Level Up Audio Project

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IX produced the Level Up Audio Project to support local conversations about hazard risk and resilience, empower communities to advance resilience, strengthen a network of hazard mitigation and climate adaptation professionals, and inspire action. The Georgetown Climate Center is partnering with FEMA Region IX to make the series of audio stories available. This collaboration grew out of the natural connections between FEMA’s mission to reduce impacts of disasters, and the Georgetown Climate Center’s work to help state and local leaders make their communities more resilient to changes in the climate that exacerbate disaster impacts. Level Up’s episodes discuss themes including climate change, equity and social resilience, hazard mitigation, ecosystems and natural resilience, funding, and more.

Storytelling works better than facts alone when motivating people to act. Stories allow people to form an emotional connection, to learn from other communities’ challenges and solutions, and to wonder, “how could this work in my community?,” and to learn from other communities’ challenges and solutions. The Level Up series features 10- to 15-minute conversations with individuals on the United States’ West Coast who are making hazard mitigation planning and action a priority in communities. Tune in to hear how:

  • An immigrants’ rights organization in California made sure all members of the community were able to rebuild following the Thomas Fire;
  • The City of Santa Cruz integrated climate adaptation and hazard mitigation planning processes to ensure more coordinated implementation;
  • The City of Tehama stacked various funding sources to elevate homes and protect the community from floods; and more.

Level Up Episodes

There are currently five Level Up episodes, each 10-15 minutes long.

  1. Resilience and Environmental Justice: CAUSE - Hazard mitigation efforts often focus on property and infrastructure, but every community’s most important resource is its people. Lucas Zucker, the policy and communications director for the California-based organization Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, or CAUSE, talks about ways communities can support low-income and immigrant populations before, during, and after hazard events. Themes: Climate change; disadvantaged communities, equity, and social resilience; mitigation planning
  2. Integrated Resilience Planning: City of Santa Cruz - Most communities develop numerous planning documents to guide growth and development. These plans are often created and adopted in standalone processes, leading to fragmented implementation. Tiffany Wise West, the Sustainability and Climate Action Manager for the City of Santa Cruz, California, managed to avoid that trap and developed a Climate Adaptation Plan in conjunction with the city’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. In this episode, she discusses the benefits and challenges of the plan integration process. Themes: climate change; disadvantaged communities, equity, and social resilience; flooding; mitigation planning; urban; wildfire
  3. Funding Strategies for Community Resilience: City of Tehama - When you ask emergency managers and city planners what they need to make their community more resilient to disaster, most have the same answer: money. Federal and state grants can help finance projects, but the requirements can be labor intensive and often require a financial match from the community. Carolyn Steffan from the City of Tehama in California stitched together funding from multiple sources—federal and state—to protect residents from flooding by elevating 39 homes in her city. Tune in to learn how she did it! Themes: disadvantaged communities, equity, and social resilience; flooding; mitigation planning; rural
  4. Flood Mitigation and Streambed Permitting: Solano County Water Agency - Streambeds are vital ecosystems that can both serve and threaten the communities they run through. Because of the sensitivity of the ecosystems and the potential for increased flooding, stream work requires permits. Securing permits can be time consuming and costly. In this episode, Roland Sanford from the Solano County Water Agency in California shares how his agency works with local landowners to provide microgrants for flood mitigation work and technical assistance to aid in the process to secure permits. Themes: disadvantaged communities, equity, and social resilience; ecosystems and natural resilience; flooding; rural
  5. Wildfire Risk and Community Outreach: Butte County - In Butte County, California, much of the natural fuel that allows wildfires to spread is found on private property. Communities must approve, and landowners need to agree, to remove brush from these lands and reduce wildfire risk. This is not unusual—many types of hazard mitigation work involve private property. In this episode, Calli-Jane DeAnda from the Butte County Fire Safe Council speaks about her experience with community outreach and protecting communities and infrastructure from wildfire. Themes: ecosystems and natural resilience; rural; wildfire

The Level Up Audio Project can be accessed on the Georgetown Climate Center webpage and via podcast distributors like Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. If you have topics to suggest for future episodes or would like to get involved, please contact FEMA Region IX (fema-r9-mitigation-planning@fema.dhs.gov) or GCC (climate@georgetown.edu).

Publication Date: May 27, 2020

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