Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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CARP Implementation Task Force discusses new community dashboard to track climate action data

Daily file illustration by Lily Ogburn
An implementation task force met Wednesday to discuss reducing Evanston’s greenhouse gas emissions as part of the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan.

The Climate Action and Resilience Plan task force brainstormed ideas for a community dashboard at its meeting Wednesday. 

The proposed dashboard would be a public-facing website where goals, updates and data on the city’s climate plan would be available for public use. 

“The dashboard is a daunting task and an admirable thing to strive for,” Ben Martin, sustainability and resilience specialist with the city manager’s office said. “Transparency and accountability are great virtues and necessary for climate change.”

City Council approved CARP in 2018, aimed to advance environmental policy in Evanston. The overall goal was for Evanston to be climate resilient and carbon neutral by 2050.

Years after its approval, the CARP Implementation Task Force has made some advancements in its goals – though with some difficulty. At an October 2022 City Council meeting, Cara Pratt, Evanston’s sustainability and resilience manager, said the city needs to allocate more financial resources towards its environmental efforts. 

Members of the task force participated in multiple brainstorming activities to produce an image of how they would like the dashboard to look. At its core, members wanted the dashboard to be an accessible and easy-to-navigate site that would serve as a common reference point for information about CARP.

Members also wanted the dashboard to provide a more holistic image of groups’ actions and goals through photos, videos and infographics — not solely through data. 

“So there’s the snapshot in time, but also the accumulation of updates over time. So it is sort of a historic record where you can go back to every five years, every year, every ten years — so that’s great,” said Katarina Topalov, a member of the Environment Board. Topalov was also elected chair of the CARP Implementation Task Force during Wednesday’s meeting. 

Other dashboard ideas introduced included polls for Evanston residents and visualizations highlighting the main focus areas of the CARP document to engage with members of the public

Since CARP is now five years old, the task force will reevaluate the mission of the CARP task force when the dashboard is live. It will also consider collaborating with other city groups in the future. 

For now, task force members will continue developing ideas for the next two weeks through spreadsheets, compile that data and develop their ideas more at a December meeting.  

“I think the momentum we have on this dashboard after this exercise, hopefully, we can keep this going,” said Matt Cotter, who is on the Environment Board and the CARP Implementation Task Force, said. “I know the dashboard is something this group has really been striving for for a while, and I think we have more concrete steps so I hope that will guide us going forward.”

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