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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: August, 2016
Aug 25, 2016

Topic:

Addressing Climate Change at the Los Angeles County Health Department

In This Episode:

01:26 Introduction of Sergio Avelar and Teresa Perez.
02:06 Teresa gives a description of the CivicSpark program.
02:41 Have the CivicSpark fellows just graduated from college, with a bachelor’s degree?
02:56 Sergio describes the projects he’s been working on.
04:08 Sergio explains what a cool roof is.
04:29 Sergio tells how to make a cool roof.
05:07 Teresa describes the project she’s been working on.
05:51 Teresa gives an example of how the public health impacts of climate change can be reduced.
06:26 Are there health impacts of climate change that are more long term or more chronic?
07:21 Teresa tells about the impact she hopes her work makes.
08:05 Sergio shares the impact he hopes his work makes.
09:31 Sergio describes if there is collaboration between the City of L.A. and the partner organizations to work on projects.
10:57 Teresa tells about the moment when she decided she wanted to become a CivicSpark fellow.
11:35 Sergio tells about the moment when he decided he wanted to become a CivicSpark fellow.
12:40 Are there a lot of people applying to be CivicSpark fellows?
13:18 Teresa shares what she expects to do after she completes her fellowship.
14:05 Sergio explains what he expects to do after he completes his fellowship.
15:05 Teresa describes how the CivicSpark-fellow experience impacted her and how it will serve her in the future.
15:52 Sergio describes how the CivicSpark-fellow experience impacted him and how it will serve him in the future.
17:13 Teresa shares the advice she’d give to anyone who’s interested in becoming a CivicSpark fellow.
17:46 Sergio shares the advice he’d give to someone who’s interested in becoming a CivicSpark fellow.
18:43 Teresa tells where people can go to learn more about the CivicSpark program.
19:04 Teresa and Sergio share one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
19:38 Teresa and Sergio tell the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
20:10 Sergio and Teresa share what Los Angeles County Health Department’s efforts to address climate change look like 30 years from now.

Guests:

Sergio Avelar is from Los Angeles, CA and has experience working in education, local government, and sustainability. He graduated from the graduating from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies.

Teresa Perez is from Whittier, California and graduated from California State University Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Policy. She is passionate about educating the community in what it means to be sustainable and why it is important to live with an environmentally conscious mind. She is eager to learn about the dynamics in the public sector and how to work with a large number of people to create positive and effective change.

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 [Sergio] am helping the County develop an urban heat-island-reduction plan, which is a sort of climate mitigation plan, essentially to address the urban heat-island effect. For those who don’t know, the urban heat island is a phenomenon in which urban areas are slightly warmer than their surrounding rural areas. Most of that is because of typical materials used to develop urban areas, mostly roofs and pavements, they’re more heat-absorbent materials, and so on a really hot day they can really warm up the surrounding area.”

“Los Angeles County is very park poor, so we’re looking at how we can incorporate more green infrastructure, whether that includes building more parks or creating more access to existing parks. And, also, a big component is to try to increase the tree-canopy cover. Trees provide many benefits, and one, essentially, for cooling.”

“Climate change, especially in L.A., can have a major effect on people’s health.”

“Most people think of climate change as saving the polar bears because of global warming, but when you actually tell people, extreme heat can really have an effect later through your air quality, or if you are sick or a loved one is sick it could have many effects, so people really tend to listen to that more.”

Resources:

CivicSpark

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

Local Government Commission (LCG)

National Association of County & City Health Officials

Aug 18, 2016

Topic:

Environmental Justice, Equity, and Livability in California

In This Episode:

01:52 Introduction of Cyrus Keller.
02:31 Cyrus shares how working with CivicSpark compares with other job positions he’s held.
03:29 Cyrus explains his role in the CivicSpark program.
04:44 Cyrus tells what excites him the most about the CivicSpark program.
07:22 Cyrus describes the impact the CivicSpark program is having.
08:45 Cyrus shares his thoughts on the millennials’ values and work ethic.
09:47 Cyrus explains if there is a project that exemplifies the value that CivicSpark creates.
10:56 Cyrus shares how the program impacts the fellows and the communities that they’re working in.
12:14 Cyrus gives a sense of the projects that are being worked on in Northern California.
16:38 Cyrus discusses the ethos of sustainability, equity, and livability in the Bay Area.
20:57 Cyrus shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
21:13 Cyrus tells the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
21:36 Cyrus shares what the Bay Area and California will look like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Cyrus Keller is a career professional and social activist. He has over thirty years of combined experience in aerospace, technology and software, and education. His professional experience includes working with both the public and private sectors, enterprise customers, federal, state, and local government agencies, and managing global and virtual teams in a number of settings from start ups to Fortune 50 corporations. Combined with a lifetime of engagement in a wide range of community, social, and international issues, he brings a unique insight to the process of social change, activism, and organizing, as well as a wealth of managerial and training experience, to the CivicSpark and Encore programs.

