California Adaptation Forum 2023 Event Recap

Kaeleigh Reynolds

Kaeleigh Reynolds

Project Manager

The climate and government affairs teams at SBC were excited when the news came out that the Climate Adaptation Forum (CAF) would be back in-person this summer. SBC’s Government Affairs Director, Stacy Corless, and I attended CAF in early August.

At CAF, we attended the in-person ARCCA meeting to give updates on Sierra CAMP efforts, share perspectives with the other regional climate collaboratives across the state, and affiliate ARCCA members like the Office of Planning and Research, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Local  Government Sustainable Energy Coalition, and many more. In addition to ARCCA convenings, we were able to provide direct feedback to state agencies on Cal-Adapt data and usage, the CA 5th Climate Assessment methods and process, and the CA Climate Adaptation Strategy. 

Aside from learning about new tools, new strategies, and new policies that will protect California from the worst climate change impacts from our peers and many experts, we also presented alongside Carol Blanchette, Executive Director of the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, in a presentation called Building Climate and Community Resilience in the Sierra Nevada. We shared evaluations of ecosystem services provided by the Eastern Sierra region, the climate risks, community capacity, and demographics of the region, followed by the value of outdoor education and STEM in building community climate resilience.

The slide deck from our presentation can be found here.

Blog Author Kaeleigh Reynolds facilitates discussion at CAF2023
Blog Author Kaeleigh Reynolds facilitates discussion at CAF2023

After our presentation, we hosted an activity to help inform how practitioners in the Sierra Nevada and downstream partners can increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities in the Sierra through equitable outdoor education and bridging the urban-rural divide. We asked three questions of our audience, and in small groups, they brainstormed and recorded their strategies. The findings from our audience members are provided below. These solutions will be embedded into future planning efforts by SBC and in the outdoor education work done by Carol and her team. We appreciate the participation of our audience, and for CAF for providing an important platform for climate action in California! 

Question 1: How does building equity into outdoor education lead to climate resilience?

  • More diverse kids with different backgrounds bring more diverse people to expand climate action exposure
  • Increased connection to the landscape/ecosystems
  • Exposure to nature-based solutions 
  • Creates inspiration which leads to engagement and action
  • Brings awareness to the landscapes where you live 
  • Exposure to landscapes/the outdoors for more diverse people to reduce the intimidation of being in outdoor spaces – Outdoors for All!
  • Kids take knowledge home and share it with older generations
  • Long-term interest formed in topics/careers
  • Outdoor education is typically focused on privileged communities, and more equitable outdoor education leads to more climate action knowledge
  • Empowering the future
  • A more diverse workforce in the future
  • Outdoor education leads to less TV and healthier brains which build resilience in under-resourced communities 

Question 2: What are ways to bridge the rural-urban divide and grow awareness around the essential ecosystem services provided by the Eastern Sierra?

  • Field trips or recreational trips with educational opportunities at tourist destinations
  • Sister cities – local rural/urban communities (for example, they share a watershed)
  • Urban park education about rural ecosystems
  • Scavenger hunt (e.g. Pokemon Go) with ecosystem services
  • Summer camps in rural regions to host urban kids
  • Student trips to urban recreation areas
  • Use case studies in schools
  • Host hikes along water systems
  • Asking the questions: Where does your water come from?
  • More conversations about the health of forests and soils across the state to act as carbon sinks
  • K-16 curriculum development on ecosystem services, including field trips 
  • Resource (headwater) education
  • Legislative field trips 
  • Utility bill inserts with information like “This is where your water comes from” 

Question 3: How can we empower and engage disinvested communities, such as tribes, to build climate and community resilience in the Eastern Sierra?

  • Local CBOs hire local indigenous people
  • Create technical advisor positions to coordinate across communities
  • Listen and take a whole-systems approach to climate adaptation
  • Train the entire community 
  • Provide resources – funding, staff, support training on tools, compensation, and access support (childcare, transportation)
  • Let disinvested communities lead the discussion, give them a platform
  • Understand tribal governance structures – remember that these are governments and treat them with respect 
  • Ask how disinvested groups want to be engaged
  • Cultural, linguistic, and geographical access
  • Provide pathways to legality (formal organizations, land ownership, etc)
  • Create opportunities for disinvested populations to explore outdoor spaces 
  • Provide money and land
  • Recognize traditional practices, food sources
  • Invest in traditional storytelling that captures indigenous experience and knowledge
  • Streamline processes to enable tribes to participate 
  • Manage land according to traditional practices
CAF session participants smile and wave at camera

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