CAAP Meeting on Equity and Inclusion Highlights Ways to Center Equity
The City of Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) Community Equity and Inclusion workshop, held May 27, 2021, drew over 60 engaged participants including community stakeholders, the City of Davis CAAP team, Cool Davis staff, board, and Coalition members, and panelists who related their personal stories and priorities, grounding the conversation in lived experiences.
The workshops to date have been designed to gather and incorporate community input as the consultant and City team works towards a draft of the CAAP. The next workshop is scheduled for July, when there will be discussion of specific actions to include in the plan. “We’re doing the work to get to the best plan possible, with the best co-benefits like addressing equity and helping disadvantaged communities,” shared CAAP project manager, Kerry Loux.
The City CAAP team plans to continue this discussion with the community as they evaluate, select and prioritize CAAP climate mitigation and adaptation actions, as part of the equitable, inclusive, measurable ‘roadmap’ to community carbon neutrality by 2040.
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Goals, agenda, panels, topics, polls
At the workshop, City staff noted that the gathering was added to planned outreach in response to input and dialogue with stakeholders. Equity and inclusion are essential components of climate resiliency planning locally and worldwide. The goals of the meeting were to:
- Listen to the lived experiences of community members impacted by climate change
- Learn from each other about these impacts
- Begin the discussion of how the CAAP plan and implementation can address equity and inclusion in the Davis context while solving for the risks of climate change and reducing greenhouse gases
A first community survey, available in both English and Spanish, which was wrapped up as part of the meeting, garnered 238 responses.
The workshop included two panel discussions, the first moderated by City of Davis Mayor Gloria Partida and the second by Jonathan London, UC Davis Center for Regional Change Faculty Director and Department of Human & Community Development Associate Professor. The first panel included a discussion on resiliency, inclusion, and climate action lessons from the perspectives of each of the panelists who live in the Davis and Yolo County region, and included Can Foster, Tree Kilpatrick, and Xochitl Torres-Ortega. The second panel was intended to provide a vision for how Davis can incorporate community resilience and equity into the CAAP, and included Marlen Garcia, Anoosh Jorjorian, and Adelita Serena. Tessa Smith (Yolo Co Mental Health Outreach Specialists, co-chair Resilient Yolo) was unable to attend.
A small selection of specific points made included
- Air quality: concerns about where vulnerable people can go and what they can they do to stay healthy and safe during fire season, especially elders, homeless, farm workers, kids with asthma, and physically challenged folks. One example was how football practice was allowed during a bad smoke day when it should not have been allowed.
- Transportation and energy: participants wanted to make solar photovoltaic systems more accessible for renters, bikes and electric cars available to affordable housing residents, and an expansion of public transit
- Affordable housing: affordable housing came up several times, in particular, in response to one of the poll questions about increasing building energy efficiency standards. Participants were especially concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Davis.
- Access to public garden plots for renters and application of indigenous knowledge around preventative burning were raised as important issues.
- Change making resources: Resources and funding were cited as lacking and critical; also of high concern was job creation and childcare.
Interspersed throughout the workshop, community participants were asked to respond to four polling questions, related to community and regional efforts, public health and the environment, infrastructure and buildings, and transportation.
Some of the issues raised were outside the jurisdiction of the City of Davis and CAAP process scope (issues that are controlled at the state or national level). However, much of what was discussed was front and center for what our City needs to do to address the climate change emergency equitably.
Sign up for upcoming July workshops!
View videos of this meeting and others: The City CAAP web page contains embedded links to the previous workshop from April 22 and the May 27 workshop. Watch this page for other upcoming events.
Sign up to receive announcements of upcoming meetings. https://www.cityofdavis.org/sustainability/2020-climate-action-and-adaptation-plan-caap/enotification
Meaningful discussions and critical points from the Cool Davis point of view
Can Foster opened with the most salient point of the evening: there is a huge class divide in Davis. Panelist Anoosh Jorjorian of ApoYolo expanded the basic point that panelist Adelita Serena put forward: “the extractive processes that are most responsible for the climate crisis are not created by marginalized communities, but marginalized communities suffer the most from these extractive practices.”
Anoosh also offered a particularly nice analysis of the kind of process and actions our community needs to recenter programming and policy advocacy towards achieving equity. She/they invoked universal design as a guidepost for strategies that can be especially effective for our community as we plan for climate change:
- centering often-invisible, underserved communities in our work
- reaching people where they are, and
- opening up leadership and program design opportunities
Cool Davis sees these as essential elements of good program design and key principles of community organizing and community based social marketing. As the City and Cool Davis design and scale up programs, we have to build outreach activities, advisory committees, working groups, board membership, and staff that reach and reflect everyone in our community.
