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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, 2017
Aug 31, 2017

Topic:

National Engagement Starts with Local Engagement

In This Episode:

01:18  Guest Mindy Romero is introduced.
02:14  Mindy shares if there’s a resurgence of civic engagement.
05:52  Mindy tells if there’s an opportunity to translate national engagement to a local level.
08:48  Mindy speaks about building trust with communities whose local policymakers aren’t demographically reflective.
12:26  Mindy states if she’s seen strategies where communities have attempted to create more accessible pathways.
17:10  Mindy gives her thoughts on how trust plays into voter turnout and if there are strategies to increase voter turnout.
22:07  Mindy addresses measuring the quality of the engagement.
27:08  Do events like what happened in Charlottesville make us stronger?
30:06  Mindy provides where people can find out more about her work.

Guest & Organization:

Mindy Romero, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP).  Romero is a political sociologist and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Davis.  Her research focuses on political behavior and race/ethnicity, and seeks to explain patterns of political underrepresentation.   

Romero has been invited to speak about civic engagement and political rights in numerous venues, testifying before the National Commission on Voting Rights and the California Legislature, among others.  Her research has been cited in major news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Politico and the Huffington Post.  She has also been a frequent guest on National Public Radio, Capital Public Radio, and several other NPR-affiliated stations in California.  She is a regular op-ed contributor to the Sacramento Bee.   

Romero works with a wide array of policymakers, elected officials, voter education groups and community advocates to strengthen political participation and representation.  To this end, she has served on a number of boards and commissions.  She is currently a member of the Public Policy Institute Statewide Survey Advisory Committee, President of the Board of the non-profit organization, Mutual Housing California, and Vice-Chair of the Social Services Commission for the City of Davis.

The California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) is a non-partisan civic engagement research and outreach initiative for the state of California and the U.S. Founded and directed by Mindy Romero, it is housed at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. The CCEP provides data and analysis to inform public dialogue about representative governance. We believe that inclusive civic engagement can help overcome disparities in social and economic well-being, and can improve health, education and employment outcomes for all Californians. The CCEP has become a go-to source for electoral and civic engagement research, including the examination of nationally relevant election reforms such as automatic voter registration, online voter registration and vote centers. Legislators, public agencies, advocates, researchers, media (state and national) and community leaders use its pioneering research to track disparities and opportunities in civic participation by place and population.

Take Away Quotes:

“I think it’s important, no matter what the numbers actually look like, the fact that we’re having these conversations, the fact that we are bringing more awareness to the importance of engagement, period—no matter, by the way, what side you fall on.  We’re seeing engagement on all ends, I think, of the political spectrum.”

“When it comes to looking at our history, we know that, not just in terms of voting but in other forms of political engagement and civic engagement, that participation is low.  We have some of the lowest turnout rates in the world, and if we look at some of the standard measures of engagement—protesting, or sending money to campaigns, or writing to your congressperson, or joining a board or a commission, or that sort of thing—participation is really low, and it’s really uneven across subgroups of the population.  Those of color, and those that are young, participate even less.”

“We need to continue to push for more engagement and more representative engagement.”

“I would say that the local level is absolutely critical… at the local, that’s where you can make the case to people that if they’re worried about how their family is doing, their economic wellbeing, the quality of their water, affordable housing—these decisions are influenced by the federal level certainly, at the state level, but very much at the local level.  And you can create that narrative to really show people what that connection is and how voting, participating, having a voice, speaking up at the local level can actually have a real, tangible, visible, immediate effect in people’s everyday lives.”  

