Podcast: Regional Climate Action Plans with Lindsey Constance and Mike Kelly

Posted on June 4, 2021


LC and MK

LindseyMike
 Lindsey Constance
Councilmember
City of Shawnee, KS
LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook
Mike Kelly
Mayor
City of Roeland Park, KS
LinkedIn | Twitter

Climate action from the heart of America. Lindsey Constance, Councilmember in Shawnee, KS, and Mike Kelley, Mayor of Roeland Park, KS, joined the podcast to talk about Climate Action KC. They shared the origin story and how local leaders came together to take regional action on climate change. Lindsey and Mike also discussed how they worked across state lines to form the KC Regional Action Climate Plan and key components of the plan.

Host: Lauren Palmer

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Episode Transcript

 

Message  00:00

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Lauren Palmer  00:44

I’m Lauren Palmer, a Gov Love host and the director of local government services for the Mid America Regional Council. Today my guests are Lindsey Constance, city council member for the city of Shawnee, Kansas and Mike Kelly, Mayor of Roeland Park, Kansas. Councilmember Constance and Mayor Kelly are co founders and executive board members of Climate Action KC, the grassroots organization of elected officials and community leaders who work throughout the Kansas City region to draw down greenhouse gases and improve climate resilience. Today we are talking about how Climate Action KC grew from a concept to an award winning movement to mitigate climate change starting at the local level. Councilmember and Mayor, welcome to Gov love!

Lindsey Constance  01:25

Hi there!

Mike Kelly  01:26

Hi Lauren, happy to be here.

Lindsey Constance  01:28

Great to talk to you.

Lauren Palmer  01:30

We are thrilled to have both of you on our episode today. As a former city administrator, it is in my nature as a show of respect to address elected officials by their titles. But for the purpose of keeping it conversational today, both of our guests have agreed to stick to their first name. So thank you, Lindsey and Mike, and let’s get started. We always begin with a lightning round to get to know our guests a little bit better. So Mike, we’re going to start with you. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Mike Kelly  02:00

You know, weirdly, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I caught on to Free Willy and my family lived out on the west coast, and we would go visit them see the ocean. And I thought it would be a pretty amazing career. And unfortunately, I live in Kansas and there’s not too many oceans around here. So took a different path.

Lauren Palmer  02:23

That is so interesting, because I feel like that was a really popular answer to that question when we were all kids, like, you know, and I grew up in Missouri, and there were lots of people who wanted to be a marine biologist, like where did that come from? Most of us had never even seen the ocean.

Mike Kelly  02:39

Well, no, I think it was a great movie. And just fun family vacations and just something mysterious in the curiosity of the ocean really got to me.

Lauren Palmer  02:54

Well, you’ve deviated quite a bit from that childhood dream. And we are going to hear more about that in a little bit. But Lindsey, let’s hear from you. What was your childhood ambition?

Lindsey Constance  03:03

Oh, goodness. Well, I wanted to be an artist, a millionaire, and President of the United States was, was what I wanted to be an elementary school. None of which I have accomplished. Obviously. 

Lauren Palmer  03:18

It’s not too late. You can still do all of it!

Lindsey Constance  03:21

There you go. Yeah, I, you know, I really enjoyed art and creativity as a kid and somehow, you know, my little mind combined that with being president and you know, when you’re eight anything’s possible, right?

Lauren Palmer  03:37

I love it. You know, it would be fun to have an artist as a president in the White House, kind of an artistic mindset. That would be a new spin on the role. 

Lindsey Constance  03:45

Absolutely. 

Lauren Palmer  03:48

Okay, so our next question, Lindsey we’ll let you take this one first, describe your perfect day off. 

Lindsey Constance  03:55

Oh, goodness, that is hard to imagine. I definitely keep myself pretty busy. Mike does as well. But you know, I think it would probably be just some great time outdoors. I love hiking being in the mountains. Maybe that combined with reading a book in a hammock and drinking coffee, you know, out in the outdoors for a bit. That sounds amazing. 

Lauren Palmer  04:24

I love that. It’s very on theme for our discussion today about climate resiliency. 

