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The First Climate Economy Kickoff Event:

The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities – June 12, 2019


Original event description:

This event will provide southern Illinois communities, non-profits, businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals with education, resources and innovative ideas about opportunities in the changing energy economy. Speakers will provide background on what’s happening in the economy, and insight into economic diversification opportunities in energy, forestry, agriculture and more. A community forum will give participants the chance to speak to organizations and businesses directly. Attendance is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged. Lunch is provided for registered participants.

“The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities” took place in Carbondale on June 12, 2019. It brought together experts in energy, economic diversification and innovation to provide attendees with education and resources for community resilience in the face of climate change.  At least 65 people attended and participated. Speakers and panelists that attended represented a variety of organizations including IEEFA, Faith in Place, Prairie Rivers Network, U. of Illinois Extension, SIU, and others. Attendees included people from one of the local electric cooperatives, representatives from an organization called Carbondale Spring, which is advocating for a resilient community, students from the Sunrise movement, and other local business owners and community members, as well as some SIU faculty and students. See the links in the next box for more information. The total event budget, sponsored by the Just Transition Fund, was $10,000, which went mainly towards food at the event and speaker fees/travel.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a lot we have forgotten about what it means to be human.
  • Disconnection from nature is a problem in our society, especially for kids.
  • The money is there for new projects; people just need to ask about it.
  • We need to keep this group going because it’s got a lot of expertise.
  • People need education and resources about the transition in energy, the economy and society.
  • People want to do better.
  • Preparation and proactive policies are needed.
  • Everything takes time but we have to start.
  • We need to take care of people and the Earth.
  • We need a new generation of farmers.
  • We all need to work together
  • This is just the beginning.
  • We need to put people first instead of the economy/money.
  • We all have a big choice ahead of us.
  • We need a local focus on problem solving.
  • Collaboration is key.
  • We have so much to do!


  • The kickoff event was organized by Amy McMorrow at The Climate Economy Education Inc. This event was just prior to our incorporation.
  • Thanks to Cindy Winland at the Just Transition Fund, who provided all financial, organizational and lots of other support.
  • Special thanks to all keynotes, panelists, attendees and tablers, and to Town Square Market for the fabulous food and drinks.
  • City of Carbondale: Special Thanks to City of Carbondale, Sustainability Commission, for sponsoring part of our Civic Center fee.
  • Prairie Rivers Network: Special thanks to Prairie Rivers Network for providing travel funds.
  • Southern Illinois Community Foundation: Special thanks to SICF for acting as fiduciary.

Remainder of Forum Participants

  • University of Illinois Extension:; University of Illinois Extension works with you to bring scientifically-based, locally focused tools to your community. Urbana, Illinois.
  • Keep Carbondale Beautiful:; Keep Carbondale Beautiful initiates, plans, and directs cooperative efforts in litter control, recycling, community beautification, and environmental education. Carbondale, IL.
  • Illinois Biochar Group AND Juntos Energy Solutions NFP:; IBG promotes biochar issues in Illinois and surrounding states. Juntos NFP (based in Illinois) has projects in India with cookstoves that generate carbon offsets and make charcoal. Normal, Illinois.
  • StraightUp Solar:; StraightUp Solar is a full turnkey, BBB A+, locally owned and environmentally-conscious Certified B Corp solar installer founded in 2006. St Louis, MO.
  • Faith in Place:; Interfaith Earth care nonprofit. Harrisburg, IL.
  • Sierra Club
  • AES Solar
  • Albert Bates
  • Dr. Paul Anderson

Wednesday, June 12, 2019: Presentation Slides and Videos

Clean Energy

Event Assets: The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois - Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities - June 12, 2019


Economic Diversification

Event Assets: The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois - Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities - June 12, 2019


Event Assets: The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois - Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities - June 12, 2019


You can have a kickoff event in your town!

A kickoff event can happen in any town! You can take the basic template of this full-day event and do it locally. You just need a "catalyst," either an individual or organization (school or nonprofit, e.g.) to take the lead, and a main sponsor helps too. You might ask: why would I want to do that?

A kickoff brings everyone together, inspires and gets the imagination going, and provides great networking opportunities. Plus, it gets you prepared for what is to come, which we have no way of knowing for sure. Since the June 2019 event, Carbondale has spruced up its climate action plan and hired a city sustainability manager, the state of Illinois passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, and much more! There is funding available now finally for everything we got rolling back in 2019, and things are still moving in all kinds of new directions. Coincidence? Maybe, but it helps to be prepared!

We continued our local efforts with online events throughout 2000-2021 and started doing resilience fairs and weekly meetings in fall 2021. Also in 2020-2021, we set up the CLimate Economy Action Network for online education, community groups and project management, and resource exchange, which is free and open for everyone anywhere to use. It's a process! Groups have moved ahead with new businesses, projects and grant proposals. 

If you'd rather start a little smaller, you could go with a resilience fair, which is just an hour or two, and pretty much zero budget with the help of local partners. Read more.


Please contact us if you have any questions, or want any help: Amy McMorrow Hunter, 618.713.2896, amy @ the climate economy . com (no spaces).