Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities

Infinite Earth Radio is a weekly podcast produced by Skeo and the Local Government Commission and hosted by Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller-Travis. Each week they interview visionary leaders, dedicated government officials, savvy businesses and forward thinking individuals who are working to build smarter, more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities through social and economic inclusion that values the contribution of all citizens and seeks meaningful lives for everyone. You will discover new leading edge strategies for lifting up and building great 21st century communities, along with cutting edge strategies for revitalizing under resourced communities and empowering excluded populations. Smart Growth, Prosperity and Sustainability are not possible without social, civic, and economic inclusion for people of all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.
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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities



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Now displaying: April, 2016
Apr 28, 2016


Equalizing the Balance of Power

In This Episode:

01:48 Introduction of Veronica Eady.
02:14 Veronica explains when she realized being an environmental justice advocate would be her life’s work.
03:59 What is a community-benefits agreement?
05:20 Do community-benefits agreements work in equalizing developers and communities?
07:50 Why are community-benefits agreements important for equitable reinvestment or development?
11:33 Are there other examples of a good environmental-benefits agreement, and is an environmental-benefits agreement the same as a community-benefits agreement?
13:40 Veronica describes the elements of obtaining a community-benefits agreement.
16:21 Where can we learn more or get advice about a community-benefits agreement?
18:17 Veronica explains about the Conservation Law Foundation and the work that is done there.
19:27 Veronica shares how listeners can learn more about the Conservation Law Foundation and get in touch with her.
19:55 Veronica shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
20:37 Veronica describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
21:27 Veronica explains what the New England region looks like 30 years from now.


Veronica Eady is the Vice President and Massachusetts Director of the Conservation Law Foundation. She is a lawyer whose practice has been focused on issues of environmental justice. Veronica is a former chair of the U.S. EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the principal author of the State of Massachusetts' environmental justice policy.

Check out Veronica’s recent posts on the Conservation Law Foundation website

Veronica’s email address is


The Conservation Law Foundation protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. They use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy. Their vision is for a healthy, thriving New England – for generations to come.

Take Away Quotes:

“Generally speaking, the interests on the community side in a community-benefit agreement are wide-ranging. It can be community-based organizations; it can be labor unions, faith organizations, or mainstream environmental groups, or any combination of those. But typically those are the types of groups that have an interest in community-benefits agreements.”

“I’ve seen some community-benefits agreements that have been very good, and I have seen some that have not been so good…Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen them change quite a bit, to the extent that in some states, community-benefits agreements are mandated by law.

“…here in Massachusetts, where I live, our casino gaming law requires a community-benefits agreement with the community, and the fact that these community-benefits agreements are now more so embodied in a statute and required, that’s really changed what the playing field looks like. So no longer is it community organizations, the environmental groups and such coming together and insisting on their power and their place at the table, the dynamic is a little bit different now because you have the state government, in Massachusetts, for example, saying you have to do this community-benefits agreement…it changes the lead of the agreement; it changes the tenor of the agreement…it really has shaken up the playing field and the balance of power.”

“[Community-benefits agreements] continue to be an important tool because they are still a way for communities to be at the table and formally engage in this conversation, even if it is a conversation mandated by statute.”


Conservation Law Foundation

Conservation Law Foundation – People & Communities

Conservation Law Foundation 2015 Year in Review

Take Action!

