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WEI Making a Difference in 2019

 “By investing in clean energy, clean manufacturing, water stewardship, and regenerative agriculture while we “green” our infrastructure and electrify our transportation, we can address climate change and create a more resilient, vibrant and thriving Wisconsin.” — John Imes

Here’s a recap and highlights of WEI’s work in 2019:

  • WEI Executive Director John Imes wrote a guest column on the Green New Deal: Wisconsin’s Call to Action that appeared in the Sunday Janesville Gazette, the Cap Times and WisPolitics/WisBusiness news sources. The Green New Deal calls for a massive U.S. mobilization over 10 years to achieve the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while creating millions of high-wage jobs and sustainable economic growth. The column shows how Wisconsin is well positioned to make headway on many of the goals and objectives as outlined in the Green New Deal.
  • WEI attended GreenBiz 19, the premier annual event for sustainable business leaders with more than 1,200 influential professionals from the world’s largest companies, government, and NGOs — to connect and explore successful new directions, technologies, systems and policies to accelerate more sustainable economic development. WisPolitics/WisBusiness highlighted John’s blog about the event for readers statewide.
  • WEI sponsored the Summit on Powering Local Leadership in Appleton featuring opening remarks by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes who reiterated Governor Tony Evers commitment to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement and 100% renewable energy in WI by 2050. The two-day Summit featured sessions on clean energy, equity and workforce development; preparing for electric vehicles, and ways to get to 100% renewable energy - plus a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bubolz Nature Preserve Microgrid.
  • The Green New Deal: Idealism or inevitable? Executive Director John Imes spoke at a Wisconsin Technology Council luncheon that included speakers from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum. also covered the event with a feature article and podcast.
  • WEI’s work with the Morgridge Center for Public Service Badger Volunteers includes Main Street Green initiatives around green urbanism and stormwater management practices, zero waste stations, plus community gardening at Prospect Gardens located along the Southwest Commuter path in the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood. Volunteers also helped at the 42nd Monroe Street Festival and the first annual Good Neighbor Gathering in Brittingham Park featuring six participating Madison west and south side neighborhoods.
  • Green Built Home certified projects in 2019 included almost 2,500 homes and WHEDA low-income housing units built or remodeled to WEI’s Green Built standards. Executive Director John Imes toured many Green Built certified projects statewide and joined Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) Executive Director Joaquin Altoro and other community leaders to celebrate the grand opening of Seven04 Place, a high-quality affordable housing project located on National Avenue in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. The newly built project located on a former brownfield features 46 units of affordable housing for working individuals and families and 14 units for adults struggling with barriers to housing stability.
  • Executive Director John Imes had the honor of presenting the Green New Deal at the United Church of Christ (UCC) Synod in Milwaukee, the national body that helps direct evangelical and justice initiatives. After the presentation, the UCC deliberated and then passed the GND resolution by a stunning vote of 662-30 becoming the first U.S. Christian body to endorse the Green New Deal! "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
  • Business as usual and politics as usual has to change if Wisconsin is going to get serious about addressing climate change, attracting workers and achieving more sustainable economic development. So WEI welcomed the opportunity to attend the first major Circular Economy event in North America bringing together over 850 thought leaders from leading companies, government, and NGOs on ways to accelerate more sustainable commerce. Executive Director John Imes also attended the WMC Policy Day featuring a keynote address by Governor Tony Evers and sessions on policy and the political landscape. See John’s recap here.
  • Thanks to Madison Essentials magazine for a feature article about WEI: Wisconsin Environmental Initiative in the September/October issue: Wisconsin Green Growth: A Call to Action

“...Today, it’s even more important for stakeholders across Wisconsin to collaborate and establish a solid new direction for the state—one that integrates a green growth strategy to create prosperous, secure, and sustainable communities; address climate change, and respect our heritage and tradition of environmental stewardship…”

  • WEI signed on to the American Sustainable Business Council joint statement to demonstrate our concern for the gravity of climate change and stand with young activists at the Capitol demanding bold action on global climate policy.

“If you believe in climate change and you believe in science, well then it’s reasonable to expect that we can accelerate the solutions that are in front of us and create a green economy for the state.” “The science is demanding that we be bold. So let’s be bold.”
— John Imes

  • Executive Director John Imes attended VERGE 19 with over 3,000 leaders from companies, governments, policymakers, NGOs and start-ups at the cutting-edge of technology and sustainability. See our blog recap that features inspirational examples of climate leadership, decarbonizing our cities, circularity in the built environment, scaling electric transit, the enormous potential of the Green New Deal, plus regenerative agriculture, energy resilience and how data and technology are advancing sustainability and more…
  • WEI and the Badger Volunteers attended the official opening of the historic Garver Feed Mill with a ribbon-cutting and remarks by Governor Tony Evers and Deb Archer, President of Destination Madison; plus other state and local leaders.

“The landmark Garver Feed Mill shows the potential of retrofitting and repurposing existing buildings and infrastructure to reduce social/economic disparities and provide well-paying, accessible jobs,” said WEI Executive Director, John Imes. “By creating more jobs in green industries we can connect the dots between the climate crisis and the need for more sustainable economic development.”

  • WEI and the Badger Volunteers also spent an afternoon on Lake Mendota to view waterfront property use, flooding impacts and opportunities to deploy Clean Clear Waters strategies, including: rain gardens and drainage swales, green infrastructure and porous pavement, native plantings and buffer zones, and the importance of avoiding fertilizers and pesticide application while preserving trees and stream banks to provide protection for fish and aquatic life.
  • WEI was a proud sponsor of The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Climate Fast Forward event in Madison that brought together over 300 leading stakeholders on ways to “fast forward” climate action including recommendations for how Wisconsin can become a clean energy leader. For more, please visit the resource page.
  • Wisconsin has the goods to be a leader in the clean economy, but business as usual, and politics, as usual, has to change. Hear Executive Director John Imes discuss the Green New Deal with Helena White on "Wisconsin Getting Hotter" on WORT FM 89.9 FM.
  • It's not all bad in Washington D.C. — Executive Director John Imes attended the two-day American Sustainable Business & Advocacy Summit - Making Capitalism Work for All. The National Summit brings together a unique cross-section of thinkers and doers, including business leaders, activists, economists, and elected officials for conversations on national, state and local policy issues, socioeconomic challenges, and trends, plus networking events and meetings on Capitol Hill about ways we can achieve a clean economy that works for everyone. Visit this link for highlights.
  • WEI social media posts reached over 260,000 people with 41 posts resulting in over 22,000 link clicks or post engagements. Check out WEI’s Facebook page available here.

Wisconsin needs an economy that works for everyone, invests in innovative policies, and takes care of workers. Join us to showcase the state again as an innovator—one that invests in clean energy, clean manufacturing, water stewardship, and regenerative agriculture while we green our buildings and infrastructure and electrify our transportation to address climate change and create a more resilient, vibrant, and thriving Wisconsin.

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Thanks to all of our partners and sponsors for another great year!

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Wisconsin Environmental Initiative

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