How We Work

The goal of Connect is to increase knowledge, leadership, and engagement in climate action among diverse communities by building on local assets that connect community life to climate change and climate action.

Our Approach Is…

Place Based

Connect provides information and tools focused on local climate impacts, allowing individuals to relate these impacts to their own circumstances and then devise their own ways to participate in climate mitigation and adaptation. Our resources support participants in creating activities, events, and projects that 

  • strengthen partnerships;
  • take place in the local community;
  • are grounded in local culture, themes, interests, and content;
  • are personally relevant;
  • contribute to the community’s cohesion, vitality, and environmental quality; and
  • advance community visions for the future.

Grounded in Community Assets

Asset-Based Community Development, or “ABCD,” recognizes that people and communities everywhere have knowledge and gifts and invites them to contribute these to efforts to improve their communities. ABCD methods help people identify assets, connect and align them for leverage, and mobilize them for action. It arose in contrast to traditional community development that views communities—especially low-income communities—as troubled places in need of “help” from the outside. ABCD draws out strengths and successes in a community's shared history as its starting point for change.

Some assets are tangible, such as organizations (nonprofit, for-profit, municipal), infrastructure (boulevards, rivers, parks), and people’s skills (informal/formal leadership, gardening, fundraising, art). Others are intangible, such as values (frugality, sense of global citizenship), traditions (seasonal festivals celebrating nature, conserving water), practices (growing your own food, sharing with neighbors), ideas, and dreams. Assets serve as particularly strong foundations for climate action projects if they are either central to community life and/or related to stewardship broadly defined as conserving, caring for, monitoring, advocating for, or educating others about issues related to nature and the environment (including water, land, air, waste, toxics, and energy issues). A clear example of a climate-related asset is a park or a river, while a more subtle example could be a school, library, or church that is active in the community but may or may not already be involved in environment- or climate-related work.

Focused on Positive Action

Too often climate change is presented through negative messaging, highlighting the problems it causes, the extremity of the situation, and the challenges inherent in solving the problem. This “doomsday approach” has limited effectiveness because it has been shown to cause people to shut down or give up on problems they perceive as being beyond their capacity to address.

Connect provides direct opportunities for action through community-led projects that highlight the benefits of a low-carbon lifestyle and build on what communities are already excited about, care about, and are doing well in. Such an approach empowers communities to work together to not only participate in but lead in developing and implementing place-specific, culturally-infused climate solutions.

Open-Source, Flexible, and Adaptable

Connect resources are intentionally designed to be adaptable for use in different contexts, with different audiences, by different communities. We have sought to maintain our place-based focus by providing instructions on how each resource can be modified for whatever purpose the users choose. They are free and available to the public. They are intended to be used, reused, modified, and morphed.

Inclusive of Mitigation and Adaptation

Recognizing that climate change is a complex problem and that individuals and communities have different resources, assets, and values, Connect resources address both mitigation and adaptation strategies. We aim to help communities develop projects and take action in ways that address long-term climate concerns by decreasing carbon emissions and that help communities address immediate climate change impacts and also improve local quality of life.