Access and affordability were exemplified at the workshop by ApoYolo (@ApoYoloProject) Project Manager Luis Fernando Anguiano who mentioned in the chat that “I have worked with tenants who didn’t have a working A/C in Davis during last year’s fire season. Me and a coworker had to talk with the landlord to explain how this was an issue (and he was even defensive about it!).” An example of reaching people where they’re at was raised by the idea of attending Food Bank distributions to gather viewpoints.
The remainder of this article is specific statements made by panelists and participants from the chat.
The first panel was moderated by City of Davis Mayor Gloria Partida:
Can Foster (preschool teacher, parent, community organizer) spoke about how her son got asthma after the family moved to Davis and how there is a huge class divide in Davis. She noted one example that exacerbates the problem: kids getting a free lunch in Davis are made fun of, while in Sacramento, all kids get a free lunch to avoid this.
She spoke about the digital divide and air quality issues: there are “heart, throat, ear, and headache problems among community members, but a lot of people cannot stay home and have to walk their kids to school or work outdoors. Gardening and a relationship with the planet are important. Parents have concerns, but what can we do?” While she said she does not represent agriculture workers directly, she did note that “frontline farm workers sometimes cannot even afford to pay for the food that they’re providing for the people in the city; working from early in the morning to late at night.” Cam identified herself as “on Patwin Territory.”
Tree Kilpatrick (The Cloverleaf Farm, Small artisanal orchard management, direct marketed produce and agriculture work) works on a small orchard between Davis and Dixon growing stone fruit and running a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program. Tree reported being excited for the opportunity to farm, and market at the Davis Food Co-op but said the Davis Farmer’s Market is too crowded. He said, “climate changes haven’t affected our orchard yet,” however, he continued, “When the heat is unbearable, it’s very hard to live life, we have to be out there, we are a bit more at risk in terms of the effects of climate change. The fires started at end of main harvest season last year. We got N-95 masks from the county, so we were wearing protective equipment, and health seemed okay.”
Tree’s farm employs a “very small group of recent college grads who start super early, work around the heat of day by doing less onerous tasks at that time. We take breaks during smoke danger periods.” Tree summarized by stating that the recent air quality degradation from fire was a “difficult time for everyone when the food needed to be harvested but there was so much environmental risk being outdoors. For farm workers in general, it’s always been one of the hardest jobs and it’s just getting harder.”
Xochitl Torres-Ortega (6th grader Elementary School Student/Climate Activist) When asked by Mayor Partida how climate change has impacted her personal life experience, Xochitl responded: “Growing up my mom would always drag me to her climate action and social justice meetings, so I grew up around that. I grew up hearing how much climate change can and will affect us. I started getting involved too mostly because my mom forced me to. Sitting around with the elders. Being there I realized how important it is to advocate for climate action.
About two and a half years ago, we found out that I had asthma. That really affected me. I was a really active person; I still am. I was always out, so the air quality really affected me. When the fires started, we were staying at a friend’s place but we had to move back to the house because the air quality was really bad and I was getting coughing fits every day. The masks helped some but it was very uncomfortable. The mask really helped but it can’t filter out everything. I was still getting coughing fits.”
The second panel was moderated by Johnathan London:
Marlen Garcia (UC Davis undergraduate student in Political Science Economics/Community and Regional Development, Sunrise Movement Davis): “Resources and aid must be easily accessible. … Restorative justice means having land acknowledgements but what about giving some lands back or providing spaces where they can share their stories and embrace their traditions.
Youth play a big role and should count as a minority community because we are part of the group that is going to suffer because of this. I think it’s important that we acknowledge the voices of the youth. We’re conditioned to believe that we can’t provide and that we don’t bring much to the table. Sunrise is very supportive of the Green New Deal. We have done a good job of putting our voices out there.”
Anoosh Jojorian (Co-founder of ApoYolo, principal of Inclusive Futures consulting): “The guiding principle taken from disability studies is universal design (can apply this concept to any community); when you build systems that are meant to be accessible taking into account people with chronic illness, hearing loss, blindness, when you make resources accessible, you end up benefitting everyone in unexpected ways. Curb cuts are one example: curb cuts also benefit mothers pushing strollers and kids riding bicycles.
In order to ameliorate problems, you have to go to the community, ask what are the barriers that are making it difficult for you. For the Spanish speaking community, some barriers are security, language. [So many] resources are aimed at people with a lot of access and resources already.”
The ApoYolo Project is a partnership with the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network to support Spanish-speaking immigrant communities in Yolo County during COVID-19. The Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network (YINN) is a group of people serving and advocating for immigrants in Yolo County (https://www.yiinyolo.org/).
