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: December, 2016
Dec 29, 2016


How High-Wage Jobs Affect Affordable Housing

In This Episode:

01:22 Mike announces the Infinite Earth Lab training program.
02:52 Mike explains this episode of Infinite Earth Radio.
03:25 Dr. Chris Benner is introduced.
04:23 Chris shares his background and what draws him to issues of economic and social equity and inclusion.
06:40 Chris gives the importance of education for disadvantaged populations for our economic future.
07:09 Chris explains a study of job growth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
09:54 Chris gives information about the next study and how people can get access to it.
10:34 Chris shares the report findings of a lack of housing affordability is causing displacement of residents and long commutes.
12:53 Chris explains the report data of a significant number of low-wage jobs are being created but no new affordable housing units are being created.
15:04 What are the policy implications? What can we do to fix this problem of no new affordable housing?
18:18 Do you see any indication that there’s a movement to create inclusionary zoning or some kind of development incentives to create more affordable housing?
19:54 Are San Franciscans changing how they think of themselves since the city’s character seems to be changing and it now seems to be a city that people can’t afford to live in?
21:52 Chris explains, within a regional context, how residents are needed to have the basis for the sales tax to buy goods.
23:15 Chris shares how he was made aware of the dynamic of people in poor communities who are shopping in other places that are benefiting from the tax dollars being spent there.
24:28 Mike brings up the fact, and Chris agrees, that the poor pay more in regard to commuting time, cost of commuting, and quality-of-life and economic implications.
26:20 Chris explains how the job, inequality, and political crises play out in the context of housing affordability and the overall quality of life in the Bay Area.
30:14 Chris shares where people can go to learn more about his work.
31:14 Chris provides one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
32:26 Chris explains the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
33:24 Chris shares what the world looks like 30 years from now.


Dr. Chris Benner is the Dorothy E. Everett Chair in Global Information and Social Entrepreneurship, Director of the Everett Program for Digital Tools for Social Innovation, and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on the relationships between technological change, regional development, and structures of economic opportunity, focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work and employment patterns. He is the author of multiple books including Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions, co-authored with Manuel Pastor (Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California), which helps uncover the processes, policies and institutional arrangements that help explain how certain regions around the country have been able to consistently link prosperity and inclusion. His most recent book, also co-authored with Manuel Pastor is titled Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas. Benner’s work has also included providing research assistance to a range of organizations promoting equity and expanded opportunity, including the Coalition on Regional Equity (Sacramento), Working Partnerships USA (San Jose), the California Labor Federation, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions among others. He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBenner

Chris’ email is


The Everett Program – Digital Tools for Social Innovation at the University of California, Santa Cruz merges the enthusiasm of student leaders with information technology to promote structural social change by building social networking capacity across non-governmental and community-based organizations. Everett’s goal is create a new generation of “info-savvy” advocates using information technology to overcome informational exclusion–based barriers to civic participation and social justice. The learning goes both ways: While advancing the larger public good, Everett students accumulate valuable technical knowledge, while sharpening their leadership and project management skills.

Take Away Quotes:

“I got into this work…[had] sort of a broad interest in social-justice issues, both domestically and internationally, and for me that interest is really rooted in, just, I care about the future; and if you care about the future, you have to care about those populations that have been historically marginalized, because they are the future.”

“That commitment to education for disadvantaged populations is fundamental for our economic future because that is, in many ways, the current workforce as well as the future workforce.”

“We had 15,000 new low-wage jobs just in sort of a narrow categorization of industry categories like restaurants and other types of services. So you’ve got tremendous growth in those kind of jobs and just no new housing that’s available for that.”

“I think part of our challenge is the financing structure of local government, because in California…housing is a net drain on city resources. The cost of services to new residents in the forms of, you know, the water and sewage and electricity and garbage and fire and police and all the things going with that, the cost is higher than the local revenue that comes from property taxes.”


Infinite Earth Radio Ep. 002 Equitable Development and Economic Growth with Dr. Manuel Pastor

Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas

Get a free digital copy of the book

Find the book on Amazon

The Everett Program – Digital Tools for Social Innovation at the University of California, Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz – Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California

Dr. Chris Benner’s TED Talk

Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions Find the book on Amazon

2017 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

Register for the Conference!

Get on the Infinite Earth Lab Waiting List!

