CivicSpark Fellowship

Environmental Voices to Accelerate Housing Production as a Climate Change Strategy

Host: Greenbelt Alliance
Region: Bay Area
Openings: 1
Project Focus: Affordable Housing, Climate Adaptation, Climate Mitigation, Urban Planning, Water Policy
Skills Needed: Research, Stakeholder Engagement, Flexibility/Adaptability

Learn more about CivicSpark here.

Service Needs & Plans

Greenbelt Alliance is an environmental nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area and our mission is to educate, advocate, and collaborate to make the Bay Area’s lands and communities more resilient to a changing climate. We leverage our expertise in land-use policy advocacy and regional collaboration to realize a climate-resilient Bay Area. We do this by publishing original research and creating tools that guide local planners and advocates on climate adaptation issues. 

As the Bay Area grapples with how to handle multiple climate risks, Greenbelt Alliance is delivering data-driven research to prioritize nature-based resilience where it’s most needed. We are analyzing the Bay Area’s highest climate risk areas, as well as areas that provide the most climate resilience benefits, and identifying where these “hotspots” can help communities most in need. If protected, these hotspots will provide a multitude of benefits to vulnerable communities, ecosystems and critical species, vital infrastructure systems, and local economies.

Remote or On-Site Placement

Our office is remote but we have occasional in person meetings taking COVID precautions (usually outdoors). This could vary based on new COVID situations but will never have to go into an office every day. As city council meetings begin to go back to in person, there may be an occasional need for in person meetings.

Project Description

Greenbelt Alliance is producing a first-ever Bay Area Resilience Hotspots analysis as a tangible resource and near-term action agenda for where governments and investors should focus their resources to reduce climate risks through nature-based solutions. This Bay Area Resilience Hotspots effort is filling a current void in information by taking into account multiple climate hazards, the location of vulnerable populations, and the optimal land-use policy solutions that reap multiple benefits to communities, the government, and the environment.  This mapping product builds off our Bay Area At Risk Report (2017) to produce a composite layer that highlights areas where climate risks overlap with social vulnerability, sprawl risk, and essential unprotected open space.

In Fall 2021, Greenbelt Alliance launched our Resilience Playbook which provides guidance to transform our existing systems through policy and planning recommendations, template language, and innovative example ordinances that local decision makers and community leaders can use to accelerate their adaptation to multiple climate risks. We view resilience holistically and throughout the Playbook, we address critical issues of housing justice, accessibility, and affordability to prioritize the resilience of the most vulnerable communities. We believe a critical role of Greenbelt Alliance is building connections across environmental, climate, and housing supporters and educating stakeholders to understand and advocate for shared goals.

The next phase of Greenbelt Alliance’s Hotspots work will dig deeper into the unique characteristics — both physical and social — that define our Areas of Opportunity. To do this, we will develop typologies that will allow for targeted, nature-based, and collaborative planning and policy interventions. This next phase of work will include initial data analysis, followed by extensive community engagement and partnership, and will conclude with an interactive map showcasing the Bay Area Resilience Hotspots accompanied by Community Profiles co-produced with community partners.  A Community Profile will be produced for each hotspot location to lift up existing efforts, highlight risks and opportunities, and illuminate paths towards building resilience through risk reduction and improved adaptive capacity.

Project Goals
  1. Use the Resilience Playbook framework to educate local residents on housing and climate policies that will meet community needs for more housing choices while reducing emissions and building resilience. This effort will build on the Hotspots outreach and Housing Element educational efforts already underway by Greenbelt Alliance in priority communities.
    1. Fellow Actions: The Fellow will conduct research and develop communication materials to highlight the need for more climate resilient housing in Greenbelt priority communities across the Bay Area and the environmental benefits of producing that housing. Working with other Greenbelt staff members, the Fellow will help facilitate 2 policy trainings related to climate-smart housing policies.
    2. Fellow Outcomes: Policy platform updates to the digital Resilience Playbook to reflect additional housing and environmental policy guidance
  2. Resilience Hotspots Community Profiles: Produce research on specific hotspots to inform our data-driven decision making along with public participation with a true diversity of voices can increase the likelihood of equitable outcomes.   These hotspots are areas which are already at the greatest risk of climate hazards, and they are also areas with opportunities to increase equitable access to green spaces and serve as natural solutions that help our most vulnerable communities prepare for and respond to climate change. Better understanding our areas at greatest risk, and also those natural areas we need to protect the most to protect ourselves from climate change, is how the Bay Area will build climate resilience.
    1. Fellow Actions: Produce 3-5 resilience hotspots community profiles. This will involve interviews with city staff, environmental justice, native american community leaders and other community stakeholders. They will also review existing data and produce recommendations based on existing research and mapping. They will work in tandem with other greenbelt staff working on this initiative.
    2. Fellow Outcomes: A large network of open space, equity and resilience advocates who have identified open space preservation needs and climate impacts throughout the region to inform policy recommendations.
  3. Collaborate with environmental justice and climate change, and housing advocates, as well as leaders in regional planning efforts to build a messaging platform and bring a strong environmental voice to wildfire housing protections.
    1. Fellow Actions: It’s imperative that environmental, housing and equity leaders come together with shared wildfire  and housing goals. The fellow will share wildfire and housing data with community leaders  and convene and facilitate group conversations with environmental and housing organizations and coalitions to share information, foster peer learning, and influence bold stances taken by environmental advocates for housing.

Desired Skills

We are looking for a Fellow who is passionate about researching and advocating for the right climate and housing policies for the Bay Area. We are a collaborative team and this role will have some public facing opportunities so someone with good communication and teamwork skills will be important. Someone with a basic-intermediate level of understanding of housing and climate policies, GIS mapping, and the landscape of the Bay Area would be ideal, but we are willing to train someone who is passionate about the topic(s). This project will involve research and data analysis so someone with a good attention to detail will be important.  Additionally, someone with good organizational skills and a strong work ethic will be important as we are still remote so while they will have oversight, teamwork, and guidance from staff, the work will be done independently from their home.

Learn more and apply!

Organization & Community Highlights

At Greenbelt Alliance, we believe that centering vulnerable frontline communities in policymaking is the only way that we can ensure our communities and ecosystems are resilient to a changing climate. We also know that to work on issues of climate justice externally, we must first have a strong foundation of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion internally. We have been in an internal DEI process for the last six months, creating a strong foundation organizationally to ensure that our practices reflect the environmental justice policies we care about in our work. Every department of our organization is designing their own vision for operationalizing equity in their work and partnering with consultants to do so. We believe that continuous training, transparency, and accountability are important to keep growing as an organization as well as being flexible and open to change, as our society goes through unprecedented times. Being a part of Greenbelt Alliance means working on projects that seek to remediate historic harms, reverse the injustices of redlining, and develop climate resilience in communities across the Bay Area in a way that considers structural discrimination. Because we work in all 9 counties of the Bay Area, a Civic Spark fellow will have the opportunity to engage with a number of diverse communities and ecosystems and find a common thread of how we build housing and develop our cities in a way that considers both the needs of people and nature in tandem.

Equal Employment Statement

Greenbelt Alliance is focused on making positive change in the world and supports diversity. We strongly encourage and seek applications from women, people of color, multi-lingual and -cultural individuals, as well as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Greenbelt Alliance provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.

About Greenbelt Alliance

Our efforts are more urgent than ever as we see our most vulnerable communities already suffering from the effects of a changing climate—we need to accelerate our pace of adaptation to build a resilient future. That is why Greenbelt Alliance’s mission is to educate, advocate, and collaborate to ensure the Bay Area’s lands and communities are resilient to a changing climate. We envision a region of healthy, thriving, resilient communities made up of lands and people that are safe during climate disasters and recover quickly from wildfire, floods, and drought, where everyone is living with nature in new and powerful ways for generations to come. Over Greenbelt Alliance’s six-decade history, we have stewarded this region’s beautiful natural landscapes while promoting the growth needed for thriving communities in the right places. As a result, today, almost 3.3 million acres of the Bay Area’s nine counties are protected open spaces. Learn more about our organization here

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