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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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Now displaying: July, 2016
Jul 28, 2016

Topic:

The Experience and Work in the CivicSpark Fellowship Program

In This Episode:

01:44 Introduction of Mikael Matossian.
02:22 Mikael describes the CivicSpark program.
03:14 Mikael shares what he’s been working on for the city of Santa Monica.
04:44 Mikael elaborates on the reduction of Santa Monica’s carbon emissions.
05:57 Mikael explains if the new plan that he’s working on has a particular target and date?
06:59 Mikael shares the impact he hopes his work will bring about.
08:24 Is the report going to be available in other languages?
09:00 Mikael explains when he decided that he wanted to become a CivicSpark fellow.
10:54 Does Mikael’s experience as a CivicSpark fellow make graduate school more valuable to him?
12:17 Mikael describes his experience as a CivicSpark fellow.
14:00 Mikael shares if he would become a CivicSpark fellow again.
15:24 Mikael describes the advice he would give to someone who’s becoming a CivicSpark fellow.
17:51 Mikael explains that CivicSpark is still a new program but is expanding.
18:46 Mikael shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
19:13 Mikael describes the action that listeners can take to build a more equitable and sustainable future.
19:53 Mikael explains what the city of Santa Monica looks like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Mikael Matossian is a 2015-2016 CivicSpark AmeriCorps fellow in the City of Santa Monica's Office of Sustainability and the Environment, working on various climate action and energy initiatives. Mikael graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2015 with his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. He plans to pursue a master's degree in energy systems at Carnegie Mellon University. His main research interests include the introduction of energy efficiency practices and renewable energy technologies in the Republic of Armenia.

Organization:

CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local governments to address climate change and water management issues in California, administered by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The mission of CivicSpark is to build capacity for local governments to address climate change and water management needs.

Each year, CivicSpark recruits 68 fellows—48 Climate Action Fellows, and 20 Water Action Fellows—who contribute over 65,000 hours to help California communities respond to climate change and water management needs. In collaboration with local government staff, CivicSpark fellows implement a needed climate or water-focused project, while also building long-term capacity to ensure the work is sustained after their service year is completed. Local governments get dedicated project support from a focused team of enthusiastic emerging professionals who receive specialized professional development and sector training.

Take Away Quotes:

“I’m working on climate action and energy projects. So, I have three major projects, the first one being a final report or a view of the city’s last climate-action plan… that has 15 measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions community wide of the city by 2015, compared to a 1990 level as a baseline…fortunately, we actually did achieve 15%—we kind of surpassed that. We’re at a 21.8% reduction from 1990 levels.”

“The city [Santa Monica], really, for decades has been kind of a bold leader in sustainability and taking innovative action. It was the first city in 1994 to adopt a sustainable city plan of that size, a really comprehensive plan, to look at how we’re going to enhance, protect our resources, preserve the environment, in all these sectors, in water, waste, energy, social equity, things like that.”

“I really hope that this product, the final report—and I do believe it will—communicate the bold action that the city, that the government, is taking to the public so the public can be reminded of how, you know, innovative and leading this city is in sustainability, and, hopefully, that will motivate them to take part in the next plan and become more sustainable themselves.”

Resources:

Listen to Infinite Earth Radio Episode 019: Taking Back the Power – Community Choice Aggregation

CivicSpark

Learn More about the Fellowship and Check out the 2016-2017 Fellowship Application!

Local Government Commission (LGC)

Jul 21, 2016

Topic:

Forests and the Water Supply

In This Episode:

