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. These efforts take both scientific knowledge to measure disparate impacts and community knowledge to hear truth on the ground.
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:
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.
Community Resilience Fellows
Through the UC Office of the President’s Climate Neutrality Initiative, the Co-lab hired two UCI students to serve as Community Resilience Fellows. See their bios below.
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 the ways we can heal the racial and class divides between communities ready for climate justice and those just beginning climate-focused work. Project personnel include OCEJ Project Director Yenni Diaz, UCI Sustainability’s Abby Reyes, Professor Michael Montoya, and GSRC Co-Manager Adonia Lugo. Dr. Montoya and Dr. Lugo are also members of OCEJ’s advisory board.
Join the Conversation
The UCI Regional Resilience Project brings together people interested in exploring the roles UC Irvine could play in convening or supporting a regional climate resilience collaborative. 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).
Go here to learn about upcoming events and to subscribe to updates about regional climate resilience collaboration.
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.
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 will support 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.
Student Project: Based at the Cross-Cultural Center, Bo became a fellow in April 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 will support 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.
Student Project: In 2016-17, Javier worked with 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 and Riverside Counties and their borderlands. This project will include quantitative and qualitative data analysis and reporting, and may include analysis and/or 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. Javier is currently a third year Environmental Science Major. He has worked with an environmental justice organization has assisted in identifying his passion for clean air, quality of life, and community. Outside of work and organizing, enjoys coffee, video games, joking around, and having fun experiences.