It takes a team
Are you eager to map your community’s urban heat? Heat Watch campaigns are designed to be collaborative. We send you the information and materials you need, and you and your local team create an engagement opportunity and action plan based on the results. Identifying situations where people are vulnerable to heat illness, exploring options for reducing risk, and taking action to improve the situation takes planning, teamwork, and diverse talents. From start to finish, you’ll want engaged team members who represent your full community.
Begin with the end in mind
From the outset, identify a range of organizations that will have the ability to take action on the results of your Heat Watch campaign. Which City Departments, community organizations, or advocacy groups will it take to implement solutions to problems of urban heat? Based on how things get done in your community, which groups are obvious choices to invite as partners on your core team?
As build a vision for your campaign, consider a broad group of potential partners:
- Local science museums have a history of success in running citizen science projects: they are already set up for public outreach and can sometimes provide a venue for running a campaign.
- Do your local universities have experts in urban planning or sustainability?
- Which organizations are already working to improve health in your community?
- Are school groups or youth programs already working to understand the role climate change plays in their community?
- Are meals-on-wheels or other elder-care organizations already serving populations that may be vulnerable to extreme heat?
In addition to local groups, national organizations such as We Act for Environmental Justice and Groundwork USA may be able to connect your team with individuals or organizations that are already active in your area, improving your campaign's reach and ensuring that it embodies the whole of your community.
Think about who you would like to engage from start to finish, and who has the capacity to be involved or contribute. Reach out, share your campaign goals, and invite other groups to join the effort.
With help from CAPA, and using the networks and knowledge of your core team, you will identify the area you would like to map. Then, the area will be divided into sections that cover about ten square miles each. You will need to recruit at least two volunteers for each section—one driver and one navigator per section—plus additional volunteers for distributing and collecting equipment or organizing media coverage. Because your actual mapping date will depend on the weather, you will want to over-recruit so that you will be sure to have enough people on the ground on campaign day.
When recruiting volunteers, ask yourself:
- Which portions of the community might benefit from the final results of the campaign?
- Who might become invested in the success of the campaign by participating in data collection?
- Are there volunteer bases that are not necessarily associated with environmental movements, but know their community and its particular struggles and strengths?
The chances for a broadly successful outcome increase with participation from all parts of the community. Previous Heat Watch volunteer groups have been diverse: tree planting and community health organizations, youth activists and scientists, sports clubs, and family and friends have all been involved. There are no restrictions on who can be a community scientist.
When you receive the results from your Heat Watch mapping campaign, we highly recommend sharing them in a workshop with advocacy organizations in your community. Who would be best suited to carry what you’ve learned from your maps forward? Who might apply the results to strengthen their own work? Who could work with the vulnerable communities that will be most affected by heat, based on campaign findings?
Sharing your results with these groups and developing action plans collaboratively, you will be better suited for broadcasting your campaign findings, and be able to grow and strengthen your community networks. We can all be affected by extreme heat. Building a better understanding of heat distribution in our communities can help reduce the risk of heat illness.