With Limited Resources, One Small Town Plans for Climate Change

Photo by Alan Journet

Curiously, no mention of the SOCAN Grants Pass Climate Action Team, especially Tom Bradbeer and Dorothy Swain. Journalists sometimes miss the essence of the story. 

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Among rural communities, Grants Pass, Oregon, has notched an unlikely win: a sustainability plan. But lack of dedicated staff and resources to secure federal grant funds threaten its success.

Claire Carlson, Daily Yonder, February 14th 2024

One of the most iconic landmarks in downtown Grants Pass, Oregon, is a 100-year-old sign that arcs over the main street with the phrase “It’s the Climate” scrawled across it.

To an outsider, it’s an odd slogan in this rural region, where comments about the climate – or rather, climate change – can be met with apprehension. But for locals, it’s a nod to an era when the “climate” only referred to Grants Pass’ warm, dry summers and mild winters when snow coats the surrounding mountains but rarely touches down in the city streets.

Now, the slogan takes on a different meaning.

In May 2023, the Grants Pass City Council passed a one-of-a-kind sustainability plan that, if implemented, would transition publicly owned buildings and vehicles to renewable energy, diversifying their power sources in case of natural disaster.

While passing the sustainability plan in this largely Republican county was an enormous feat on its own, actually paying for the energy projects proves to be Grants Pass’ biggest challenge yet.

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