Prescription Fire: A Hot Topic on the ARP

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Korbi Thalhammer

While mapping social trails on the American River Parkway in Sacramento, I am often approached by curious walkers, cyclists, and other Parkway users. They’re interested in what I’m doing with my GPS and maps, and when they learn that I’m interning for the County of Sacramento, the main governing agency on the Parkway, they often have some suggestions for how the river corridor could be better cared for.

Simple solutions have also occurred to me as I’ve learned more about the problems facing the Parkway. But the more I ask about why these steps have not been taken, the more I encounter layers of complexity that exist below the surface of Parkway management issues.

A firefighter stands at the ready during a June training burn on the Parkway.

A firefighter stands at the ready during a June training burn on the Parkway.


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A Pilgrimage towards Change

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Zachary Raden

Writing my final blog, I sit staring at my computer screen in reflection. In reflection on not only the surprises I’ve had over this summer, but also the unexpected journey I’ve experienced to be here today. Graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in May, this internship has been almost an extension of Berkeley to me, and for this reason, this final blog feels very much like a farewell to my academic journey and all that it has meant to me. Continue reading

Interconnecting Systems: Education and Juvenile Justice Reform

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Gladys Rosario

Time is flying by here at the Alameda County Office of Education. It’s amazing to think that in less than a month I have been able to shadow, converse, and learn from such impactful leaders in the educational community. They have all provided vast insight into how the County functions and deepened my knowledge about educational issues such as the school-to-prison pipeline, education budgets, state education policy and much more. I’ve dipped my toes into various ongoing projects, but one I want to briefly elaborate on relates to juvenile justice reform and the education system.

Board of Ed. pic- I'm standing in the room where the monthly Board of Education meetings are held. This is where elected Board trustees discuss and vote on education policy issues, such as approving the County's annual budget.

I’m standing in the room where the monthly Board of Education meetings are held. This is where elected Board trustees discuss and vote on education policy issues, such as approving the County’s annual budget.

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A New Focus with Some New Friendships

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Zachary Raden

After my first week at the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), I was eager to start my work and excited that it was so strongly related to my Sociology major. With my initial task of researching existing literature on ‘social cohesion indicators,’ I assumed there were studies done by individual social scientists in the past, but was worried about how many studies I would actually find and how extensive they would be in application.

I sorely underestimated the amount of existing studies. Continue reading

A Formal Assessment of Informal Trails

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Korbi Thalhammer

The slim ribbon of dirt I’d been following for a quarter mile skirted the edge of a bluff, ducked under a low oak and then dipped out of sight as it followed a precipitous line down the edge of a dredge tailing. I made my way down the steep slope of rocks that had been excavated from the American River’s bed during the California Gold Rush, listening for periodic beeps from my GPS to ensure that I was indeed recording and updating my location as I traveled. At the base of the tailing, the trail wound its way around a fallen cottonwood and finally disappeared into blackberry bushes and poison oak. I turned around and clambered back up the rock pile, GPS and satellite photos in hand. At the top of the pile, I stopped to record the trail’s width and level of degradation.

As an intern at the Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks, I’ve been tasked with developing and implementing a system of mapping and categorizing informal social trails in the American River Parkway. Continue reading

A Learning Curve at the County Office of Education

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Gladys Rosario

There’s a ton to reflect on even though my internship with the Superintendent’s Office at the Alameda County of Education started less than two weeks ago. I have already met dozens of people and begun to sink my teeth into the projects that I will work on this summer. So far I feel a sense of calm urgency, and I think it’s in part fueled by my daily doses of morning coffee. Or it might be stoked by the constant planning, meetings, and conference calls that I keep seeing in motion around the office. There are many Post-It notes and tasks waiting to be accomplished and checked off the County’s to-do list. Since it is summer, that means budgets are being turned in for final review, including the budgets of the 18 school districts in Alameda County, the County Office of Education, and the State of California. Once budgets are finalized, education dollars will be allocated according to strategic plans laid out in each district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) to take care of students’ needs, especially for those most vulnerable. But as I’ve seen in federal government, education funding is tight in state and local governments as well. Despite there being more funding this year, politics still plays a huge role in ensuring the highest-need priorities are met. I am eager to witness how this plays out on the local level–where school boards and district staff will be able to make last-minute adjustments before everything is all set in stone.
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Community Leaders: The Unsung Champions for Change

Posted by Matsui Local Government Fellow
Zachary Raden

When I applied for the Matsui Local Government Fellowship, I knew from the beginning I wanted to intern for the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP). After taking a class on environmental justice the previous year, I learned about the effectiveness and specific victories WOEIP had accomplished within West Oakland. Tackling the issue of the high shipping truck traffic within residential areas and the resulting high asthma rates among residents, I was specifically impressed with how they managed to do it collaboratively with both the City of Oakland, the EPA, and the community, while ensuring the community’s decision-making and participation. However, even with this admiration, I had little knowledge of what happened on a day-to-day basis at the WOEIP. Continue reading