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12 min read

Climate Action Week. Small Actions Drive Change.

September 16, 2021


As part of Climate Action Week from 9/20-9/25, we’re excited to be partnering with California Volunteers, Office of the Governor — the team leading the mobilization of volunteers across the state and setting a tone for state-led climate volunteer corps nationally. 

This dedicated group will be highlighting valuable resources and tools with simple actions every one of us can take to help tackle climate change. Laura Plato, Chief Solutions Officer at VolunteerMatch, sat down with Josh Fryday, Chief Service Officer for California Volunteers, to learn more about what California Volunteers is doing next week and beyond to combat this crisis. Watch the interview below or read the transcript to see why it’s important and what actions you can take now and during Climate Action Week.

3 Things To Do During Climate Action Week:

1. Take 5 actions to combat climate change during the week.

2. Explore ways to volunteer with environmental causes.

3. Share what you are doing with others on social media or in your community. Inspire others in California to do the same by including the hashtags: #CAClimateAction and #ClimateActionCorps and linking to California Volunteers on Twitter: @CalVolunteers, Facebook: @CaliforniaVolunteers, and Instagram: @californiavolunteers.



Laura Plato: Hi Everyone, I am Laura Plato, Solutions Officer for VolunteerMatch the number one volunteer engagement network on the web as we like to say, and I'm here today with Josh Friday, Chief Service Officer for California Volunteers, Office of the Governor. Josh, thank you so much for being here with us today!

Josh Fryday: Thank you! This is so fun! Appreciate it.

Laura Plato: Absolutely. You know I am so grateful that you’re here to talk with us today about a topic that I know is super important to our audience, which is climate and climate related volunteering and my gosh we've seen a lot going on in our climate lately with the fires in the West and floods and tropical storms, so I wanted to start off this morning and talk a little bit about why you care so deeply about the climate and this cause in particular. What's so important about this for you?

Josh Fryday: Yeah I appreciate that question and thank you so much for hosting this conversation and for having us and for just VolunteerMatch’s incredible partnership with the state of California. We were able to do so much because of this partnership. When it comes to climate change and climate justice, I think I'm personally passionate about this on a few different levels. I'm passionate about this as a father who has three young boys growing up in a state where they now have things called “smoke days” where they can't go outside because the smoke is so terrible due to the devastating fires caused...or climate change fueled in our.. in our state. I'm passionate about this as someone who loves California, who grew up going to Tahoe which was just evacuated a week ago because of devastating fires, who loves going backpacking with my kids and can't do that now because of...we have to close the forest due to climate change. Can't go outside because it's too hot during the times when I was used to growing up and playing baseball. So for someone who loves California, we have to care about this. I'm passionate about as someone who cares about justice and...and social justice, and we know from all the evidence that the people most affected who will first and most severely be affected by climate change are those in low-income communities, disadvantaged communities, communities we haven't invested in for decades and are going to be impacted first and..and that's not okay. And then lastly, I'm passionate about this as someone who...who happens to believe in our system of government in a democracy where people can feel like they...when there's a problem that they can make a difference, that their voice matters, that they can make change, and for too long climate change has been something where people just they feel paralyzed, they feel like it's too big, they can't do anything about it, and that's not...that's not healthy for a democratic system. And so we've been very very focused on changing that narrative and...and trying to empower people to take climate action. And excited to be here today to talk to you about that!

Laura Plato: That’s fantastic! You know, I feel like you're so right, Josh. This is such a big topic. We often do feel paralyzed about if there's anything we can do, but I still hear so much hope in your voice and so much enthusiasm for all of our ability to really play a role in shaping a positive, healthier future for all of our kids and all of our communities, so thank you for bringing that kind of leadership to the table. That's just so...so important and so powerful. I'd love to dig in just a little bit into what that can look like. And you know at VolunteerMatch, we’ve been really inspired by the work you all are doing around something called California Volunteers Climate Action Corps. And from my perspective, it feels like you are leading the way on the national level with this idea of like a service corps for the environment, but what is it exactly? Can you tell us all a little bit more about what Climate Action Corps is and of course, why is it important? Why would people get involved? 

