News & Resources

As Climate Change Accelerates, Can Individual Actions Make a Difference?
June 17, 2024 | |

The short answer is absolutely yes.

While discussions about climate change often focus on huge global challenges like carbon emissions, deforestation, and melting icebergs, the effects of this crisis hit close to home. It impacts our daily lives, health, and happiness in very personal ways: flooded streets and basements, lost homes and memories, higher utility bills, and more frequent hospital visits for heat-related illnesses.

While the climate crisis can rightfully cause anxiety, what we’ve seen time and again in our work is that there are also countless reasons to be hopeful. For over two decades, Groundwork has worked hand-in-hand with residents to create healthier, greener, and more just communities through community organizing and hyper-local environmental action. What we’ve learned is that there is no single fix for the climate crisis – small actions can have a big impact on reducing the day-to-day impact of climate change.

Anyone who has met Cate Mingoya-LaFortune, our very own Chief Climate, Land, and Water Officer, knows that she is a relentless believer in the power of individuals to create change. In her new book, Climate Action For Busy People, Cate draws on her experience with Groundwork, her background in teaching and urban planning, and her “side hustle” as a community organizer to share how anyone – regardless of experience, expertise or schedule – can play a role in creating a more climate resilient future.

Anchored in hope, her book shares ideas, inspiration, and tangible tactics to move beyond anxiety to action – amplifying many of the actions that have been core to Groundwork’s success.


Building momentum for climate action through individual action.

Not all climate solutions need to be expensive or elaborate. Installing rain barrels, planting gardens, removing unnecessary pavement, or simply keeping storm drains clear can help reduce flooding. Planting new trees and native plants—or caring for existing ones—adds shade and helps improve air quality. You can also start composting or try replacing grass lawns with more drought-tolerant plants. While in isolation, these actions may not seem like much in the face of this crisis – these actions add up over time as more people get involved. In a blink of an eye an individual action can inspire community-level change. Looking for inspiration? Get some recommendations from the Groundwork Community.


Elevating and centering local knowledge and resident-identified solutions

Too often, design processes overlook the importance of community voices and residents undervalue their contributions and the importance of showing up to share their lived experiences. The most impactful climate adaptation solutions are going to come from those with a deep understanding of how people navigate the neighborhood. Residents can identify the specific challenges and opportunities that outsiders might miss – like the cut-through used to avoid standing in the heat at an unsheltered bus stop or the alternate route community members take to avoid flooding alone on their commute to work or school. These perspectives are essential for ensuring that limited resources are directed where they can have the greatest impact.

Leveraging the power of the collective to advocate for municipal investments in green infrastructure

There’s tremendous power in residents coming together to advocate for changes in their neighborhoods or for specific allocations in municipal budgets. While individual calls for change might be ignored, a collective voice is harder to dismiss. Although municipal systems can seem complex and intimidating, local governments are run by people aiming to do the most good. By uniting with your neighbors to share your collective story, you can open up opportunities for shared success.






Curious to learn more about the power of individual action? Check out our recent LinkedIn Live Session where Groundwork staff Jeremy Hoffman and Bruce Strouble join Cate Mingoya-LaFortune to discuss individual action, climate change, and community resilience.

Individual actions might seem small in the face of a global crisis, but they add up to significant change. Through these incremental change, we can all come together to create the climate safe future we all desire.