Portland losing a top sustainability expert
Michael Armstrong, one of the city of Portland's top sustainability specialists, is leaving his post in August to expand into national work helping cities promote climate change initiatives.
Armstrong, 47, the sustainability manager for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, says he's launching a new nonprofit, dubbed City Scale, with a colleague from Philadelphia.
City Scale will work with cities across the country, along with nongovernmental organizations, states and other entities, to promote climate change and other sustainability initiatives.
"The idea is to help cities work together more efficiently," Armstrong says.
"No city can do this work alone; we need to do this with cities working together."
That work has taken on greater significance for the environment in recent years, as cities like Portland have seized the initiative to work on climate change while the federal government, especially under President Donald Trump, sit on the sidelines. States like Oregon have made limited progress in addressing climate change, but Portland and Multnomah County have been in the vanguard of that effort here.
Portland and Multnomah County were honored last year for having the best climate action plan in the world by the international C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Armstrong has been pivotal to the formation and implementation of that plan since the first one was approved in 1993. It was the first climate action plan in the country.
Now he'll work to help others do similar projects.
Armstrong will partner with Katherine Gajewski, the former sustainability director for the city of Philadelphia. The two served as co-chairs together of the national Urban Sustainability Directors Network.
She'll remain in Philly while he'll remain in Portland.
The nonprofit has received seed funding, with the amounts still being determined, from the Summit Foundation and Surdna Foundation, Armstrong said.
He has worked for the city 17 years, starting in 2001 when the Office of Sustainable Development was created. That effort later merged into the Planning Bureau, which was renamed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.