Local sustainability groups banding together for change

Local sustainability and conservation groups are banding together to form the Sioux Falls Sustainability Coalition, aiming to address the threat of climate chan
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 5:20 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Local sustainability and conservation groups are banding together to form the Sioux Falls Sustainability Coalition, aiming to address the threat of climate change and its effects in Sioux Falls.

For local and statewide sustainability organizations, the time to band together has come. Groups like SoDak 350, Dakota Rural Action, Change Agents of South Dakota, and others are forming the Sioux Falls Sustainability Coalition to push for greener practices within the city.

Former Sioux Falls Mayor and Change Agents SD Founder Rick Knobe said their organization isn’t focused solely on climate, but they’re looking to help out and help boost the message of others.

“We don’t have an environment component per se, but our interests are those two things. That’s why I’m standing up here, one of the reasons I’m standing up here,” Knobe said.

“With more people is more power. We are actively trying to create a world that we are excited about, a South Dakota, a Sioux Falls that we’re excited about,” Dakota Rural Action Community Organizer Megan EisenVos said.

The coalition is looking to create new conversations and push for sustainable action from an individual level, all the way up to commitments from businesses and the City of Sioux Falls.

“Making personal decisions about what they can do to live more sustainably. We’re hoping that that will turn into family action, group action, business action, government action. All politics is local, so it all starts right here,” Knobe said.

The coalition partially came together after the City of Sioux Falls made changes to its Sustainability Framework earlier this year that the organizations say cut back on any real action.

They’re hoping by showing up in greater numbers, those goals and actions will be back on the table.

“Climate change is still here. We as a community need to show up to show that we care,” EisenVos said.

MORE: Community organizations claim Mayor’s Office gutted sustainability plan

The Sioux Falls Sustainability Coalition is encouraging the public to take part in a “Community Conversation on Climate and Sustainability” in Sioux Falls on December 2. The event will be held at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls at 909 West 33rd Street, south of the Augustana University Campus, at 8:45 a.m.

The 2½-hour event will give Sioux Falls residents an opportunity to speak with each other about anxieties, fears, and concerns, and to ask questions about climate change and how we as a community can adapt to it.

Experts in the field will help guide the conversation:

  • Laura Edwards, Climatologist for the State of South Dakota, will explain how climate change is already affecting us and what will be coming soon.
  • Stacey McMahan, Architect with Koch Hazard, and the designer of several Green Projects, will provide context for what it means to build Sustainably.
  • Joan Franken, with Costello Company, will share her experience with building and managing one of the first Affordable and Sustainable Apartment buildings in Sioux Falls.
  • Meghann Jarchow, Professor of Sustainability at USD, will offer guidance on what it means to live Sustainably.