First Regional Climate Convening assembled to discuss and address climate change

BLOOMINGTON – On Tuesday, October 4, Mayors of Bloomington and Columbus, John Hamilton and Jim Lienhoop, hosted a Regional Climate Convening to bring together about 100 critical players from Bartholomew, Brown, and Monroe Counties, from the private, nonprofit. educational, and government sectors. The goal was to address the shared challenge that is climate change and explore preparation, adaptation, and mitigation measures. 

The informative and participatory event included remarks by both Mayors, panel discussions, break-out work, and a keynote address by Executive Chairman of Cummins, Tom Linebarger, a private sector leader in climate change responses. Three panels addressed distinct aspects of climate change. 

Panel One addressed the Impacts of Climate Change on South Central Indiana and included Dr. Gabriel Filipelli, Chancellor’s Professor of Earth Sciences at IUPUI and Executive Director of the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute; Shannan Cooke, Director, of Bartholomew County Emergency Management; and Dr. Vic Kelson, Director of City of Bloomington Utilities and Hydrologist who served as a presenter for the Climate Project founded by Vice President Al Gore.

The second panel addressed The Current and Upcoming Landscape of Public and Private Climate Action and included Dr. Aaron Deslatte, Assistant Professor at Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Community Resilience Co-chair for the Center for Rural Engagement; Kerri Garvin, Executive Director of Greater Indiana Clean Cities; Kelly Eskew, Clinical Professor of Business Law and Ethics at Indiana University Kelley School of Business; Kelley Karn, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs & Policy at Duke Energy; and Ben Swanson, Founding Partner, COO, and Co-CEO of Secretly Group. 

The third panel addressed Next Steps for a Tri-County Partnership and included Lisa Abbott, Vice President of Economic and Community Development at Regional Opportunity Initiatives in Bloomington; Daniel Poynter, Founder of Carbon Neutral Indiana; Mark Stewart, President of United Way of Bartholomew County; and Matt Flaherty, Resilience Implementation Manager at the Environmental Resilience Institute. Panels were moderated by Alex Crowley, Director, of Economic & Sustainable Development with the City of Bloomington. 

Questions, remarks, and table discussions focused on assessing the risks and challenges climate change presents, highlighting key actions underway in local institutions, Identifying resources available to support climate-related mitigation and adaptation, and considering a framework for ongoing collaboration in addressing climate change. The importance of working together in meeting the extraordinary challenges, and opportunities, of climate change, was prominent throughout the event and the pervasive spirit of collaboration indicates that this event was a beginning rather than a single incident. 

Mayor John Hamilton

“It is exciting to bring all of us together to address our climate emergency cooperatively,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “I believe we know at least two things now: first, we are going to be dealing with this issue of climate change for a long, long time; effectively forever, and the sooner we grapple with it the better. And second, we know we will be more successful if we do all this work together – collaborating, learning, and cooperating across institutions and sectors and geographies.” 

Both Mayors at the conclusion of the afternoon event indicated their commitment to continue working together in a bipartisan, cross-county effort to explore how to sustain the collaborative energy of the convening. 

For more information about Bloomington’s efforts related to climate change and sustainability, visit!xR8. A copy of Tuesday’s agenda and panelist bios are available at Video of Tuesday’s event will be made available soon on the City’s website and Facebook page: