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Gathering to Build a Resilient Bay Area

In the second of our two-part interview with Bay Localize, we learn more about its definition of resilience and about upcoming action to build resilient communities.

(Kirsten Schwind) The next iteration of our tools is the Map your Future Toolkit. That is mapping the future of your community but also mapping your personal future. We designed it with youth groups, thinking that if we can make something with youth, especially at-risk youth, then we can design something that’s fun and interesting and engaging for anyone. We’re going to start with our more difficult audiences, and if they like it, then the adults will be fine, too.

That is the re-imagining your community as well, it is an asset mapping program and it lays out certain ways for people to go into their community and collect information on how people are already resilient on different levels. We’re defining resilience as:

1) Safe and Stable Homes. Having safety in your home, structural safety (is it going to collapse, come down in flood), social and economic safety (will you be evicted), bringing in the element of gentrification, as well.

2) Healthy and Connected Neighbors. Do you have connected and healthy communities? Do you have good air quality in your community, are the streets safe? Do the neighbors know each other and have that social cohesion that’s so important for help in an emergency?

3) Community Systems that Guarantee Human Rights. Strong communities that are meeting human rights, (water, energy). So we look at resilience at those three levels.

bay localize climate change bay area

We also provide tools for communities to go and assess this and imagine how they can build this. So we have survey and mapping tools so people can go hit the streets, and imagine what would you like to see on that empty lot. If you have worries about creeks flooding or storm drains flooding in your neighborhood where would like to see more trees planted to mitigate that flooding. If you can imagine it, that’s the first step in creating change.

And there’s a part of it that’s aimed at youth, so if you are at the beginning of thinking of your career, how can this be part of it.

The Playbook. At BayMozaic we feature organizations like Bay Localize that improve our lives. We hope in featuring them, we can spread strategies that work. The Playbook highlights these.

Coalition Building: We’ve talked about that in the first part of the interview

Raising Visibility: We’ve always run on a small staff, and we don’t have a full-time communications person. So jumping on opportunities as they come. Often our work has spoken for itself and garnered attention. When we launched our first tool kit, we just asked our coalition and our networks to repost it and it spread by word of mouth to all these 46 states and 13 countries. It had value to people. We’ve gotten good media in the past, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal. We also do our social media.

But going back to coalitions spreading the word, the foundation of coalition building is being a friend, being a good partner back. When our colleagues ask us to help in a campaign, we’re almost always down to sign a sign-on letter or come to an event or to help out. So, I think we’re seen as a good player in the field. Another important thing is there’s a lot of things Bay Localize launched that a lot of others picked up and moved with, and you can’t hang on to ownership if you want a movement to adopt it, you have to be able to let go and be happy to see other people pick it up. If you try to brand it as yours, it’s not going to go that far. You need it for funding (branding) but that’s the paradox (Branding isn’t great for movement building, but it’s good for raising funds).

We find funders who are a good fit for us, who take risks. We also have a pool of donors, and we’re hoping to expand that group through our ten-year anniversary event this October.

Clean Energy Campaign: People can get involved now through our alliance building around clean energy, building the political will to get governments, especially county governments to implement these community choice energy programs. Do you have local control over your essential systems, and energy is one of them. So we often have campaigns put on by the Local Clean Energy Alliance. For people in the East Bay, we’d love for them to get involved with East Bay Clean Power Alliance, and then in Oakland, there’s Clean Energy Jobs Oakland.

For anyone who is interested, we can also get them in contact for campaigns in San Francisco or San Mateo counties.

The environmental movement is also a housing movement, it’s a jobs movement. It’s about life.

(Photo: Aglehmer on Flickr)

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