CivicSpark in the Time of COrona... Our Fellow Recaps Her Service Year

Picture of Carissa Bradley

Carissa Bradley

2019-2020 CivicSpark Climate Fellow

What a whirlwind of a service year it has been! When I started back in September I could never have imagined the challenges that would impact my time as a CivicSpark Fellow. A global pandemic, the ensuing recession, and the greatest civil rights movement since the 1960s. All the while dealing with the anxiety that many climate change professionals carry from the knowledge of the potential impacts our communities might face if we don’t pick up the pace of our climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. At times it has been difficult to keep up with everything happening in the world but despite these challenges I have found success in the work I have done throughout my fellowship!

When I first started working with the City of Portola, the staff wanted to focus on preparing their community for the threat of wildfire. The City is situated in a densely f

I created three guidebooks (the covers are displayed below) that will be used to educate residents and visitors about preparing their property to reduce wildfire risk, being safe with fire, and how to properly evacuate in the city if an emergency were to occur. Although COVID-19 impacted a lot of the in-person community engagement that I was hoping to complete, the City itself is in a lot better place to move forward with the materials I created through the course of my fellowship. The volunteer Fire Department and Firewise Committee in Portola are excited to use these resources to work with community members in the future!orested area with virtually only one way in and out if there were an emergency evacuation. After seeing the devastation that other similar communities, like Paradise, had gone through in recent years we knew we needed to focus on wildfire and build capacity for the City to manage this very real threat. We decided that the best course of action for my service term would be to work on educating the community by curating materials specifically for the people who live there. There are many different wildfire preparedness programs and resources throughout the area but none of them felt specific enough for Portola. It is a small community with a lot of pride and deserves to have some resources dedicated to its unique characteristics.

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My project with Nevada County started long before I came on as a Fellow. The jurisdiction had been working with Sierra Business Council for years to plan out the Energy Action Plan and my role was to kickstart implementation. My job was simple (or so I thought): recruit a diverse group of community members to form a community working group and work with the County staff to manage implementation tasks. Both parts of this have had their fair share of ups and downs, most notably COVID-19, but there have been some clear learning moments for me. I learned how to navigate local government bureaucracy, a skill I was hoping to learn through this fellowship, and I also learned how to effectively engage with the public. Both of these lessons are important for my development as a public servant and hope to take these skills to the new heights as I move forward in my career.

During my fellowship, I have had many opportunities to grow as a young professional. Whether it be in my research and analysis skills, my ability to digest complex information, or my newfound love for social media and communications, Sierra Business Council has given me the BEST experience I could have asked for while serving as a Fellow. Even though I have almost been working from home for most of the fellowship at this point, I still gained so much more than I was expecting from this organization. I have gained friendships, mentors, and most importantly, a network of climate activists that will be there throughout my career to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time. I am grateful for this opportunity and will cherish this throughout my career.

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