Lancaster: The conservative city that came together

Our highest priorities must be to figure out how we build a safer, healthier and happier Geelong. Lancaster in Los Angeles has a story for us to learn from about what happens when the community comes together to have a common goal.

What the Republican mayor Rex Parris from Lancaster, USA, suggests here is that taking firm and united action on climate change has had a direct positive effect on reducing crime rates in his city. I find that an interesting observation. What could Geelong pick up from Lancaster’s experience and leadership?

Over the coming years, as a natural step-by-step response to new technological, economical and environmental developments, we will be changing the way services are delivered, the way our food is produced, the way houses are built, the way we transport ourselves. So, as people of common sense, let’s get on with it!

For a start, we need restructuring the way we think about our relationship with each other and the economy. For instance, changing our city in way which is cost-efficient and profitable can also be eliminating air pollution, and in that way benefit both our health, our connections with each other and interaction with our neighbours, while at the same time contributing to re-stabilising our climate.

Over the last eight years, the American and Republican mayor Rex Parris has been able to demonstrate this in Lancaster, Los Angeles:

Mayor Rex Parris is a visionary who has brought amazing sustainable change to a very conservative city of 160,000 people.

Bringing people together, everything gets better

“At World War II, what occurred was that our way of life and everything about us was threatened. It was a very real threat. It could have all ended.
And so Republicans and Democrats, and Christians and Muslims, everybody came together, because we had this enemy that was going to crush us if we didn’t.
We came together and survived.
The threat that World War II presented to us is one tenth of the threat that we are facing today.
And what is crazy about is: even Republicans know it. We all know it.
It is the insanity that seems to be overwhelming us. It is hard to comprehend.
But then again, it is not at all, because it is so horrible what we are facing, it is hard to keep looking at it for very long at all. (…)

The synergy that develops when you start facing this common enemy and bringing people together is that everything gets better.
We had the highest crime rate in LA County. It is now one of the lowest. We had the highest number of gang murders. In two years we had zero. Because that’s what happens when the community comes together to have a common goal. And what is that goal? We want our children to live! Because that is really what is at stake.”

~ Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, Los Angeles, USA

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Real and unstoppable progress in cities and companies

Rex Parris is not alone. Georgetown in Texas is a community of 50,000 people that has chosen to get all of its electricity from wind and solar energy because renewable power is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. Greensburg in Kansas rebuilt itself as a thriving 100 per cent wind-powered town after a tornado almost wiped the small town off the map.
This is the reality: in cities, towns and rural areas across the the world, citizens, companies and city councils are signing up for a clean energy future. They know, as we do, that 100 per cent clean energy is not only possible. It’s already happening.

And in the boardrooms of companies such as Coca-Cola, Apple, IKEA, Lego, WalMart, GM and many more the momentum for 100 per cent clean energy is people-powered and unstoppable.

» Read more on Mik’s blog,
Thought leadership: How local councils crunch the climate stalemate