Community-Led Resilience Planning in the Nine-County Bay Area

RCI Training PhotosThe Bay Area Resilient Communities Initiative (RCI) is creating a national model of resilience planning led by the local communities most impacted by climate change.

As a coalition of eleven of the region’s leading social justice groups, the RCI brings deep grassroots leadership and expertise to community planning. We aim to fundamentally shift the relationship between communities of color and planners to one of mutual respect and partnership, to keep all residents of the Bay Area safe in the face of climate change. We advocate for just transition solutions based on both human rights in our communities and the needs of the planet.

The RCI Model and Toolkit

The Resilient Communities Initiative has developed a powerful and replicable model for community-driven resilience planning based on partnerships with public agencies. The coalition piloted its Regional Resilience Leadership Academy in 2016 with a cohort of more than 200 leaders around the Bay Area. In this pilot stage we created a set of tools to replicate our model:

1. Train grassroots leaders from disadvantaged communities to advocate for resilience policies based in social justice.

The RCI commissioned local member organizations to organize four full-day grassroots trainings around the Bay Area. Coalition members came together to share the rich compendium of training tools developed by our member organizations, and agreed on points each training should cover. Member organizations were free to cover those points in ways most culturally appropriate for their members, drawing from the RCI Grassroots Resilience Training Curricula.

2. Train agency staff in best practices in partnering with community groups.

The RCI brought together than 110 staff representing 90 local, regional, state, and federal agencies working on climate resilience policies in a full-day training covering key RCI equity tools including:

  • The RCI Equity Checklist, a brief one-page checklist for planners and funders to ensure the leadership of disadvantaged communities in projects that impact them
  • Sample Partnering Agreement, developed by the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and USEPA to clean up the air in West Oakland, and used as a national model

The RCI fine-tuned our Agency Training Agenda by organizing an additional full-day workshop at the California Adaptation Forum.

3. Bring graduates of both trainings together to engage in in-depth policy workshops on key climate resilience challenges, and identify concrete steps on how to work together on them.

In 2016 the RCI co-organized two major policy workshops together with the following agencies:

Flooding, Sea Level Rise and Justice with the California Coastal Conservancy and Bay Conservation Development District

Social Justice in Climate Change Adaptation: Beyond Sea Level Rise with the Governor’s’ Office of Planning and Research and the California Department of Public Health

Each workshop produced an exciting set of opportunities for increasing grassroots community leadership and/or increasing resilience funds to disadvantaged communities. In 2017 the RCI will focus as a coalition on implementing two of these policy ideas that are most exciting to its members. Individual RCI members are will also likely follow up on other opportunities that further their mission.

RCI Coalition Structure, Decision Making, and Members

The RCI is run as a democratic coalition hosted at Rooted in Resilience. Major decisions are made by two-thirds votes of its steering committee, which is made up of member organizations elected by all coalition members each year to ensure accountability. The current steering committee consists of five diverse organizations that collectively organize in African American, Latino, Asian, immigrant, environmental justice, low-income, and at-risk youth communities. Eighty percent of the current steering committee representatives are people of color. Coalition agreements define roles, responsibilities, and decision making procedures.

Resilient Communities Initiative Members

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)

* Rooted in Resilience (host organization and coordinator, formerly Bay Localize)

Breakthrough Communities

Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project

* North Bay Organizing Project

* ShoreUp Marin

West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project

Youth United for Community Action (YUCA)

Thank you to the Kresge and The San Francisco Foundations for generous financial support of the RCI.  Contact: Phoenix Armenta at Rooted in Resilience (formerly Bay Localize): phoenix@rootedinresilience.org.