Dec 22, 2016


The Story of Turkey Creek: Self-Determination and Resilient Communities

In This Episode:

01:46 Derrick Evans is introduced.
01:55 Derrick shares his background, which led to the Turkey Creek Community Initiatives.
14:46 Derrick reflects on what it felt like when he first moved to Boston and what kept him there.
22:31 Derrick talks about the impact of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita on Gulfport and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
31:59 Is the Gulf Coast Fund what Derrick meant by resilient communities?
32:48 Derrick discusses his definition of climate change.
36:03 Derrick agrees that people in Gulf Coast communities saw the climate changing.
37:34 Derrick describes the documentary film “Come Hell or High Water” and mentions the impact it’s had on Turkey Creek.
43:43 Derrick tells about the things that communities can do to make themselves better prepared to withstand or recover from climate impacts.
46:35 If environmental-protection responsibility gets pushed back to the states, what will that mean in terms of work with Gulf Coast communities around resilience and Mississippi DEQ? Are there good working relationships there?
49:08 Derrick adds his closing thoughts.
56:06 Derrick provides one change that would lead to more resilient, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
56:31 Derrick states the action that listeners can take to help build a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future.
56:43 Derrick shares what resilient Gulf Coast communities look like 30 years from now.


Derrick Christopher Evans is the director of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives and a managing advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. Since 2001 he has worked to help protect and revitalize his coastal Mississippi community and sister communities throughout the region. Prior to that he taught civil rights history at Boston College and social studies in the Boston Public Schools.

Take Away Quotes:

“My community went from being entirely undeveloped—swamplands—to being sort of a pastoral, forested, agricultural type of thing where people were subsistence farmers and fishermen to a community that was the site of multiple coastal timber-industry employments and facilities.”

“This is what, pretty much, TCCI’s m.o. has always been was to recognize the very long list of community ailments and challenges, turn those into an equally long, if not longer, list of possible prescriptions or remedies, including things that we had never thought of before, like coastal ecological restoration, which now is bearing fruit nearly twenty years later; historic preservation; even looking at a historic longstanding, uncleaned, EPA-toxic cleanup site and saying, you know what, that’s a historic site as well as a headache. Let’s use some creative visioning to frame this in such a way that it makes our circle bigger. When you have that list of possible solutions, it attracts from within the community and from without the community potential contributors to the problems that need to be solved.”

“I had a teacher once—the greatest teacher I ever had—who told me that is was no accident that the overwhelming majority of the most impactful ‘spokespeople’ for the race—the black race—historically, like, Frederick Douglass, Dr. DuBois, even Louis Farrakhan, and so forth and so on, had spent formative time and years in and around Boston, Massachusetts.”

“I remember when Hurricane Katrina hit, and my first thought was that this event is either going to…finish off Turkey Creek and its sister communities or open a door for their survival and transformation, particularly as the most not only impacted but instructive places on what not to do again.”

“We’re not resigned to injustice, we’re not resigned to the structuring of privilege and access and inequitable ways; but we will not be resigned at all to inefficacy on our own parts.”


Bridge the Gulf

Come Hell or High Water – The Battle for Turkey Creek

Purchase the film, “Come Hell or High Water – The Battle for Turkey Creek”

A Brief History of Turkey Creek

Dec 15, 2016


How Climate Change is Impacting Low-Income Communities

In This Episode:

01:56 Rachel Cleetus is introduced.
02:20 Rachel shares her background.
02:54 Rachel mentions what motivates her to do the work that she does.
03:44 Rachel defines the term “climate change.”
05:13 Rachel describes “climate equity” and “climate justice.”
06:38 Rachel differentiates between climate equity and climate justice.
07:46 Rachel explains the concept and some of the major findings in UCS’s “Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Rising Seas” report.
11:05 Rachel tells us about the case studies mentioned in the report, specifically Dorchester County in Maryland.
13:57 Rachel supplies where people can go to learn more about the report.
14:55 Rachel imparts what the phrase “resilient communities” means to her.
16:52 Rachel indicates some of the biggest barriers to enabling vulnerable communities to become more resilient in the face of climate-related disasters, and what preventative measures people can do.
21:10 Rachel gives her thoughts on how other areas in the world that have been impacted by weather can be resilient without support from the U.S. and other neighboring nations.
24:14 Rachel conveys what communities and local governments can do to make themselves better prepared to withstand or recover from climate impacts.
28:57 Rachel provides one change that would lead to more resilient, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
29:19 Rachel states the action that listeners can take to help build a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future.
30:03 Rachel shares what our coastal communities will look like 30 years from now.


Rachel Cleetus is the lead economist and climate policy manager with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). She designs and advocates for effective global warming policies at the federal, regional, state, and international levels. These policies include market -based approaches (such as cap-and-trade programs) and complementary, sector-based approaches (such as efficiency, renewable energy, and clean technology research and development). She also analyzes the economic costs of inaction on climate change.

