February’s Ann Arbor climate hero, Bill Razgunas, set up a recycling program at an apartment building in Ypsilanti with a fellowship of men who have developmental handicaps. January’s hero, Susan Whitlock, created an adult education series for Ann Arbor’s First Presbyterian Church called “Living with Hope in an Age of Climate Change”—and dries her laundry in the sun.

“It’s about learning,” explains Don Levitt, spokesperson for the website climateherostories.com. “People think it’s hopeless, but there is really a lot they can do.” 

The project started last September, when representatives from eight Christian and Jewish congregations met to identify ways that they could work together to reduce Ann Arbor’s carbon footprint. Coordinating with groups already working on the issue, they created the website to define the problem and educate residents on options to fight it. They also present monthly Zoom webinars with panels of experts on subjects such as electric vehicles and solar energy. 

They hope the project will become a model for other communities. Levitt points out that Ann Arbor’s long history of activism has often gone beyond local significance. For instance, in 1965, when opposition to the Vietnam War seemed hopeless, local activists organized a teach-in. One of the first in the country, it was written about in the New York Times. 

The Climate Hero Stories project will culminate on May 7 with a teach-in at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church with mayor Christopher Taylor delivering the keynote speech. Climate-action groups will set up tables to share information about their projects, and Ann Arbor’s First Unitarian Universalist Congregation will provide vegetarian snacks.

Ed Lynn, the Unitarians’ recently retired volunteer administrator, was December’s climate hero. He was one of the leaders of the congregation’s Climate Action / Climate Justice Team, which created a plan to increase solar power, install heat pumps, and “make the 46 acres of congregational property carbon neutral or better.”