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Sustainable Ann Arbor Forums

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The City of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor District Library are hosting the ninth annual Sustainable Ann Arbor series from January to April 2020.  The Forums this year are focused on the City's A2Zero pledge to achieve community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.  Members from the project's Technical Advisory Committees will share about opportunities and challenges in the four sectors of the project: Energy, Mobility, Resource Reduction, and Adaptation/Resiliency.  All Forums will be held at the Main Ann Arbor Library Branch (343 S 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104​) from 7-8:30pm. 


May, 15, 2020: Virtual Ann Arbor Sustainability Forum: Adaptation and Resiliency

Join us on Tuesday, May 19, at 7 p.m. for a virtual sustainability forum focused on adaptation and resilience. During this forum, you'll hear from Beth Gibbons, the executive director of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, Rebecca Esselman, the executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council, a liaison from the Red Cross (invited), and learn a bit about how resilience is integrated into the newly released Ann Arbor Carbon Neutrality Plan, A2Zero.

Register for this event here:

If you have questions, please contact OSI’s Elizabeth Santiago (


January 30, 2019:​ A2Zero in the Energy Sector

​​Over 50 people attended the first A2Zero Forum of the year, which was focused on energy issues. Presenters included: Josh MacDonald, Hank Love,  Julie Roth, Chuck Hookham, Robert Jackson, and Susan Fancy. 


February 13, 2020: A2Zero in the Mobility Sector

Please join us as we discuss how transportation projects can help the City meet our ambitious 2030 carbon neutrality goals.  Presenters will include: Matt Carpenter, Linda Diane Feldt, Emily Drennen, and Joe Grengs. 


March 19, 2020: A2Zero in the Resource Reduction Sector

We will talk about all things trash, recycling, composting, and avoiding upstream consumption at this Forum. Presenters include: Eileen Naples,Tracy Artley, Matt Naud, and Rusty Brach.​


April 9, 2020: A2Zero and Adapatation/Resiliency

​More details to be announced soon.


January 17, 2019: Health Equity

Nearly 50 attendees learned about health inequities, including a discussion on climate change, mental health, and the role of public health in addressing these inequities.


  • Natalie Sampson, PhD, MPH (Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn)
  • Ellen Rabinowitz (Health Officer, Washtenaw County Health Department)
  • Dr. Paul Fleming (Assistant Professor of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan)
  • Dr. Felicia Brabec (Washtenaw County Commissioner, District 4)

 Visit AADL's website to watch a complete r​ecording of the forum


February 19, 2019: Adapting to a Changing Climate

The City of Ann Arbor is already experiencing impacts from climate change. More severe storms, increased precipitation, rising temperatures and extended heat waves all pose challenges to how we live, work, and play in our community. Close to 100 people learned from climate adaptation experts about climate change for Ann Arbor, what we can do to thrive in a changing future, and ​how the Ann Arbor community is taking steps to address climate impacts and what more we could be doing at the city, neighborhood and individual level. 


  • Beth Gibbons (Executive Director, The American Society of Adaptation Professionals)
  • Jennifer Lawson (Water Quality Manager, City of Ann Arbor)​
  • Dr. Missy Stults (Manager, Office of Sustainability and Innovations, City of Ann Arbor)

March 21, 2019: Climate Change 201

The largest Forum crowd ever (106 people!) heard Dr. Jonathan Overpeck (Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan​) and Emily Drennen (Sustainability Analyst, City of Ann Arbor)​ delve into the latest thinking about the science and impacts of climate change, both locally and globally.


  • Dr. Jonathan Overpeck (Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan)
  • Emily Drennen (Sustainability Analyst, City of Ann Arbor)


April 18, 2019: Race and Class Equity in Washtenaw County

Ann Arbor is the eighth most socioeconomically segregated metro area in the U.S.; the second most segregated city in the nation in service class segregation; and the fifth in working class segregation. In 2010, Census data shows white residents accounted for 73% of Ann Arbor's population, just under Michigan's average of 79%, while African American residents accounted for just 8% of residents—nearly half of the state average of 14%. Ypsilanti, on the other hand, is made up of 62% white residents and 29% African American residents: a dramatic imbalance for two closely tied cities. Housing is a social determinant of health so where you live matters. One hundred and sixteen adults, three teens, and three kids were in the audience as the speakers dove into the issues and opportunities surrounding race and class equity throughout Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.