02:19 Introduction of Laurie A. Wayburn.
02:39 Laurie shares when she realized forest and natural-resource conservation would be her life’s work.
04:28 Laurie elaborates on what she means by “wealth” in her quote, “Nature is central to our emotional, physical, and spiritual wealth and well-being…Nature is where our wealth comes from.”
06:23 Laurie describes the Pacific Forest Trust and what their mission is.
08:35 Laurie shares the extent of the drought and water crisis that western states are facing and if there is a connection between the drought and frequent wildfires.
12:12 Laurie confirms the accurate description of California’s water availability and population.
12:29 Are there regional inequities in terms of accessing available fresh water sources in California, and are there really water wars happening in the West?
14:25 What are the challenges in California of preserving the relationship with those with the water supply, and what’s being done to preserve that relationship?
17:17 Laurie explains what could be done for the landowners in order to compensate them in a way that would preserve the water supply.
20:34 Laurie addresses the EPA’s waters of the United States rule of which water bodies, including wetlands, need to be protected.
23:17 Why is the concept of a water fee or tax—which could accumulate into a very large fund—so controversial?
27:22 Laurie shares where people can learn more about her work.
28:03 Laurie shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
28:22 Laurie describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
28:36 Laurie explains what the forests in California look like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Laurie A. Wayburn is the Co-founder, Co-CEO and President of the Pacific Forest Trust. Ms. Wayburn is an accomplished forest and conservation innovator who advises policymakers at the state, regional, national, and international levels. She pioneers new approaches to develop sustainable resource economies using her deep experience in the fields of conservation, ecosystem services, and sustainability. A preeminent authority on the climate and ecosystem benefits of forests, she leads efforts enacting climate change policies that unite conservation and sustainable management with market-based approaches. She has received several highly prestigious honors bestowed for her leadership and is a frequent speaker, writer, and media commentator on working forest conservation.

Prior to co-founding Pacific Forest Trust with Constance Best in 1993, Ms. Wayburn worked internationally for 10 years in the United Nations Environment Program and Ecological Sciences Division of UNESCO. She later served as Executive Director of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and was the Founder and first Coordinator of the Central California Coast Biosphere Reserve. Ms. Wayburn is a graduate of Harvard University and currently serves on the Northwest BioCarbon Initiative Steering Committee, the American Forest Policy Steering Committee, and the Land Trust Alliance Advisory Council.

Organization:

The mission of the Pacific Forest Trust is to sustain America’s forests for their public benefits of wood, water, wildlife, and people’s well-being, in cooperation with landowners and communities.

For more than 20 years, Pacific Forest Trust has epitomized innovation, daring, and a savvy understanding of market forces to create new economic incentives that reward private forest owners for conserving their lands and practicing sustainable forestry.

They are a visionary think-and-do tank of scientists, conservationists, policy wonks, entrepreneurs, and outdoor enthusiasts that have helped shape forest conservation and climate policy. Working closely with other forest stakeholders, from landowners to agencies to environmental nonprofit partners, they create and advance high-leverage, catalytic strategies that engage the commitment, imagination, and resources of many individuals, businesses, and organizations to make it easier and more rewarding to do good things for the forests—and forest landowners—on which we all depend.

The only conservation organization focused on private forests in California, Oregon, and Washington, they have conserved 250,000 acres of vital forestland regionally. Their work has been recognized for its excellence by government agencies, philanthropies, and non-profit organizations.

Take Away Quotes:

“It is both scientifically and empirically shown that being in forests makes you feel better. And it does; it really does raise the body’s own ability to fight infection and disease.”

“Our [Pacific Forest Trust] big mission is to sustain America’s forests for all their public benefits of wood, water, wildlife, and well-being, in cooperation with landowners, managers, and communities.”

“…We [Pacific Forest Trust] said, well, gosh, is there a way we can marry how people earn money, with stewardship and protecting the public benefits of those forests; and so we really wanted to create an organization that pioneered and developed new sources of financial return for landowners who managed for the public benefit and stewarded and protected their forests.”

“Twenty-five thousand, fifteen thousand years ago we had about double the rainfall in California that we have today in Southern California. A significant drying trend has been rapidly accelerated with the rise of global warming and the increase in these global-warming gasses.”

Resources:

Learn why forests matter to EVERYONE

Support the Pacific Forest Trust

Sign up to receive monthly updates about Pacific forests, conservation projects, and more from the Pacific Forest Trust

Pacific Forest Trust

Follow Pacific Forest Trust on Twitter

Jul 14, 2016

Topic:

Bringing New Economic Opportunities to Disadvantaged Communities

In This Episode:

02:04 Introduction of Trevor Wilson and Mitchelle De Leon.
03:05 Trevor and Mitchelle share what the CivicSpark AmeriCorps program is all about.
04:13 Mitchelle shares the moment he decided that he wanted to become a CivicSpark fellow.
05:10 Trevor shares the moment he decided that he wanted to become a CivicSpark fellow.
06:08 Trevor describes the application process.
07:27 Mitchelle explains his application experience.
07:41 Trevor describes his experience of what it’s like to be in the program.
09:13 Mitchelle shares his experience of being in the program.
10:37 Mitchelle explains the project he’s working on.
11:51 Trevor shares the project he’s working on.
12:53 Mitchelle and Trevor tell what’s next for each of them.
14:28 Trevor and Mitchelle describe how the CivicSpark experience has impacted them and how it will serve them in the future.
16:40 Trevor and Mitchelle share the advice they would give to someone who is interested in becoming a CivicSpark fellow.
18:57 Mitchelle and Trevor share one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
19:59 Trevor and Mitchelle describe the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
20:53 Trevor and Mitchelle explain what California-San Joaquin Valley looks like 30 years from now.

