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Geos Institute helps communities build resilience in the face of climate change

Author: Tonya Graham

On the passing of Bill Bradbury

April 19, 2023

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters,

We at the Geos Institute are deeply saddened by the untimely loss of our long-time former board member, Bill Bradbury. Bill passed away on April 14th due to complications in his long battle with Multiple Sclerosis while traveling with his wife, Katy Eymann.

Bill began his decades-long public service in the Oregon Legislature, first as a Representative and then as a Senator. After retiring from the Legislature, Bill was appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber to replace retiring Phil Keisling as Secretary of State. Bill was also appointed to serve on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Bill’s notable accomplishments include directing “For the Sake of Salmon” with tireless efforts to rescue threatened Salmon runs statewide. Yet another project Bill undertook was as one of Al Gore’s first “Climate Warriors”, having been trained by Al and going on to train many more!

This Oregonian article touches on much of his extraordinary legacy, embracing other areas as well, including voter registration, leading Oregon to be the first state to adopt mail-in voting, and so much more.

Geos Institute benefited tremendously from Bill’s lengthy service on our Board of Directors, where he brought exuberance and passion to climate and other environmental deliberations, with ever-present positive energy and encouragement, and light-hearted humor, tempered with the sage advice of a veteran.

His passing will not eclipse the enduring radiance of his joyful, youthful spirit, which lives on in those who knew and loved him, as well as with each nascent run of wild salmon up the cool coastal rivers of Oregon.

As our Executive Director Tonya Graham so beautifully put it: “The world has lost a bit of its sunshine.”

And so indeed… Shine On, Bill!!

With gratitude,

James Ince
Board of Directors, Geos Institute
Ashland, Oregon

Great progress on Climate Ready America as we head into the holidays!

From the December 2022 Cornerstone Network Email

The past few months have been a whirlwind as we worked to bring our Climate Ready America system of climate services to fruition! And, because of that effort, I have much to report:

Support from Federal Agencies

In October, we worked with the NOAA Climate Program Office to host a gathering of federal climate resilience programs ahead of the National Adaptation Forum. In this half-day workshop, agencies helped identify the challenges of getting federal money to the ground where it is needed most.

To close out the day, we shared the details of Climate Ready America. Across the board the agency representatives agreed that Climate Ready America would help to more effectively deploy their climate programs and better understand emerging needs in communities.

After almost two years of working to develop this initiative from the ground up, we are energized by the strong support from the federal agencies. It reinforced that we understand what is needed and that Climate Ready America will meet that need.

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A National Meeting of the Minds

From the October 2022 Cornerstone Network Email

A preview of our Climate Ready America poster for the National Adaptation Forum

Members of our team are about to head to Baltimore for the National Adaptation Forum. As I write this message, we are putting the final touches on a pre-conference workshop we are co-hosting with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

This workshop will bring together climate resilience leaders and federal agencies to discuss getting the new federal investments to ground where they are needed most. On the agenda is a presentation about Climate Ready America. We want to hear from federal agencies about how this initiative can help them do their work more effectively.

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Some great news and some almost great news

From the August 2022 Cornerstone Network Email

The great news: As you no doubt saw, Congress last week passed legislation that included the largest investment in climate change to date. In a move not unlike nabbing Al Capone on tax evasion charges, the title of this bill doesn’t address climate change. While it is officially called the Inflation Reduction Act, given what is in it, we might expect it to be called the American Climate Action Act. But names don’t matter. What does matter is what is in it – investments that put the US on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. While still shy of the call to action by the International Panel on Climate Change, this target is a very good start.

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The sobering reality and inspiring hope of climate change in Maui County

From the May 2022 Cornerstone Network Newsletter

I have spent the last few weeks putting the final touches on a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Maui County, Hawai‘i, with a focus on the three populated islands of Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i. It has been a sobering experience to see how these small islands are facing climate change impacts that threaten to transform their communities – and not in good ways.  

The obvious risk in Hawai’i is sea level rise, but that’s just the beginning. Trade winds, which bring moisture and help cool the inland areas, have decreased markedly in recent years. For Maui County, climate change means increasing drought, wildfire, larger hurricanes, bigger floods, coral reef loss, invasive species explosions, and potentially massive supply chain problems, including for food. It also means severe disruption for the cultural foods, practices, and burial grounds of Native Hawaiians.