Apr 21, 2016


Giving People a Voice

In This Episode:

01:31 Introduction of Dr. Craig Martinez.
01:59 Introduction of Veronica Garibay and Phoebe Seaton.
02:27 Craig describes the California Endowment and its mission.
03:15 Craig explains that health happens in neighborhoods, not just in a doctor’s office.
04:10 Craig shares why this work is important to him.
05:27 What is the geographic description of the San Joaquin Valley, and what are the economic and social conditions there?
07:00 What are the health outcomes overall within San Joaquin Valley?
09:43 Craig shares that there’s a benefit to building healthier communities to get better health outcomes.
11:26 Veronica describes the organization of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
15:23 What steps are needed to give people a voice when they aren’t being heard in their communities?
20:01 Phoebe shares why this work is important to her.
21:22 Veronica shares why this work is important to her.
23:54 Craig shares that the people who produce the food for the country don’t have the most basic quality of life.
25:26 Craig explains the California Endowment and the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability working together.
28:10 Phoebe and Veronica explain the partnership of the work they’ve been doing together with the California Endowment.
30:32 Phoebe and Craig share how people can access their work and get in touch with them.
32:03 Craig, Phoebe, and Veronica share one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
32:45 Veronica, Phoebe, and Craig share the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
33:25 Veronica, Phoebe, and Craig explain what the San Joaquin Valley looks like 30 years from now.


Dr. Craig Martinez, joined The California Endowment in May 2012 as a program manager to work towards policy and systems changes that will result in improved neighborhood environments that support health. Prior to joining The Endowment, Dr. Martinez served as a health policy advisor in the Health Policy Office of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. He is based in The California Endowment’s Los Angeles office.

Veronica Garibay is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. Veronica immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico at a young age along with her parents and four siblings to the City of Parlier in Fresno County. Veronica grew up in this small farmworker town and graduated from Parlier Unified District Schools. As a first generation student, she attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Law and Society in 2008. Upon graduation, Veronica joined the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. Community Equity Initiative (CEI) as the programs first Community Worker. While at CRLA Veronica earned a Master of Public Administration from Fresno State.

Phoebe Seaton is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. Prior to launching Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Phoebe directed the Community Equity Initiative (CEI) at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. and was the Policy Coordinator for issues related to water and land use at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. She initiated the CEI to address critical infrastructure and service deficits in low income, unincorporated communities in California. She and her colleagues at CRLA litigated civil rights and fair housing claims and maintained a robust writ practice, litigating against local and state agencies. At CRLA, Seaton also directed the organization's Delano office and engaged in legal advocacy on Housing and Employment claims. She received her JD from UCLA and her BA in History from UC Berkeley. Prior to and during law school, Phoebe worked in Guatemala, addressing human rights violations.


The California Endowment’s mission is to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. They focus on fixing broken systems and outdated policies, ensuring the balance of power is with the people. The goal is simple: First, change the way people view health—from the notion that health happens in the doctor’s office to a belief that health happens where you live, work, learn, and play. The California Endowment calls this “narrative change.” Second, integrate smart solutions in communities across the state. The California Endowment does this by working with our partners and grantees to fundamentally change “the rules”—laws, policies, and systems—that impede health in our communities. They are changing the narrative around health to ensure health and justice for all.

The Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability is a not-for-profit based in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin and East Coachella Valleys that works alongside the most impacted communities to advocate for sound policy and eradicate injustice to secure equal access to opportunity regardless of wealth, race, income, and place. Through community organizing, research, legal representation and policy advocacy the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability will impact land use and transportation planning, shift public investment priorities, guide environmental policy, and promote the provision of basic infrastructure and services. In collaboration with local and statewide advocates, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability will reverse trends that have reigned throughout our history and confront the inequality and deficiencies that continue to plague this state.

Take Away Quotes:

“For example, if a doctor says to someone who has a chronic disease, ‘You need to eat healthier,’ and in their community they’re not able to access fresh fruits and vegetables, that points to the importance of having those resources in the community.”

“It’s really hard to promote healthy communities when you don’t have those things in place that help to promote healthy behaviors.”

“What was really important was developing that relationship and the trust with community residents, that we were an organization that isn’t going to drive the agenda; we’re going to be a tool to support their agenda and support their priorities.”