Lindsey Constance  04:28

It is. 

Lauren Palmer  04:30

Mike, what about you?

Mike Kelly  04:32

So I’ve thought about this and it’s always fun to kind of daydream about time off and start early, Meshuggah Bagels on 39th Street. The zoo, walking and taking the lap down to the Africa exhibit with the family, somehow be able to snap my fingers and be down at the Lake of the Ozarks for the afternoon. Get out on the boat and barbecue chicken for Dinner.

Lauren Palmer  05:01

Oh, that does sound like a great day complete with the teleporting from Kansas City to Lake of the Ozarks. So you can skip the drive. I like that. 

Mike Kelly  05:10

Or just maybe get a nice nap from the kids and during during the drive, a quiet drive would be, would be perfect.

Lauren Palmer  05:18

Yeah, that’s so great. Okay, and then my third lightning round question. What’s your go to karaoke song? Mike, why don’t you start?

Mike Kelly  05:28

You know, I was thinking about this and going back to college. I’d say a little bit Andre 3000. How about Hey ya! Gets the crowd going. couple good participation lines and little dancing never hurt anybody.

Lauren Palmer  05:47

That’s a hard song. I mean, there’s a lot of lyrics in that song. 

Mike Kelly  05:51

Oh, I, it’s like the back of my hand. 

Lauren Palmer  05:53

Oh, Okay. 

Lindsey Constance  05:55

I kind of want to hear this. Maybe we can save that for the end. Can we have Mike perform at the end of this podcast?

Lauren Palmer  06:02

I love that idea if we can talk him into it. 

Mike Kelly  06:05

A nice donation to Climate Action KC, and I’d be happy to perform. 

Lauren Palmer  06:09

This is your next fundraiser idea right here. 

Lindsey Constance  06:13

I like it. 

Lauren Palmer  06:14

Oh, Lindsey, what about you? 

Lindsey Constance  06:17

For me, I would probably go with Don’t Stop Believing by Journey or maybe a little I Will Survive. I think it’d be a tie between those two. Maybe I just do both.

Lauren Palmer  06:27

Yeah, both very empowering. Okay, well, thanks for sharing a little bit of your backgrounds with us. Now we’ll move into our interview. So we like to start by having our guests just tell us about your career path. And for both of you, who are elected officials, maybe tell us how you spend your time outside of City Hall and then how you got involved in local government. So Lindsey we’ll let you start.

Lindsey Constance  06:54

Certainly. Well, my, my day job is that of a teacher so, and my very first teaching job right out of college was teaching at an outdoor science school in California. I lived in the mountains, no access to technology or phones or even internet. And we took the kids on hikes, we splashed in the creek, we looked at the stars, it was a pretty amazing, amazing start to my teaching career. And really, that was what sparked my interest in environmental efforts and science education. So from there, I’ve I’ve been a teacher now for about 17 years. And I’m an instructional coach. So I coach and train and mentor teachers and work with students. So I’ve got a really, really fun job, I absolutely love it. That’s kind of, I guess, my career path. And then, you know, how I got into local government. I’ve always been really interested in you know, environmental efforts and education policy and, you know, have been involved in our community. And after 2016 I really felt like it was the right time to step up and lead. My mom has always taught me, you know, make the biggest difference you can where you can, with whatever means you can and at that time, I felt like leading at a city level was really a great way to make a good impact and make sure that we’re leaving this future better for my kids and better for the students I’ve taught over the years.

Lauren Palmer  08:39

That’s awesome. Thank you. 

Lindsey Constance  08:40

Yes. 

Lauren Palmer  08:42

So Mike, tell us about how you got into local government.

