Skip to main content
Geos Institute helps communities build resilience in the face of climate change

From the Executive Director

From the April 2021 Cornerstone Network email

As you know, our focus has been ensuring that all communities, no matter their size or affluence, can get the high-quality climate planning help they need.

The Biden Administration’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis is opening several doors for us. Doors that we couldn’t have even dreamed possible at this time last year.

But what we still need is a nationwide system of climate services. Local leaders need help to address both the causes and impacts of the climate crisis. They need a system that helps them move toward climate solutions that are good for all people and the environment.

From the March 2021 Cornerstone Network email

In the world of climate resilience, we measure the bad things that don’t happen, which is not always (or even mostly) an easy feat.

But today I’m happy to share with you an important example of what happens when a community gets it right in their efforts to build climate resilience.

View of El PasoThis month we watched a slow-moving tragedy unfold across Texas as a deep freeze covered the state causing malfunctions at power plants right as demand was surging due to the extreme cold.

Most of Texas is one power grid, which they set up intentionally to avoid federal regulations in the 1930s. But El Paso is on a different grid, one that crosses state boundaries and allows them to call on a larger power grid in emergencies like this. Which is exactly what they did with this deep freeze.

dwpp logo teal

From the February 2021 Cornerstone Network email

I want to share with you one of my favorite things about being the Executive Director of the Geos Institute. It’s the day I get to help select the winners of Drinking Water Providers Partnership grants.

In the fall of each year, we work with our partners in the Drinking Water Providers Partnership to issue a call for proposals for projects that restore watersheds that provide drinking water for communities in Oregon and Washington. Applicants are partnerships that include local water utilities, federal agencies, and often, local watershed councils. Proposals are required to show how the project will improve both drinking water sources and native fish habitat.

Applications arrive by early January and then the fun begins! Each of the partner organizations assigns a representative to review and score the applications. Then we meet to discuss the merits of each proposal and come up with the final list of grant awards. I’m fortunate to represent Geos Institute in this process.

From the January 2021 Cornerstone Network email

Yesterday, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis Here and Abroad. This order comes on the heels of others to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, to pull the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, and a presidential memorandum that protects government scientists from political interference. 

Earlier this week, the administration announced an effort to free up roughly $10 billion at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to protect against climate disasters.  

It is most definitely a firehose of federal climate action, but a welcome one. Given the events of the past several weeks at the Capitol and across our nation, these aggressive and early moves to address the climate crisis are sweet music to our ears. Especially those of us who have been staring down the climate crisis without the support of our federal government for the past four years.  
For the first time ever, the US is taking a “whole of government” approach. It is badly needed given the lateness of the hour and the transformational change required to meet the climate challenge.

What a difference a day makes. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until I started to breathe again after the November election.

The last four years have been hard – and the pandemic has put an exclamation point on these last 9 months.

We still have a ways to go before we can hug friends and family, dance together, do our grocery shopping without masks, and stop worrying so much about our loved ones who are at high risk. But the light is visible at the end of the tunnel and it is time to prepare for how we emerge from this global challenge.

Here at Geos, we are focused on the incoming administration and how it can create a nationwide system of climate resilience support services. We want every community, no matter its size or wealth, to meet the challenge of the climate crisis – and do it in ways that are ecologically sound and socially equitable.

We’ve been talking with congressional staff, agency representatives, and allied organizations about how to get this done so that action can be taken on a scale that matches the need. The response has been so positive that our excitement just continues to build as we enter the new year!

Supporting community leaders in facing both the causes and impacts of climate change hasn’t been easy during the Trump administration. Funding has been difficult (to say the least) and the pandemic only made it worse.

We are still dealing with that reality, but we are excited by what the future holds for Geos and for the work we do to help local leaders protect their people and the environment in the face of the climate crisis.

Thank you so much for your generous and consistent support of this critically important work. Knowing we have so many individual supporters who believe in our work and are willing to invest in a vibrant climate future has made all the difference as we have weathered the Trump storms.  

From the December 2020 Cornerstone Network Email

What a difference a day makes. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until I started to breathe again after the November election.

The last four years have been hard – and the pandemic has put an exclamation point on these last 9 months.

We still have a ways to go before we can hug friends and family, go shopping without masks, and stop worrying about our loved ones at high risk. But the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. It is time to prepare for how we emerge from this global challenge.

Coming into the election, my biggest questions were these – would the system of checks and balances our republic is built on hold firm under such intense pressure? Would the will of the people be heard and respected?

In the end, this election showed how the heart of America beats and that we understand the immense challenges before us, including and especially the climate crisis. Citizens voted in record numbers, many enduring long lines in cold weather to cast their votes.

Secretaries of State, poll workers, and ballot counters showed up – regardless of political persuasion – and did their patriotic duty to protect the sanctity of the vote. Despite the disruptions we are experiencing on so many levels, Americans chose hope over fear and love over hate.

From the November 2020 Cornerstone email

Coming into the election, my biggest questions were these – would the system of checks and balances our republic is built on hold firm under such intense pressure? Would the will of the people be heard and respected?

In the end, this election showed how the heart of America beats and that we understand the immense challenges before us, including and especially the climate crisis. Citizens voted in record numbers, many enduring long lines in cold weather to cast their votes.

Secretaries of State, poll workers, and ballot counters showed up – regardless of political persuasion – and did their patriotic duty to protect the sanctity of the vote. Despite the disruptions we are experiencing on so many levels, Americans chose hope over fear and love over hate.

From the October 2020 Cornerstone Network Email

I can’t remember ever being this anxious for such a long period of time. Between the COVID-19 surge, the devastation caused by local wildfires and smoke events, and the fact that we are staring down the most important election in our lifetimes, there is much to be anxious about.

We know that we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 – and we are already behind. The recent storm that ravaged Iowa, the wildfires in the West, and the sheer number of hurricanes experienced this year remind us that we need to hold our communities together if we are to have any chance of hitting those greenhouse gas targets.

After 14 years serving as Chief Scientist and Program Director for our Forest Legacies Initiative, Dominick DellaSala has taken the position of Chief Scientist at Wild Heritage – a program of Earth Island Institute. He will continue many of the forest conservation projects that were launched by the Geos Institute in his new role at Wild Heritage.

Our roots are deep in forest conservation having started originally as Headwaters – a regional organization made up of advocates and grassroots forest protection organizations across the Pacific Northwest. It was in those early years that we engaged in timber sale tracking, policy advocacy, and litigation.

Sign up with a monthly donation and become part of our Cornerstone Network. Network members recieve the messages posted here first, delivered directly to your inbox. Your ongoing support is the foundation of our work.

Join the Cornerstone Network