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Forging Powerful Partnerships for ResilienceGrounding Adaptation in Community EngagementCreating Pathways for Social ResilienceTransforming the Governance Paradigm | Taking Action Under UncertaintyInvesting in Climate-Smart InfrastructureIntegrating Solutions for the Built EnvironmentEnhancing Natural and Working Lands Resilience

Grounding Adaptation in Community Engagement Track

Track Summary by Clarke Stevenson, Volunteer, Local Government Commission

Today, a diverse group of speakers discussed what innovative steps can be taken to mobilize community members on climate action. Creativity was highlighted in every session. Inclusivity was highlighted in every session. The ability to make a tangible impact is embedded in the ability to actually perform an honest democratic system where the people overcome problematic political processes and build out on the ground projects. Yet, even with the amount of speakers that came to CAF to present on their amazing programs, there is still a need to grow that number and increase diversity in this sector. Repeatedly emphasized: insufficient voters showing up at the polls and the needed incorporation of traditional theories of knowledge to inform current day methods of stewardship. Likewise, the intimidation of climate impacts obliges a more issue-based mentality for collaboration. Instead, a more inter-sectional and system-based perspective will help fortify the multitude of actions occurring simultaneously.

Above all, the most important actions to encourage resilience for California’s future, in specific, is to embrace the creativity that is constantly begging to be expressed. Through games, non-traditional forms of collaboration, thought-experiments or virtual reality (VR), artists and practitioners must form a tighter partnership into to transform how we see climate change. Every historical shift in human history highlights a renaissance of art and literature; where is ours?

The second important action item from this track is that adaptation is an unfamiliar word being mapped onto familiar action that we all perform on a daily basis. The important thing is to not get bogged down in the rhetoric. Daily acts of kindness, properly insulated homes, inspiring youth to learn the names of trees and walking your neighborhood all constitute ways to learn about your community, build a relationship with your surroundings and insert yourself into the rebuilding of an adaptable world.

Restorative Climate Resilience: How to Communicate with Communities Speakers

Session report by Clarke Stevenson, Volunteer, Local Government Commission


Shreya Shankar, ED Rooted in Resilience
Phoenix Armenta, Coordinator, Resilient Communities Initiative
Alex Ghenis, Policy and Research Specialist, World Institute on Disability
Qin He, Fellow, New Voices are Raising
Mykaela Patton, Coordinator, New Voices are Rising
Paloma Pavel, Director, Breakthrough Communities
Rosanie Phan, Fellow, New Voices are Rising

The intergenerational and inter-sectional panel of speakers went through both a lesson and demonstration on lived experience as strategy to influence policy. Initiating the session on an activity of interpretation and brevity, a panelist brought us through the importance of being able to unpack heavy policy language into everyday speak in order to engage friends and family – one of many problematic barriers that excludes community members from the political process. Unwillingness to host public review meetings at a time and location that fits the schedules of the community members constitute another problematic aspect of the inability for community members to be recognized in a local government.

When communicating to the community about climate change or equitable adaptation, the priorities of the community and the intersection of values as it relates to the environment offer a crucial avenue for impact. The frustration with narrow-minded thinking in the environmental movement was shared throughout the panel especially when environmental solutions involve divestment from systems in order to exact a carbon-neutral world that neglect reliance on medical and personal care needs. Similarly, the frustration with labeling actions and efforts which have supported communities for generations are now being redefined into academic words such as “resilience” and “adaptation”. The hope echoed throughout the room is that “adaptation work” is everywhere, yet can be labeled as something completely different.

The Q&A was initiated with several in-depth and comprehensive questions about how each panelist approaches social equity to ensure inclusivity in the planning process. Additionally, questions addressed issues of re-designing systems to support our individual capacities, re-connecting issue-based thinking to system-based thinking as well as how each individual lives with the alarmism of climate change. While unable to accurately reflect the opinions of all the panelist in this summary, each response asked of the crowd to be aware and to live with active hope built through support networks. Above all, the the need for inclusivity and equal representation will offer the best data and research for decision making as the community’s lived experience is inextricable from resilience.

Seeing youth organizers lead this discussion was inspiring. A robust conversation about intergenerational and inter-sectional collaboration catalyzes a spirit of unity, growth and creativity to prepare for climate-induced natural disasters.

Twitter Summary: Community engagement is possible only if the entire community is speaking for themselves. Lived experience is data.



The California Adaptation Forum is hosted by the Local Government Commission