From September 3-7th, CivicSpark’s newest cohort of Fellows came together for four days in Coloma, CA for Orientation. CivicSpark and Local Government Commission staff and statewide experts in climate and energy, healthy community design, water, and racial equity provided context for Fellows starting out their year. This year’s cohort of 90 Fellows are serving local and state agencies on climate, water, opportunity access and resilience projects across California. You can learn more about our Fellows and Partners on our website soon!

Thank you to all of our speakers, partners, staff and Fellows for making Orientation a success! We are grateful for accommodations at Coloma Resort – there is nothing like cooling off in the American River in between sessions.

Help Us Spread the Word!

Share the CivicSpark opportunity with anyone interested in helping create sustainable and resilient communities! They can learn more clicking the link below.

Fellow Spotlights

Question of the Month“After attending Orientation, what is one thing you are looking forward to as a CivicSpark Fellow?”

Laima Díaz Vepstas | NorthBay Region
“The thing that I am looking forward to the most as a CivicSpark fellow is knowing that I will be involved in the issues that I care about the most, as this program has given me the opportunity to align my daily actions with my most fundamental values.”
Before moving to the United States, Laima spent most of her childhood and teenage years in Spain, occasionally visiting family in Chicago during summer vacations. After graduating from high school, she decided to make New Mexico her new home and the place to continue her studies. In May of this year, she obtained her B.A., with a double major in International Studies focusing on Environment and Sustainability, and Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She is thrilled to be serving the community through CivicSpark and to be able to advance sustainable initiatives at a local level while gaining valuable experience on issues she is passionate about.

Michelle Geldin | Central Coast Region
“Orientation provided a foundation of enthusiasm and eagerness for the projects that lay ahead this year. In addition to my excitement for enacting positive environmental change within my own project, I am looking forward to connecting and collaborating with like-minded fellows and coworkers since there is so much we can learn and grow from with each other!”
Originally from Oak Park, California, Michelle Geldin attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she graduated in 2019 with B.A. degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography. In the last couple years of her studies, Michelle gained a fascination for the realm of sustainable waste management. She is incredibly excited to be participating in the CivicSpark fellowship and hopes to gain a better understanding of climate work in a local government setting while applying her knowledge and passion towards projects that will create tangible and positive change.

Meet Panchal | San Diego Region
“The one thing I look forward to as a CivicSpark fellow is to be able to hone my learnings and be able to give back to the community. My goal as a fellow is to build stronger communities and make them resilient to climate/environmental change.”

Originally from India, Meet lived in Mumbai for 22 years before coming to California. He graduated with a Masters Degree called M.A in Social Work in Livelihoods and Social entrepreneurship. Seeing the rural community’s livelihood being vulnerable due to climate change, he was engrossed to make them resilient. Most recently he did fieldwork with three Indian Reservations as an EnergyCrop member with a Non-profit based in Havre, Montana, for Montana’s National Center for Appropriate Technology, Energy Corps AmeriCorps program, which provides energy conservation assistance for low-income communities. Prior to that in India, he did academic fieldwork in social science projects related to livelihood assessment and economic and environmental justice, including water equity projects. Meet joined CivicSpark to understand a community facing water issues in rural California while doing hands-on learning of the Water-Land use nexus.

State Corner

From Annie Carroll
Congratulations , CivicSpark Fellows of 2019-2020, for beginning your service year! Thank you for spending this year dedicating yourselves to building local capacity and addressing some of the most daunting facing our state. We would like to serve as a resource to you in you have any questions about OPR, please reach out to me at

Help us out!
OPR is currently conducting a 5 minute survey to help us understand how local jurisdictions are complying with SB 379, which requires an update of a safety element to address climate adaptation and resiliency strategies. The survey will inform a report to that will help us better understand how to assist jurisdictions to comply with this planning law. Take the survey here!

Upcoming Events

October 22-24, 2019 | Oakland, CA

Fast-changing technologies and growing global risks are forcing companies and cities to become more adaptive, and business models to evolve and diversify. It’s a challenging time, but it’s also a time of unprecedented opportunity to create a clean economy that increases economic and community resilience — equitably and inclusively.
VERGE 19 conference and expo is a platform to convene a diverse and influential audience — including leaders from companies and utilities, city and regional governments, policymakers, NGOs, solution providers and startups — and to address systemic challenges by elevating scalable, cross-cutting solutions at the intersection of technology and sustainability.
Aiming to empower the next generation of sustainable leaders and amplify diverse voices in the sustainability field, CivicSpark partnered with VERGE to award 10 CivicSpark Leaders an all-access pass to the conference, along with special opportunities at the event exclusive to CivicSpark.
Find out more about the conference here!