Adelita Serena (Climate Action Organizer in the Capitol Region of California for Mothers Out Front, Yolo Climate Emergency Coalition member, Woodland Sustainability Advisory Committee, and Maestra of traditional Aztec Dance group Calpulli Tlayolotl): We’re in this situation because of fossil fuels, we have to tackle that problem asap; frontline communities and communities of color are at the frontline. When I think of justice, I think of communities that are living right next to refineries. We have to put the pressure on our governor and state leaders, we must implement setbacks for sensitive sites. California is the only state that doesn’t have these. The fossil fuel industry is the richest most powerful industry in the world. We have to ask the Governor to take executive action in his last two years.
[In the past] we were asking Governor Brown to focus on a just transition that provides green jobs and training opportunities. We have to start young with high school students looking to go to college. The state and federal government money is going to start funneling down.
We need to connect those dots; we need to think about the farmers and our water; how will we sustain communities and do it equitably; we need a response that is quick and keeping communities out of danger; we need to keep students out of school when there is danger.
There has to be a proper response, we need to attack the problem at the root, putting the pressure on, demanding a just transition. The fossil fuel Industry is developing green technology; they are trying patent the new tech, but the only answer is to get off fossil fuels and do it in a way that is equitable.
Training for our youth and jobs, there have got to be alternatives. Families need a soft hand-off and somewhere to go. Small local community gardens, how do we provide folks that don’t have backyards space to grow their own food?”
Adelita also told a story about Mothers Out Front: “We are trying to empower moms, so when the son of one of the families was presenting about climate change at his school [Peregrine], we showed up to support him.”
Selected comments from the chat:
Access, air quality, and public health
Dr. Natalia Deeb-Sossa to Everyone: And the class/racial divide is only going to grow as rent and housing costs are going to increase…. Service and support should be for all regardless of documentation status!!!! And it should be made easier for people re: language barriers, technology, education. …Pilot a micro transit program.
Leilani Buddenhagen to Everyone: “Re: Public Health Response—I recommend that the city look carefully into the capacity that is needed to be added for emergency shelter in the case of extreme weather and outages. There may not be enough capacity currently in extended emergency situations.”
From Anoosh Jorjorian (she/they) to Everyone: “I am concerned about enforcement of environmental safeguards for farmworkers. Farmworkers are guaranteed shade, water breaks, masks in case of working in smoke, etc. But when I see farmworkers in the fields locally, it’s unclear to me how well farmers/contractors are ensuring these conditions for farmworkers or who is supposed to enforce these standards.”
Indigenous knowledge and fires
Lupita Torres to Everyone: “Xochitl spoke to Diana Almendariz last night about the importance of cultural burns to mitigate the fire damage and help curb the intensity of the fires using Indigenous Ecological Knowledge. How the Wintun and other local tribes have historically taken care of the land so that the wildfires wouldn’t be so damaging, and that local Native CA plants need fires to germinate and how cultural burns can save our CA ecosystem and help mitigate wildfire damage. We need to provide solutions for these issues, so that we can take care of the Mother Earth and be stewards of the land, as our ancestors before. For that, we must look to those who ancestors were in the land before, and how they took care of and managed the land for the solutions from Elders and those who were trained in the cultural traditions of the Natives from each specific area, their tribal Homeland.”
Larry Guenther to Everyone: “According to Hugh Stafford in his Cool Davis talk a few weeks ago, 2020 was the first ‘normal’ year for acreage burned in wildfires since domination by European descendants. The intensity of those fires was worse than natural wildfires, but the acreage burned was closer to the natural level. Hugh Stafford mentioned that people who decide wildfire control policy are looking at Native policies and talking to indigenous groups that retain that knowledge.”
Food and trees
Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald to Everyone: With expanded tree planting there also needs to be funding for tree maintenance so they don’t get out of control and/or dangerous.
Michael Bisch to Everyone: Dramatically increase surplus edible food recovery to nourish vulnerable neighbors, reduce waste and reduce methane gas emissions.
Michael Bisch, Yolo Food Bank to Everyone: I support a CAAP where implementation costs are borne by affluent residents who have disproportionately benefited from rapid industrialization and unsustainable natural resource extraction while the benefits are directed disproportionately to vulnerable residents who have been most harmed by rapid industrialization and unsustainable natural resource extraction.
Juliette Beck to Everyone: shout out to making bicycling a lot more accessible and affordable, Boulder gave EV bikes to essential workers, in a city as wealthy as Davis, we should be thinking a lot more innovatively. Affordable housing, public financing public banking, city of finance capacity within our community, how do we get a bond measure on the ballot. … We need to recognize the climate debt affluent people owe.
Role of youth
From Luis Fernando Anguiano to Everyone: “Totally agree @Marlen, as a recent UC Davis graduate, I’m shocked at how young individuals in my field (urban planning) are dismissed. It’s frustrating.” Luis noted in the chat also: “Just finished the survey but am concerned that there is no option regarding housing and its impacts on car need for transportation.”
