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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities - Michael Hancox EPISODE 34
Urban Heat Island and Public Health in LA County – CivicSpark Fellows
00:00:00 00:21:47

Urban Heat Island and Public Health in LA County – CivicSpark Fellows


Addressing Climate Change at the Los Angeles County Health Department


[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 the 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 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.


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.


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.


“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.”



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

Local Government Commission (LCG)

National Association of County & City Health Officials


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