After hosting several clean energy days at the Capitol, the Climate + Energy Project sought to expand advocacy efforts to include water, land, and food policy. While our work has focused primarily on renewable energy and energy efficiency, we understand that energy use is connected to water, land management, and food systems. We wanted to bring together our state's outstanding nonprofits and businesses to discuss and highlight the important impacts of water, energy, land and food policies in Kansas. We were enormously pleased with the turnout of this event!
The first Kansas Water, Energy, Land, & Food Forum brought over 175 Kansans and 22 organizations together to learn about and advocate for water, energy, land, and food policy. The day began with a Climate Prayer Vigil led by Rev. Thad Holcomb, Lawrence Ecology Teams United in Sustainability, and Rev. Chad Cooper, Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition. Immediately following the vigil, attendees gathered to learn about priority bills impacting water, energy, land, and food in Kansas. Paul Johnson and Natalie Fullerton of the Kansas Rural Center, Donn Teske with the Kansas Farmer's Union, Zack Pistora from the Kansas Sierra Club, Dawn Buehler, Friends of the Kaw, Sharon Ashworth with the Kansas Natural Resources Council, and Dorothy Barnett with the Climate + Energy Project discussed the priority bills and answered questions from the audience. Speakers also offered some tips to make the day’s advocacy efforts as effective as possible.
Following the advocacy overview, attendees were treated to a delicious lunch made from locally sourced ingredients prepared by Raven's Table Catering. It was a busy day at the Capitol, and the House remained in session throughout the lunch hour. While we were disappointed that some of our speakers were unable to join us, Senators Tom Hawk and Marci Francisco, and Representatives Steven Becker and Sharon Schwartz all shared valuable information about water, energy, land, and food policies at the Capitol.
Throughout the day, some of the state’s finest environmental organizations staffed booths in the first floor rotunda to answer questions, share information, and make great connections. It was one of the most diverse gatherings of organizations that I can remember, and I expect we’ll see great things from this group in the future. We ended the day on a sweet note, together once again in the rotunda for some cookies and conversation.
In my almost-five-years at CEP, this event goes down as one of my favorites. For those of us who work on environmental issues, it’s easy to get too narrowly focused. While CEP works primarily on energy issues, we know that energy use is intricately connected to water, food, and land. With a small staff of three, we surely can’t cover all of these critically important issues. What we can do is invite all of the movers and shakers to come together, share resources, and reach out to the public. The Water, Energy, Land, & Food Forum amplified the voices of all participating organizations and raised the profile of these important issues affecting all Kansans. We are stronger together!