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.

CivicSpark also includes retired professionals who share their project management expertise with the next generation. Encore Fellows serve as regional coordinators, providing day-to-day guidance for CivicSpark fellows and also act as project managers for the teams.

Take Away Quotes:

“I think more than 50 percent of the program [CivicSpark] this year are women, and of the fellows that I am working with, there are three that are men and four that are women, and that’s unusual for me. In most of my career, men have dominated the space…But it’s unusual for me in more the science and technical fields that I’ve had experience in to find that many women. So that’s really a sort of a refreshing and rewarding change, that there’re that many women in this program.”

“I think probably the most exciting thing for me was the coming to the realization that a lot of the community organizing I did actually does fall under the umbrella of environmental justice…So, for me, what was exciting about this was recognizing that I could connect a lot of the work I had to the environmental movement and then sort of working on those issues on this side as opposed to from the community grassroots-base side.”

“We want each fellow to actually get some program-management experience, so we ask them to take on a community-service project and manage it from cradle to grave, from inception to completion. So the activity is that they have to do a service project, the form it takes varies from place to place, but that would be the thing I would identify that I think exemplifies the real value, that we do service projects as a component part of the program, and each fellow does a service project, or the fellows in a region do a collective project.”

Resources:

Encore

CivicSpark

Local Government Commission (LCG)

Aug 11, 2016

Topic:

Supporting the Development of Sustainable Practices

In This Episode:

01:45 Introduction of Mackenzie Bolger.
02:16 Introduction of Mike Kloha.
02:45 Introduction of Bree Swenson.
03:20 What is the sustainability indicators project?
03:57 Mike gives more details of the project.
04:59 How many people are involved in this project?
05:47 What kind of project report will be issued?
07:19 When the project is complete, how will people access the information?
08:48 What impact are Bree, Mackenzie, and Mike hoping to see from the work that they’re doing as CivicSpark fellows?
10:02 Could this work produce healthy competition between municipalities?
10:41 Mackenzie, Bree, and Mike share when they decided they wanted to become a CivicSpark fellow.
12:41 Bree, Mike, and Mackenzie describe how they feel about the ability to have a significant impact on issues of sustainability and climate change.
16:28 Could municipal governments have a significant impact on sustainability if the right set of resources were in place?
17:32 Bree shares what’s next for her in her career and how the CivicSpark experience impacted that.
18:18 Mackenzie describes what’s next for her in her career and how the CivicSpark experience impacted that.
19:13 Mike explains what’s next for him in his career and how the CivicSpark experience impacted that.
21:00 What advice would be given to anyone who’s interested in becoming a CivicSpark fellow?
22:34 Where can people find out more about the CivicSpark program?
23:04 What is one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities?
23:23 What action can listeners take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future?
23:58 What will Southern California communities look like 30 years from now?

Guests:

Mike Kloha is from San Diego and is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with a degree in Environmental Policy and a minor in Urban Planning. He is a former NCAA athlete in cross country and track. Mike developed a great interest for sustainable urban planning, and has also worked in local government for over a year. He hopes to learn more about the sustainability needs of Los Angeles and to actively be a part of addressing those needs throughout the region.

Mackenzie Bolger is a 2015-2016 CivicSpark Americorps Fellow located in Los Angeles, California. In 2015, she graduated with honors from Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation with a Bachelor's degree in Justice Studies and a minor in Sustainability. She is committed to transforming Southern California into a socially just, environmentally healthy, and economically vital region that will model sustainability for the rest of the world.

A Southern California native, Bree Swenson graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Anthropology and a focus on Global Health and Environment. She has worked on distributed energy policy, energy efficiency, and land use policy in St. Louis, DC, and Los Angeles and hopes to use her passion for environmental sustainability to continue this work in her hometown.

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:

“The indicators, they span pretty much every topic you can imagine in sustainability. We’re looking at water conservation, renewable energy, climate action planning, greenhouse gas inventories. Basically, what we are trying to do is look at all the cities in the region and assess how well their policies and their actual performance on the ground is doing for all these various indicators.”

“It’s [the project] been ongoing for the past five years. Our manager here at SCAG has been sort of measuring progress and expanding the research over that time. Last year, SCAG had CivicSpark fellows also and so they’ve started working on this, and we’re continuing their work. We’re definitely not going to complete it in the time that we’re here; we’re setting it up to transition for the people who will work on it next.”

“We also are working with the mapping team here at SCAG to develop an interactive, web-based map, where anyone from the public will be able to click on various different indicators and see where their city falls as far as that indicator goes.”