Resources:

California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP)

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference– February 1-3, 2018

Aug 24, 2017

Topic:

Inviting People to Share Their Stories

In This Episode:

01:26  Guests Sahdiyah Simpson and Sarah Hobson are introduced.
01:39  Sarah describes the STL Youth Smart Growth Leaders program.
04:40  Sahdiyah shares her experience with the STL Youth Smart Growth Leaders program.
05:59  Sahdiyah states what her topic was.
06:19  Sarah explains the mechanics of the program.
07:38  Sahdiyah talks about the time commitment required for the program.
08:47  Sarah provides how the program makes difficult conversations easier to have.
10:49  Sahdiyah gives her thoughts about the drama part of the program.
12:00  Are the drama performances used as a tool to help people understand what those in the program learned?
14:12  Sahdiyah tells about her school.
15:09  Why would this program be valuable in schools or communities that aren’t doing a program like this?
18:18  Sarah states how people can learn more about her work.

Guest and Organization:

Dr. Sarah Hobson, founder and President of Community Allies, LLC. received her Ph.D. in Reading, Writing, and Literacy from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She served as an Assistant Professor in Adolescence English Education at The State University of New York at Cortland where she taught courses in language acquisition, grammar, the teaching of writing, and digital literacies. She is currently teaching literacy assessment at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

Educational institutions are products of systemic policies that for years have contributed to various discriminatory practices that affect youth and communities similarly and differently. Dr. Hobson’s ethnodramatic programming, researched for over 10 years, helps youth acquire sophisticated understandings of societal processes that hinder progress. Throughout the programming, youth gain communication skills that help them begin to interrupt these practices as they learn where and how they can advocate for themselves and others. Schools and communities in turn access new ways of learning from youth the ethical complexities they have inherited. As students use their research to teach others, administrators, teachers, parents, and communities access much-needed healing.Dr. Hobson’s ethnodrama programs are multi-faceted. They are the result of years of teaching and research and must be implemented with multi-dimensional educational knowledge and care. They require institutional support, staff support, careful collaborative research and documentation, and constant reflection and interrogation. When implemented with the right support and investment, they help transform institutionalized cultures, opening up new possibilities for teaching and learning that expand youth, teacher, and administrator agency and advocacy.

Community Allies is available to school districts, educational leaders, administrators, teachers, parents, and students for short or long-term mentoring of educators in culturally relevant, student-centered curriculum enrichment. Our mentoring comes in a variety of formats primarily focused in two areas: professional development for administrators and teachers and after-school programs for students. We help you integrate student-centered real-world research into any grade, school-wide inquiry, or subject area.  We help you increase student retention, academic and college and career success through dynamic, real-world literacy learning opportunities.

Take Away Quotes:

“The mission of Community Allies is to bring people together across the county and the city…as part of that program, I’ve done after-school programs focused on ethnodrama, which is a program around which students become youth leaders by collecting a variety of stories and using those stories to open power-packed conversations in their communities about issues that are really pertinent to their lives.”—Sarah

“The program is about…us talking about what we would like to change in St. Louis, what we saw in St. Louis that we think could be better.  And so, then, we started getting into our topics that we really wanted to do, then we started interviewing people and seeing what they had to say about it.”—Sahdiyah

“The program really helped me start to really talk about sensitive topics…I wasn’t the type of person to talk about sensitive topics; I would steer away from that ‘cause it would make me uncomfortable.  Now I’ve gotten more comfortable with it, and I haven’t really stood up for certain things like this, but now I’m starting to.  I’m starting to get more into it because of that program.”—Sahdiyah   

Resources:

Community Allies, LLC

Ioby Campaign

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference — February 1-3, 2018

Aug 17, 2017

Topic:

Reusing and Revitalizing Retail Spaces

In This Episode:

02:57  Guest Michele Reeves is introduced.
04:03  Michele tells of the impact she’s seeing from the decline of retail.
06:52  Michele talks about what to do with vacant retail spaces and what some of the obstacles are.
10:48  Michele addresses huge parking lots.
13:32  Michele expresses her thoughts regarding retail space based on sales tax revenue rather than need, and market studies.
18:16  Michele speaks of strategies to make community corridors a destination.
21:56  Michele shares what local businesses can do to have a more dynamic experience that can compete or complement e-commerce offerings.
28:54  Michele states how people can get in touch with her.