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Fifteen states step forward to be part of Climate Ready America

From the April 2022 Cornerstone Network Email

On April 15, we closed the call for states and state level organizations to submit proposals to develop a pilot Climate Innovation Center in their state. You’ll recall from earlier messages that state level Climate Innovation Centers are the building blocks of our Climate Ready America program. We are starting with five pilots and our five-year goal is to have Climate Innovation Centers in all fifty states and at least three territories.

Each of these five pilot projects will develop their own pathways to provide climate planning services to their communities. In some states, those services will be provided by state government, while in other states it will be academic institutions, civic organizations, or federal agencies that host their Climate Innovation Center.

When the final bell rang at the proposal deadline, we had 15 proposals from many different types of organizations or state governments in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Kansas, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Alaska. Another handful of states are interested but weren’t quite ready to put a proposal forward.

What struck me as I read the proposals was that incredible people have their shoulder to the wheel in all corners of our nation – and they are persevering with few resources against mighty odds to get climate help to communities in their states. In our conversations with interested groups and state governments, we have been deeply touched by how many people expressed their gratitude that someone is working to support their efforts and help them expand their reach.

I’m not sure how we will choose just five from among these visionary efforts for the pilot project, but I am heartened knowing that this is just the start. Securing funding for the pilot projects is our next order of business.

Making Climate Ready America real – Geos Institute releases call for pilots

From the March 2022 Cornerstone Network Email

Just last week we hit a very important milestone in our work to ensure that every community in the US can do its part to combat climate change no matter its location, size, or wealth.
We have formally issued the call for proposals for states and statewide organizations across the US to develop a pilot Climate Innovation Center for their state. The deadline is April 15 and we’ve already received two proposals.

This is the first step in breathing life into the Climate Ready America framework we have been developing for the past 16 months and it’s incredibly exciting to be part of it.

We have been engaging with government agencies, state governments, statewide organizations, climate resilience planners, and local government staff for months sharing our framework and incorporating their feedback so that this system serves everyone it needs to in the best possible way.

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Advising FEMA on what communities need to build climate resilience

From the February 2022 Cornerstone Network Email

Last week, I participated in my second meeting of the Climate Resilience Subcommittee of FEMA’s National Advisory Committee. While advising a massive bureaucracy like FEMA may seem like pure drudgery, I left the meeting energized.


FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) oversees disaster preparation and response in all US states and territories. It’s a big job – one where they must continuously balance dealing with emergencies in real time with helping states and communities reduce future disasters.

I am joined on the National Advisory Committee (NAC) by 35 other people from across the nation who represent local, state, and for-profit and non-profit organizations and have some connection to FEMA’s mission. We are each assigned to one of three subcommittees that align with the pillars of FEMA’s strategic plan: Workforce, Readiness, and Climate Resilience. Some members are also assigned to a cross-issue Equity Working Group.

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Serving as a FEMA advisor and closing out 2021

From the December 2021 Cornerstone Network Email

As we come to the close of 2021, I want to share some exciting news.

Earlier this month I was appointed to the National Advisory Council for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Starting in January, I will join 34 other advisors from around the county coming from local government, emergency management, Tribal nations, the private sector, and NGOs.

Our job will be to help FEMA implement its new strategic plan, which focuses on three goals:

  • Instill Equity as a Foundation of Emergency Management
  • Lead Whole of Community in Climate Resilience
  • Promote and Sustain a Ready FEMA and Prepared Nation

I am so pleased that FEMA is moving aggressively toward ensuring a climate resilient nation, and that they are doing it in ways that center the needs of the under-resourced and under-represented members of our communities.

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From a climate services bureau to a Climate Ready America

From the November 2021 Cornerstone Network Email

As COP 26 unfolded, we were reminded how important climate work is at ALL levels of government. From international treaties to local government policies, there is much to be done and precious little time to do it.

While it’s clear that all U.S. communities need to be doing their climate work, too many can’t get the help they need because they are too small, too poor, or blocked by a state government that doesn’t support climate action. This needs to change so that all communities, no matter their location, size, or affluence, can get the help they need to take effective climate action. Local action is necessary if we are to meet our national climate targets.

We have been working at the Geos Institute to develop a nationwide system of climate support services to serve these communities since 2015. From 2015-2018, we co-led an effort to create a “climate adaptation service bureau” to help local leaders identify climate vulnerabilities and implement solutions. That effort spawned several important tools and concepts in the field, which are now coming to fruition.

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