Women can move California into a healthier, more equitable future!

The events of 2020 - a global pandemic, calls for racial justice, wildfires in our state, and a contentious national election - have put us in need of equity and climate focused leadership more than ever. A few weeks ago, ClimatePlan asked for real climate leaders who understand equity and justice. ClimatePlan welcomes the changes happening at the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is at the forefront of combating climate change, and the State’s Legislature, which has developed some of the most ambitious climate laws in the nation. 

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A Note from the ClimatePlan Team during Native American Heritage Month

Back in June, we published a blog entitled “A Deeper Interrogation: Addressing Climate and Racial Justice in the ClimatePlan Network” where we recommitted to an even deeper personal, organizational, and network-wide interrogation of how we’re centering equity in all that we do and how we’re amplifying the community voices we most need to hear. 

While we’re all aware of Thanksgiving this week and thinking through how to move through this holiday in a different, safer way this year, here at ClimatePlan, we’re also thinking about November as Native American Heritage Month and Friday, November 27th as Native American Heritage Day. This commitment to centering equity is certainly coming up for us this month as we begin to dive deeper into understanding the Native experience in our state and what equity in land use, housing, and transportation means to the Native community. 

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Onward with Implementation: How we’re integrating water, land-use and equity in the San Francisco Bay Area

In August 2020, ClimatePlan released a new report -  Overarching Principles to Better Integrate Water and Land-use in the San Francisco Bay Area. [Thank you again to the water agencies, non-profits, and our partners at MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission), San Francisco Estuary partnership, and Local Government Commission for your wisdom and expertise].  Since the release of the report, we have been moving forward with implementing the principles laid out in the report. I have been working with MTC and ACWD (Alameda County Water District) to refine the implementation plan of Plan Bay Area 2050--the Bay Area’s regional transportation plan-- and have been developing a policy-framework to provide local guidance to implementing the strategies.  I have also been assessing collaboratives and key partnerships within the Bay Area to find spaces to develop this policy-framework.  

The Issues at Hand: New Report Summary and Centering New Context

Our new report highlights how water affordability, housing affordability, vulnerability to climate change, and transportation challenges intersect. 

Housing unaffordability is exacerbated by the challenges of high transportation costs and water costs. This is because both add an additional burden for low income households, and Black and Latinx communities. These communities have been underinvested in because of the legacy of redlining, disinvestment, and systemic racism. It is well known that the current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how many of these communities are not able to comfortably meet basic needs of housing and water. The pandemic has also exacerbated water and housing affordability challenges, by bringing on debt: marginalized and low income residents are now unsure of how much money they owe from their suspended rent and water bills.

Moreover, these communities are more likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change because they are under-resourced. Preparing for climate change will require infrastructure upgrades to account for flooding and droughts, a financial burden that would mostly fall on residents at this moment. MTC, ABAG, and ACWD recognize these problems, and are taking vital steps towards better integrating water into land-use planning.

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Biden Wins! (Pause) Now what do we do?

“Let folk celebrate people power winning some sh*t yesterday. And if you have a critique, our people deserve for our critiques to be fully investigated and to be offered a clear alternative that is worth their labor and sacrifices.” --adrienne maree brown

On November 7th, Joe Biden became our 46th President-Elect and Kamala Harris became Madame Vice President-Elect. When I heard the news, I texted everyone I knew. The biggest emotion I felt was relief. I don’t think I realized how much stress I was holding until Pennsylvania called the vote for Biden -- that’s when I felt something that I had been holding tight within me finally start to release. When I called my sister, she was crying because we now have the first U.S. Vice President who is a woman, a daughter of immigrants, Black, and Indian. I realized that I hadn’t even grasped the significance of this moment -- how HUGE it is to see a woman that looks like me who is now the second highest ranking position in the nation because I had been living in such fear and stress. Once my sister said it out loud, I realized that I could finally feel hope for the future, for my children. Hope that things can change, as evident by Vice President Elect Harris’ win. And as Vice President Elect said, while she is the first woman of color to hold the position, she most definitely will not be the last. 

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ClimatePlan says, "Equity is Not Salt; We Need to Add Spice" at CTC / CARB / HCD joint meeting

On Wednesday, November 4, 2020, ClimatePlan and Greenlining Institute gave a presentation at the California Air Resources Board / California Transportation Commission / Housing and Community Development Joint Meeting on what it looks like to co-fund transportation equity. In the clip below, I share that we must stop treating equity as if it's salt. We cannot sprinkle equity into programs, or sprinkle a little equity into a public participation workshop. We cannot add equity as garnish to transportation plans that are already baked and mostly finalized. We must season our programs with more equity. We need "fall off the bone, succulent, and satisfying programs." We can't create these programs by adding more salt, or adding more equity through public participation programs. We have to dig deep to identify what are the systemic issues. Watch the video below to hear me share more on what's needed for more succulent, fall off the bone transportation programs.

Hana Creger at The Greenlining Institute presented after me and shared how the California Air Resources Board and California Transportation Commission can move beyond sprinkling equity, to actually adding spice into current transportation programs. You can review The Greenlining Institute's slides here or watch the meeting here (Hana starts at 2:15:33).

I have written about the work ClimatePlan is doing to create an Equity Advisory Committee (EAC) here, here and here. If you are interested in getting involved in these efforts contact Nailah Pope-Harden, Policy Manager at Nailah [AT] climateplanca [DOT] org. 

P.S. I also hope that I have changed the way that you cook. Now when you open your spice cabinet, I hope you're thinking about equity.

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