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Climate change is impacting so much around us: heat, flooding, health, wildlife, housing, and more. WUSF, in collaboration with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, is bringing you stories on how climate change is affecting you.

Tampa is holding listening sessions for residents at the frontline of climate change

People sitting in folding chairs looking to the left at a person speaking with Betty Jean-Jeremie standing at the right of the picture looking toward the speaker.
Michou Ducillon
CLEO Institute
Betty Jean-Jeremie facilitating a climate change listening session for Tampa's most vulnerable residents on Sunday, Dec. 12 at the Cyrus Green Community Center.

Research shows people of color and poorer communities are most impacted by climate change. Those living in Tampa can now share their experiences and ask for help.

Tampa leaders recently announced the development of the city's first Climate Action & Equity Plan, which is a part of the Resilient Tampa Roadmap released in May.

The city also announced a $1 million investment into renewable energy solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations at the City Center at Hanna municipal building in East Tampa.

Applied Sciences, a certified Small Local Business Enterprise firm, is assisting the city with crafting the plan to take care of the “action.” And it has also partnered with the CLEO Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit organization that specializes in climate education and community engagement, to ensure “equity” during the transition to 100% renewable energy.

The CLEO Institute is now holding listening sessions across the city to understand the energy burden and adverse climate impacts on the most vulnerable residents.

Whit Remer, Tampa's sustainability and resilience officer, said he does not yet know the specific goals.

"Because what we want to do is understand what the needs are, and then ultimately set goals around that,” he said “Right now, it is to simply listen and engage. And then hopefully, we'll be able to tweak our communications and outreach plans based on that initial feedback."

Circle of people sitting in folding chairs facing Betty Jean-Jeremie and bright open windows.
Michou Ducillono
CLEO Institute

Betty Jean-Jeremie, with the CLEO Institute, is organizing these conversations, which kicked off on Dec. 12 at the Cyrus Green Community Center.

She said about 20 people participated.

"We had residents interested in talking, No. 1, about the trust that exists between the residents, the community and the elected officials,” she said. “And the second part was the conversation turned into flooding."

Tampa residents can also fill out a digital survey, if they can’t make it to listening sessions.

Members of the CLEO Institute will take notes and present this data to Tampa officials. Then they plan to host town hall meetings to bring community leaders and elected officials together by the end of 2022.

My main role for WUSF is to report on climate change and the environment, while taking part in NPR’s High-Impact Climate Change Team. I’m also a participant of the Florida Climate Change Reporting Network.