Prior to joining UCS, Dr. Cleetus worked as a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund, performing policy-focused research on the links between sustainable development, trade, and ecosystems in Asia and Africa. She also worked for Tellus Institute in the energy and environment program, under the mentorship of Steve Bernow. Dr. Cleetus holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in economics from Duke University and a B.S. in economics from West Virginia University.

Take Away Quotes:

“For me, climate change is one of the biggest threats we face as humanity, and it’s touching every aspect of our life. It’s not just an environmental problem; it is an economic problem, it’s a social problem, it’s a justice issue, because the impacts are already playing out around the world, and they are disproportionately affecting communities of color and low-income communities. So, for me, this work has always been about how do we make a better future for our kids and grandkids, and how do we do it in a way that’s inclusive, that brings people in to work towards a common purpose.”

“Climate change, as we all know, is something that—the climate change we’re experiencing right now is human caused. It’s primarily a result of carbon emissions from our burning of fossil fuels as well as cutting down tropical forests. These carbon emissions are accumulating in our atmosphere, and they’re creating a heat-trapping blanket, essentially, around the earth, and that’s making global average temperatures increase. We are seeing record impacts because of these temperature increases, and those impacts include changes in precipitation patterns. For example, we get these extreme rainfall events that cause flooding, we get heat waves, we get drought, we get wildfires. We’re seeing sea levels rising around the world, and here in the U.S., on the East Coast, we have some of the highest levels of sea-level rise globally that have been experienced.”

“We know that poorer communities, people who have fewer resources, are more extremely affected when extreme events happen. They’re disproportionately affected, and their ability to bounce back from these kind of events is also compromised because of the fact that they have fewer resources.”

“We have to make sure that our policy makers at every level of government are making policies on the basis of science. That just has to be a threshold of how we can do better going forward. We are almost unique in the global community to be still disputing the reality of climate change. It’s long past time to move beyond that.”


Union of Concerned Scientists

Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Rising Seas (2015) –Union of Concerned Scientists

Climate Resiliency Toolkit

Dec 8, 2016


One Year of Spurring Innovation for the Future of Sustainability and Equity

In This Episode:

01:19 Kate Meis is introduced.
02:04 Kate reflects on her feelings of how the podcast has been doing over the past year.
03:04 Mike adds to the conversation with his own perspective of the podcast.
03:33 Kate provides the question of how she sees the recent election impacting sustainability and equity efforts.
07:46 Mike comments on his interest in how sustainability efforts will play out over the next four years.
08:49 Kate mentions the area that advocates are paying attention to in the sustainability space.
10:49 Kate talks about the membership survey that was conducted before the election.
14:10 Mike supplies his thoughts about the survey results.
15:55 Kate speaks about some of the themes that were found in the survey results.
18:24 Mike mentions what he learned from the survey.
19:29 Kate tells of the split between urban and rural areas that she saw in the election.
21:18 Mike conveys that the suburban and rural voters feel disrespected by the urban voters.
22:02 Kate shares what’s being done to foster more innovation and progress at the local level.
23:38 Mike describes what’s coming up for “Infinite Earth Radio.”
27:37 Kate adds her thoughts on an upcoming plan for “Infinite Earth Radio.”
27:58 Kate shares some words of encouragement.


Kate Meis is the Executive Director of the Local Government Commission (LGC). Kate is a champion for local governments, a recognized leader in local climate change adaptation, mitigation and clean energy efforts, and an ardent coalition builder. She obtained a Masters of Science degree in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis, and has a Sociology Bachelor’ s degree from California State University, Sonoma.


For over 35 years LGC has connected cutting-edge leaders from across the nation. Together they are advancing transformative policies and implementing innovative solutions for sustainable communities. LGC works to build livable communities and local leadership by connecting leaders via innovative programs and network opportunities, advancing policies through participation at the local and state level, and implementing solutions as a technical assistance provider and advisor to local jurisdictions. With roots in California and a national reputation, LGC offers inspiration, information, and partnership for local and regional champions dedicated to building thriving communities that integrate civic engagement with environmental, social and economic priorities.

Take Away Quotes:

“Our mission, really, is to get the word out about great projects and policies that can be scaled and implemented in communities across the nation, with the goal of improving those communities, making them more livable and sustainable, so to be able to reach the number of folks we’ve reached through these podcasts has been really rewarding.”

“…the next four years will really determine whether or not we’re able to deliver on the Paris Agreement, so the next four years are going to be critical. So that is why we’re concerned about the signals we’re getting from the administration, but that said, climate-change leadership has always happened at the subnational level, so at the level of cities, regions, and states.”