Mike Kelly  08:47

Um, I think I’m just a glutton for punishment, really. We bought a house in Roeland Park. I’m a litigator at a law firm here in town during my day job. And so I wanted to live close to the office. So we moved to Roeland Park, which is just 10 minutes west of the plaza, seven minutes from downtown, kind of the perfectly situated, little community in the metro area. And when we bought a house, we wanted to know what was going on and get involved and Roeland Park did something called a Citizen’s Academy where it’s, you know, an eight week program where every week on Tuesday night you get together and learn about something new in the local government, whether it is the public works or the police department or Parks and Rec. And they use that as a fertile ground for recruiting volunteers. And I was voluntold to join a couple of committees, I ended up leading the Community Foundation Advisory Board and the sustainability committee here in town. And when the current mayor decided he was going to step away and spend some more time with his family. He asked if I would have any interest. And I said no. And when he asked the third time, you know, we finally we thought about it and realized that Roeland Park was kind of at a crossroads and recognizing the trends that are going on in Kansas City with new development, or infill development, and mixed use multimodal transportation opportunities, there’s just a lot of stuff bubbling. And we realize that the next four years, there’s going to have a 20 year impact on the community. And we decided to give it a shot and really struck a chord with some of the residents here in town. And we’re lucky enough to get elected. And I’ve continued to enjoy the various opportunities as that as that that has afforded, including meeting more elected officials throughout the Kansas City metro region, and finding opportunities to work together, which is kind of how Climate Action KC formed.

Lauren Palmer  11:07

Wow that’s great. Well, I appreciate both of you so much. And our Gov Love audience really understands the sacrifice of local elected office and appreciate both of you responding when asked and finding a way to fulfill your passions at the local level. So I know for both of you Climate Action KC is is a big passion. And that’s really what we’re here to talk about today. So, Lindsey, it’d be great if you could just start by telling us what is Climate Action KC kind of introducing our audience to this organization?

Lindsey Constance  11:40

Certainly. So Climate Action KC, it’s a coalition of over 100 elected leaders in the metro Kansas City region, from all levels of government, as well as community and business, nonprofit leadership. And together, we’re just all create, we are all committed to creating a more resilient region, you know, promoting solutions and strategies that improve the health and the local economy. And really just, it’s about empowering leaders. It’s about, you know, those elected leaders who want to make a difference, who want to have a positive impact, helping equip them with tools and solutions, and really coming together to solve some really big problems, so.

Lauren Palmer  12:28

you both hinted at it in your introductory comments, but tell us more of the Climate Action KC origin story, like who came up with this idea? How did the two of you start working together? Mike, maybe you could share some of that background?

Mike Kelly  12:44

So I think we both came with ideas. And it was the finding somebody else who cared enough as you did, to take some time to continue the conversation was really, I think, the spark that got Climate Action KC going. And Lindsey and I met through another local elected official, Hillary Thomas. And we all were first elected in 2017. And at that time, everybody was very motivated to get more done. There was a lot of change going on, not only at the state level here in Kansas, but also at the national level. And people were encouraged. And when we got together, Hillary introduced us, as well, you both care about the climate, go. And I was working on an idea of how to bring together more mayors to do climate planning within their own cities. And Lindsey had found the drawdown book, which was how we modeled our first event. And from there, we recognize that we needed to combine efforts. And what we were able to do was find more like minded local elected officials, recognizing that there was a lot that we could be doing at the local level, as much as there was this a little bit of existential dread that people were feeling with not being able to do anything at the federal level and actually protections getting rolled back. And then looking at the state level, and Kansas City being such an interesting place where we have to deal with regulations both for Missouri and Kansas and the PSC and the KCC don’t necessarily agree on rebates, or on how they’re going to incentivize action related to energy or water or transportation and So we recognize that if there was going to be able to get something done, we had to focus at the local level, then Luckily, your listeners recognize that there’s really still great opportunity to work at that local level closest to the people. And then you can really rip the band aid off and get your hands dirty. And so we wanted to find a way to empower these local elected officials with knowing what they could do right now without having to go to DC without having to go to Topeka, and find some good things to be able to do right now. So from there, we started this event in 2018, focused on project drawdown and what was so cool about that is, it wasn’t just hope and theory, it was demonstrable steps that you can take. If the world took these 80 different steps and put them to scale, you would be able to draw down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to the levels not seen since the 1950s. And you’d saved $3 trillion. And that was penciled out by climate scientists, by economists, by local leaders, and that got people thinking, well, we should think about how these strategies then translate to local government. And so we had this event in December of 2018, where we had 10 different levels of local government representatives, which was great. And we mix people up at various tables to try to start brainstorming around what more we could be doing, first of all, recognizing the good things that are already happening in various cities or counties or on water boards throughout the metro region. And then to think how can we bring these to other parts of the metro region efficiently, and maybe find opportunities for cross pollination. And so from there, we formed a leadership group and started planning on a Regional Climate Action Plan. And from there, it just kept growing.

