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Tucson Climate Project

Luis Perales | Nick Spinelli

 

1,100

Emails

Sent

101

Interviews

Completed

596

Hours

Invested

11

Podcasts

Recorded

148

Individuals

Contacted

65

Groups

Involved

108,399

Words Logged

In Notes

71%

Participant

Referral Rate

Guidebook

Welcome to the Tucson Climate Project Guidebook, which provides an overview of the project, it's partners and leadership, as well as the questions, information, and data gathered so far.

Below, you'll find an interactive table of contents that can direct you to where you'd like to go.

Provides a simple summary about the project, it's purpose, and who's behind it all.

The backstory of why the project exists, and what it does.

An explanation of the process TCP uses when collecting and analyzing data.

Take a look at where the project started, how it got where it is, and the future.

See who's helping the project succeed, and the organizations involved.

Get to know the founders, and current leadership of the project.

Curious about something? The project FAQs can help with that.

This is an area dedicated to general questions about the project.

This is an area reserved for questions about the Tucson Climate Chats podcast.

This is an area for questions about how TCP gathers and uses data.

Here you'll find up-to-date information about the project, straight from the source.

 

Project Summary

What is the Tucson Climate Project?

The Tucson Climate Project (#TCP) is a needs assessment and network analysis of the environmental community in southern Arizona. 

 

What is TCP's purpose?

We're interviewing community members to learn more about their work and the relationships they've built with others. We'll use that data to create a map of how the environmental community is connected. 

 

What questions is TCP asking?

What work is being done? (And where?)

What efforts are being duplicated? (Where are the gaps?)

Who has been included? (Who has been left out?)

How can our work be better coordinated? (And more impactful?)

 

What is TCP's goal?

In Spring 2021, we'll publish our first report. Our goal is to develop a standardized, region-wide model for reporting on environmental work. The resulting entity could include funding to support networking and collaboration between community members. TCP itself will continue to evolve as needed, whether it remains an extension of Changemaker High School or becomes something else entirely...

 

Who is behind TCP?

TCP was created by Changemaker High School CEO Luis Perales and is currently managed by AmeriCorps VISTA member Nick Spinelli.

 

Purpose

The Tucson Climate Project was born out of curiosity. Tucson itself is said to be the "City of 10,000" nonprofits. Regardless of the actual number, many organizations are headquartered here, with many of them focusing on the environment. With so much work happening, we found ourselves wondering how the environmental community is connected. What would a map of all those networks look like? (Perhaps a web? Or maybe a series of concentric circles?) That wondering, in turn, led to a hunch -- there is a disconnect between environmental work happening in different sectors. Whether discussing local government, universities, nonprofits, or grassroots efforts, true collaboration and connection seemed like something worth measuring. So, with a seed of an idea, we set out to see what we'd find. TCP was the result.

 

At its core, TCP is a needs assessment and network analysis. What we're doing, through interviewing community members and mapping their networks, is gathering qualitative data to test our hypothesis. What we're also testing is the existence of the Project itself. We're asking community members to be honest about our efforts. What is the value in a third-party entity that documents and reports on work in the community? If all goes according to plan, we're envisioning a multi-year initiative in which our Spring 2021 report will be the first step. We'll report on our findings then, along with recommendations for action. The moment when we hold up a mirror to the environmental community and ask "What do you see?" will be the moment when the future direction of TCP comes into focus. We need to find the gaps and fill them. Where those gaps are, and what filling them will require, is what we are addressing.

 

People often ask us, "What is TCP's focus?" Ostensibly, climate justice and resiliency are at the heart of everything we're doing. However, we also see 'climate' as referring to the environment in which we are living, working, connecting, and collaborating. This reflects an understanding emerging in the environmental movement itself -- that we must meet people's basic needs before we can engage the necessary work. In that sense, social justice is as high a priority for us as any environmental issue is. We're documenting the work that is happening here in southern Arizona, yes -- and -- we're also identifying those left out. From planning to implementation to impact, those involved in environmental work are often wealthy, white, and middle-aged. Speaking that particular truth isn't an issue as much as it once might have been, but the hard work remains to build a movement that looks more like the people involved. Of course, the catch is that we're all involved. The crises we're facing are global, even if their impacts are disproportionate. So, how do we get roses to grow, even on concrete?

 

IN SUMMARY: The purpose of this Guidebook is to outline what TCP is, as well as where we're going, in our first year of activity. We've logged over 100 interviews with community members and are working hard to generate our first report, which will be available in Spring 2021.

 

Methodology

Note that 'methodology' refers to the process TCP is using to collect data for our first report. It's not an overview of where the Project might go in the future. Below you'll find nuts-and-bolts insights into what we're doing now, which has kept us quite busy...

 

The voluntary nature of TCP was an intentional part of the Project's design. On the one hand, we aren't compensating participants for their time because we can't. We simply don't have the money. On the other hand, the Project has no budget, which, in turn, means we face no constraints to our activities. We can do whatever we want, whenever we want, however we like. (No strings attached!) This affords TCP excellent flexibility to grow, evolve, and change in the ways that are ultimately most desired by the community. It also means that participation in the Project has not been incentivized, which may prove relevant when analyzing our findings. Compensating participants for their time and financially supporting networking between professionals is an interest TCP has for the future. It's just not one we're ready to implement.