  • Teresa Gillotti (Director, Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development)
  • Jennifer Hall (Executive Director, Ann Arbor Housing Commission)
  • Dr. Tony Reames (Assistant Professor, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan) ​
  • Alma Wheeler Smith (Chair,  Michigan Civil Rights Commission and Former Michigan State Representative and Senator)



Electric Vehicles - About 70 attendees heard from a panel of electric vehicle experts as they talked about EVs in Ann Arbor. Charles Griffith, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Ecology Center, set the stage and shared some facts about EVs in Ann Arbor. Bruce Westlake from the Michigan Electric Auto Association talked about what motivates drivers to go EV. Andrew Renz, Principal Marketing Specialist for DTE shared about their emerging focus on supporting EV adoption in our region. Alex Keros, Manager, Vehicle & Advanced Technology Policy for General Motors talked about their innovative car-sharing and ride-hailing efforts both locally and from across the United States. Lastly, Terry Richards, Head of Sustainability Projects for Mahindra GenZe, spoke about their electric motorbikes and motor scooters.

Before the Forum, EV owners from the Michigan Electric Auto Association opened their car doors to approximately 30 members of the public. The "EV Showcase" event was held on Library Lane from 5-7pm. The event was free.

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum


​Measuring and Tracking Sustainability - At this Forum, approximately 55 attendees listened in as experts from Ann Arbor city government and U of M examined current methods to measure and track the success of sustainability programs. John Mirsky, Executive Policy Advisor for Sustainability for the Ann Arbor City Administrator, discussed the City's latest efforts to upgrade and more effectively employ sustainability metrics. Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor, reported on the City's new four-star rating with the STAR Communities program. Andrew Berki, Director of the U of M Office of Campus Sustainability, spoke about the University's efforts to meet their aggressive sustainability goals. 

​Visit AADL's website to watch a complete rec​ording of the forum​

Civic Life in Ann Arbor - An engaged audience of 52 attendees took part during this Forum as panelists examined the health of our civic life in the Ann Arbor region. Mary Morgan, Founder of CivCity, moderated a panel about what it means to be an engaged citizen in a sustainable community, the importance of effecting change by focusing on the local level, and visioning what civic life can mean in the age of social media. Neel Hajra, President and CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, spoke about the importance of community philanthropy in a thriving city. Ashley Blake, Community Building Team Lead at Avalon Housing, spoke about how to engage residents who have not traditionally had access to the democratic process. Linh Song, Vice President of the Ann Arbor District Library Board spoke about how the Library is meeting the needs of the community. Lastly, Patrick Campion, Program Director for WEMU, spoke about the important roles an independent media plays in a healthy democracy.

​Visit AADL's website to watch a com​​plete recording of the forum​

Ann Arbor Water 101 - A small but mighty crowd took part in a fun evening learning about the lifecycle of water in Ann Arbor. They watched a video about extreme storms in Ann Arbor, heard presentations from experts in the field, and participated in a Jeopardy-style water trivia game. 

  • Omar Gates, Climatologist from the University of Michigan
  • Jennifer Lawson, Water Quality Manager for the City of Ann Arbor   
  • Brian Steiglitz, Water Treatment Plant Manager for the City of Ann Arbor    
  • Earl Kenzie, Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager for the City of Ann Arbor​
Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum



Grow Your Own -  The fourth and final Sustainable Ann Arbor forum focused on the topic of growing and preserving your own food. The moderator, Councilmember Jason Frenzel, kept the program lively and on track. Master Gardener Monica Milla shared how to plan your vegetable garden; her main points were that anyone can be a gardener and that you should grow what you like to eat. Sustainable landscaper Drew Lathin, talked about how working with nature by planting native plants can help one’s backyard become not only more beautiful but also a biologically-important piece of land. Biodynamic Beekeeper Caitlin Dickinson spoke about how she’s learned to become a beekeeper and how you can as well. And lastly, Emily Springfield shared tips and tricks about canning, dehydrating, freezing, and other food storage arts. 