Translation services and ethnic studies
Robin Kozloff to Everyone: “Provide translation services for non-English speaking residents for city and neighborhood meetings.”
Melissa Moreno to Everyone: “Ethnic studies can help with students learning about systemic environmental racism, inequality, and exclusion… and move towards understanding movements and solidarity across groups…”
Dr. Natalia Deeb-Sossa to Everyone: My concern about this last poll is that all these upgrades and renovations might “incentivize landlords to push out their renters and then increase their rents and get new renters. I know this has happened a lot in Davis!”
Michael Bisch to Everyone: “Most of these poll options increase housing costs harming vulnerable neighbors.”
Camille M Kirk to Everyone: Maybe we could create incentives for landlord/developer actions that are tied to keeping housing affordable?
Luis Fernando Anguiano to Everyone: I’m concerned that the discussion between “EV cars and gas cars” miss the main point that: both are still cars. Sure, EVs help reduce the use of gas but we need to have denser, more diverse communities that reduce our need for cars. I will acknowledge that cars provide mobility for people with disabilities (among others who need cars) and this is not saying “ban all cars!” But housing and transportation are key to reaching the goals CAAP has set forth.
Camille M Kirk to Everyone: Additional support for sustainable transportation, including a library of bike trailers to check out (could help with not having to invest in a trailer or store it in limited rental housing space).
Chris Granger to Everyone: Smart transportation. Unitrans and Yolobus are moving steadily towards new system investments with bits of money when it comes. But Free Transit that we tax ourselves to pay for together is a real solution for our community. City staff and Unitrans have already begun looking at this!
Alan Hirsch to Everyone: YoloBus has just done a total rethink of its bus lines so the 42 line is a more frequent intercity connection. KUDOS to this organization. But they need funds for more frequent service as it’s still scarce. If you care about transit joint the YoloMobility Group.
Alan Hirsch to Everyone: Social Equity problem: Rich have solar while poor renters do not. Rich with Solar Panel on home add to duck curve which utilities have to level out with expense shared by ALL, even poor that did not create it. (FOR EXAMPLE, I have zeroed out my home and electric foot print IN AGREGRATE over 24 period but I generated 6x my home’ s KW use between 11 and 1 am. i.e the Duck curve). Rich with solar should pay their true cost of dealing with Duck curve to the grid.
John Johnston to Everyone: Public health equity — Working on the split incentives between landlords and renters regarding housing energy systems. Provide incentives and/or resources to landlords to upgrade housing systems to better protect residents from climate extremes and also to lower their costs?
Wrapping up the chat and the conversation
Kerry Loux, City of Davis Sustainability Coordinator, responded to chat comments as possible:
- Thank you to everyone for your chat comments and suggestions.
- We reached out to the Davis Migrant Farmworker Housing through Yolo County Housing. We had hoped to have a representative here, but we agreed that an in-person interview would be more comfortable for them. We have a meeting scheduled to speak in Spanish with two families
- We are studying existing and future land use scenarios related to transportation as part of the CAAP forecasting.
- The Davis CAAP will prioritize actions for Davis that are effective at greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, that have multiple co-benefits in addition to reducing climate risk and carbon, and that are feasible (have identified funding, are within local control, and are cost effective).
Mayor Partida: I want to recognize the people who are not here, and who is not here. The activist world is always the same few activists that are stepping forward each time, there’s a reason. Often the most vulnerable and affected don’t have the resources to show up to these spaces where their voices can be heard. We tried to reach out and have other people come forward. I want us to be aware of that. We have to gather the information and provide education where people are at.
The challenge is very similar to other equity work in Davis. There’s an inequity because it’s not sitting; there are very real issues for the communities that are affected. Often people don’t know this is something that can be addressed. People may not water their trees because of high water bills. People who can work eight hours a day in an air-tight filtered building are at an advantage than those who have to work outside.
Kerry reached out to construction, folks have moved there because it’s higher paying, many have moved to roofing, and it’s really hot there. Building leaders is the other piece that is so important, getting the information out to children. I’m hopeful to see Xochitl here, our youth can influence their peers and their parents.
Johnathan London: Thank you to the City for putting this issue forward. We can really miss the voices of those who are affected. We need to put equity issues at the center of the planning; a crucial step is to allow those affected to be at the center of planning. Think about climate debt, who is the most responsible and who is most affected? Thinking about responsibility and impact, who has the resources to adapt and change? Who is included and excluded?
I heard themes of leadership, prioritizing voices of youth — climate equity is complex. We must think about affordable housing, housing elements, transit access, money from the infrastructure bill, access to solar, who benefits from incentives, labor, the green economy, exploitive capitalist systems, heat, who feels safe, who feels welcome in the community, water justice, and, finally, costs and quality.
This article was compiled and drafted by Cool Davis staff members Chris Granger and Leslie Crenna with contributions from board member Julie Haney.
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