The California Endowment

Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen)

Apr 14, 2016


Water Sustainability in Urban Areas

In This Episode:

02:09 Introduction of Dr. Tamim Younos.
02:44 Tamim describes his scope of the problem of the water crisis and the number of Americans who lack access to safe drinking water.
05:37 Tamim shares about water testing.
08:04 Are certain geographic areas or certain populations more likely to be impacted by the lack of proper water infrastructure?
09:30 What kind of implications does the lack of access to clean water and wastewater facilities have on families and communities?
10:54 What are some common health issues that are related to lower-quality drinking water?
12:40 Tamim explains what the Green Water-Infrastructure Academy is doing about the problem of unsafe drinking water.
17:38 Tamim describes the obstacles of getting a broader knowledge of the policies that are needed.
20:11 How can people learn more and support the work that is done at the Green Water-Infrastructure Academy?
20:54 Tamim shares what motivates him to do this work and why this work is important to him.
21:45 Tamim discusses the frequency of the issues of poor and lacking water infrastructure in the U.S.
23:19 Tamim shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
24:40 Tamim explains the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
25:17 Tamim shares what water infrastructure looks like 30 years from now.


Dr. Tamim Younos is Founder & President of the Green Water-Infrastructure Academy. Dr. Younos earned a doctoral degree in urban and environmental engineering from the University of Tokyo. His research and educational interests include watershed assessment, sustainable water management systems, and water-energy nexus in urban environments. Dr. Younos has authored/co-authored more than 150 publications and has edited five books: “Advances in Watershed Science and Assessment” (Springer 2015) “Potable Water: Emerging Global Problems and Solutions (Springer 2014), “Climate Change and Water Resources” (Springer, 2013); “Total Maximum Daily Load: Approaches & Challenges” (PennWell Books 2005), “Advances in Water Monitoring Research” (Water Resources Publications 2003). Dr. Younos is a former Research Professor of Water Resources and Interim Director of Virginia Water Resources Research Center at Virginia Tech, and a past President of the Cabell Brand Center for Global Poverty and Resource Sustainability Studies, a nonprofit organization.


The Green Water-Infrastructure Academy is a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. The mission of the Academy is to enhance human health and quality of life in global urban environments by promoting green water-infrastructure research, education and outreach programs. The Academy promotes a paradigm shift toward a holistic approach for sustainable management of water resources in global urban environments. The Green Water-Infrastructure Academy activities include awarding competitive grants to support green water infrastructure research and development, developing and coordinating partnerships between academia, governmental entities, nonprofits and private sector to support green water infrastructure projects, sponsoring green water infrastructure educational and outreach opportunities, and encouraging policy discussions pertinent to implementation and regulation of green water infrastructures.

Take Away Quotes:

03:05—“We have public water systems, like the one in Flint, Michigan, and then we have private water systems; and the public water systems serve about 86% of the population, which is about 260 million people in the United States, and the remaining is served by private water systems, which is about 45 million people.”

03:29—“The public water systems, such as the one in Flint, are regulated by the U.S. EPA, so they’re supposed to measure 94-plus water-quality parameters when it leaves the treatment plant.”

04:59—“The water is tested at the time it is leaving the water-treatment facility, and it travels through the pipelines, which sometimes are corroded and sometimes they’re falling apart, to the households and other facilities. So the tap water is not tested that often because utilities reporting to the EPA, the water which leaves that utility, and the tap water is not tested that often; and if it’s tested, then we find lead problems or other problems.”

07:05—“In 2008, there were about 19.5 million cases of waterborne diseases reported in the United States—19.5 million—and about 76% of these cases attributed to the private water wells. So it means that the remaining, which is 24%, can be attributed to the public water supplies, which are mostly small systems.”


