January 2018
Giving Back on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
"...Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, a dream we can still see vividly when we revisit the most famous of his many timeless speeches. His vision of a world free of hatred and injustice has changed the face of American society and continues to inspire people around the world. ...

On this 89th anniversary of his birth, let us reflect on his words and vision, and consider what each of us can do today to help keep his dream alive. Many opportunities to serve our communities can be found at CaliforniaVolunteers.org. ..."

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
January 15th, 2018

CivicSpark Fellows throughout the state spent the day providing service in their regions with activities ranging from volunteering with GRID Alternatives to increasing fire safety and forest stewardship through forest thinning.
In the North Coast region, Fellows volunteered alongside other local AmeriCorps volunteers at the "Bowl of Beans" community event. The City of Arcata hosts the event, which includes a delicious meal of rice, beans, cornbread, and salad prepared by volunteers as well as performances by youth and other local performing artists.
The Central Inland Fellows volunteered at 50 Bikes for 50 Kids , a community service event that matches teams of volunteers with well-deserving kids to assemble 50 new quality bikes. The kids and volunteers experience firsthand the rewards of teamwork, volunteerism, and a sense of community.
One Fellow in the Central Coast region volunteered at a monthly beach cleanup in their neighborhood with Explore Ecology . Other Fellows volunteered with GRID Alternatives , a non-profit that provides no-cost solar to low-income families, and they were able to help homeowners save over $18,000 over the system's lifetime and offset over 37 tons of carbon, which is equivalent to the planting of over 800 trees.
In the wake of the Santa Rosa fires this past October, the Bay Area Fellows knew they wanted to dedicate their first service day to fire safety. The Bay Area Fellows headed up to Healdsburg in Sonoma County to volunteer with LandPaths to thin forests and create a new hiking path while increasing fire safety and forest stewardship in the Sonoma region.
The Greater LA Fellows gathered at Abraham Lincoln High School to participate in LA Works ' Day of Service event. Lincoln High School, which played a significant role in the walk-outs that Chicano students organized in the 60s, hosted a number of improvement projects that Fellows participated in, including bench reconstruction and blanket crafting for local non-profits.
Regional Highlights
Hayward Composting and Dublin Greenhouse Gas Inventories
Placed in both the City of Hayward and the City of Dublin , Ciaran has been navigating the rocky terrain of excel spreadsheets, graphs, and data request forms. She believes in data-driven governance and this has been delighted to dig deeper into Hayward's municipal energy and waste data. Conducting Dublin's 2015 community-wide and municipal greenhouse gas inventories have also been an exciting adventure; they are like a treasure hunt, although sometimes with outdated maps and the treasure (data) has been moved. A highlight in the service year so far has been the Hayward compost giveaway where Ciaran joined Waste Management and City Hall staff in handing out compost to community members.
Sacramento EV Adoption
Jacob Weiss is working at the Sacramento Air Quality Management District . He spends most of his time working to understand the barriers to electric vehicle adoption in the region. Jacob is developing strategies to help businesses electrify their fleets, as well as communicating cost saving benefits of buying an electric vehicle to community members. Increased investment in electric vehicles and supporting infrastructure will undoubtedly make Sacramento a national hub for electric vehicles in the near future. He hopes that by the end of the service year there will be thousands more electric vehicles on the streets in the Sacramento region!
Resilient Neighborhoods in Santa Monica
Maansi Shah is working within the City of Santa Monica's Office of Emergency Management to build neighborhood resilience. She is facilitating a workshop for the City's trained community emergency response volunteers to launch a community-driven process to create an emergency plan for the City's Downtown Community. This process will involve local organizations, faith-based institutions, schools and businesses in the planning process, and will ultimately create a framework for neighborhood resilience planning that can be replicated throughout the City. Maansi hopes to create momentum within the local government to drive this project forward once her term has ended, and continue to offer supplementary resources to community members.
Fellow Spotlights
Question of the Month : "As an AmeriCorps member, service is a critical component of the CivicSpark model - How do you give back to your community? Why is service important to you?"
Magdalena Szymanska | Bay Area Region
"I feel the need to give back to the community. Just couple of weeks ago, with a small group of volunteers, we organized for the very first time in San Francisco (and California!) an event for the Great Final of Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (WOŚP=Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity). The WOŚP “played” for the first time 26 years ago in one city in Poland, to collect money for medical equipment for children’s cardiac surgery. Since then, WOŚP plays every year, in most of Polish cities and towns, and in 174 other countries! Our WOŚP-SF Final gathered people of different nationalities, political views, religions, and cultures- we were united under the idea of helping others. We’ve collected over $25,000 that will help newborns with medical needs. “People united will never be defeated!"

