Member Spotlight

Ariadne Villegas, Program Manager, The Greenlining

November 30, 2023

Ariadne Villegas (she/her/ella) is based in Oakland, CA (unceded Ancestral homeland of the Ohlone people) and Merced, CA(unceded Ancestral homeland of the Yokut people). She is a Program Manager at the Greenlining Institute. Read her spotlight below!

What communities are you most accountable to?
I am accountable to frontline communities of color who envision a future where their built and natural environments are a reflection of their diversity, their strength, and their joy. I am accountable to immigrant, Latinx folks who feed and build the country we have today. Raised in the Central Valley of California, I am deeply attuned to the impacts of environmental, economic, and social inequality and choose to celebrate the joy, leadership, and resilience of my community, my ancestors, and the many like them who dream of collective liberation.

In a few sentences, what would you like to share about yourself and your journey/personal connection to community-driven planning?
My academic and professional background is in public health and environmental science, so when I signed up for this program I wasn’t sure how to hold space for the work I do professionally and the work I do in my community. However, centering this model of community-driven planning in my work has been informative for guiding how whatever it may be, whether it is planning, policy, community investments, or environmental health research, it must truly be people powered. As popularized by the South African disability rights movement, it truly must be “Nothing for Us, Without Us.”

In a few sentences, can you share about a current community-based project you are working on? (What is your vision? What are some of your goals? How are you co-designing the community-driven planning process with community members?)

Currently, in my role I am managing the Greenlining the Block initiative, which presents a historic opportunity to channel public and private investments intentionally into communities of color to build neighborhood climate capital projects. However, I recognize that traditional infrastructure investments have been unequal and often exclude or displace communities of color. As such, I am committed to facilitating and co-designing a community-driven planning process that involves supporting frontline organizations’ leadership and vision for investment in their neighborhood, secures climate investment for communities of color, and fosters trust and ownership of a model that is people powered.

Lastly, in a few sentences, what does being part of the NACRP network/community mean to you?
Being part of this NACRP family, especially as the inaugural cohort of facilitators, has been such an enriching experience. Truly, it has been such a joy to be in community with the amazing folks across the US who have committed to facilitating beyond top-down planning so that collaborative, people powered visions can take root. Together, we have shared frustrations, learnings, and laughter in a space created to amplify, diversify, and celebrate grassroot planning.