Green Water-Infrastructure Academy

Apr 7, 2016


Integrated Water Resource and Infrastructure Management

In This Episode:

01:43 Introduction of Matthew Naud.
01:54 Matthew explains what his job as the Environmental Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor entails.
02:42 Matthew shares his personal background and what motivates him to do his work.
03:33 Matthew describes his session at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference.
04:42 What kind of water or climate-change challenges is Ann Arbor facing, and what’s being done to meet those challenges?
06:10 What’s being done to deal with the increased amount of precipitation, and what are the implications to the community of that increased precipitation?
08:24 Matthew explains why increased rainfall and runoff is a challenge and why the storm-water utility was created.
10:23 Matthew shares the implications of not managing the storm-water runoff.
11:31 In Flint, is the source of the water that is being used part of the problem?
14:00 Are there other communities that have created this storm-water utility and taken this approach that Ann Arbor has?
15:00 How long has Ann Arbor had that system in place?
15:13 Did it face any legal challenges or real political pushback?
16:14 Is funding the rest of the infrastructure equally challenging?
18:49 What is the quantity of water that people can get for a dollar?
19:42 Is there any reason why these approaches that are taken in Ann Arbor not broadly transferrable to other places?
20:25 Do you get many people asking you how you do it and learning from Ann Arbor’s approach?
21:30 Are there any other cities in Michigan that have a storm-water utility?
21:49 Matthew shares where listeners can learn more about he’s doing in Ann Arbor.
22:23 Matthew shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
23:03 Matthew explains the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
23:29 Matthew shares what Ann Arbor looks like 30 years from now.


Matthew Naud has been the Environmental Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor since 2001. He staffs the City’s Environmental Commission and makes recommendations to the City Administrator, Mayor, and City Council on a broad range of sustainability issues. Mr. Naud is a member of the Urban Sustainability Director’s Network where he serves on the Planning Committee, Innovation Committee, and Small Cities User Group. Mr. Naud was recently appointed to a three year term on the USEPA Board of Scientific Counselors – Sustainable and Healthy Communities Subcommittee. He holds Masters degrees from the University of Michigan in Biology and Public Policy and an undergraduate degree from Boston College.


The city of Ann Arbor is committed to providing excellent municipal services that enhance the quality of life for all through the intelligent use of resources while valuing an open environment that fosters fair, sensitive, and respectful treatment of all employees and the community they serve. Ann Arbor has 114,000 residents, spans 28.6 square miles, and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit ( To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates (, follow us on Twitter ( or become a city fan on Facebook (

Take Away Quotes:

“We work a lot with—it’s called the Graham Sustainability Institute and they have a climate center and so for about the last five years we’ve been working together. One of the things that they’ve demonstrated is…we’ve seen a 42% increase in precipitation. We’ve seen a significant change in the amount of rain. Extreme storms are up 40%. So, that’s what we’re measuring, and it’s been great information as we go out to the community and share some of our thinking about how we’re going to need to adapt.”

“We’ve had a storm-water utility for quite a while and in 2006 redesigned it to be a true utility. So we use near-infrared flyover data. It tells you what’s photosynthesizing, what is pervious surface, and what’s hard surface. We calculate pretty much down to the square foot for every parcel, and we put folks in one of four bins, and so we basically charge people, as part of the storm-water utility, for the amount of impervious surface they have. And because it’s a utility—you have to be able to use more or less of it—we then credit people for installation of rain barrels, rain gardens.”

“Finding sustainable funding is one of the key things that cities need to do. If you’re going to, kind of, really take a long-term view and tackle these problems, you’re going to have to figure out a way to finance them.”

“With a lot more water, we’re going to get a lot more runoff—any of the chemicals, things like that—will just run to the river without any treatment at all, whereas creating these bioswales, detention ponds creates an opportunity for the water to rest there and settle before it’s released further downstream, and there’s a lot of opportunity for biological systems to treat some of the things that we don’t want to go into the river directly. And so it really is both a water-quantity remedy but also a solution to improve the water quality that ends up in the river.”


City of Ann Arbor Sustainability

City of Ann Arbor Sustainability Action Plan

Matthew’s presentation, From Trickle to Torrent: Resilient Strategies for an Uncertain Water Future from the 2016 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

View all of the presentations from the 2016 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

New Partners for Smart Growth conference

Local Government Commission