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Jacksonville Climate Change Coalition Looks To Address Its Own Lack Of Diversity

Flooding on Ken Knight Drive during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Cherisse Lamb
Flooding on Ken Knight Drive during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The Jacksonville Resiliency and Climate Change Coalition, a newly formed advocacy group working to raise awareness of the local impacts of climate change and sea level rise, is looking to better engage minority communities.

During Friday’s virtual meeting, coalition member Todd Sack said the group today doesn’t accurately represent all of Jacksonville.

“I’m thrilled to see the leaders here today, but we’re a bunch of white people and we need to be a much more diverse organization,” he told everyone on the Zoom call.

“The steering committee certainly understands the diversity issue and it was glaringly obvious to our steering committee that we are not diverse, and so we recognize that as a real need,” replied St. Johns Riverkeeper Executive Director Jimmy Orth, who’s a member of the coalition’s steering committee.

“Equity is critical in this matter, because obviously the more vulnerable communities are usually the ones that get the least resources,” he went on to say.

Related: Coalition Aims To Support Jacksonville’s Efforts To Address Flooding, Sea Level Rise

Former coalition chair Barbara Ketchum, who is now on the steering committee, said increasing diversity is a priority.

“The steering committee has been very anxious to have more representation from all of the community and has been working on it,” she said.

As part of that process, the coalition is reaching out for advice from more diverse groups, like the Miami Climate Alliance.

Miami's alliance is a similar coalition of organizations and individuals working in South Florida to prioritize climate justice, which frames climate change as a civil rights issue because poor and minority communities are the most vulnerable to its impacts.

Jeanette Ruiz, a member of the Miami Climate Alliance, gave a presentation on the work the organization is doing during Friday’s meeting.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.