2023-24 Northern California Projects

[FILLED] Building Climate Action Capacity and Encouraging Active Transportation in Sacramento

Host: City of Sacramento – Public Works Department
Region: Northern California
Openings: 2
Project Focus: Climate Adaptation, Climate Mitigation, Transportation / Mobility
Skills Needed: Community Engagement, Relationship Management, Community Outreach, Graphic Design, Communication, Flexibility / Adaptability

Service Needs & Plans

The City of Sacramento’s Public Works Department (PWD) is the hub for many of the City’s efforts to implement the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) (development in progress) to reach carbon neutrality by 2045.

The Office of Climate Action and Sustainability (OCAS) coordinates across City departments and with external partners to coordinate equitable implementation of sustainability initiatives. However, engagement around the CAAP can be challenging as it is a large technical document that is not easily accessible to Sacramento residents and staff. Building relationships and community climate action capacity are key goals for OCAS; however, as a small and relatively new office, OCAS has only conducted outreach on an ad hoc basis, rather than through a strategic outreach program.

The Transportation Division is dedicated to achieving the CAAP’s ambitious goals to reduce transportation emissions by planning safe and accessible bicycle lanes, paths and sidewalks to encourage more walking and biking. The Transportation Planning Section within the Division has four staff that are working on multiple critical initiatives, including the Streets for People Plan, the 15-Minute Neighborhoods Plan, and the Transportation Demand Management ordinance update. While these planning documents are an important foundation for securing grants to build these improvements, it is challenging to meaningfully engage all of Sacramento’s diverse neighborhoods.

Project Description

The CivicSpark Fellows selected by the Public Works Department will work together closely, but will focus projects within either OCAS or the Transportation Planning Section:

OCAS Fellow:
• The OCAS Fellow will develop a monthly Climate “Lunch and Learn” and/or “Office Hours” engagement campaign to build relationships with the City’s Community Ambassadors, Youth Commissioners, community groups, neighborhood associations, business groups, and more. Topics will include the City’s CAAP, the Existing Building Electrification Strategy, the Urban Forest Plan, the Streets for People Plan, and other ongoing initiatives. All transportation related topics will involve collaboration with the Transportation Planning Fellow. The goal of this engagement campaign is to connect with community members in an equitable and in-depth way to support a deeper understanding of City and individual climate action. Additionally, this new engagement campaign will form the basis for a strategic and impactful outreach program for OCAS by testing formats and templates for these events, as well as building the community relationships and trust that are central to effective climate action. Bilingual capabilities are desired to support more accessible and inclusive engagement.

The development of this campaign may also involve kicking off an internal City staff “Sustainability Learning Cohort” around the same topics. This Learning Cohort would bring staff together with the goal of demonstrating how all City staff play a role in climate action, including those that do not explicitly have sustainability within their job descriptions.

• The Fellow will also support the OCAS team in developing and refining tools (e.g., data dashboards, StoryMaps, or other data visualizations) to communicate the emissions, goals, strategies, and progress of the CAAP. These tools will be shared with staff and through the Lunch and Learn events in order to iterate on the tools and incorporate lessons learned about effective climate messaging in Sacramento.

Transportation Planning Fellow:
• The Transportation Planning Fellow will support the community outreach and partner engagement efforts for the Streets for People Plan, the 15-Minute Neighborhoods Plan, and the Transportation Demand Management ordinance update. These efforts may include in-person outreach at City events, as well as supporting virtual outreach through social media, newsletters, and more. Outreach efforts will also include collaborating with the OCAS Fellow to implement transportation-focused “Lunch and Learn” and “Office Hour” events. Bilingual capabilities are desired to support more accessible and inclusive engagement.

• The Fellow will develop an internal transportation messaging and engagement campaign to encourage City staff to choose active modes of transportation. This may include educational tips about how to use transit and how to plan a bicycle route to work, in addition to resources and incentives that are available from the regional Transportation Management Agency (TMA). The engagement efforts will include in-person activities (e.g., bike rides, walk audits) or events, in coordination with any “Sustainability Learning Cohort” efforts.

• The Fellow will also support the Transportation Planning Section with data analysis related to counts/volumes, crashes, demographics, etc. to help understand and communicate transportation needs and issues. This may include geographic information system (GIS) or similar analysis that is presented in data dashboards, StoryMaps, or other data visualizations.

Desired Skills

The ideal Fellows will enjoy organizing and implementing outreach and educational events, have an ability to “translate” climate action and transportation topics into accessible and actionable information, and be able to work effectively individually or as part of a team. Fellows should have strong communication skills (verbal and written, including social media skills), outreach and engagement experience, and project management skills. Bilingual capabilities are desired to support more accessible and inclusive engagement.

Organization & Community Highlights

Home to 500,000 residents and known as the City of Trees, the City of Sacramento has a long-standing commitment to foster sustainability in government operations and community activities. The Fellows will work within the Public Works Department. The Office of Climate Action and Sustainability (OCAS) – a two-person team within the Public Works Department – will host one Fellow who will collaborate extensively with other staff across the City (e.g., within Public Works, the Community Development Department, and the Department of Utilities). The Transportation Planning Section – a team of four within the Public Works Transportation Division – will host one Fellow focused on transportation planning outreach, both with City staff and the broader community. Both OCAS and the Transportation Planning Section include CivicSpark alumni! With this understanding of the fellowship, we support Fellows in pursuing career and personal development opportunities and will encourage this networking throughout the fellowship.

Remote or On-Site Placement


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