Youth Engagement with CivicSpark

CivicSpark is a California Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program, administered by ecoAmerica partner LGC (Local Government Commission), dedicated to building capacity for local governments to address community resilience issues such as climate change, water resource management, housing, and mobility. Community input is an important component of success in these issues. Our Path to Positive Moving Forward Guide has a whole section on civic engagement, why it matters, and how to include it. This story is what one fellow learned about engaging the community:

Story by Lizzie Carrade, 2018-19 Bay Area CivicSpark Climate Fellow

Right around 6:59pm on January 16, the City of Albany Council Chambers was filled with community members eager to learn more about and participate in the planning process for the City’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, “CAP 2.0”….It was a rainy, stormy day in the Bay Area, and we expected that many people would not want to face the rain to make it to the workshop.

To our surprise, as community members continued to make their way into the Council Chambers, all the extra chairs that we had stacked in the back of the room were being taken, and when the chairs ran out, people moved to the back of the room to stand. By about 7:10pm we had over 60 members of the community present…

My Site Supervisor delivered the opening staff presentation to the crowd. She shared information about how Albany will be affected by climate change, as well as what the City of Albany has done to date to address climate change.  After the presentation, attendees scattered throughout the room to stations of their choosing, to brainstorm unique emissions reduction strategies for different emissions sources (transportation, energy use in buildings, consumption) and climate adaptation strategies….The conversations had and ideas generated at each station were impressive and inspiring. The brainstormed strategies and feedback from the workshop will be very influential in the development of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Some of my favorite [visions from the community] included: “Zero Waste City!”  “More Trees!” “> 1/2 of residents will feel comfortable biking to all destinations in town.”

The night demonstrated to me how essential community engagement is. Not only were we excited to see so many community members engaged in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan planning process, but we were also provided with an incredible number of unique ideas for mitigating climate change in Albany, and have a better idea of what strategies are feasible and not feasible. I look forward to engaging with the community further on matters related to the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.

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