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Douglas County Sustainability Team seeks Indigenous community members’ perspectives on climate

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Indigenous community members are invited to join with the Douglas County Sustainability Team on Wednesday for a climate justice discussion.

Through a targeted focus group, the team hopes to gain insight into how Indigenous communities within the county experience climate impacts, according to the team’s news release. Input shared during the session in addition to community survey data will “guide policy and strategy recommendations in the Douglas County Climate Action Plan,” according to the release.

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The focus group will be facilitated by community activist and organizer Alex Kimball Williams, who said the purpose is also for Indigenous community members to ask questions.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for students, faculty and other interested community members to ask the sustainability office any questions and learn more about public policy and climate change,” Kimball Williams said via email. “Climate justice has always been central to Indigenous populations but only recently really began to gain traction with the public sector, including places folks may not immediately consider, like Kansas.”

Students and college professors as well as community members who have had experiences with severe weather events such as flooding, tornados, drought, winter weather, or severe thunderstorms may find particular interest, according to the release.

So far, a few groups including first responders, Eudora and Unincorporated Townships, and Human Services have participated in focus groups as part of the sustainability team’s effort to understand how specific community groups are impacted by climate issues, according to the Community Climate Action website.

A focus group centered on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) perspectives will be offered this January, also facilitated by Kimball Williams, according to the news release.

The upcoming focus group with Indigenous community members is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Haskell Indian Nations University’s Tommaney Library, 2450 Creek Ave. in Lawrence. Free dinner from Taco Zone in Lawrence will be provided. Visit this link to register for the event, which will help organizers in planning for the dinner.

For more information about these focus groups and the Douglas County Climate Action Plan, visit douglascountyks.org/climate.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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