We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting our new team members over the past few weeks! This week, meet Wendy Ortiz, our Community Engagement Coordinator, based in Orange County. Earlier, Miha Tomuta and Austin T.D. Hall introduced themselves.
No matter how you get around, whether you traverse by foot, mobility aids, car, bike, or public transit, issues regarding safety, and infrastructure impact your ability to explore the world with ease. As a car driver, bicyclist, and runner, I understand that safety can be built-in to our infrastructure by allotting the resources for it and experiencing the environment through multiple transportation options. The seeming universality of walkability and transportation issues is my motivation for working with California Walks to create safe, healthy, and walkable communities for all. In my role as the Community Engagement Coordinator, I hope to be a source of support for communities working together to enact changes that meet the transportation needs for their particular environment.
Preceding my employment with California Walks, I worked at Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where I authored a policy report on the intersections of climate change and inequality in the context of the California drought [PDF]. I highlighted the unique and disproportionate challenges faced by California’s low-income and farming communities and put forth recommendations that were community driven. As a community organizer with the Texas Hunger Initiative, I engaged a multi-generational, cross-cultural community in establishing an organizing coalition concerned with high rates of poverty, poor healthcare access, environmental justice issues, youth education and economic prosperity. Additionally, I worked with urban gardeners participating in an alternative gardening program aimed at reducing their food insecurity. I also graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
In my personal time, I enjoy making things. I’m a wood worker, leather worker, poet, and a plant forager. I walk and bike through my neighborhoods looking for medicinal herbs, plants, and trees to gather from to create medicine. Ultimately, I want people to be emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally well, so I spend a lot of time learning how things are made so that I may be as useful as possible.