Guests:

Mitchelle De Leon recently graduated from California State University, Bakersfield with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a concentration in Finance. During college, he engaged his fellow students on environmental justice issues in Kern County. He aspires to work on policies on state and federal levels, ensuring fair and equitable solutions to climate change. In 2016, he plans to start a nonprofit organization focused on building youth leaders' capacity to address climate change

Trevor Wilson grew up in the middle of Michigan and moved on to Michigan State University, where he received a Bachelor's degree in International Relations. He focused on renewable energy policy and sustainability. Trevor’s senior thesis paper was on Germany's energy transition to renewables, leading him to a summer internship with an environmental protection organization in Berlin, Germany.

Organization:

CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local governments to address climate change and water management issues in California, administered by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The mission of CivicSpark is to build capacity for local governments to address climate change and water management needs.

Each year, CivicSpark recruits 68 fellows—48 Climate Action Fellows, and 20 Water Action Fellows—who contribute over 65,000 hours to help California communities respond to climate change and water management needs. In collaboration with local government staff, CivicSpark fellows implement a needed climate or water-focused project, while also building long-term capacity to ensure the work is sustained after their service year is completed. Local governments get dedicated project support from a focused team of enthusiastic emerging professionals who receive specialized professional development and sector training.

Take Away Quotes:

“Fellows complete eleven months of service, working on a variety of climate-change-related projects, from developing climate action plans, increasing electric-vehicle infrastructure, to completing greenhouse gas inventories for cities. You can think of us foot soldiers for local climate action throughout California.”

“CivicSpark is really about showing passionate young people what the reality of climate action looks like, so taking all of these very passionate, ideological young people and turning them into goal-oriented doers instead of thinkers; and so I [Trevor] think that, really, the goal is to create these local champions throughout California and throughout the world.”

“During college I [Mitchelle] grew increasingly passionate about climate change and the disproportionate impacts of climate change on disadvantaged communities. Having lived half my life in the Central Valley and another half of my life in the Philippines, climate change is an incredibly personal issue for me. And throughout college my theory of change centered around advocacy and grassroots organizing, and I saw CivicSpark as an opportunity to identify different leverage points to take action on climate-justice issues, and so when I learned that my primary focus for CivicSpark would be water then I knew that was a perfect opportunity to take action.”

“It’s hard to tell just from an online posting exactly how impactful a job will be, but this one was just worlds beyond what I [Trevor] was expecting.”

“Climate action is for everyone. Climate action really involves every type of every field of work. It involves every major in college. It really is an overall problem to tackle.”

Resources:

WE CAN (Water-Energy Community Action Network) — San Joaquin Valley

CivicSpark

Learn more about the Fellowship and check out the 2016-2017 Fellowship Application!

Local Government Commission (LCG)

Jul 7, 2016

Topic:

Small Businesses-Climate Change and Preparedness

In This Episode:

02:37 Introduction of Michael Green.
03:09 Michael explains what the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) is and what its mission is.
03:51 Michael shares how the organization got started and how long it’s been around.
05:35 How long has Michael been working at CABA?
05:48 Michael describes how he personally came to this work.
08:11 Michael shares a basic summary of what CABA does and how it serves businesses.
11:11 Michael explains what the Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) initiative is.
14:55 Is there a threat of rising seas or flooding to the businesses in the Massachusetts area?
16:20 How is it that GE is moving into a place where they’re at risk of sea rising?
18:11 Michael explains the guide that helps businesses outline an approach to decrease the risk of going out of business due to consequences of climate change.
20:47 Michael shares where people can learn more about CABA and BARS.
21:33 Are there resources on the website that will help small businesses learn what kind of steps they need to take to be resilient against climate change?
22:18 Michael shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
23:01 Michael describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
24:05 Michael explains what Massachusetts looks like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Michael Green is the Executive Director of the Climate Action Business Association (CABA). He came to CABA as a seasoned advocate for climate policy and environmental action. Since 2012, he has served as a representative to the United Nations focusing on international climate science and policy. As an activist, he has played strategic roles in several of the largest national, as well as international, campaigns dedicated to fighting climate change. In his role at CABA, Michael manages staff and oversees the development of all program areas. He sits on the Board of Boston area non-profits as well as a policy advisor to national business associations on topics ranging from energy policy to climate adaptation. Michael is a Northeastern University graduate with degrees in international affairs and environmental studies, course work at the University of Edinbrough’s MSc Program in Environmental Protection and Management, and Harvard Business School’s CORe Program.

