CivicSpark News and Stories

March Great Story

March Great Story by Anna Fessler-Hoffman, 2018-19 Bay Area Climate Fellow 4 months. We only have 4 months of CivicSpark left! The past couple of months have definitely been a turning point for me, professionally. I am doing the CivicSpark service work that we agreed upon when I first started at the City, and doing…

A Shift from Housing to Homelessness (Or a Confluence of the Two)

March Great Story by Reid Miller, 2018-19 Central Inland Opportunity Access Fellow Thus far in my time here at Placer County, my work has been focused mostly on clearing the way for development of affordable housing (although in most instances, it feels like clearing the way for development in general, which is fine in some…

The Two Things People Hate Most

March Great Story by Sam Ruderman, 2018-19 Sacramento and Sierra Climate Fellow         A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Shared Mobility Policy & Modeling Workshop hosted by the Local Government Commission and UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center. It was a full-day event consisting of interactive workshops with industry experts, and regional and…

Inspiration and Guidance in February

February Great Story by Jessica Cervantes, 2018-19 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow For the past two months of December and January, my service project felt a bit slow as we worked to onboard project partners. But, February was different. It was super busy and productive. February 1st kicked off with welcoming two new staff members…

February Great Story

February Great Story by Andrew Hatt, 2018-19 Central Inland Climate Fellow In the run up to Mid-Year Gathering, I was honestly conflicted about how to feel about the whole thing, and whether I even wanted to go or not. I had been looking forward to it all year, but then after seeing the schedule, I…

An Alley-Oop for Nature

February Great Story by Matthew Kubasak, 2018-19 Sacramento Climate Fellow At Saint Augustine High School, I heard a lot about the namesake. His most interesting story is about wandering a beach full of dying starfish after a terrible storm had washed them ashore. Augustine saw a kid running around throwing the starfish into the ocean.…

Community Workshop in Albany

January Great Story by Lizzie Carrade, 2018-19 Bay Area 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”. As my site supervisor and I…

When Will I Move Mountains?

December Great Story by Naomi Lopez, 2018-19 Central Inland Opportunity Access Fellow Moved by Mountains; When Will I Move Mountains? I was excited to be back in Southern California and close to my family and to get out of this NorCal weather. I should be used to it by now, but every year it?s the same…

Count Down

December Great Story by Sierra Huffman, 2018-19 North Coast Climate Fellow Count Down Dancing in the night, Before the year comes to an end, Rewind the clock,To where the month began,Nose to the grindstone, And face towards the screen, Researching, Accounting, And writing summaries, I know so much more,Than I did at the startAll the months hard work Has carried me here,Dancing till the…

New Year New Way of Thinking

December Great Story by Marjan Kris Abubo, 2018-19 Greater Los Angeles Water Fellow I wipe the sweat off my brow and stare into the distance so I could readjust my eyesight after staring at a small plot of weeds I had been pulling for the past thirty minutes. For the past couple months, I’ve been volunteering…

Back in the IE

November Great Story by Mairany Anaya, 2018-19 Inland Empire Climate Fellow Recently, a co-worker and I were having a conversation about what we wanted to be when we were growing up. When it was my turn to answer the question, I replied with “I wanted to be a chef in the 6th grade for reasons…

November Great Story

November Great Story by Sarah Risher, 2018-19 Sacramento and Sierra Climate Fellow It started raining as we drove into Paradise. In place of traffic lights and stop signs, National Guards directed the vehicles coming in and out of the incinerated town. The roads were lined with crews tagging and removing trees that posed any risk…

Passing on the Torch of Environmental Justice

October Great Story by Edgar Barraza, 2018-19 Bay Area Climate Fellow I would like to first thank Oceane and Elizabeth for the car ride to Bart and giving me the empowerment to write this great story. This great story is something you might not expect as its draws its empowerment from systemic oppression, drawing its…

October Story

October Great Story by Micah Houston, 2018-19 Central Inland Opportunity Access Fellow When I got the unlikely email in October that I had passed the screening phase of the United Nations Young Professional Program and had been convoked to take the first written exam, I was thrilled! This is a program which is only open…

CivicSpark October Alumni Story

Alumni Story by Elena Guevara, 2016-17 CivicSpark Alum, Southern California Region The last two years — the time during my fellowship and after entering the “real world” — have taught me so much about myself (both personally and professionally) and about my career path of choice. My CivicSpark placement was my first “real job” after…