“No matter what happens with the new administration, we are seeing strong signals that states are going to continue to lead, that cities are going to continue to lead…We are seeing leadership continue, and that’s going to be critical moving forward.”


Sign up to attend the FREE training - Equitable Development in Practice– Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 1:30 Eastern

Register for the 2017 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference – February 2-4, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri! Add our brand new Infinite Earth Lab training to your conference registration and receive a special discount.

Infinite Earth Radio Episode 21: When a Climate Change HERO Comes Along, with Barbara Spoonhour and Dustin Reilich

Local Government Commission

Dec 1, 2016


What You Eat Can Help Save the Planet

In This Episode:

01:47 John Roulac is introduced.
02:23 John tells about his background and how he became so passionate about the environment and regenerative agriculture.
03:35 John defines regenerative agriculture.
05:53 John discusses why more is needed than just reducing the creation of carbon.
08:44 John speaks to the common argument of needing big agriculture because the planet’s population is growing and people can’t be fed without modern farming approaches.
14:48 John explains the purpose of his article called “Starbucks, Destroyer of the Seas.”
17:38 John discusses the bee population, technology, and nature.
19:37 John describes his company, Nutiva.
21:18 John mentions what needs to happen to ramp up regenerative agriculture.
24:49 John shares how people can learn more about Nutiva and his work, and where to buy his products.
25:23 John expresses his thoughts on the impacts of not eating meat.


John W. Roulac is the founder and CEO of Nutiva, the world’s leading organic superfoods brand of hemp, coconut, chia, and red palm superfoods. John founded Nutiva in 1999 with a mission to nourish people and planet. Through his leadership, Nutiva has become the fastest-growing superfoods company on the planet, with a 55 percent annual growth rate since 2002, and has for five years in a row been named one of Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing companies in America. This growth keeps bringing John closer to his dream of a world that places people above profits—one where people everywhere have access to wholesome, organic foods.

Learn More about John here

Learn More about John’s work

Find John on Facebook


Nutiva® is the world’s leading brand of all-organic hemp foods, coconut oil, red palm oil and chia seeds. We’re a values-driven brand, dedicated to “Nourishing people and planet.” In a world where the industrialized food system has led us down a tangled path, where food choices have been reduced to the lesser-of-evils, and where distrust reigns, we are the champions of the greater good. Tireless seekers of pure and delicious foods that will nourish our bodies and our planet, we have devoted ourselves to a dream, a vision, a mission. We will revolutionize the way the world eats! And in so doing we will bring nourishment and balance, health and well being, sustainability and community to people and planet.

We know change is hard, but we want to make it easy. We went out looking for the kind of foods that packed a powerful amount of nutrition into every bite, so that you could make small changes to big effect. We found superfoods—nutrient-dense powerhouses that can also be grown and processed in a sustainable way. These are foods that are truly good for you and for the planet. They’re foods like hemp and coconut, chia and red palm. They’re organic, full of vital nutrition, easy to use and delicious additions to your diet.

We say food doesn’t have to be a choice between the lesser of evils.
We say let food lead us to a better world.
We say super people deserve superfoods.
We say, come join us in our mission.
Together, we can change the world.

Learn More about Nutiva

Nutiva’s Real Food Manifesto

Take Away Quotes:

“I think it’s part of our fixation with technology. We’re so into, like, that wind and solar will carry the day, or some new battery technology. And these are obviously important, and we need to stop burning coal and invest in renewables, but equally important is to use regenerative agriculture through a variety of practices such as composting; holistic grazing, which is a more intelligent way to raise animals versus putting them in a pen and cages; growing more diverse crops, cover crops; and the like can really help create more income for the farmers, reduce our inputs, and create a better quality of life for our communities and our globe.”

“Regenerative agriculture not only deals with climate change, it also deals with healthcare; it also deals with finance because healthcare is a huge expense for us.”

“Industrial agriculture will be responsible, along with the petrochemical energy industry, for our current pathway which, in my view, will result in 90 percent of all species on the planet disappearing by 2060—less than 50 years away. And the reason being is that all that carbon is going into the oceans, and the oceans can no longer absorb this.”

“We’re an ocean planet, not a land planet.”



Infinite Earth Radio Episode 24: “The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security, and Sustainability in the 21st Century” with Joel Makower of GreenBiz, and Mark Mykleby of Case Western Reserve University

Starbucks, Destroyer of the Seas – EcoWatch

Why Are Climate Groups Only Focused on 50% of the Solution?– EcoWatch

The Solution Under Our Feet: How Regenerative Organic Agriculture Can Save the Planet (Part 1)–EcoWatch

Part II: How Regenerative Organic Agriculture Can Save the Planet – EcoWatch