Resources:

CivicSpark

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

Find CivicSpark on Facebook

Local Government Commission (LCG)

Aug 4, 2016

Topic:

Advancing Racial, Social, and Environmental Equality

In This Episode:

01:23 Introduction of Robert Garcia.
02:30 Robert explains when he realized fighting for civil rights would be his life’s work.
04:00 Robert describes the victory of the Bus Riders Union versus the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
06:15 Robert shares why Title VI of the Civil Rights Act is an important tool in the battle for environmental justice.
10:47 If those who receive federal funding violate the agreement of Title VI, what can the federal government do?
14:43 Robert explains why The City Project is focused on equal access to natural resources.
19:23 Robert discusses his efforts to restore the Los Angeles River.
23:30 Robert shares what it was like for The City Project to be involved in creating new national monuments.
27:10 How will the communities with newly restored natural areas going to benefit from the investment and the restoration and not become displaced?
31:56 Robert shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
32:23 Robert describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
32:42 Robert explains what California, our national parks, our natural resources and monuments look like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Robert García is a civil rights attorney who engages, educates, and empowers communities to seek equal access to public and natural resources. He is the Founding Director and Counsel of The City Project, a non-profit legal and policy advocacy organization in Los Angeles, California. Robert graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School and is an Assistant Professor at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science.

Robert has extensive experience in public policy, legal advocacy, mediation, and litigation involving complex social justice, civil rights, human health, environmental, education, and criminal justice matters. He has influenced the investment of over $43 billion in underserved communities, working at the intersection of equal justice, public health, and the built environment. He served as chairman of the Citizens’ School Bond Oversight Committee for five years, helping raise over $27 billion to build new, and modernize existing, public schools as centers of their communities in Los Angeles. He has helped communities create and preserve great urban parks and preserve access to beaches and trails. He has helped diversify support for and access to state resource bonds, with unprecedented levels of support among communities of color and low-income communities, and billions of dollars for urban parks. He served on the Development Team for the National Park Service Healthy Parks, Healthy People Community Engagement eGuide.

Robert served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund. He received the President’s Award from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice for helping release Geronimo Pratt, the former Black Panther leader, from prison after 27 years for a crime he did not commit. He represented people on Death Row in Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. Stanford Law School called him a “civil rights giant” and Stanford Magazine “an inspiration.” Robert served on the Justice and Peace Commission for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Cardinal Roger Mahony. He is an immigrant who came to the U.S. from Guatemala at age four.

Mr. Garcia’s Publications

Mr. Garcia’s Major Cases

Organization:

The City Project, a non-profit legal and policy advocacy team in Los Angeles, California. The City Project works with diverse allies on equal access to (1) healthy green land use through community planning; (2) climate justice; (3) quality education including physical education; (4) health equity; and (5) economic vitality for all, including creating jobs and avoiding displacement.

President Barack Obama and federal agencies are catapulting The City Project’s work on green access to the national level. As the President recognized in dedicating the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, “Too many children, . . . especially children of color, don’t have access to parks where they can run free, breathe fresh air, experience nature, and learn about their environment. This is an issue of social justice.” Conservation isn’t about locking away our natural treasures. “It’s about working with communities to open up our glorious heritage to everybody — young and old, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American — to make sure everybody can experience these incredible gifts.”

The National Park Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers agree. Their studies on green access and the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Los Angeles River rely on The City Project’s analyses to document that there are disparities in access to green space for people of color and low-income people in Los Angeles, that these disparities contribute to health disparities, and that environmental justice requires agencies to address these disparities. The City Project worked with Ranking Member Raul Grijalva and the House Natural Resources Committee to organize the historic forum on environmental justice, climate, and health. The forum included seven Members of Congress and community advocates at the L.A. River Center in 2015.

Take Away Quotes:

“I am a civil rights attorney. I am an environmental justice and health attorney. We consider environmental justice the environmental arm of the civil rights movement, and we focus most specifically on equal access to parks and recreation—we have since we started The City Project in 2000—and many people wonder, how is that a civil rights issue? But, in fact, access to parks has been a central part of the civil rights movement ever since Brown versus Board of Education.”

“We’ve always recognized that equal access to public resources is a core part of the battle for justice and dignity for all.”

“Residential segregation contributes to many of the disparities that we see in cities and rural areas—disparities in fair housing, decent housing; disparities in health; disparities in access to green space; disparities in quality education; disparities in the kinds of jobs you have access to; disparities in transportation to get to the jobs and schools and parks; and in general, disparities in infrastructure.”

“It’s not only the parks that have been created—and there are many—and it’s not even the planning process and the compliance with the law—which is rewarding; ultimately, we measure success by the smiles on children’s faces from playing in parks and schools that did not exist before. And that’s what we’re the most proud of.”

Resources:

The City Project – Equal Justice, Democracy, and Livability for All

Donate to The City Project

Read The City Project’s Fact Sheet

Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities - Policy Report, The City Project, 2014
Learn about civil rights tools and the 5-step compliance and equity analysis

The Loneliness of Being Black in San Francisco – NY Times

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