Be the Expert you Want to See in the World

September Great Story by Peter Brown, 2018-19 Sacramento and Sierra Opportunity Access Fellow Having spent most of my time doing research, I’ve often found it difficult to track my progress. After all, how can you measure how much you know? Well, so far, I’ve found that the best way to measure that kind of progress…

Escaping Existential Dread with a Leap of Faith

September Great Story by Angeline Foshay, 2018-19 Central Coast Climate Fellow It’s hard to know where to start when writing about an experience that’s been so transformative in such a short amount of time. Just two months ago, I was staring at my computer screen at my stable nonprofit job with decent pay, thinking to…

Water Governance: Empowerment Amidst Complexity

September Great Story by Marisa Perez-Reyes, 2018-19 Inland Empire Water Fellow Although I wrote that I believed “the resource challenges of today [would] require that we adopt adaptive, interconnected, and empathy-infused models of governance” in my CivicSpark application essay, I’m not sure that I knew what that meant at the time. I knew little about…

Letter to Self

July Great Story by Sarah Huang, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow The feeling that tend to come with the end of anything are often bittersweet. It felt strangely nostalgic being back in the same hostel in Sacramento both for orientation and graduation. The people who were all once strangers almost a month ago are…

Oh the Places You’ll Go!

July Great Story by Savannah Rose, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow This service year is wrapping up to a close and with a new chapter ready to begin. This year has gone far beyond my expectations of what an AmeriCorps position could provide. My past supervisor at my University told me that she loved…

Front Lines of Water Waste

June Great Story by Hannah Braun, 2017-18 Bay Area Water Fellow Earlier this month a new resident of Fremont called the water conservation hotline concerned about wasteful water practices. This isn’t something out of the ordinary that we deal with here at ACWD, as we regularly get water waste reports either over the phone or…

Summer in SLO

June Great Story by Madison Montague, 2017-18 Central Coast Climate Fellow Summer is here! Yay! And although June gloom has been real on the coast, there have still been a few beautiful sunny days to soak up some Vitamin D and head out to the beach or on a hike. Gleaning in this weather is…

A Rock-ing Day on the Farm

Photo courtesy of  Joan Cusick May Great Story by Cassandra Miller, 2017-18 Central Inland Water Fellow Over 1,000 visitors explored Soil Born Farms during what’s become a regional favorite event, “A Day on the Farm.” Soil Born annually coordinates this event to celebrate the seasonal opening of their farm stand and allow visitors a chance…

The Loooong Road to Change

May Great Story by Patrick Pelegri-O’Day, 2017-18 Bay Area Climate Fellow I’d heard about Alameda Point, the shuttered naval base covering Alameda’s western side, since I arrived in Alameda. I couldn’t have missed hearing about it – my Public Works office is in an old Navy building. I didn’t understand what Alameda Point *meant* to…

Compost Giveaway

April Great Story by Chelsea Polevy, 2017-18 Bay Area Climate Fellow This past weekend, I completed my Volunteer Engagement Project – I planned and executed a City-wide compost giveaway. For the past several years, City staff have facilitated a compost giveaway at Albany’s annual Arts & Green Festival. Unfortunately, City staff did not have the…

Earth Month on the Central Coast

April Great Story by Madison Montague, 2017-18 Central Coast Climate Fellow April is a busy month for those working in Sustainability. For most of Earth Month, every environmental group steps up their engagement, working off the popularity of Earth day to make projects happen. The Energy and Climate Section at San Luis Obispo County is…

“Water We Gonna Do?”

March Great Story by Marina Deligiannis, 2017-18 Central Inland Water Fellow I’ve always been drawn to the water. From the early ages of swim lessons, my parents quickly learned it was a lot easier getting me in the water then taking me out of it. As a young child, I have fond memories exploring the…

Reflections on Legacies Lost (and Found)

March Great Story by Gillian Greenberg, 2017-18 Central Inland Climate Fellow Growing up, Cesar Chavez rarely made the list of important figures in American history classes. I had never spent any significant amount of time learning about him and the labor movement he led until March regional training. As we watched a video about his…

Feeling Inspired

February Great Story by Linda Vo, 2017-18 Bay Area Water Fellow As someone who loves learning, I enjoy watching TED Talks for its educational and inspirational content. This past weekend, I was watching a TED Talk titled Be humble – and other lessons from the philosophy of water, where Raymond Tang, the speaker, shares the…

