This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Louisville, Kentucky, is the nation’s fastest warming “urban heat island.” Local temperatures in the center of this city of 250,000 are significantly warmer than in surrounding rural areas, thanks to a uniquely sparse — and rapidly diminishing — urban tree canopy. Cars, parking lots, buildings, and heat-trapping construction materials don’t help, either. The effects of UHI vary from neighborhood to neighborhood; some spots can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than others within city limits. For the most vulnerable locals, the effect can be lethal: an analysis of the scorching summer of 2012 showed 53 people in the Louisville area alone died from causes likely related to human-amplified temperatures. Climate change is making things worse.

A map of the warm season (May through September) average daily high temperature (°F) in Louisville Metro region. The Central Business District (CBD), Louisville International Airport (Airport), and regional interstate highways are labeled.
A map of the warm season (May through September) average daily high temperature (degrees F) in Louisville Metro region. The Central Business District (CBD), Louisville International Airport (Airport), and regional interstate highways are labeled. City of Louisville

But the Derby City also has unique strengths to play on. For one, America’s “city of compassion” is home to a growing diversity of religious communities, celebrated every year with the internationally recognized, week-long Festival of Faiths. Now, environmental and spiritual leaders are teaming up to help some of Louisville’s heat-fighting strategies take root in vulnerable neighborhoods — and to better align preaching and teaching with the city’s environmental needs.

“This is about talking to folks we’re not used to talking to,” says Chris Chandler, the director of the Nature Conservancy’s urban conservation program. The Conservancy has partnered with the city of Louisville to help it deploy science-backed cooling strategies. “It’s about creating allies and working across different communities in an inclusive way with new people.”