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Grist Recognizes Boise Councilwoman Lauren McLean as Innovator


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It has been six years since Lauren McLean first stepped into the limelight.

"The hardest part? Having my name printed in the paper," McLean told Boise Weekly in January 2011 before being sworn in as the newest member of the Boise City Council.

Plenty of advocacy and two elections later, in which voters handed her resounding majorities, McLean is president pro tempore of the council. On March 21, McLean woke up to learn she had been chosen by the Seattle-based nonprofit as one of the nation's "most inspiring innovators and doers working on fresh solution to the planet's biggest problems."

Anyone who has even a limited encounter with McLean knows her passion for sustainability may be endless, beginning with her 2001 leadership of the historic first Boise Foothills open space campaign. As an elected official, she's quick to link that passion to the city's economic viability.

"Sustainability and the economy are intertwined," she said upon learning of the Grist honor. "Boise is poised to be a leader around sustainability and climate."

McLean's public service also includes her co-authorship of the city's anti-discrimination ordinance, hammered out in 2012 after a series of emotionally charged public hearings.

"Courage is commitment to ideals that guide one's action with focus, regardless of pressure," she said.

McLean was also quick to connect the dots between "courage" and "sustainability."

"Probably the best, latest example of courage was Secretary of Defense James Mattis' testimony on climate change," she said.

Bucking his boss—President Donald Trump—and much of the administration's agenda, Mattis stunned a U.S. Senate panel when he asserted that climate change is real and a significant threat to American interests abroad.

"We're faced with the changing nature of work and the economy, globalization, climate change," said McLean.

That pressure is significantly more than having your name printed in a newspaper, however—something McLean has presumably come to accept.



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