Magda Szymanska is a resident of Berkeley, CA and originally from Poland. She graduated from California State University, East Bay with a BS in Geography and GIS and Cartography Certificate, and holds a BA in Environmental Protection (WSEH, Poland) and double AA (Berkeley City College). She is entering the program with previous experience of local community and climate issues through volunteering at the Sierra Club, SF Bay Chapter. She’s joined CivicSpark to put her education into action, learn from experienced environmental professionals, and participate in spreading the knowledge about energy efficiency through the local community.
Sarah Kuo | Central Inland Region
"Service keeps me in check because it leaves all incentives up to my own moral compass, and thus has me thinking about why I participate in certain movements and events. Being a CivicSpark Fellow has really allowed space for me to cultivate these reasons and how I can best give back to my community. Whether I give back by building a community garden, or by organizing with "disadvantaged" unincorporated communities to submit a county-wide SWRP, these projects only come to fruition with the service mindset in the driver's seat."

Sarah Kuo is a recent graduate of the University of the Pacific class of 2017. She majored in Geological and Environmental Sciences and minored in Jazz studies and Sustainability. During her time at Pacific, she was also a resident assistant, a peer educator for the Women’s Resource Center, Sustaining Pacific, and the Geosciences department, and heavily involved in campus organizations. She served as president of Soul Speaks, an advocacy through art club, was a member of the Black Student Union, and often collaborated through these clubs with Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), and Queer People of Color (QPOC) for various campus events. During her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, cooking, farming, and creating.
CivicSpark Great Stories
Sarah Huang, 2017-18 Climate Fellow - Greater LA Region
"I think anytime people have to adapt to change, whether that's because of joining a new program and starting one's first full-time job or because of natural disasters destroying homes and displacing whole communities, mental health is a major concern that is often not discussed." ...

Ryan Hirano, 2017-18 Water Fellow - Greater LA Region
"I left Japan feeling inspired through the Kakehashi Project events. One of my major takeaways, especially with relation to what we as Fellows do, was Japan's relationship with nature. Japan grows upwards rather than outwards, meaning that despite the intensely packed urban centers, there is also plentiful natural spaces."...

Elliot Goodrich, 2016-17 CivicSpark Alum - North Coast Region
"Awash in this sea of young professionals, limitless arts and culture, and extracurriculars, it would not be difficult to get lost in the intricacies of our own busy lives and forget about our fellow fellows and alumni. However, you are all on our mind."...
CivicSpark in the News
Cody Ericksen, 2017-18 Climate Fellow - Bay Area Region
Congrats to our Bay Area Climate Fellow Cody Ericksen, who was featured in the East Bay Times on his CivicSpark project with the City of Piedmont and the work they are doing to update the climate action plan. Keep up the great work Cody!
Upcoming Event
17th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
February 1-3, 2018 | San Francisco, CA

The 17th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference is being held February 1-3, 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The 2018 conference program will feature eight thematic tracks that will provide participants an opportunity for a deeper, more dynamic hands-on learning experience. Each track will be designed to create a peer cohort of practitioners that leave with new tools, strategies, models and templates to integrate into their work – with our signature multidisciplinary theme running throughout. To learn more, please visit newpartners.org . Registration will be available on-site at the event.
3rd California Adaptation Forum
August 27-29, 2018 | Sacramento, CA

Save the dates! The Local Government Commission invites you to join us for the 3rd California Adaptation Forum, taking place August 27-29, 2018 in Downtown Sacramento!
CivicSpark is a Governor's Initiative AmeriCorps program implemented by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research. Each year, 70 Fellows are placed across California in regional hubs to implement targeted projects that build capacity for local government agencies to better address climate change and water resource management issues.
Learn more about CivicSpark at  www.civicspark.lgc.org .