Summers in Phoenix are scorching. And some neighborhoods are hotter than others, with few trees to provide shade and lots of concrete that soaks up the heat.
“In the areas that we work in, in the predominantly lower-income areas, there’s just such a lack of greenery in the area — a lack of trees, a lack of investment in quality infrastructure,” Eva Ordóñez Olivas says.
Olivas directs the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofit. For the past two years, her group has partnered with the Nature Conservancy on an online Urban Heat Leadership Academy.
So far, about 100 residents have participated in the five-month program, learning about the causes and impacts of urban heat and how to protect people.
Graduates can apply for grants to lead projects in their neighborhoods.
Ordóñez Olivas says one graduate did a greening project and planted fruit trees outside a community garden to provide people with food and cooling shade.
Another participant helped set up a volunteer-staffed water hydration station. And others partnered with local groups to design a shaded pedestrian corridor lined with Sonoran desert plants.
So the program is empowering local residents with knowledge and resources to help protect their communities from dangerous heat.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media