This case study presentation will provide participants with a historical, political, and cultural context for understanding the development of community-university action research partnerships in what is often called “the other California.” León and London will share their collaboration experiences built over a decade, beginning with youth-led action research through Youth in Focus, to participatory evaluation of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, to developing Community University Research and Action for Justice, to environmental justice mapping with the San Joaquin Valley Cumulative Health Impacts Project. Through all of these phases, critical attention to the power of democratic-built and shared knowledge, the necessity of reciprocal teaching/learning, and pro-active mindfulness of historical and institutional power inequities have been foundational. This session will share some of the insights into the building of successful community-university partnerships and promising strategies to address the inevitable tensions that arise in this work.
University of California, Davis
San Joaquin Valley Latino Environmental Advancement Project (LEAP)
Jonathan London is an educator, researcher, and community-builder with experience in participatory research, rural community development, and community engaged planning. Jonathan holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Brown University, a Masters in City and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science Policy and Management from UC Berkeley. As an Assistant Professor of Human and Community Development at UC Davis. Jonathan’s research addresses conflicts and collaboration in natural resource and environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on marginalized rural communities and environmental justice issues. London also directs the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, which serves as a catalyst for multi-disciplinary research that informs efforts to build healthy, prosperous, equitable, and sustainable regions. Prior to joining UC Davis, Jonathan co-founded and co-directed Youth in Focus, a pioneering organization designing and implementing youth-led research, evaluation and planning projects across California and internationally.
Rey León – Born in Fresno and raised in the Huron area. Mr. León is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he obtained a BA in Chicano Studies with an emphasis in public health. He is the founder and Executive Director of the San Joaquin Valley Latino Environmental Advancement & Policy Project (Valley LEAP), a Latino Valley based non-profit organization. Mr. León is based in Fresno for the Valley and focuses on environmental justice, air quality, energy and green jobs. Mr. León has been working to ensure that environmental justice principles are advanced in the regions institutions and culture. Rey is a co-founder of Central Valley Air Quality Coalition and founder of the San Joaquin Valley Regional Green Jobs Coalition which counts on 300+ members. Mr. León sits on various boards and committees including the Center on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT). In addition, Rey is Associate President of the Mexican American Political Association and most recently elected as Vice Chair of Region four of the California Chicano Latino Caucus. Mr. León has been organizing in the Valley for the past eighteen years and for the past ten years he has been advocating and successfully building coalitions, community capacity, advancing public policy; placement of the first PM 2.5 air quality monitor on the West Side of the Valley, systems change; developing the first ever environmental justice strategy for both the Fresno County Council of Governments and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District as well as the formation of EJ bodies within both institutions and much more. Through Valley LEAP, Rey continues to organize with the grassroots and other partners to promote clean energy alternatives, green jobs and diesel mitigation in concentrated clusters of poverty in the central San Joaquin Valley. Mr. León successfully works with Valley communities to achieve environmental and climate justice.