UCI Community Resilience co-convened California
Indigenous and environmental justice community members with
state officials on Water Equity at the 2017 H2O Conference

UC Irvine is committed to preparing the next generation of
thinkers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to help the world
meet its profound environmental and social justice challenges.

Community Resilience 2018-01-24T09:37:31+00:00

Community Resilience

Regional Climate Resilience Collaboration

At UCI, we understand that transformations in physical infrastructure alone will not suffice to achieve the University of California’s climate and sustainability goals. How we build the human infrastructure to get us there is also key. “Community resilience” describes our efforts to create human infrastructure through which climate and sustainability solutions foster and reflect social cohesion and inclusion of diverse voices in our university community and beyond.

We seek to understand, engage, and lift up the interests, contributions, and leadership of underrepresented communities on our campus and in communities in our region that are more vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate–typically low-income communities, people of color, indigenous communities, immigrants, and elderly populations.

Building on foundations established by the Sustainability Initiative, this work creates leadership opportunities for UC faculty, staff, and students who historically have been excluded from the sustainability transformation. It equips our campus’s underrepresented students, many of whom are also from impacted communities, to analyze and address root causes of sustainability and climate crises both on campus and back home. At its best, this work also builds trust between UCI and regional partners, a key to lasting and reciprocal relationships for sustainability scholarship over time.

The community resilience team in the UCI Office of Sustainability collaborates with campus and community partners in two project areas:

Community Resilience Co-lab

The Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research; Cross-Cultural Center; DREAM Center; FRESH Hub; Global Sustainability Resource Center; and the Student Housing Sustainability Program are collaborating to build community resilience at UCI. The Community Resilience Co-lab is an experimental co-curricular education response to the enduring and intersecting crises of environmental, racial, and social injustice. This nexus lies at the heart of contemporary crises such as the Flint, Michigan, drinking water emergency; the Standing Rock Sioux mobilization for water protection; the Movement for Black Lives; the global migration crisis; and the current Presidential Administration’s unconventional approaches to environmental protection and social issues.

Our collaboration asks: “What does it take to move from a world rooted in violence, extraction, and domination to a world rooted in regeneration, resilience, and interdependence?” The Community Resilience Co-lab begins to answer this question first by building human infrastructure here at UCI to integrate campus networks and resources at this intersection. By deepening and strengthening the intellectual and community relationships among students, staff, and faculty who participate in these networks, we aim to create fertile ground for communal care and resilience.

Over time, the Community Resilience Co-lab seeks to advance a coalition that mobilizes student capacity towards engagement, inspires exchange among a diverse cohort of activists and healers, lifts up cultural relationships to the earth, and educates at the intersections of environmental, racial, and social justice issues. Our invitation for collaboration extends broadly to student leaders, staff, faculty, and community members who are engaged in work for racial and social equity and/or sustainability.

To get involved, please complete the interest form here.

Regional Resilience Project

The UCI Regional Resilience Project (RRP) is an exploratory research and community engagement project focused on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and action in Orange County, California and its borderlands. Increasingly, municipalities are looking regionally for support, knowledge sharing, and partnership to address local climate challenges. Regional knowledge hubs, like the University of California, Irvine, can play an important convening, coordination, and scientific role in this work. The UCI Regional Resilience Project seeks to better understand the matrix of existing activities and budding opportunities to enhance climate preparedness in Orange County and its borderlands. Kimberly Serrano leads the RRP with support from student fellows.

The RRP also includes a collaboration with Orange County Environmental Justice (OCEJ), a grassroots organization created in 2016, to design a set of activities that engage Orange County residents beyond the disadvantaged communities who are at the center of the organization’s work. Together, we are creating a network of support for OCEJ’s future activities, identifying research and policy allies, assessing existing sustainability and climate networks in Orange County, and documenting the multiple worlds that exist in this relatively small geographic area. With the guiding metaphor of bridge-building, we are locating existing connections across differences in our region in order to envision better relationships. Over time, these activities will illuminate ways we can heal the racial and class divides between communities ready for climate justice and those just beginning climate-focused work. Project collaborators include OCEJ Project Director Yenni Diaz, UCI Sustainability’s Abby Reyes, and Professor Alana LeBron. Former collaborators include OCEJ advisory board members Dr. Michael Montoya and Dr. Adonia Lugo

Join the Conversation

The RRP is also interested in supporting community-driven, equity-oriented regional climate resilience collaboration. A regional climate resilience collaborative is a group of diverse public, private, and/or non-profit entities representing a region and committed to preparing that region for the emerging impacts of climate change (e.g., sea level rise, extreme storm events, food scarcity, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts). An equity-orientation centers the participation and leadership of underrepresented communities. Visit here to learn about recent community events related to regional climate resilience collaboration. Email abigail.reyes at uci dot edu to get involved.

If you are a sustainability practitioner seeking to network and collaborate around shared interests in cleantech or energy in Orange County, visit Sustain Orange County to learn more. Sustain OC provides a forum for the exchange of ideas, information, and business opportunities among large corporations, cleantech companies, local government, investors, academia, and non-profits.

Community Resilience Fellows

Student fellows play an important role in community resilience at UCI. With support from the UC Office of the President’s Climate Neutrality Initiative, we host on-campus internships to enable graduate and undergraduate students to contribute to community resilience projects. Our current Community Resilience Fellows are part of the 2017-18 cohort of Carbon Neutrality and Global Food Initiative Fellows.

