UCI Community Resilience Projects supports a number of community-driven academic partnerships in the Acjachemen and Tongva homelands now known as Orange County, California.
Since 2018, UCI Community Resilience Projects has focused on:
- collaborating with a youth-led investigation into lead soil levels and environmental concerns in Santa Ana, California, together with Orange County Environmental Justice (OCEJ) and Jovenes Cultivando Cambios (Youth Cultivating Change);
- collaborating with members of the CRECE Cooperativa, THRIVE Santa Ana, Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities, and Cooperacion Santa Ana who are involved in leading development of community-driven economic models in Santa Ana, California, to co-create supporting curricula for Santa Ana residents as well as university students, faculty, and staff who seek to become involved in community-driven academic partnerships there;
- co-hosting the Orange County Health Equity COVID-19 Community-Academic Partnership;
- co-producing national legal educational support to low-income communities and communities of color that are in transition from extraction-based economies to regenerative economies; and
- supporting efforts to bring together UCI faculty, post-docs, and graduate student researchers who participate in engaged environmental justice research together with various communities throughout the region and world.
We also support efforts within community-based organizations in both Santa Ana, California, and the Menominee Nation, Wisconsin, to bring people together for encuentro, a form of community exchange for mutual understanding, skills sharing, and strategic navigation. The 2018 encuentro focused on cultural strategies for a just transition. The 2019 encuentro focused on youth empowerment and activism in immigrant and Native communities.
From 2016-2018, the Regional Resilience Project (RRP) was a research and community engagement project focused on climate change impacts, social equity, vulnerabilities, and action. During 2016-2017, RRP sought to better understand the matrix of existing activities and budding opportunities to enhance equitable climate preparedness in Orange County. This work is documented, in part, in our December 2017 report on the equity profile of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund investments here. During 2017-18, RRP began collaborating with OCEJ and others to identify research and policy allies, link with existing and emerging sustainability and climate networks in Orange County, and document the multiple worlds that exist in this relatively small geographic area. Our bridge-building activities aimed to co-generate ways to address the racial and class divides between communities ready for climate justice and those just beginning climate equity-focused work. During this year, Community Resilience Projects also co-sponsored an event called Cultivating Consciousness and Environmental Justice in Acjachemen and Tongva Homelands.