Lauren Palmer  17:33

Gosh, there’s so much in what you shared there, I just love your description of taking kind of this big global idea and really finding a way to make it local, and appreciate your shout out for Councilmember Thomas, who is a council member in Mission, Kansas, another community here in our Kansas City region, and just highlighting the importance of networking and making those connections and how valuable it can be to have a matchmaker who can really see common passions and interests and help draw those together to really make things happen. So we’re going to talk more about that. I really want our audience to have a sense of how grassroots this work was in the beginning. And, you know, both of you are leaders in city government, but so much of this work was not happening through the traditional paths at City Hall, but really on weekends and around kitchen tables. And so I’d like to hear just more about that in those early months, how did you organize and set your agenda? So Lindsey, we’ll let you take that.

Lindsey Constance  18:36

Mike did such a great job of kind of talking about all of the all the things that that, you know, went down in those first few months, I think, you know, for me, it all started with the event that we had that Mike mentioned, I at that time was feeling a lot of personally was feeling hopelessness just about my kids and, and the future we’re creating for them. And so I was really relieved when I came across that resource drawdown that Mike mentioned. And so, you know, for me, it was all about that first event that we held. And what was so interesting about that, we started planning it in a church. My mom was helping us with figuring out what to do about food and baking muffins. And it was about as grassroots as it could be. And then we got so many RSVPs that we had to move locations to a bigger spot. We had about 135 people attend. And again, at that point I had I had just thought, okay, let’s plan this event. Let’s provide leaders with solutions. And then right after it that very day, Mike and I both had people coming up and saying Well, what’s next? What’s next? And for me, I hadn’t really thought that far past the the initial event. So we met in my living room with a few other key leaders and a staff member from the mid America Regional Council, Tom Jacobs, and other folks to just talk about what was next. And really, from there, we thought, well, let’s do another event. And so we planned the Climate Action Summit, in partnership with the Mid America Regional Council, had 750 people attend with 40 speakers. We had a really great group of volunteers, and experts help us with what we call the climate action playbook, a resource for local electeds to get started on solving these problems, and really, from the beginning, it was lots of shared notes in Google Drive and emails back and forth, texts, meetings at Roeland Park City hall, meetings in living rooms, dining room tables, it was pretty amazing the number of different people who came together and stepped up very, very quickly to make to make Climate Action KC, come to fruition.

Mike Kelly  20:59

So I agree with that. One thing I want to add is, we realize that there had to be a regional collaborative level to it as much as we wanted to focus on Well, here’s what local cities can do. From the very beginning, there was a regional focus. So I mentioned the Global Compact or Global Covenant of Mayors, you know, trying to get mayors to do climate planning. The idea there was if everybody did their own climate planning, by the end of it, we could have all of the cities in Kansas City know where their emissions levels were, and start taking some actions to mitigate those. And I think, early on, we recognized that that was just gonna be terribly efficient. And we had to take a regional approach, not only because not every municipality in the metro area, was going to immediately throw their hat in the ring and say, Okay, let’s go. But because a lot of the structures that impact our emissions levels all take place at a transboundary level, whether it be air, water, transportation, energy structures, food systems, the only way you would ever be able to holistically capture all that was looking at a regional scale. So we were trying to think of a way that we could do an emissions inventory, and really do some climate planning from a, you know, 2.2 million, nine county regional level. And it’s a, it was a long time brainstorming, how to find, how to fund it, who was going to do it, and what structure and system we were going to use to be able to do it. And we were really lucky to find a good partner, not only in Mark, but in the Global Covenant of Mayors to to do our climate planning.