 

As for how we're engaging the community, snowball outreach has proved ideal. It's as simple as it sounds -- starting with one person and letting them lead you to another, and another, and another. By doing this, we haven't had to cold-call anyone. It's also proved invaluable in facilitating our network analysis, as we can clearly connect the dots between every participant we've worked with. Selecting new contacts hasn't been an issue either because, generally speaking, every name referred to us has been relevant enough to be contacted. At first, we were (admittedly) focusing explicitly on environmental work at the nonprofit and grassroots levels. This proved adequate, at least for a time, but we soon realized that including perspectives from agencies, universities, and even the for-profit sector would ultimately support a more accurate analysis. The geographic scope of TCP is southern Arizona, although we have connected with individuals as far north as Flagstaff, as far east as New Mexico, and as far south as Hermosillo when it has been appropriate to do so.

 

Finally, we should comment on how we're gathering data. Interviews, of course, fulfill a practical function in that they allow us to ask questions and compile information, but we prefer that format (as opposed to others) because it allows us to build relationships. Nothing about TCP is meant to be transactional. If we connect with someone, we see that as a commitment to learn more about how we could potentially support them. The interview process itself is straightforward, at least for first-timers. We begin with the same two questions, then lead into an open-ended discussion about participants' work, life experiences (as they relate to environmental issues), and what successes or challenges they have experienced recently. These are recorded in notes made available for review afterward. You can find much more information about participants' data and how we intend to use it in our first report under the Project FAQs section below.

 

Timeline

Month
Sponsor
Phase
Activity
Status
JULY
VISTA
1
Data Collection [begins]
Complete
AUGUST
VISTA
1
Data Collection
Complete
SEPTEMBER
VISTA
1
Data Collection
Complete
OCTOBER
VISTA
1
Data Collection
Complete
NOVEMBER
VISTA
1
Data Collection
Complete
DECEMBER
VISTA
1
Data Collection
Complete
JANUARY
VISTA
1
Data Collection
In Progress
FEBRUARY
VISTA
1
Data Collection [ends]
In Progress
MARCH
VISTA
2
Report Generation
Not Started
APRIL
VISTA
2
Report Generation [and release]
Not Started
MAY
VISTA
3
Scaling for Project Year 2
Not Started
JUNE
VISTA
3
Scaling for Project Year 2
Not Started
JULY
VISTA
3
Scaling for Project Year 2
Not Started
 

Project Partners

Five different partners were involved in the creation of TCP:

AMERICORPS | Although the modern version of AmeriCorps came into being in 1994, during the Clinton Administration, its origins date back to the 1960s and President Lyndon Johnson's so-called 'war on poverty.' Even after rebranding in late 2020, AmeriCorps -- at its heart -- remains a federal program dedicated to fighting poverty through direct service as well as capacity building at the organizational level. Though there have historically been different subsets of AmeriCorps, including VISTA, State and National, SeniorCore and NCCC, most positions last for one year. They include a sponsoring organization as well as a host site. AmeriCorps members themselves come from all walks of life and choose to serve for a variety of different reasons. 

  • Nick himself is an AmeriCorps VISTA, or 'Volunteer in Service to America.' His position lasts for one year and focuses on capacity building. Benefits for his VISTA position are also standard, including a $13,399.15 living stipend for the year (before taxes, distributed bi-weekly) as well as limited healthcare benefits.

  • Nick is also considered a federal employee and is required, by law, to comply with the Hatch Act while in VISTA service. From the Office of U.S. Special Council: "The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.​​​​​" This includes restrictions on expressing opinions about political candidates, parties and issues while at work.

 

ARIZONA SERVE | A program of Prescott College and the sponsoring organization for Nick's VISTA position. Arizona Serve's mission is to "[connect] passionate people with transformative community projects to fight poverty." Their AmeriCorps program is one of the largest in the state of Arizona, with "over 200 [...] members with over 50 organizations that have challenging and engaging anti-poverty projects." Arizona Serve originally started in Yavapai County in 2009 and expanded to Pima County in 2013. Nick is a member of a larger cohort of VISTA members totaling about 15 individuals.

 

PRESCOTT COLLEGE | A small college founded in the town of the same name in central Arizona that focuses on justice, liberal arts and the environment. Though the College itself isn't directly supporting TCP, many of their partners (listed here) are.

 

CHANGEMAKER HIGH SCHOOL | Serving students on Tucson's south side, CMHS is unique in many aspects. They "are the first high school in the U.S. to partner with the Ashoka Youth Venture network to integrate social innovations and entrepreneurship across the curriculum to create a changemaker campus." Their curriculum also places a strong emphasis on environmental justice and community development. Many of their teachers work for other, local environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club (Grand Canyon Chapter) and the Arizona Master Naturalist Association. CHMS are also the host site for Nick's VISTA position.

 

TUCSON PK20 CHANGEMAKER CAMPUS | From the website: "Mexicayotl Academy of Excellence, Changemaker High School, and Prescott College have embarked on a joint venture to create an all-inclusive changemaker K-20 partnership in Tucson, Arizona focused on weaving primary, secondary, and higher education into an all-inclusive model that will create the next generation of dual language, social innovators and solution seekers." TCP is both an outgrowth of (and directly supports) the PK20 Campus' vision for community engagement and mobilization in South Tucson.

 

Project Leadership

Luis Perales

CEO, Changemaker High School

Luis created the Tucson Climate Project in addition to many other community programs.