First, let me note there were some technical difficulties for me with the blog, so we apologize for not keeping everyone up to speed with this week’s activities. Last Sunday, most of team went for a hike in the Smoky Mountains. Debbie now refers to the mountain we hiked up as Mt. Everest, but of course Anika sprinted off like a gazelle after the rest of us were sufficiently tired out from climbing up, over and down the many rocks and roots in the path. We started on the Appalachian trail where Tennessee meets the North Carolina border at an elevation of 5,000 feet and believe we hiked to about 7,000 feet. It was beautiful scenery and a great treat to enjoy that part of Tennessee.
During week 3, it was heads-down all week focusing on writing our report and pulling together our presentation. Based on all of our findings, we landed on five high level recommendations for the city to pursue: (1) coming together with one voice and one vision to tackle the energy challenges the community faces, (2) leveraging the data in a manner which can help make better decisions, (3) providing a two-pronged energy education approach – one for the low-income residential constituent and one for the broader community, (4) providing a forum to identify new programs and funding sources for weatherization initiatives, and (5) engaging the landlords as part of the community effort.
We met with Mayor Rogero on Wednesday to take her through our findings and recommendations, and she gave us very positive feedback and fully supported these recommendations. Today was our final pitch at City Hall to all of the stakeholders that helped us come to our findings through the multiple interviews. The presentation went very well, and the Mayor set the expectation that she will post our final report for all of the stakeholders to read, and she has already scheduled time with all of them to talk through the detailed recommendations and decide on next steps. We were quite pleased to hear her plan to move this work forward. You can see the team here with the Mayor, as well as Susanna and Jake from the Sustainability Office, after the stakeholder presentation. There is also a City blog link that provides some specific quotes on our presentation.
One of our team members, Debbie, has already left for home, and all of us will be leaving Knoxville by tomorrow. What a wonderful experience this has been living and working together for three weeks, getting to fully embrace the Knoxville culture that is truly full of southern hospitality, but most importantly helping the city with such an important challenge. Great team, great city, great experience!