The Power of Youth

February Great Story by Zachary Farrell, 2017-18 Central Inland Climate Fellow I had the opportunity to speak on a panel this past Saturday at the California Environmental Assembly, hosted by the Planning and Conservation League. The theme of the panel was young leaders in the environmental field. Full disclosure, to this moment, I’m still not…

ZEV Pledge

January Great Story by Katherine Smet, 2017-18 Central Inland Climate Fellow This month has been busy and filled with research on zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The other fellow and I began a new project called the ZEV Pledge, which is a program to rally together CEOs from across the Capital Region to commit to adopting ZEVs…

Volunteer Engagement

January Great Story by Aaron Dickinson, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Water Fellow Working with WELL and the Human Right to Water, it was obvious that I wanted to center my volunteer engagement project around the affordability and accessibility of clean, potable water. I workshopped some ideas around, but it wasn’t until I spoke with Maansi…

“We should have him/her over for dinner!”

Story by Elliot Goodrich, 2016-17 CivicSpark Alum, North Coast Region “We should have him/her over for dinner!” It’s a common exclamation in our household. Three of the four of us are former CivicSpark fellows, class of 2016-2017. As with many of our peers, the Bay Area’s burgeoning climate change / sustainability / planning scene has…

Integrating Mental Health into Climate Change and CivicSpark

December Great Story by Sarah Huang, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow I woke up early on a Saturday morning to drive over to a Mental Health First Aid Training Course. When I arrived on the college campus, there was a small sign directing me where to go. As I entered, I saw colorful name…

Bridging the Gaps

December Great Story by Ryan Hirano, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Water Fellow This past month I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in a program called the Kakehashi Project. The Kakehashi Project is a fully funded trip to Japan, sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the purpose to promote a…

What’s in a Game?

November Great Story by Angela Kim, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow This month, my section manager asked me to lead our Long-Range Planning Team in playing the Game of Floods. As we are starting to think about our outreach efforts for the sea level rise project, we thought it would be fun to try…

Double Socks and Desert Rocks

October Great Story by Savannah Rose, 2017-18 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow This month, the other Fellows and I embarked on a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Upon accepting Angela’s offer, I truly did not know what to expect. It’s pretty safe to say that I had little to no camping experience as…

The One with Al Gore

October Great Story by Chelsea Marcell, 2017-18 Bay Area Climate Fellow This past month I had the opportunity to join Al Gore’s Climate Reality Corps Training in Pittsburgh, PA. I joined 1,400 individuals from all over the world with the shared passion and goal of solving the climate crisis and making our world a more…

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

September Great Story by Michael Consunji, 2016-17 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow Having graduated with a B.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Education from Occidental College, I did not know how I would apply my degree to the jobs I was applying for. For the longest time, I thought that I would pursue a…

Getting to Know the Ballona Creek and its Revitalization Project

September Great Story by Jose Torres, Greater Los Angeles Water Fellow Your 2017-2018 CivicSpark Water Fellows for the City of Culver City are Jonathan Dolan and Jose Torres. The project beneficiaries are made up of a collaborative team of four departments at Culver City: Division of Economic Development, Division of Advanced Planning, Department of Public…

Final Thoughts

August Great Story by Laurel Smith, Sacramento Climate Fellow Coming into CivicSpark I had no idea what to expect. I thought of it simply as a job and an interesting opportunity to gain experience and forward my career path. Little did I know that one of the greatest things I would gain out of it…

End of Year Spoken Word

August Great Story by Noe Martinez Diaz, 2016-17 Southern California Climate Fellow We applied our unique abilities To help municipalities and agencies Address climate change taking initiative Each Fellow’s effort always remained inspiring Even when we felt like the Greek King Cursed to push the rock up a hill We managed and mustered the will…

Living in the Central Valley

June Great Story by Janelle Del Campo, 2016-17 San Joaquin Valley Fellow For my service year I work in the San Joaquin Valley region, specifically focused on the City of Fresno. I started late and I think that was due to the fact that there were very few people that wanted to be placed in…

Oh, I Left My Heart in San Diego County

May Great Story by Fanny Yang, Bay Area Climate Fellow My partner and I went snorkeling for the first time during Memorial Day Weekend and I’m not sure how, but spending almost every day in the ocean reminded me how much I had, in the past, valued the existence of a perfectly, beautiful, ocean landscape…

