Retreat to strengthen engagement between CA's IRWM and communities

Posted by Lauren Hertel on Monday, August 11 2014

Switzer Fellows Carolina Balazs  (2009) and Mike Antos (2013) are seeking a Switzer Network Innovation grant to support their leadership developing and implementing a working retreat of key people working to strengthen engagement between California’s Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and communities facing environmental injustices.  The retreat will convene approximately 20-25 people from across California who are part of a conversation that began with seven California Department of Water Resources funded Disadvantaged Community Outreach grants.

After Mike and Carolina met at the spring 2014 Switzer training in San Francisco and discovered their shared engagement with IRWM, Carolina coordinated and both fellows presented at an environmental justice in IRWM panel at the American Water Resources Association July conference. The two fellows led a brainstorming brown-bag ad-hoc session at the conference, and the idea of the retreat surfaced as the perfect next step to advance this work.

Carolina and Mike are on the steering committee of the retreat along with three others, and will play an active role developing the content and outcomes.  The retreat has the following objectives: 1) pool the collective understanding of lessons learned from the seven DWR projects, and 2) develop joint recommendations on how the state and regional water management groups can take next steps.  This effort complements Balazs’ postdoc research that is evaluating IRWM and EJ (with colleagues at UC Davis), and Antos’ work at the Council for Watershed Health related to disadvantaged communities in greater Los Angeles.

Carolina and Mike are reaching out to the Network seeking advice about programming, fundraising, or interest in participating in some way with the event (planning, in-person, or during our writing afterwards).  We would also like to collect a mailing list of fellows who are interested to see our outcomes and future work in this field. 

The retreat is tentatively scheduled for December 3-5, 2014.

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IRWM and EJ communities retreat

Hi Mike and Carolina - this sounds like a great idea, and very much relates to my research on governance of IRWM regions. Perhaps some of my findings regarding governance structures in 19 regions across the state might be helpful in assessing options for how the IRWM process can better meet the needs of EJ communities. I imagine you've already reached out to DWR on this - it seems like this might provide a good opportunity for DWR to hear about the lessons learned through the seven pilot studies. Please keep me posted, and I'd love to participate in the retreat!

Thanks Esther!

Hi Esther, thanks for the comments. We've engaged with Melissa Sparks at DWR, who helped us secure funding to cover the facilitator. Its unclear who from DWR will be coming, and for how long, but that is an ongoing conversation. I'll bring it to the steering committee that you're interested in participating. Are any of your findings out yet such that we can share them around?

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