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 thought about how to introduce myself properly as Vista’s CivicSpark fellow. The long story short, my initial meeting with my supervisors was a success. Everyone I met at the Civic Center was warm and welcoming – they even seemed excited to learn of my commitment to aid in Climate Action Plan updating process. This was not expected. In a conservative community where climate action plans and sustainability are still new notions, I had prepared for more resistance in the quest for sustainability collaboration.

Though the transition was easier than expected, the workload has been complex. There are plenty of days full of unknown acronyms and statistics needing to be better understood, but this hasn’t proven to be too intimidating.

I was lucky to attend the CivicSpark make-up orientation a week after my introduction to the City of Vista’s projects, which made a world of difference upon my return to work. I didn’t realize this until yesterday when I was faced with an interesting predicament: I overheard a gentleman at a Christmas party say, “Climate change is a hoax, but even if it weren’t no one in the government would care anyway.” If I am being honest, I shook my head and walked away but I had with me something that kept my hope alive in that moment. I looked down at my phone and was reassured: A picture of the State Capital Building in Sacramento glowed on my iPhone screen. I had taken the photo while visiting LGC for orientation a few weeks prior. To anyone else, it is just a picture of a government building, but to me it is a reminder there are leaders in our government, like Gov. Jerry Brown, who ARE aware of climate change and ARE doing something about it. It is a reminder of what CivicSpark fellows are doing – regardless of what others think or know.

As a fellow I hope to make a difference, and if ever I need to find inspiration to do so I just look down at my phone and see that building down the street from LGC. Maybe it will inspire someone else too…