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 has 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 values and work ethic of millennials.
[09:47] Cyrus explains a project that exemplifies the value CivicSpark creates.
[10:56] Cyrus shares how the program impacts the fellows and the communities that they’re working in.
[12:14] Cyrus describes the types of projects 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 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.
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.
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.
“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 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 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.”
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