When funders arrived in Sacramento earlier this month for the 2019 Funder Summit, it was equal parts overwhelming and spot-on to tackle climate, housing, wildfire, and water together.
In fact, the word “intersectionality” came up time and again throughout our two days of site visits, speakers, and strategy sessions. Now more than ever, funders see working across issue areas as paramount to forwarding the solutions needed at this defining moment for California.
Dozens of policies will determine our state’s future, which is why our discussions with elected and agency officials, as well as legislative experts, went deep on the details.
And the devil is certainly in the details, as there is a huge gap in terms of bringing many great policies (like SB 375, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, SB 1000, and many more; check out our list) to life on the ground.
As Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board aptly put it, “The ideas are out there… the challenge is to put them into action at the state, regional, and local levels.”
Funders will play an essential role in ensuring this happens by connecting the opportunities, partners, and issues in new ways. And of course funders can help ensure that policies embed equity as they are realized in specific programs and in how they impact regional economies. In the words of our closing speaker Dr. Manuel Pastor, “Equity needs to be baked in, not sprinkled on.”
Finally, what a week to be in Sacramento! We got to discuss Governor Newsom’s State of the State address in real time, plus congratulate two of our speakers on appointments by the governor: Joaquin Esquivel was appointed as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board and Mayor Darrell Steinberg was tapped to lead a new state commission on homelessness.
Without a doubt, these are challenging times on so many fronts in California. As Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said, “For too long, we haven’t been thinking about the long-term implications of growth. We want to be able to look back 150 years from now and know we made the right decisions.”
That’s why Smart Growth California exists, and we will continue to create a space for funders to align and take action to build a California that is healthy, equitable, and sustainable. So much energy and so many ideas came out of the interactive breakout sessions at the Funder Summit; we will bring even more of this to our future webinars, workgroups, and more!
Thank you to everyone who was part of the 2019 Funder Summit. A special thanks to our incredible Funder Summit planning committee: Kaying Hang, Sierra Health Foundation; Corey Brown, Resources Legacy Fund; Mark Valentine, ReFrame It Consulting; and Joya Banerjee, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.