Thinking Big and Bold: A Recap on 2021 Listening Sessions

“You can’t drive transformative change without talking about race.” - Tamika Butler, Keynote Address at Listening Sessions 2021

In late January 2021, we held our annual Listening Sessions in a half-day virtual summit over Zoom. 65+ ClimatePlan network partners, including the ClimatePlan Advisory Board and representatives from CalTrans, CalSta, and CARB, all joined and provided their thoughts and input on what we’re working towards in 2021. 

Background and Goals

Long-time ClimatePlanners know that in the past we have held an annual retreat where the ClimatePlan Advisory Board and Staff come together to set the agenda and work plan for the coming year. Last year, however, in addition to hearing from our Advisory Board, the ClimatePlan team decided we wanted to get a more local and regional perspective across the state from our network partners. We travelled to seven different regions of the state and held day-long meetings and happy hours with our local and regional partners. But this year - due to COVID - we moved everything online and we’re so grateful to all of our partners that attended and provided such invaluable feedback. 

In addition to hearing an incredible keynote address, entitled “Equity Inaction → Equity In Action” from Tamika Butler and 2021 Goals and Priorities from Jeanie Ward-Waller (CalTrans), Darwin Moosavi (CalSTA), and Nicole Dolney (CARB), we carried out regional breakout groups where we discussed the following topics: 

    • Advancing Equity: A major aim of ClimatePlan is to build racial equity into all policies, internal and external work that we do. How did Tamika’s message land for you and your organization? Any thoughts on how you might take action on this in the coming year?
    • 2021 Policy Ideas: What are the top 3 policies that need to change this year or what are the top 3 policies that the ClimatePlan network needs to advance this year?
    • Network Support: What are your organization’s primary policy goals for 2021? Are there ways that the ClimatePlan team and network can be helpful in achieving these goals / priorities in 2021? 
    • Opportunities for Collaboration: Based on who is in this group, is there any opportunity for knowledge sharing, connection-making, or partnership on each other’s goals and priorities? Are there any multi-regional priorities within this group that could be amplified by the ClimatePlan network?

What We Heard 

A bulk of the breakout session conversation was in response to Tamika’s thought-provoking address from the morning session. We’re still processing so much of what was mentioned, but Tamika’s talk ignited new layers of reflection on how we’re taking action on equity both individually within our organizations and with our organizations’ programmatic work as a whole.

Some feedback from participants:

- There is so much power in ClimatePlan network partners beginning to use language and terminology - like white supremacy or decentering whiteness - in both network conversations and outside of the network

- We have witnessed longtime performative efforts and lip service to equity from organizations and agencies and there is a need to shift to more community power-building efforts and movements that focus on “power with, rather than power over.”

- We must operationalize equity as we plan for our 2021 priorities while simultaneously acknowledging the past harms to communities of color in our state and beyond.

- While equity is a buzz word right now, is there actually the political will to make meaningful change?

As we review all of our partners’ goals and priorities for 2021, we’ll be incorporating collaboration on them in our 2021 work planning as an organization. Some of the common priorities that arose were work on CAPTI (California State Transportation Agency Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure), SB743 implementation, the looming statewide eviction and water shut-off crises, and conversations around improving SB75. There was also some sentiment about the possibility of the network engaging in federal level work given how much is happening with the new Biden administration and at the federal Department of Transportation. 

Next Steps

If you were able to attend Listening Sessions 2021, we’d love to get your feedback on the day. Here is a feedback form to provide any input or additional thoughts. Please fill this out by Friday, February 19th. 

We’ll also be updating our interactive network map with the information of all network partners and their priorities for 2021. You can see our existing interactive network map here. This map is intended to be a tool for network partners to connect with each other, as well as showcase different organizations and networks across California. 

As mentioned, we’ll be taking all of this information to inform our 2021 work planning as a team and will share more soon about our own goals and priorities for 2021. Thanks again to all who attended Listening Sessions 2021! We’re looking forward to creating a more just, sustainable, and equitable California with you this year. 

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