Josh Fryday: Sure and I'll stress that...that the hope that you hear and enthusiasm in my voice is an urgent hope. And it's urgent enthusiasm. We need urgency around this issue and that California Climate Action Corps really came out of Governor Newsom's desire to create in California a culture of climate action and that starts with big policy, big policy ideas. We know we need systems change and the governor understands that which is why California continues to lead the way on big policy, but it also means creating an environment where we can empower and call on all of our people to take action. And so we launched last year...a year ago this September, the idea of creating a Climate Action Corps where we were going to empower every Californian. Whether you had a year to spend to take climate action as a...as one of our fellows and organizers or you had an hour to spend at home, we were going to help you with the resources and the tools to be able to do that, and we were going to do this by creating community, making you feel like you're part of something that's bigger than you, but that...that you feel like you are actually making a difference yourself. And so far it's been very successful. It's been a lot of fun, and you alluded to some of the national momentum we’re seeing with President Biden and Congress pushing a National Civilian Climate Corps along these lines. And...and Governor Newsom and myself and our whole team couldn't be more thrilled by the momentum that...that is picking up around this idea.

Laura Plato: Yeah, I mean...that’s huge...that's really huge to see something that started as a great idea and started as a community idea start to really percolate across the country. You guys should be really excited and proud. I think this is really, really so hopefully as we were talking about earlier, right? Urgent hope, but expressed well in physical reality, so this is cool! Now, let’s talk a little bit about...you started to talk about, Josh, policy and the role of policy and my understanding is that there is something coming up here the week of September 20th. It's called Climate Action Week, and my understanding is that as one of these things that started really in a policy forum focusing on policy initiatives, and my understanding is that you guys are really trying to change this a little bit to think about how while policy is really critical for us to create this change at scale that we need to see. There's also something really important about taking policy and movement and putting it together, so what is California's role... California Volunteers’ role been in transforming Climate Action Week from more of this straight policy agenda to something that gets folks involved?

Josh Fryday: So this is the second year that California Volunteers is going to be very active in Climate Action Week. As I mentioned, we launched Climate Action Corps last year during Climate Action Week with Governor Newsom. And this year we're going to be doing a variety of activities to engage people across California and show them how they can take climate action. And I think we think about this in a couple of ways which is one if we’re going to talk about climate action of course, of course we need systems change but for too long we stopped there and the truth is we need everyone to take action on climate change, but for too long we’ve stopped there. And the truth is we need everyone to take action on climate change. Every single one of us needs to change our behavior. Every single one of us needs to take urgent action, and this is actually...there is actually something that everyone can do to be part of the solution. We think that that's an empowering message, and that's a hopeful message for people for too long we have been waiting for those in Washington, DC or those in Sacramento to take….to take action for change, and we're saying no there's something that you can do today that's actually going to make a difference. And then we also think that in order to get to the broader climate action that we need, we need policymakers to take action to keep pushing this issue. We need everyone to understand and see themselves in the issue. And so by starting out by planting a tree or composting at home or taking that first initial step towards climate action in your own individual life, we hope will ultimately bring broader awareness to everyone in our society for the truly big changes that we need.

Laura Plato: I love that idea! There’s something small we can all do everyday to move this agenda forward. And you know...I...preparing for our conversation, I did a...just a little quick search on VolunteerMatch to see what was going on with things related to environmental volunteering in the country, and I noticed that on our platform right now, there’s a need for about 180,000 volunteers that are considered to be sort of environmental-related. And I got to tell you my hunch was like that number needs to be way higher. Right...so I have a feeling some of our nonprofits out there, some of our causes may really have a need for more volunteers to sign up and get involved. And what do you think then? Is it about small actions taken by folks? Is there one small thing I should be thinking about doing today if I wanted to volunteer on one of our programs and get involved or is there something bigger that I need to be thinking about? How can I get started? 

