Every city needs a Leslie Knope. Lauren McLean keeps Boise booming.
Every city needs a Leslie Knope.
Lauren McLean keeps Boise booming.
It’s hard to speak with the boisterous, enthusiastic Lauren McLean and not think of Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s iconic character on Parks and Recreation. (McLean’s kids even make the comparison.) And like her fictional counterpart, McLean also gets things done in her city. Since she joined the Boise city council in 2011, McLean has pushed for land conservation, energy efficiency, and social justice. In 2015, she renewed a $10 million levy that protects 10,000 acres of land for open spaces and clean water sources.
[pullquote]“I believe that cities and counties are a huge part of the solution for sustainability, justice, and the environment.” [/pullquote]
McLean also helps manage LIV District, an initiative that has deployed more than $5 million in public funding to date toward geothermal expansion, stormwater infrastructure, and park entrances for bikes in the Central Addition neighborhood. She has provided permanent housing for some of the city’s homeless population and has cosponsored a Welcome City program that promotes inclusiveness.
Idaho is among the states with the highest per capita percentage of refugee residents, with people from countries like Iraq, Somalia, Bhutan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, and even a small number of Syrians. McLean wants to encourage Boise businesses to embrace diversity and create opportunities for the city’s new residents. “It is important to talk about diversity and development as we figure out ways to integrate women, refugees, and immigrants to really build a diverse workforce here,” she says. Leslie Knope would be proud.
The world feels pretty broken right now. That’s why we need Fixers — bold problem solvers working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. For our annual list of emerging green leaders, Grist brings you 50 innovators with fresh, forward-thinking solutions to some of humanity's biggest challenges. Credits
Photo of Lauren McLean: Alisha Thomson
- Andrew Simon, Amelia Urry
- Mignon Khargie, Amelia Bates
- Nathan Letsinger
- Project Manager
- Matt Grisafi
- Social Media
- Cody Permenter
- Video Producer
- Daniel Penner
- Executive Editor
- Scott Dodd
- Clayton Aldern Ted Alvarez Eve Andrews Vishakha Darbha Sabrina Imbler Nathanael Johnson Samantha Larson Katie Mast Amy McDermott Emma Foehringer Merchant Caroline Saunders Darby Minow Smith Katharine Wroth Kate Yoder
Meet All The Fixers
This Brooklynite retrofits cities.
This politician fights for polluted communities.
Grist Member pick
This clothing expert revives dead threads.
This CEO provides clean energy for any budget.
This innovator is stitching together a clothing movement.
Van Jones' pick
This entrepreneur is diversifying cleantech.
This climate organizer works on the front lines in Miami.
Leilani Münter's pick
This sustainability director drives change in Orlando.
This urban farmer grows in tight spaces.
This politician reps bipartisan climate action.
Tom Colicchio's pick
This farmer uses AI for efficiency.
Al Gore's pick
This civil rights activist takes on the South's sewage problem.
This housing advocate is rebuilding Buffalo.
This comedian spotlights indigenous rights.
This farmer champions efficiency.
This startup founder built a Fitbit for the planet.
This policy wonk shows state leadership on solar.
This lawyer stands with indigenous activists.
Grist Member pick
This developer built an app for food waste.
This young farmer is saving soil.
L.A. Youth Groups
These teens sued for environmental justice.
This farmer gives vets a chance to grow.
This entrepreneur helps the solar industry compete.
This advocate connects green Latinos.
This scientist brings social justice to her field.
This teenager gives the youngest generation a voice.
This organizer fights for safer waste disposal.
This founder empowers people to choose renewables.
This councilwoman keeps Boise booming.
This airline exec is greening travel.
This food advocate coaches up chefs.
This Bronx community organizer is spreading the wealth.
This weather forecaster shames deniers.
This chef takes a kitchen sink approach to food waste.
This civil servant cooks up smart food policy.
This architect designs better neighborhoods.
Avital Shavit and Rubina Ghazarian
These transportation gurus coax Angelenos onto bikes.
This lawyer connects justice and the environment.
Trisha Shrum and Jill Kubit
These mothers bring the future into the present.
This physicist is shaping energy policy.
This scientist connects investors to new food tech.
This CEO plants community solar gardens.
This professional trains people for solar jobs.
Cameron Russell's pick
Camila Thorndike and Page Atcheson
These activists want carbon polluters to pay.
This organizer is uniting millennials.
This New Yorker champions affordable housing.
This entrepreneur is making a better burger.
Sean A. Watkins
This storyteller puts people first.
This young climate activist is demanding more.
This strategist trains clean energy leaders.