Lauren Palmer  23:10

That’s really interesting, Mike, I mean, both of you represent the Kansas side of the Kansas City bi-state region. I think, to your credit, you realized early on that to be successful, you would need strong champions from Missouri too to make it a truly regional effort. So how did you do that outreach across the state line? Lindsey, I’ll let you take that.

Lindsey Constance  23:32

Certainly. So really, a lot of it just had to do with direct outreach to elected officials in the Missouri, on the Missouri side, inviting participation on to our executive board and other work groups and committees to be involved in that effort. You know, in fact, the mayor of Smithville, Missouri is on our executive board, Mayor Boley, and yesterday, they passed a resolution in support of the Regional Climate Action Plan. So it was really just a lot of one on one and connecting with mayors and city council folks on the other side of that state line right from the beginning. And then also just working through existing organizations who have partnerships. You know, for example, bridging the gap, working closely with them because they have great relationships and partnerships. We did an initial event, working on wildlife restoration with bridging the gap on the Missouri side. And just kind of focusing energy, really on both sides of the state line was really important from the very beginning.

Mike Kelly  24:42

I think the best thing we ever did to reach out to Missouri was when Mayor James put us in touch with Dennis Murphy, and Dennis Murphy, who is a fantastic guy, and has always been incredibly supportive of our effort. He was the chief environmental officer for Kansas City, Missouri for a long time, and became a bit of a mentor and a friend for us and really been able to tap into the staff level connections in Missouri were how we were able to really get a foothold in as much as having great elected officials was fantastic, it was the opportunity to work through staff that was really able to get the real work going. So very valuable for that connection.

Ben Kittelson  25:41

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Lauren Palmer  26:29

Well, thanks to your leadership and leadership from Climate Action KC, Lindsey mentioned it, the first ever KC Regional Climate Action Plan was completed this year. The plan proposes a flexible framework to help mitigate climate change by achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. So Mike, give us some highlights of how this bold goal will be accomplished.

Mike Kelly  26:53

So the Regional Climate Action Plan, I got to say thanks to Mark and all their help to be able to take on this pilot project for us, you know, we were able to pitch the idea of this Regional Climate Action Planning through the global covenant. And we are part of the first cohort, along with DC, Chicago, and Denver to do this. With the global covenant. Now there’s a second, and they’re scheduling for third cohort. So hopefully some of the lessons learned or being adapted throughout the country. Really, in terms of our emissions level, about two thirds come from building energy, whether that be commercial, or residential, or industrial. And so we realized that was going to be somewhere we needed to focus to be able to move the needle to reach our netzero goal by 2050. And so we established a goal of net zero built structures in the region by 2040. And we partnered, or are partnering with the building energy exchange in New York, who’s been doing this work for 10 years. And that’s focusing on multi level stakeholder education and then a bit of concierge service working directly with building owners, building managers, local governments, who happen to a lot of, own a lot of built structures in our community, and really focusing on good practices that do pencil that have a proven return on investment, and how we can bring those to scale. While making sure that we lean on our robust design and construction community here in the metro area, Kansas City’s got a robust AEC and design community where they’re building and designing the working and living spaces for people throughout the world. So we can be utilizing some of these great practices right here in our backyard. And a lot of things you know, some cities have adopted, whether that be LED lighting, or whether it be utilizing alternative energy like solar or aggregating contracts for wind farm, which we help promote through our utilities, renewables direct program. But it’s about being intentional about these built spaces and designing them not only to be climate resilient, given the changing climate as it is, the kind of add-ages we’re building for Minneapolis winters and Houston summers, because we could see either of them here in Kansas City. And so we’ve created a building energy exchange, hired a full time executive director, who’s an architect and a city planner and she’s fantastic. Really focused on being that direct connection for building owners and being a resource to help make sure that the built structures in Kansas City that are built from here on out, take advantage of known best practices that save money over time and increase comfort. And then helping find ways to accelerate retrofitting existing structures. And the financial means, how to do so. And so we’re starting with the building energy exchange, and then we will be rolling out a similar programmatic response related to green infrastructure, because there’s so many great things that just a tree can do. And by that we also include agriculture in kind of connecting the urban and rural divide within the metropolitan region and taking advantage of the the land resources that we have here in the Midwest, but also urban farming, green roofs, and really focusing on that green sequestration piece. That’ll be our next step. And so we’re excited to focus on not only the mitigation, but adaptation as well.