Josh Fryday: Sure, so the answer is it's all of the above. We need you to...we need to do it all. That’s how urgent this issue is to protect ourselves and future generations. And yes, we need many more than 180,000 people on this issue to take action. We need...in California we talk about if we're going to really solve climate change and protect California, we need to harness what is really our greatest asset which is the 40 million people who call California home. So our challenge at California Volunteers is to think about how do we empower 40 million people and the way we've done that and the first thing I would say if you want to take a step is join the California Action Corps. Go to climateactioncorps.ca.gov. Sign up and see how you can literally whether you want to spend a year taking climate action and being a leader and an organizer as one of our fellows and receive a stipend and scholarship for college. You can do that, but you can also as you alluded to take that first step, that first critical step in your own home in the comfort of your own home and do things that make a difference today. If you started to save water, if you started to unplug your appliances, if you started to compost differently, if you started to plant trees and green your yard and harden your home to protect against fires. Those are things you can do today that are critical, and if we had 40 million people taking those actions, it would add up to something truly significant. 

Laura Plato: Yeah. Absolutely, I hear you. It looks like we got a ways to go on our 180,000, so put the plug out.

Josh Fryday: We’re just getting started though.

Laura Platio: Absolutely, we’re just getting started. Anything that’s coming up for this Climate Action Week specifically...any events that California Volunteers has going on. Or anything that you would like to draw folks attention to?

Josh Fryday: Sure, well, first I would say to everyone we’re going to be calling on every Californian to do a variety of activities and educate you on how you can take climate action and...and...and also, this is important because this is the leadership that the Governor Newsom has...has provided for our state, and I think the country. He's calling on everyone to take action. He’s saying that everyone can help green their homes and green their community by planting trees, by planting gardens, by...by making sure that communities that are...that have become really heat islands because we haven't invested in greening that we can change that. And we need to given the impacts of climate change. We’re going to be asking everyone to explore energy options for their homes. How to audit your home, to learn about how to get the right light bulbs to both save save energy and money. We're also going to be talking about reducing organic waste. A lot of the greenhouse gas emissions come from landfill waste where if we just composted differently and people thought about how they reduce food waste, we can make a big difference on this issue. We’re also, of course, it’s California so we're going to be talking about wildfire preparation and prevention — how you can harden your home, how you can clear defensible space, and how you can be part of the solution and protecting not just your home, but your entire community. And then we're also going to be talking about water conservation and dealing with the fact that in California we’re in a drought. We...just there's no other way of saying it, and we have to all take action. The governor's called in all of us to take action. We need to. And we’re going to be highlighting these different activities that people will be taking with a couple of events with some mayors who have actually taken the leap with us where we finally did the Climate Action Corps program. Very successfully in places like San Jose with Mayor Liccardo where we're going to be doing some wildfire preparation prevention work with him on Climate Action Week. And then, down in LA with Mayor Garcetti to talk about what people can do in response to the drought and...and helping with water conservation. So lots of events coming up. Lots of activities. No shortage of things to do. And we want everyone to join us.

Laura Plato: That sounds fantastic! It’s so good to hear these leaders stepping up to from across the state to really lend their hands, so I'm sure everybody whose a constituent there is going to feel excited to see their mayors representing this...this banner and taking it forward. And remind our audience again too, where can they sign up if they live in California to get involved in these things and learn more.

Josh Fryday: Climateactioncorps.ca.gov. Sign up today. Join us. And become a part of the solution. And also find out all the different opportunities on VolunteerMatch when you join Climate Action Corps, you'll see them all there.

Laura Plato: Fantastic! So I want to encourage everybody who's in the audience here today if you've been inspired by Josh like I have been regardless of where you live as he said check out Climate Action Corps with California. Check out volunteermatch.org for other opportunities year-round. Just do any small thing and you're making that first step towards making our world a better, healthier, kinder place. Josh, thank you so much again for being here with us and for all the inspirational work you're doing in California and in the nation to lead folks in civic engagement and in climate volunteering in particular. We really appreciate you.

Josh Fryday: Thank you, Laura. Appreciate you, too.

Laura Plato: Thanks, Josh.

Erin Halley

Written by Erin Halley

Erin Halley is passionate about making a positive impact and contributing to a better world. She has extensive experience in marketing from digital to events to tradeshows. Her background includes marketing for an international consumer electronics company, a leading national health advocacy nonprofit, a well-known healthcare institution and an arts non-profit.