McLean said Thursday her own children made that comparison a few times as they binge-watched the show with her a couple years ago.
McLean said she “laughed out loud” but embraced the nod from Grist, a environment-focused organization.
“I figured, well, she’s a character that loved her city, loved democracy and thoroughly enjoyed the public process,” McLean said. “And so I think it’s a compliment.”
Grist announced this week that McLean made its second annual Grist 50, a list of “Fixers — bold problem-solvers working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.” Grist’s explanation of its recognition of McLean, the City Council’s second-ranking member, mentions her work on things like geothermal expansion and stormwater infrastructure.
But it leaves out one of McLean’s most notable roles in Boise and the environment. In 2001, before being elected, she helped run the campaign for a two-year serial levy that generated $10 million for purchases and preservation of Foothills land.
McLean said she was invited to a May 7 event that Grist is hosting in New York, but she wants to be at the council meeting the next day, so she’s not sure she can go.
“I was very surprised, very humbled,” McLean said of landing on the Grist 50. “Of course, the 49 other people on the list are doing much more than I am. It was very cool and an honor to get the notice that I’d been selected.”
Here’s the full text of Grist’s recognition:
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.
“I believe that cities and counties are a huge part of the solution for sustainability, justice, and the environment.”
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 co-sponsored 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.