  • Monica Milla, Master Gardener and Gardening Instructor for Washtenaw Community College
  • Drew Lathin, General Manager of Creating Sustainable Landscapes, LLC
  • Caitlin Dickinson, Biodynamic Beekeeper
  • Emily Springfield, Founder of Preserving Traditions

​Visit AADL's website to watch a complete re​cording of the forum


Sustainable Kids - Our first kids-centered Forum included a make and take home craft, interactive environmental education presentations, and storytelling from a professional story teller. Over 75 children and adults attended March’s Sustainability Forum on “Sustainable Kids”. The evening opened with 15 of Jeannine Palm’s kids acting out the amazing story of how they’ve built wet meadows near their school. MacKenzie Maxwell of the Leslie Science Center then ran a module about frogs, including a live demo with a toad. And the end of the evening was topped off with Laura Raynor, a professional storyteller with the Ann Arbor District Library, who acted out a book for the kids, and then led the kids in making crafts at three craft tables. 

  • Jeannine Palms, Teacher/Director of Blossom Home Preschool & Adventures
  • MacKenzie Maxwell, School and Scout Program Manager for the Leslie Science Center
  • Katy Adams, Education Director for the Ecology Center
  • Laura Raynor, Youth Librarian for the AADL

(No video recorded as per AADL's policy of not filming minors without parental consent.)


Driverless Vehicles Coming Down the Pike -  We heard from state and national experts about the coming "driverless" vehicle revolution and what it will mean for the Ann Arbor region. Five high-powered presenters spoke about the upcoming “driverless car” revolution. The Director of the MI DOT, Kirk Steudle, spoke about the impact of four recent bills to pass the state legislature, all designed to ease unneeded regulatory burdens on the researchers and car manufacturers who want to test and deploy connected and automated vehicle technology on MI roads. Mr. Steudle is a leading DPT Director nationally. The Moderator of the evening, Laurel Champion (COO) and the CEO of the American Center for Mobility, John Maddox, both spoke about the history of the Willow Run site and how ACM plans to reimagine the site as a world-class automated and connected vehicle-testing center. Dr. Huang Peng, Director of the UM’s Mobility Transformation Center, gave a great overview of the M-City testing site and the other MTC vehicle testing projects using the streets of Ann Arbor as a living laboratory. Frank Sgambati of Robert Bosch, LLC, gave an industry perspective of what automated and connected technology is in the development pipeline now and will be on the streets soon. Perhaps the biggest take-away of the evening, though, was that the primary reason people are working on these projects is to save a great number of the 35,000 people who die on our country’s streets and highway each year.

  • Dr. Huei Peng, Director of U-M Mobility Transformation Center
  • Kirk Steudle, Director of MI Department of Transportation
  • Laurel Champion, American Center for Mobility
  • Frank Sgambati, Director of Marketing and Product Innovation, North America at Robert Bosch LLC

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recordin​​g of the forum

Green your Home DIY - On January 12th, the City kicked off its sixth year of Sustainability Forums at the downtown library. Councilmember Chip Smith recommended the topic of “Green Your Home DIY” and served as the evening’s moderator. Eighty-one attendees were given do-it-yourself (and hire-a-pro) tips on installing solar as part of the City’s group buy project; how to build a rain garden; how to weatherize their homes; and how to get started growing their own food. Presenters included: David Levine, CEO of Geostellar; Aaron Kraft, Housing Programs Supervisor for Washtenaw County; Roger Moon, Master Rain Gardener, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office; and Amanda Edmonds, Ypsilanti Mayor & Founder and Executive Director of Growing Hope.