Co-host:

Kate Meis joins the Infinite Earth Radio as the co-host for this episode. 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.

Guest and Organization:

Michele E. Reeves is an urban strategist with significant private sector experience revitalizing districts.  Her qualifications, derived from over 16 years of work in various facets of renewal, include facilitating public/private partnerships, marketing unknown or undesirable districts, pre-development consulting, siting manufacturing facilities, strategizing acquisitions and development with private sector investors, and creating retail leasing plans. Michele founded Civilis Consultants to assist mixed-use districts, small businesses, property owners, and public sector organizations to recognize and leverage their strengths, identify and accomplish economic development goals, and craft their unique stories to create compelling, multi-faceted brands. Michele has a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Follow Michele on Twitter

Take Away Quotes:

“It’s kind of funny.  Even that phrase ‘decline of retail’—I would call it sort of a change in retail.  And I think one of the things I would just say fundamentally about retail—there’s kind of a saying we have inside retail that retail’s about reinvention, and that’s always true.  Retail is always changing, and it’s always finding new avenues and expression for itself.”  

“I think the biggest impact that these changes in retail are having is that it’s leaving us—it’s a retail problem and a real estate problem because one of the biggest things it’s doing is leaving us with these really challenging land-use issues and a lot of vacant buildings that are, in some cases, difficult to reuse.”

“A lot of times the biggest obstacle to reusing these spaces as mixes of different kinds of space, whether it’s church space—which is another common reuse of old Walmarts or Kmarts—or whether it’s manufacturing or light manufacturing, or wholesale, or Internet sales and distributorship, mostly the zoning often stops these spaces from being something else.”

“Everything that you do that’s brick and mortar, everything that’s in person is really going to have to have fundamental elements of a really positive experience, expertise and knowledge, and service that you can’t get through the online experience.”

Resources:

CIVILIS Consultants

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference – February 1-3, 2018

Aug 10, 2017

Topic:

Planning and Creating Age-Friendly Communities

In This Episode:

00:57  Co-host Paul Zykofsky and guests Kathy Sykes and Bill Armbruster are introduced.
01:24  Kathy shares why she’s interested in the field of aging and public health.
01:47  Bill discusses why he’s interested in the field of aging and public health.
02:56  Why is planning for an aging population so important?
04:43  What can we learn from the change in how communities have developed and from the past generation?
06:57  Kathy states what the USEPA’s interest is in this issue of an aging population.
07:49  What are some aspects of the issue of rural versus urban communities?
10:48  Does AARP or the USEPA have a guide for communities on how to think about, and what they should be doing, in terms of planning for an aging population?
14:05  Are there examples of places that have embraced planning for an aging population?
17:07  How does one get started in planning an age-friendly community?
20:36  How much could be saved in seniors’ health costs if age-friendly communities were created?  

Co-host:

Paul Zykofsky directs the Local Government Commission’s (LGC) programs related to land use and transportation planning, community design, and health and the built environment. In the past 20 years, he has worked with over 300 communities to improve conditions for infill development, walking, bicycling, and transit. Mr. Zykofsky provides technical assistance to communities throughout the nation on issues related to smart growth, infill development, transit-oriented development, street and sidewalk design, health and the built environment, and public participation in the planning process. Mr. Zykofsky is a co-author of Building Livable Communities: A Policymaker’s Guide to Transit Oriented Development and Emergency Response: Traffic Calming and Traditional Neighborhood Streets. In 2006, Mr. Zykofsky co-wrote (with Dan Burden of Walkable Communities) the section on “walkability” in the American Planning Association’s Planning and Urban Design Standards.

Guests and Organizations:

Bill Armbruster manages the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which is a program within AARP Livable Communities. He has been with AARP since 2000, joining as an associate state director for AARP New York. In that role he served the upstate and western region of the Empire State and was responsible for the development, implementation and assessment for community outreach programming. That body of work included livable and age-friendly communities initiatives, partner development and grassroots volunteer organizing for a 30 county region both near and far from his Rochester home base. In addition to his work at AARP, Bill has extensive experience in corporate wellness programs, occupational rehabilitation and ergonomics, pain treatment and physical therapy.