Organization:

CABA’s mission is to help solve the climate crisis by organizing local business leaders to be more effective advocates for climate change action within our communities, at the business, and at local, state, regional, national and international levels. CABA envisions a new economy based on a strong, cooperative local business community, working together to create and maintain a resilient and sustainable future that is responding to climate change, with business leaders helping to achieve collective agreements at all levels of governance.

CABA provides participating businesses with the resources and tools needed to work within the business on climate change and sustainability efforts, and within the coalition on broader policy initiatives. The coalition members set policy priorities, and create opportunities for business owners to leverage voice in policy. CABA welcomes all independent businesses looking to be effective policy advocates and offer resources to this collective effort. CABA’s work focuses on 3 main areas: internal sustainability, political advocacy, and building community.

CABA’s summer campaign is called Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS). For eight weeks, the CABA team will educate local businesses across the state of Massachusetts about the impacts of rising sea levels. CABA will engage into face-to-face conversations with business owners and managers providing education that is crucial to sustaining economic vitality and business continuity in the region with the threats of climate change looming. CABA will provide free resiliency guides, which outline an eight-step approach to decrease the risk of going out of business due to the consequences of climate change. The aim of the campaign is to prevent the loss of local business and support a secure economy for Massachusetts in the event of a natural disaster and to build better understanding of climate resilience and a sense of community in the city of Boston and along the coast of Massachusetts.

Take Away Quotes:

“Climate Action Business Association is a Boston-based business group. We’re focused on climate and energy policy, and we work on policy here in the state, in the city, assisting with several of the administration’s plans on climate adaptation and preparedness, and then we also work on national policy.”

“What happened was I have a career prior to this of working in advocacy and as a climate activist; and the more that I was involved in various movements globally, whether it was here in Massachusetts on the national level and even spending some time in the UK, I saw this debate of us versus them—us being a progressive, forward-thinking, in my case young, green movement versus them being this voice that was hard to pin down that said taking action on climate change is bad for jobs and bad for the economy. I knew from my time working with small businesses in Massachusetts that that just wasn’t the case, that there’s plenty of businesses that look at their carbon footprint as just as important as their community impact and their bottom line. Yet that’s not the narrative that we hear.”

“We quickly got to about a dozen businesses in the first six months or year and saw that there was a real need for this. So we spent about a year developing our programs and figuring out what exactly our niche and our role we wanted to play within this movement and then also what services and products we wanted to offer the local business community. Since then, we’ve really been growing leaps and bounds, spread across the state, and we’re getting prepared to launch in other states across the country.”

“On the internal-sustainability side, we’ve developed a web app. It allows a business to track its wastewater, energy, and transportation usage. It kicks out a greenhouse-gas footprint and then also allows the business to check that greenhouse-gas footprint in comparison to business metrics that are slightly more normalized—like their full-time employees, square footage, fiscal goals—so they’re able, on a clear dashboard, to see how their carbon footprint relates to their business growth.”

Resources:

Climate Action Business Association

Learn more about CABA’s BARS2016 campaign

CABA’s Blog

Connect with CABA on Facebook and learn about the businesses CABA supports in Boston

Follow CABA on Twitter

Interested in what you can do to address climate change? Check out Infinite Earth Radio’s other climate change episodes:

Infinite Earth Radio Bonus Ep. 005 From Unemployed Berkeley Dropout to Climate Change Warrior, the Tyi Johnson and Rising Sun Energy Story

Infinite Earth Radio Ep. 014 Climate Change and Storm Water Utilities [U.S. Water Crisis Part Two] with Matthew Naud

Infinite Earth Radio Ep. 022 When a Climate Change HERO Comes Along with Barbara Spoonhour and Dustin Reilich

Infinite Earth Radio Ep. 023 Using Nature to Combat Climate Change—The Nature Conservancy with Louis Blumberg

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