Creating Change is a strategic organizing, policy shifting, and public relations consulting business, founded by Lindsay Speer, which works with grassroots groups, nonprofits, and Native Nations to empower people to protect, sustain, and improve the places and communities they love. It is a sole proprietorship based out of Syracuse, NY.
Clients have included Alliance for a Green Economy, New Yorkers for Clean Power, New Yorkers Against Fracking, American Indian Law Alliance, We Are Seneca Lake, the Cayuga Nation, and Onondaga Nation, among others.
Lindsay Speer is an accomplished outreach specialist and community organizer. She formerly worked for M+R Strategic Services, a nationwide consulting firm, as well as the Onondaga Environmental Institute and Citizens Campaign for the Environment before that. After graduating from Vermont Law School with a Master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy, she founded Creating Change to continue her work. Creating Change focuses on communications, outreach, and strategic services, with a particular focus on community engagement, protection of water, indigenous rights, land use policy, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Most of her work occurs in the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions.
Lindsay has worked with the public and government officials on a variety of projects at all levels, including local, state, tribal, Federal, and international. She is known for her patience and diplomacy. As a Cornell graduate and throughout her professional career, Lindsay has developed relationships with a variety of sustainability organizations in Onondaga and Tompkins County.
Lindsay is a lifelong resident of Syracuse, New York and serves on the steering committee of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, and the board of Bread and Roses Collective House, Inc.
Lindsay served as Outreach Specialist for the Onondaga Creek Conceptual Revitalization Plan project, an EPA-funded multi-year public process. She organized and promoted seven Community Forums at different locations throughout the City of Syracuse and the Onondaga Creek watershed, open to the public to discuss issues and goals for the revitalization of Onondaga Creek. Over 200 people participated, providing written input used to create the plan.
Transferred responsibility for the production of the project’s Fact Sheets, she turned around a deliverable that had been several months overdue within a month, marshaling the scientists’ expertise, establishing firm deadlines for submission of the writings, convincing her employer to purchase the Adobe Creative Suite, and teaching herself Adobe InDesign. The final product was delivered within the new deadlines and established a new standard of professionalism in design for the project.
Simultaneously with the Onondaga Creek Conceptual Revitalization Plan project, Lindsay also managed the $100,000+ budget of the Onondaga Lake Partnership’s Outreach Committee. The Onondaga Lake Partnership was a multi-government Federally appointed coalition established in 2000 to promote cooperation among the parties managing the environmental issues of Onondaga Lake and its watershed. Parties included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse, and others.
As a Community Organizer, Lindsay was often at the lead of developing program initiatives and responses to new environmental challenges, analyzing the implications of new laws or policy proposals, and bringing together coalitions of citizens, environmental and community organizations to address the need of the moment. Lindsay is able to quickly educate herself on new complex topics and convey that information to a wide variety of people possessing differing levels of understanding. She has given many presentations to a variety of audiences, including community activists, academics, and county engineers.
In 2008 she was deeply involved in the negotiations between Onondaga County, the Onondaga Nation, Atlantic States Legal Foundation, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that led to the creation of Onondaga County’s Save the Rain green infrastructure program. She educated elected officials, county engineers, and the public about green infrastructure design possibilities, including green roofs, permeable pavement, and street swales. She was a tireless and successful advocate for the inclusion of the environmental justice community in the negotiations and subsequent programmatic planning processes. She served on the Outreach and Education Committee, advising Onondaga County’s Office of the Environment to bring together a diverse committee of stakeholders, whose recommendations ultimately became the Save the Rain program.
In 2009, she organized a volunteer research effort to document gas leases within Onondaga County, with 10 volunteers spending hundreds of hours in the County Clerk’s office gleaning data from each lease. She worked closely with the Syracuse Community Geography program at Syracuse University to turn this data into a map that was ultimately featured by the Syracuse Post-Standard in an article that made it clear that hydrofracking was an issue for Onondaga County, not just the Southern Tier.
Simultaneously, she drew together a coalition of Syracuse environmental groups to coordinate efforts, creating over a dozen co-sponsored public events drawing hundreds of people, featuring scientists, health experts, and economists. Later events reached new audiences by featuring musicians and movie directors, interspersed with experts to share information. Lindsay coordinated these events, as well as designed the promotional materials and handled public relations. She collaborated with groups statewide to explore the issues and keep up to date on policy proposals, and drafted a 60-page public comment on behalf of her clients for the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on hydrofracking.
Lindsay is a skilled meeting facilitator, often serving this role within groups such as the Manlius Greenspace Coalition, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, the Partnership for Onondaga Creek, and ShaleshockCNY. She is trained in Formal Consensus Process.
Lindsay served a key role as Media Coordinator, Executive Committee member, and Ithaca liaison for the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, a year-long series of events in 2013 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Europeans. She nurtured the campaign from concept to completion, resulting in 500 Indigenous and non-indigenous participants canoeing from Albany to NYC on the Hudson River to raise awareness of agreement of coexistence and environmental protection. She was frequently involved in problem-solving and conflict resolution for the campaign. She earned significant conventional and new media coverage, including 4000+ Likes on Facebook, 400+ followers on Twitter, and news coverage in NYC and nationwide. The project was completed under budget.
In 2013, Lindsay was part of Vermont Law School’s delegation to the 19th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland. She assisted the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group by taking notes in meetings and reviewing proposed agreement language. Her resulting paper on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) won the annual Ballenger-Green Memorial Diversity Paper award at Vermont Law School for excellence in writing.