October 2018 Happy Hour: Engagement Tips from Scientists and Engineers

By: Christopher Jackson
December 23, 2018
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On October 25 2018, six scientists and engineers shared their insights on community engagement at an ESAL happy hour in Oakland, California. Below are their top suggestions for getting involved in your community. Subscribe to our newsletter for notifications of future events.

Allan Daly - Albany Unified School District volunteer; MS in Architecture & Civil Engineering

  • People and agencies want to do the right thing, but often don’t know what those best practices are.
  • Just a little bit of knowledge and the ability to share it in the right context goes a long way.
  • If you see a need, just fill it - find like-minded people, create a committee, do whatever it takes!

Arti Garg - Hayward Community Service commissioner; PhD in Physics

  • Even if the issues which interest you are global in nature, the "last mile" implementation of policies to address them are critical to their success. Engaging with local government can allow you to make a substantive difference.
  • An important part of addressing local challenges is working with and mobilizing members of your community.

Alison LaBonte - California Public Utilities Commission employee; PhD in Oceanography

  • Governmental agencies have to implement the laws that are passed - they lean on data, science, and engineering to do this.
  • Commissions can’t really make a decision or move forward without stakeholder input - this is a good way for people to get involved!

Audrey Lee - California Public Utilities Commission advisor; PhD in Electrical Engineering

  • Any scientific background can be applied to modern complex government issues like data, privacy, and technology.
  • Find local campaigns or political clubs that are working on issues you’re passionate about and get involved.

Alex Sharenko - Berkeley Zero Waste commissioner; PhD in Materials Science

  • Most local city commissions have few people with technical backgrounds. It is useful to bring your technical knowledge to non-technical issues.
  • Research commissions, look for vacancies, and hound city council people. Send emails and show up at meetings - ask to be appointed!

Brinda Thomas - East Bay Clean Energy Community Advisory Committee member; PhD in Engineering & Public Policy

  • You can be involved in policy wherever you are - represent the views of your local area!
  • Get involved in outreach by working with community organizers and help notify residents about policy that will affect them.
Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 12/23/18
Updated: 03/27/23
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