Kathy Sykes is Senior Advisor for Aging and Public Health at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since 1983, Kathy has held policy positions in the U.S. Senate and Congress and in federal agencies: U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, with Congressman Obey and at the NIOSH within CDC and for almost 20 years at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she developed the Aging Initiative that focused on environmental health issues and the built environment. She also serves on Washington, D.C.'s the Mayor's Age-Friendly Task Force. She is a fellow of the GSA and currently Chair of the Social Research Policy and Practice Section. Ms. Sykes holds a master's degree in Public Policy and Administration and a certificate in Health Services Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Take Away Quotes:

“We’ve got a huge demographic shift that’s occurring right now.  I’m part of the baby boomers, and there’s an awful lot of us, and our population over 65 will double by the year 2050.”—Kathy

“I think a lot of communities aren’t ready.  A lot of communities plan for the 35-year-old, and they think about youth, and families is where they plan, but they haven’t planned for those people who hit 50, 65, and now even, it’s not uncommon to be 90, over 100.”—Bill

“We now have many more people who are able to get involved at their community level to make a difference for people of all ages but also to make communities think about the people who are moving at slower paces.”—Kathy

Resources:

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference – February 1-3, 2018

Aug 3, 2017

Topic:

Fresh Water, Climate Change, and Community Resilience

In This Episode:

02:10  Guest Rebecca Wodder is introduced.
03:19  Rebecca expresses how the first Earth Day impacted her life and career path.
05:06  Rebecca tells if fresh water has always been the focus of her environmental career.
05:48  Rebecca talks about how water affects climate change.
09:18  Rebecca explains the degree to which our fresh-water supply is being threatened.
11:28  Rebecca describes the Clean Water Rule.
14:41  Rebecca shares which industries are most impacted by the 2015 Clean Water Rule.
16:26  Rebecca addresses natural capital and social capital.
18:33  Rebecca speaks about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.
21:39  Rebecca states where people can learn more about her work.
23:10  Rebecca mentions the wisdom she would pass along to her younger self on Earth Day 1970.
25:52  Rebecca makes known if she’s more hopeful now than she was in the past.

Guest and Organization:

Rebecca Wodder is a nationally known environmental leader whose conservation career began with the first Earth Day. As president of the national advocacy organization, American Rivers, from 1995 to 2011, she led the development of community-based solutions to freshwater challenges. From 2011 to 2013, she served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior. Previously, Rebecca was Vice President at The Wilderness Society, and Legislative Assistant to Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 2010, she was named a Top 25 Outstanding Conservationists by Outdoor Life Magazine. In 2014, she received the James Compton Award from River Network. In her writing and speaking, Rebecca explores how communities can enhance their resilience to climate impacts via sustainable, equitable approaches to rivers and freshwater resources.  She serves on the boards of River Network, the Potomac Conservancy, and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Take Away Quotes:

“When the first Earth Day came along…my high school chemistry teacher asked if I would organize this event for the community.  We really didn’t know what it was supposed to be about, but we knew it was intended to engage people and help them recognize the environmental issues that were so prominent at the time…The first Earth Day was just a great event in my life because it showed me how I could  combine my passion for making a difference with my academic interests in science and biology.”

“Water is the way that we experience weather, and weather is the way we experience climate change in our daily lives.”

“Ultimately, the reason that we have a blue planet, the reason there is life on this planet is because of water.  It is the fundamental reason for life.”   

“One of the things that is so important about small streams is that they are the head waters, they are the sources of our drinking water, and something like one-third of all Americans get their drinking water—it starts with these small streams.”

Resources:

Island Press Urban Resilience Project

A Community Approach to Climate Resilience

The Community Resilience Reader

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