Purpose, Passion, Perseverance

Story by Kriselda Bautista, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alum, Sierra Nevada Region Going into my third year here in the Sierras, I can’t help but thank CivicSpark for the opportunity to be where I am — living, working and playing. When I graduated college, I had no idea where I would end up or what I would…

Forestville

April Great Story by Victoria Hernandez, 2016-17 Bay Area Climate Fellow In the silence of the trees, a presence greeted me; Why has it taken you so long to come and visit me? Come; sit on my trunk and embrace my energy, The very little I have to offer after many centuries. The creatures, they are startled,…

Five Words

April Great Story by Phillip Tran, Bay Area Climate Fellow As I left Mid-Year Gathering at the end of March, a fellow asked me to describe my experience that past week in five words, words that I feel to some extent can describe my service year thus far. Those words are humbled, inspired, confused, rejuvenated,…

Floatables

March Great Story by Liya Klingenberg, Central Coast Water Fellow Caring for the waterways in San Luis Obispo has been a rewarding part of my CivicSpark service year. Over the past five months, I’ve had the opportunity to survey many of the tributaries in the SLO watershed, giving me a broad picture of one problem…

Working Together

Story by Jessie Rudd, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alum, Central Valley Region G’Day CivicSpark Fellows, I write to you from 10,972 meters above the Tasman Sea. Flying from New Zealand to Australia, I am peering into the vastness of the sea, and I am marvelled by the contents of it; marvelled by the islands and the people…

Getting ENERGY STAR Certified

Story by Aaron Presburg, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alum, Los Angeles Region It has now been 10 months since I started my job as Energy Program Manager at Portland Public Schools and I am still learning something new every day (yes, the learning continues after CivicSpark). Back in August I was contacted by EPA’s ENERGY STAR Regional Program…

Actions Lead Louder than Words

January Great Story by Abbey Pizel, Southern California Water Fellow Leadership. Leadership is inspiring and motivating people. Leadership is wanting others to be the best they can be. In the environmental field, being a leader is very important. Your success as a leader can be measured by your ability in effectively leading people to change…

Recycling

December Great Story by Alexandra Coblentz, Central Coast Water Fellow When I moved into my apartment, I was shocked to discover that the complex did not offer recycling nor green waste bins. Sure, I could get past the green waste since my apartment lacks a yard and I can bring my compost to the community…

The Potty Plant Tour

December Great Story by Chris Sturken, 2016-17 Bay Area Climate Fellow The Potty Plant Tour (As my dad would call it) 12/28 I arrived at Hayward’s Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) looking for answers to questions like– “Is meter number 17P683 a smart meter?” and “Is the solar array grid-tied or building-tied?”–and received more than I…

Inspiration

December Great Story by Elektra Fike-Data, Southern California Climate Fellow It was only a month ago that I sat in the lobby of the newly LEED certified Civic Center of Vista, California, waiting to meet with my new project manager after weeks of emails and transitioning. Ideas, figures, and questions ran through my mind as I…

Tears Over the Bridge

November Great Story by Jack Edgar, Bay Area Water Fellow Moving to Marin had been a wonderful transition. The new and raw beauty had me fired up on life. Everything was unique, everything was exciting. I was enamored with my surroundings, from downtown San Rafael to the glorious sun rises over the bay; I was…

November Running

November Great Story by Noe Martinez, Southern California Climate Fellow My experience with the Cities has been nothing less than amazing. I have to admit I am blessed to be investing time with such interesting people. At first, I was definitely nervous and did not know what to expect. I have transitioned to be more…

The Essay of My Life

November Great Story by Steven Kerns, Southern California Water Fellow My great story for this month has to do with an essay I spent 29 years preparing to write. You see, part of the law-school application process is writing a deeply important personal statement, often without a prompt – “Tell us, in 4 pages who…

Happier Outside

Story by Evan Pierce, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alum, Sierra Nevada Region The temperature is dropping below freezing as I do my best to get a fire going. I throw a log onto the glowing embers and retreat into the relative warmth of my sleeping bag. My colleagues and I are glad the rain from yesterday has abated,…

Rain

Story by Olivia Hara, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alumna, Sierra Nevada Region I missed clean clothes, clean hands, and baths. It was the second week our community was completely without water. The little water we had for cooking and bathing was just a few inches from sparse rains in our Jojo tank. Just the day before my host…

Embracing the Unknown

October Great Story by Gabrielle Ostermayer, 2016-17 Central Coast Water Fellow The day I was offered this fellowship position with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board was the day before I was set to become homeless. It was a Sunday of all days, September 25th. I saw the email from the Local Government…