Current Fellows

Shirleen Achieng, UCI Community Resilience Fellow

Student Project: Based at the Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research, Shirleen became a fellow in May 2017. Project activities include catalyzing a rich campus conversation, fostering alignment, and building campus momentum to address actively the root causes of environmental, social, and racial injustice. The Fellow supports co-lab participants in designing and carrying out a range of actions that build community resilience, including mobilizing student capacity to reclaim and create systems and cultures of collective action that lift up cultural relationships to the earth and land. This fellowship is a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity to develop and practice a range of skills essential to building community resilience in the context of furthering our campus’s climate and sustainability goals.

Bio: Shirleen is a second year public health science major at UCI. As a public health major, she feels the need to not only focus on the health of the general community, but values the importance of environmental health in relation to social justice. Her biggest inspiration to apply for the Community Resilience Fellowship were her early background experiences of environmental inequality and injustice growing up in Kenya. She believes natural resources are extremely vital for human survival. As a result, she wants to promote access to, control, and use of natural resources in various marginalized communities that have been limited, denied, or undermined. She especially looks forward to tackling the intersecting environmental, social justice, and racial crises that are occurring in contemporary society. Her future career goals involve working with overlooked communities in third world countries as a public physician while simultaneously advocating for various public health issues severely affecting Kenyans. Since this fellowship aligns with her career path, she hopes to utilize the skills and experiences she takes away from it into her future endeavors.

Temitope Aladetimi, Climate Ambassador

Student Project: The Climate Ambassador works with UCI Community Resilience Projects to integrate and align UCI’s sustainability and climate activities with UCI’s wide-ranging activities that forward understanding and progress on racial and social justice.  The fellow also works more generally with UCI’s Office of Sustainability and Office of Environmental Planning and Sustainability to communicate about campus and UC system-wide sustainability goals and programs, to assess existing programs, and to empower students to engage in and shape those efforts. In addition, the fellow helps shape and participates in a UC system-wide dialog and mobilization among fellows regarding climate action, a process facilitated and overseen by the student representatives to the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council, who convene regular meetings with fellows from all campuses.

Bio: Tope is a fourth year Criminology Law & Society major and International Studies minor at UC Irvine. She is an avid reader, self- proclaimed photographer and adventurer. Throughout her life she has had the opportunity to live in countries where certain resources are scarce to the majority of the people who inhabit the area. She is aware of the value of resources and how easily we take certain things for granted. She has had the opportunity to live in places like Nigeria, where the water system is not entirely clean and there is not electricity throughout the day. It is primarily because of this experience that she has a strong interest in sustainability, which for her simply means to empower people and value nature. Her vision for UC students is to realize the interconnectedness of nature and society as well as its relevance to human rights. She is excited to work alongside professors, faculty, and students in learning and facilitating dialogue about how to be an effective advocate in addressing environmental wrongs and racial injustice.

Bo DaraphantBo Daraphant, UCI Community Resilience Fellow

Student Project: Based at the Cross-Cultural Center, Bo became a fellow in April 2017 and is focused on climate refugees. Additional project activities include catalyzing a rich campus conversation, fostering alignment, and building campus momentum to address actively the root causes of environmental, social, and racial injustice. The Fellow supports co-lab participants in designing and carrying out a range of actions that build community resilience, including mobilizing student capacity to reclaim and create systems and cultures of collective action that lift up cultural relationships to the earth and land. This fellowship is a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity to develop and practice a range of skills essential to building community resilience in the context of furthering our campus’s climate and sustainability goals.

Bio: Bo Daraphant is a third year student studying International Studies at UCI. In addition, he is an artist and an activist. He immigrated to the US at the age of 13 and has lived in his newfound home in LA since then. Outside of school, Bo has spent his college years advocating for immigrant rights, writing poetry, and creating artwork. Building on his experiences in advocacy from working with the White House Initiative on AAPI, National AAPI DACA Collaborative, and UPLIFT LA, Bo hopes to become a social entrepreneur creating sustainable programs that will help developing countries and underserved communities. Bo uses his art as his healing process by expressing his emotions, ideology, and story within his creations.

Past Fellows

Javier Garay, UCI Regional Climate Resilience Project thumbnailJavier Garay, UCI Regional Resilience Fellow

Student Project: In 2016-17, Javier worked with the RRP to begin building a data-driven narrative synthesizing the various environmental, demographic, social, and other factors that contribute to the current opportunity for regional climate resilience collaboration in Orange County and its borderlands. This project included quantitative and qualitative data analysis and reporting, alongside synthesis of the climate mitigation and adaptation policies that are having an impact on the region.

Bio: Javier Garay was born and raised in Bell Gardens, California, and is studying Environmental Science at UC Irvine. His work with an environmental justice organization in Los Angeles has helped Javier cultivate a passion for clean air, quality of life, and community. Outside of work and organizing, Javier enjoys coffee, video games, joking around, and having fun experiences.

California Adaptation Forum.

UC Irvine staff joined colleagues
at the California Adaptation
Forum in September 2016
for a workshop on “Engaging
Communities in Effective
Problem-Solving,” led by
Resilient Communities Initiative
(RCI) coalition members Paloma
Pavel, Carl Anthony,
Ms. Margaret Gordon, and
Kirsten Andrews-Schwind.

Student holding carrots in Arroyo Vista garden.

GSRC student Yoselin Gutierrez
interned last summer with the
Santa Ana Building Healthy
Communities project’s Food
Justice Workgroup in support
of their goal of realizing systemic
changes that provide accessible,
healthy food for the residents
of Santa Ana regardless of
socioeconomic status through
creation of increased community
urban agricultural opportunities
and policy change.