tour of the Weather Service Office at Peachtree City by the Tuskegee Airman and members of their young aviators training program.

    Note: Event placed emphasis on building a Weather Ready Nation for ALL....especially vulnerable and underserved populations

    See below and event photos attached

    Dear Mr. Harris and the Center for Sustainable Communities,

    Beginning this year, NOAA/NWS will formally recognize Ambassadors who have made significant contributions to creating a Weather-Ready Nation. Each September, during National Preparedness Month, Ambassadors who have gone above and beyond to ensure their employees, customers and/or stakeholders are prepared for extreme weather, water and climate events will be highlighted on the WRN website and national social media accounts. On behalf of the National Weather Service, congratulations on being selected by NWS Atlanta, Georgia to be highlighted this year. Thank you for helping to orchestrate an office visit/tour for the historical Tuskegee Airman (Atlanta Chapter) as part of a summer Aviation and STEM initiative for youth. The office visit and interaction was a complete success, and you went the extra mile by sending a very well-written "appreciation" letter to NOAA/NWS Senior Leadership.

    By serving as a change agent and leader in your community, you have inspired others to be better informed and prepared, helping to minimize or even avoid the impacts of extreme weather. NOAA/NWS is proud of your great work, and because of this, a certificate honoring your efforts is being awarded to you. We would also like to highlight your organization on NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation page.You will find the questions attached. Please return your answers to us by August 24, 2016 so that we can highlight your accomplishments during the upcoming National Preparedness Month (September).

  3. What does being an Ambassador Mean to You?
    Severe and extreme weather, due in part to climate change, can occur without warning and can have devastating effects. These severe weather patterns are expected to occur on an increased magnitude and scale. These effects are felt at a greater extent and long after the disaster event occurs particularly in vulnerable communities. These communities are often the least informed about preparedness and its importance. Being A Weather Ready Nation Ambassador helps to implement the responsibility we have to protect and build community resilience, equity and climate protection.It is important that we make all communities as resilient as possible through education; providing and creating “hubs of resilience” in these communities such as churches, schools, community centers when disaster strikes. As a Weather–Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassador I can help provide the necessary educational tools, resources and instructional guidance on critical aspects of emergency preparedness. Further, WRN can ensure participation of community and neighborhood leadership in these important matters in local drills and exercises and community forums on severe weather. As a WRN can ensure the distribution of warning systems such as weather radios; cell phone apps, and other relevant materials.

    During the month of September we will be organizing and/or hosting more than twenty activities reaching thousands of youth and adult neighborhood residents in conjunction with the Young Meteorologist Program, Save the Children and Easter Seals of North Georgia to with to provide vital information help prepare families for disasters.

  4. What are your goals for the next year concerning preparedness?
    Our biggest challenge, particularly in vulnerable and lower income communities is to create a sense of urgency and priority. These communities are already vulnerable due to stress that includes education; economics; job creation; high costs of energy; transportation environmental justice; however the effects of climate change and resulting severe weather and the need for preparedness is not readily understood.
    A “Weather­Ready Nation For ALL” movement needs to be designed, developed and deployed to provide a guiding vision through an equity lens to help remedy and mitigate this situation. This may required a more deliberate deployment of resources and planning as well for these communities. Specific training and educational programming may need to be developed to specifically reach and educate these communities. For example, community vulnerability assessments; anchor institutions of resiliency; meaningful engagement of community populations in policy making and action planning.

LONG TERM OBJECTIVES

  1. Conduct of rallies in association with NWS/WFOs
    Objective: to conduct at least 100 rallies within the next 3 years, across the U.S. and in cooperation with the NWS Headquarters and regional WFOs.
  2. Create modules/applications to extend the YMP game
    Objective: to organize the science teams, animators and production line for extending the YMP game by creating applications in drought, fires, climate change, heat island effect, wetlands/esuraries/river ways/lakes and oceans, air pollution, and health-atmospehere connection.
  3. Reinitiate the scholarship fund and expand its purposes
    Objective: For lower income and disadvantage students groups; student populations struck and harmed by severe weather.
  4. Build/revise/expand the current resource base and guides for teachers and others - benchmark: Save The Children guides
    Objective: Create a comprehensive guide - divide it into modules - take the existing database - review/revise and modify as necessary then expand it as necessary. Caveat of benchmarking Save The Children's guide.
  5. Raytheon application (K-12 program) - distribution plan
    Objective: Distribute these guides at every opportunity - hard-disk and link applications.
  6. Support for operational, technical, managerial and administrative tasks
    Objective: Identify core support team - a front office staff - and implement
  7. Devise and Implement a WRN strategy that emphasizes equity, resilience and climate protection for vulnerable and underserved populations
    Objective: Develop and implement a strategy to better serve vulnerable low income and vulnerable populations i.e. seniors, disabled populations, socio-economic populations - in equity resilence and climate protection and severe weather.