  • David Levine, Founder/CEO of Geostellar
  • Aaron Kraft, Housing Programs Supervisor for Washtenaw County
  • Roger Moon, Master Rain Gardener, Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office)
  • Amanda Edmonds, Ypsilanti Mayor and Founder/Executive Director of Growing Hope

​​Visit AADL's website to watch a comp​le​te record​ing o​​f the forum​


Climate and Energy, included updates on Ann Arbor’s Climate Action Plan, an overview of local climate impacts, and sustainable programs underway at the University of Michigan. 

  • Mike Garfield, Executive Director, Ecology Center
  • Anya Dale, Sustainability Rep, University of Michigan
  • Sean Reed, Executive Director, Clean Energy Coalition
  • Wayne Appleyard, Chair, Ann Arbor Energy Commission
  • Nathan Geisler, Energy Programs Analyst, City of Ann Arbor

​​Visit AADL's website to read a description of the forum​

Resource Management, included discussions about improving Ann Arbor's waste diversion rate and community wide efforts to reduce different waste streams.

  • Roger Bowser, Managing Partner, Zingerman's
  • Eileen Spring, President and CEO, Food Gatherers
  • Noelle Bowman, Solid Waste Specialist, Washtenaw County
  • Tracy Artley, Sustainability Programs Coordinator, U-M Plant Building & Grounds Services
  • Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator, City of Ann Arbor

​​Visit AADL's website to read a description of the forum​

Land Use and Access, included discussions about regional transit, sustainability planning in transportation systems, and Ann Arbor's latest bicycle and pedestrian projects.
  • Matt Carpenter, CEO of TheRide
  • Michael Ford, CEO of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority 
  • Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor Transportation Program Manager
  • Sean Reed, Executive Director of Clean Energy Coalition (ArborBike)
  • Chris Taylor​, Mayor of Ann Arbor, Moderator​  ​

Looking to the Future: Ann Arbor in 2025, included conversations about local challenges and solutions on Ann Arbor's path to a more sustainable future. ​
  • Josie Parker, Director of the Ann Arbor Library 
  • Sue Zielinski, from UMTRI/SMART 
  • Xuan Liu, Manager of Research, SEMCOG
  • Susan Pollay, Executive Director, Ann Arbor​ Downtown Development Authority
  • Teresa Gillotti, Washtenaw County Department of Community and Economic Development
Visit AADL's website to read a description of the forum​


Sustainable Buildings, including a discussion of how to increase efficiency of both new and existing building and projects underway in the community

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum


Economic Vitality, including current economic development projects, community investment, and business development

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum​


Sustainable Systems, including an overview of city wet weather projects and community-led solutions to increased precipitation

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum


Responsible Resou​rce Use, including an overview of waste, compost, and recycling across the community

Due to a tornado warning at this forum, speakers were unable to give their presentations in full. Below are links to the presentations for each of the speakers. 


Equity in Planning

Visit AADL's website to watch the complete recording of the forum

Or view individual presentations from the Equity in Planning forum


Healthy Ecosystems​

Visit AADL's website to watch the complete recording of the forum

Or view individual presentations from the Healthy Ecosystems forum


Climate and Adaptation​

Visit AADL's website to watch the complete recording of the forum​

Visit AADL's​ website to read a transcript of the forum
Or view individual presentations from the Climate and Adaptation forum​


Local Food

Visit AADL's website to watch the complete recording of the forum


Sustainable Systems

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recoding of the forum​

Powerpoint Presentations (pdf - 9MB)

How to Get Involved Handout (PDF​​)

Economic Vitality​

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum​

Powerpoint Presentations (6 MB PDF)


Diverse Housing

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum​​

View individual presentations

Powerpoint Presentations (pdf - 9MB)

Transportation Options

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum​

View individual presentations

Powerpoint Presentations (pdf -12MB)


Resource Management​

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum​

View individual presentations

Download a pdf of the resource management presentations here

Land Use and Access

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum​

View individual presentations

Download a pdf of the land use and access presentations here

Climate and Energy

Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum

View individual presentations

Download a pdf of the climate and energy presentations here!


Visit AADL's website to watch a complete recording of the forum

View individual presentations​  

Download a pdf of the community presentations here​

​Emily Drennen
Sustainability Analyst​
734.794.6430 x43726