Identity, Voice and Belonging in Local Landscapes:
Laura Watt is Professor of Geography, Environment and Planning, who explores the history of protected landscapes to bolster their long-term sustainability in terms of both natural and cultural systems. In contrast to most land policy research, she uses landscape as a tool for understanding the complex interactions between people and their environments, tracking historical changes in protected areas as indicators of shifting social dynamics and structures. She is interested in the interplay between public and private ownership in protecting rural landscapes. Much of her research work has been done at Point Reyes National Seashore, examining the impacts of National Park Service management on the local ranching landscape.
Katy Spanos is Senior Staff Counsel to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). DWR was the first state agency to create and meet a Climate Action Plan, and Katy co-chaired their CEQA Climate Change Committee. In 2014, DWR published the Agriculture and Land Stewardship (ALS) Framework and Strategies, which are tools developers can consider for projects that will affect agriculture or other working lands, e.g., water supply and flood management. Katy led the three year ALS workgroup, which worked with local interests in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to identify the concerns and benefits for project developers to consider. The ALSP approach calls for a comprehensive and integrated multi-disciplinary and collaborative process that integrates the planning for a specific project with regional and landscape planning to provide a sustainable and resilient future. Critical to the success of this process is an inclusive and open dialogue with landowners and local representatives.
Omar Gallardo is Diversity and Outreach Director for Sonoma County Land Paths and Sonoma State alum, who fosters belonging in and a greater connection to nature for all ages within our Latino community. He educates local communities to explore the beauty of Sonoma County, lead a healthier lifestyle through gardening and being outdoors, take care of and respect Mother Nature. As he was recently described when given the Leader in Environmental Justice and Equity Award, “he is passionate about connecting people both to the land and to each other, while building community and staying true to his roots. With humanity and grace, he has excelled at community organizing, expanded the diversity and relevance of Landpaths’ programs and led countless youth to share his love of the land.”