Energy insecurity has become increasingly common in Maricopa County, Arizona. Households are not able to meet energy demands, resulting in vulnerability and the sacrifice of basic needs. Various root causes and pathway dependencies have exacerbated this issue, creating detrimental health, societal and environmental outcomes.
The project, Energy Insecurity and Public Health: Going Further through Cross-Sector Collaboration, aims to improve the health of communities by promoting projects that are community-engaged, action-oriented, and equity-focused (Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, 2020). Eventually, the final deliverable of this project will be an energy insecurity toolkit that can be leveraged by stakeholders to make a change in their local communities. To achieve this deliverable, a stakeholder workgroup was created to assess all aspects of energy insecurity in Maricopa County. To avoid typical pitfalls of stakeholder workgroups, the Learning and Action Alliance (LAA) Framework was chosen to be applied to the workgroup. The LAA Framework leverages social learning and promotes knowledge sharing between stakeholders (O’Donnell et al, 2018). The framework is implemented in five phases and can be customized to fit any wicked problem. The accompanying guidebook, "Applying the Learning and Action Alliance Framework: Energy Insecurity in Maricopa County’, was created to simplify the framework’s implementation phases and provide ‘real-world’ examples of how the framework was implemented into the energy insecurity stakeholder workgroup. The guidebook will be used by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health to facilitate other sustainability workgroups. Thus far, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health has approved the guidebook and is looking forward to integrating the guidebook into workgroup standard practices.