Finish Line

October Great Story by Victoria Hernandez, Bay Area Climate Fellow   Can I survive? I’ve committed to an opportunity, both challenging and rewarding; time to thrive. All uncertainty aside, this is part of being alive. Feeling the rush of crazy schedules and idle moments as I work this 8 to 5. Only you know why…

Saying a Goodbye

August Great Story by Catherine Campbell-Orrock, Bay Area Fellow I just want to tell you how I’m feeling: finishing up CivicSpark is surreal. For many of the fellows, this is our first full time job. The continuity, the forty hour week–it was all coaxing me into this sense of belonging, like it was going to last…

Words to CivicSpark

August Great Story by Savannah Speerstra, 2015-16 Central Coast Fellow The CivicSpark year has now come to an end Starting a new job is just around the bend Resume complete, ready to send Hopefully many interviews to attend Trying to find my path in life Hopefully my next steps are not full of strife Maybe,…

The Right Path

July Great Story by Jamie Zouras, 2015-16 North Coast Fellow In high school, I remember being overwhelmed by having to choose a Major as I applied for college. How was I supposed to know what field I would be happy working in for the rest of my life?! Often, family members would try to offer guidance: “Choose…

Amazing SLO

July Great Story by Katie Webster, Central Coast Fellow San Luis Obispo is an incredibly progressive town. The city government has banned drive thrus, plastic bags, Styrofoam, and the legislature has essentially created a tobacco-free space for its citizens. Bike lanes line every street that isn’t a designated bike boulevard or bike path. San Luis…

Bold

Story by Melanie Chu, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alumna, Sacramento Region Around this point last year, I was going through all the contemplative “what ifs” that had been jumbling in my head – a typical existential crisis period for all 20-somethings. I was mostly anxious about what will happen after CivicSpark ends, as most of you are…

The Water-Energy Nexus

June Great Story by Arya Moalemi, Southern California Fellow “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir is quoted as saying this, or something similar. This quote was found via the Sierra Club, and I would expect that they would have the…

GRID Alternatives Solar Install

June Great Story by Gilian Corral, Bay Area South Fellow It’s 8:22 AM and the sky is cool and clear. I park my Prius across the street from the GRID Alternatives work site. I’d carefully selected my outfit the night before to maximize comfort and sun protection: jeans I’d be ok ruining, tennis shoes, light…

Summer Vibes in the Sierra

June Great Story by Alyssa Collins, Sierra Nevada Fellow Warm weather, hikes, and barbecues. It is that time of the year. One of the best times of the year in the Sierra is the summer, and there’s nothing like going into the start of summer. For the 4 years that I was in college, I…

Opportunities

Story by Zenia Montero, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alumna, San Joaquin Valley Region I served in the inaugural class of CivicSpark as an AmeriCorps Fellow in the Central Valley of California from October 2014 to September 2015.  During my service year, I learned so much about the Central Valley and I became passionate about addressing the environmental…

From LA to Portland

  Story by Aaron Presberg, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alum, Los Angeles Region   It has been 9 months since the end of my service year with CivicSpark and I still can’t decide if that seems like a long time ago or if it seems like just yesterday. Either way, it’s hard to believe and so much…

Carbon, Communities, and a Conference

May Great Story by Jill Sanford, Sierra Nevada Fellow There are numerous professional reasons to participate in CivicSpark, but I have to say one of the most significant ways it has impacted my personal life has been to cause me to think more about my own impact on the environment. This is something I have…

The Community

May Great Story by Mikael Matossian, Los Angeles Fellow Over the course of the past month, I have had the delight of meeting and working with Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM), a locally based, grassroots organization dedicated to activating the Santa Monica community to take action on climate change. It is a small but tough…

Municipal Zero-Net Energy Financing

May Great Story by Benjamin Silverman, Bay Area South Fellow  In the month of May, one of my chief ongoing tasks was working on the USDN financial scan factsheets. This was related to a program the Urban Sustainability Directors Network is coordinating of attempting to connect municipalities with financial institutions to help fund local sustainability…

From the District of Columbia to Colombia, South America

May Great Story by Abigail Huvard, Los Angeles Fellow May has thus far been my most exciting month while in CivicSpark. From the Better Buildings Challenge Summit in Washington D.C. to spending a week in Medellín, Colombia with friends and family – I doubt the rest of my time in CivicSpark can top it (but…
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