We Hosted a Famous Former Girl Scout (Mayor Libby Schaaf) at the Corps

On a recent rainy Thursday morning, a crew of Corpsmembers working at MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline Park welcomed a special visitor.  Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stopped by! She chatted with East Bay Regional Park District staff, Civicorps Supervisors and Corpsmembers, observed their project site, and imparted a little wisdom.

The famously Oakland-born-and-raised Mayor asked questions about our work (fuel load reduction and brush clearing), commented on the importance of wildfire mitigation (last week marked the 30th anniversary of the Oakland Hills Fire, which destroyed 3,400 homes including her father’s) and welcomed questions in turn.  One Corpsmember asked her how she got her start in politics (through volunteering and community service, said the former Girl Scout and AmeriCorps Project YES alum). Another asked her a surprising (albeit very important) personal question: does she get enough sleep? The answer: no, but the Mayor took the opportunity posed by this query to discuss the virtues of self-care.

Women Who Wield Chainsaws

We were proud to introduce the Mayor to our fabulous Conservation Supervisors Jeff Chilcott and Ryan Waters, and to our amazing Corpsmembers: Crew Leader Anthony Silva, Dennis Turner, Erica Bradley and Josiah Crochet. Mayor Schaaf was especially impressed with the women on the crew, Crew Leader Martha Alva Velasquez and Nicole Smith, both of whom flexxed their chainsaw skills (the Mayor wanted to be sure she stood next to a chainsaw-wielding woman in the group photo!)  And we were very happy to demonstrate the conservation work we do to keep Oakland safe and beautiful. In fact, we work around the greater East Bay to engage young people through paid job training on critical conservation projects.

Mayor Schaaf, we welcome you to visit any of our projects anytime (though we can’t let you use a chainsaw without proper training and PPE.)  See you at the next project site!

Want to continue reading about what our Corpsmembers are up to? We’ll be thrilled to share. Add your name to our list here.

 

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Thoughts on Justice for our Black Communities

by Tessa Nicholas, Executive Director

In solidarity, we want to add our voice to the many speaking out against police brutality and the systemic oppression impacting our communities of color. As we all deal with the reality of yet another Black man (#GeorgeFloyd) and woman (#BreonnaTaylor) being killed at the hands of police we all must take pause. We must all recognize the injustice and the long history of racism that creates the current dynamics and makes it nearly impossible for Black communities to navigate their daily lives, let alone achieve their dreams. There is power in acknowledging the work that needs to be done at all levels to address the inequity around us.

At Civicorps, we are committed to our mission of uplifting young people and providing them with the skills and networks needed to reach their college and career goals. We provide the safe place and holistic services to help youth heal from trauma, build upon their positive assets and resilience, and pursue to their dreams. Our work is rooted in the belief that education and workforce development are powerful tools to promote racial and economic equity. Therefore, we are also committed to looking at our internal processes and culture in order to move the dial on diversity, equity, and inclusion, while creating space for our staff to educate themselves so that we can work both inter- and intra-personally to combat racism and racist practices.

It is my hope that our partners, funders, friends, and family will join with us to speak out against injustice and continue to find ways to support and protect communities in need. The journey toward equity is not easy or quick, we must be ready to take big and uncomfortable steps forward. I know that together we can achieve great things, and that all of us will benefit as our communities of color are provided the resources, opportunities, and safety they have been deprived of for far too long.

To our Black partners and colleagues, we see you, we hear you, and your lives and dreams matter.

Some useful resources:

California Education leaders speak out against racism

5 Ways to Show Up for Racial Justice Today

President Barack Obama on How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

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Community Meeting - May 31st

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Community Meeting - May 24th

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Community Meeting - May 10th

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Community Meeting - May 3rd

Community Meetings bring together students from our entire program to hear from powerful community speakers, to receive awards, and to share projects and program highlights. It’s a joyful celebration of the success that our students achieve each week.

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