Lauren Palmer  31:29

Great, so you’ve got a plan. And Mike, you share with us some of the next implementation steps. So Lindsey, maybe you can tell us more about how you’re getting cities and counties to operationalize these recommendations.

Lindsey Constance  31:43

So, right now, we have a great group of leaders, climate ambassadors, and they are going out into communities and sharing about the Climate Action Plan, presenting the information, talking with those staff and council members, governing bodies, organizations throughout the metro about the findings, about the Climate Action Plan, but but not just that, also, what are the strengths that those particular communities already have, that we can celebrate and build upon. So these presentations have been going on for a couple of months now. And it’s definitely having an impact. We really are going to be focusing our attention the next few months on doing these presentations throughout the metro. And again, really personalizing the information in the Climate Action Plan. I can say, you know, as a council member in Shawnee, Kansas, we’ve had a couple of presentations, you know, with our city staff and some elected officials just on some of the climate solutions, and it’s been really helpful because our staff has been able to jump right and and really get to work. At a city level, we pass the facility conservation improvement program and saved money, added solar energy, reduced emissions, that we’ve implemented a green streets policy, native grass plantings throughout our parks. And so really, it’s just about meeting cities where they are and really kind of amplifying the good work that they’re already doing, providing them resources and support. So, you know, I think for me, I’m really excited about continuing these efforts over the next few months, because I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact it can have right here in my community.

Mike Kelly  33:39

Yeah, I think that one of the best things we’ve been able to do is to focus on the good things cities are already doing. Working with staff and identifying parts of the plan. If you look at the Climate Action Plan, like others across the country, it’s, it’s pretty thick, it’s you know, 168 pages spread over nine categories. And it takes a pretty tall cup of coffee to get through the whole thing. So one of the things that is helpful is working with the staff at various counties and communities to recognize the good practices that they’re already doing. And in a region like ours that is fairly bellwether and split, has a very wide variety of partisan interests as well, when you when you say the word climate, and there’s the elephant in the room that, you know, partisanship might determine where you sit on how you feel about climate action. What we’ve been very intentional about doing is recognizing that the strategies or the solutions that we’re trying to promote here actually have a huge return on investment. Whether that be being good fiscal stewards of your taxpayer’s resources and finding ways to be efficient with those, or finding ways to improve public health, definitely improving quality of life, we realized that a lot of the things that we’re looking toward cities, regardless of their political makeup, are already doing. And so if we already recognize that they’re doing good things, maybe they’ll take the next step and look a little further in and maybe see that there’s some other good things that they can be inspired by, and find ways to save money. But also, we’re focused on finding ways to collectively procure assets between municipalities, working at a regional scale, to find efficiencies, and to expedite progress and not being afraid to partner where it makes sense, and not being afraid to, or not having to recreate the wheel, there’s a lot of good things going on across the country and across the world. And if we can take knowledge that’s available from partners, like metrics in Europe, and adapt some of those programs, pour on a little barbecue sauce and call it Kansas City’s own, we’re going to do that. So it’s, it’s been very encouraging to see people recognize that we’re not here asking people to only eat a vegan diet, or to give away your cars, you know, just some of the hyperbolic stuff that otherwise gets thrown out. But it’s really just about improving the quality of life. And, you know, it’s pretty encouraging that the good things that we want to do for their own sake also have a positive impact on the planet.

Lauren Palmer  37:10

So I love the way you described, taking existing work, and layering in best practices and trying to inspire new thinking. So I’m going to pick up on that theme of inspiring because the reason I really wanted to feature Climate Action KC’s story on Gov Love is not just because of the important mission that you’re working on to address climate change, but also because I think this is just an inspiring example of how much can be accomplished when local leaders connect with community passions and work across jurisdictional boundaries. So I’m going to ask each of you to be reflective, I’ve got a couple questions, to draw out your advice for your peers in our audience, if they are thinking about ways that they can build on their community passion. So Lindsey, I’m gonna let you start, if you could rewind the clock three years, what is one thing that you would have done differently along the way?

