The photo shows me outside my new home! Actually, this is me with Monica Gilchrist at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building inside The White House complex. Monica, who worked at Global Green several years ago and is now Deputy Executive Director of ICLEI, arranged for us to attend the Awards Ceremony at The White House for nine national honorees for "Champions of Change: Greening Our Cities and Towns."
The two-hour panel discussions highlighted many best practices and what had worked in very different communities. Most encouraging is learning about the Department of the Interior's engagement in local communities, not just in iconic parks. Another not-always obvious need is for us to shift thinking about the role of trees as simple objects of beautification; we need to consider trees as infrastructure and included for restoration after a disaster, as well as allowing the release of funds for replanting. The mayor of Tallahassee, FL, made a strong case for Federal funds to be sent directly to the communities, where they can be put to the best use (bypassing the State level). Monica also drew attention to the need to educate communities on climate change.