Sustainable Ann Arbor 2019 forums to focus on race and health equity, climate change

Annual series invites residents to discuss sustainability with city stakeholders

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

A member of the community directs a question at the panel at a Sustainable Ann Arbor forum in 2012 (Credit: City of Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBOR - The eighth annual Sustainable Ann Arbor series hosted by the city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor District Library kicks off this month and will run through April.

In each forum, members of the public are invited to discuss sustainability efforts and challenges the Ann Arbor community faces with local stakeholders.

The monthly forums will take place at the Ann Arbor District Library downtown branch at 343 S. 5th Ave. from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Below are the full schedule and topics for the 2019 series:

Jan. 17: Health Equity

Local and national experts will lead a presentation about health inequities, including a discussion on mental health, climate change and the role public health plays in addressing injustice.

Speakers include: 

  • Natalie Sampson, PhD, MPH (assistant professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn)
  • Ellen Rabinowitz (health officer, Washtenaw County Health Department)
  • Dr. Paul Fleming (assistant professor of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan)
  • Dr. Felicia Brabec (Washtenaw County Commissioner, District 4)

Feb. 19: Adapting to a Changing Climate

According to city officials, the effects of climate change are already being felt here in Ann Arbor. From rising temperatures to increased precipitation, this conversation will focus on what steps the community is taking to address these impacts and what we can do as a city, as a neighborhood and as individuals to improve the situation.

Speakers include: 

  • Beth Gibbons (executive director, The American Society of Adaptation Professionals)
  • Jen Lawson (water quality manager, City of Ann Arbor)​
  • Missy Stults (manager, Office of Sustainability and Innovations, City of Ann Arbor)

March 21: Climate Change 201

This forum will take a broader look at the impacts of climate change. Join a University of Michigan professor and a city sustainability analyst, who will break down the science of climate change and how it has both local and global implications.

Speakers include: 

  • Dr. Jonathan Overpeck (dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan)
  • Emily Drennen (sustainability analyst, City of Ann Arbor)

April 18: Race and Class Equity in Washtenaw County

Join local experts as they explore race and class equity issues, and affordable housing in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. 

According to the city of Ann Arbor:

"Ann Arbor is the eighth most socioeconomically segregated metro area in the U.S.; the second most segregated city in the nation in service class segregation; and the fifth in working class segregation. In 2010, Census data shows white residents accounted for 73% of Ann Arbor's population, just under Michigan's average of 79%, while African American residents accounted for just 8% of residents—nearly half of the state average of 14%. Ypsilanti, on the other hand, is made up of 62% white residents and 29% African American residents: a dramatic imbalance for two closely tied cities."

Speakers include: 

  • Dr. Tony Reames (assistant professor, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan), 
  • Jen Hall (executive director, Housing Commission, City of Ann Arbor)
  • Alma Wheeler Smith (Former Michigan State representative and senator)​
  • Teresa Gillotti (director, Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development)  

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