Lindsey Constance  38:09

I think one thing I would have done is to just focus on the regional approach earlier. You know, Mike, I think Mike really nailed it when he came across that as the approach. And I think that was a really strong way to go. So I think I would have focused on that. And then we naturally kind of came into focusing on co benefits and finding common ground really enhancing and talking about what cities are already doing. I think I would have, I think I would have started with that as well.

Lauren Palmer  38:46

Mike, what about you?

Mike Kelly  38:48

Yeah, I think, with the focus on the climate, sometimes it does get a bit draconian. And people think about the IPCC report, and that if we don’t lower the temperature by one and a half degrees, that the ice caps are going to melt and the sea level is going to rise. And we’re going to have the worst hurricane season we’ve ever had, and all that is true. But at the same time, that is overwhelming for constituents, and especially at the local level. You know, it can feel a little powerless. So I think when we started with the narrative of, well, here’s good things we can do right now, and really diving into the idea that there are positive impacts that we can make that have a great return on investment, but also do our part to help maintain the habitable planet, it gave people a little bit of hope, but also recognition that we can advocate for the good things that we want, and meet people on an objective basis and sell them for their own good. And so I think the the focus on that piece is really what allowed us to, to thrive and then also not being afraid to recognize the good things that your neighbors are doing. Sometimes in local government, in small cities, we get a bit competitive with each other. And, you know, it’s a fun, healthy competition. But when Prairie Village does well, that has a residual benefit on Roeland Park. And if Shawnee does something well, that can have a residual benefit on Lenexa, so celebrating the wins, of and promoting the opportunities for wins for our neighboring communities, has a benefit for our residents. And you know, not being afraid to breach the state line a little bit in a historically competitive metropolitan area is something that I’ve really appreciated and I wish would have started on three years, but then then government, governments before I said, really taken the opportunity years prior.

Lauren Palmer  41:27

You were just speaking my regionalism love language, Mike. So everything that you’re saying. So my next question, I’m going to kind of turn that around, and I asked you to kind of reflect critically on things that you might have done differently. And now, I’d like to hear what you really think of is your critical success factor. So complete this sentence? We really got it right when.

Mike Kelly  41:52

We got it right, when we partner with the Mid America Regional Council. You know, that it, they had the connection, they had the working groups, the incredibly talented staff, and the legitimacy that they lent us to really try to get started here.

Lindsey Constance  42:15

I’d say we really got it right when when we focus on a hopeful approach, that I think was really key. And you know, that hopeful approach motivates people and it makes them excited and you know, and that, that’s had a really great impact on the movement.

Lauren Palmer  42:39

Well, that is so great, just appreciate you all sharing your story with us and giving us a couple of nuggets of advice there that might inspire our listeners to think about ways that they can make similar impacts in their communities. So as we start to wind down, it’s our tradition on Gov Love to ask our guests if you could be the Gov Love DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode? and Lindsey, we’re gonna let you pick.

Lindsey Constance  43:09

This is such an easy question and probably the easiest one you’ve you’ve given us so far. I’d go with Save the Planet by our friend AY, AY Young is a local artist who was selected by the United Nations as a sustainable goals leader. He’s with the battery tour and he actually performed to close out our summit in 2019 and it ended on such a positive high note so I’d love to close it out with some AY music.

Lauren Palmer  43:43

That’s a great pick and a great shout out for AY. Well, this end our episode for today. Thanks so much to climate Action KC and our guests Shawnee, Kansas Councilmember, Lindsey Constance and Roeland Park, Kansas Mayor, Mike Kelly. Gov Love is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. You can reach us at ELGL.org/GovLove or on Twitter at @GovLovePodcast. Thanks for listening. This has been Gov Love, a podcast about local government.

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