Meet Jessy Shelton, California Greenworks Project Lead

Jessy has served 10 years, both professionally and voluntarily, working with nonprofits. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Resource Management with an emphasis in Marine Sciences. In her freetime, she is a SCUBA instructor and enjoys freediving, snorkeling, surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, camping and running around with her dog.

Here’s more from Jessy about why she’s a part of California Greenworks:

I am from a small town in a valley of southern California. Compared to the beach, the valley climate is cold at night and very hot during the day, with little breeze. I grew up going to the beach as often as I could, and partially the reason behind it was the temperature change. 

When it comes to environmental issues, the lack of understanding about the severity of the state of the planet is something that worries me. Globally, climate change is my biggest concern, as well as agricultural methods, commercial fishing and overall natural resource usage. 

I hope to build a stronger connection to the community and get our name out there more. I hope to bring attention to other environmental issues as well. I have 10 years, both professionally and voluntarily, working for nonprofits serving the community. I think I bring a new perspective to the team and am slowly building a network of other groups in the community to expand our reach!

I am inspired most by CGW being a resource for the community. I love that we are becoming a group to inform the public, put them in front of decision makers, and create a greener space for the city.

Meet Michael Berns, California Greenworks Program and Project Director

Michael has served 14 years in the nonprofit industry. He holds a PhD in Anthropology and is passionate about the environment and mental health. In his free time, he enjoys reading, traveling, surfing and making mosaics out of recycled material (

Here’s more from Michael about why he’s a part of California Greenworks:

I grew up in the Santa Monica mountains of Los Angeles, where I ran cross country from an early age. Oak savannas and the grassy hills were always my happy place.  As I got older, I began to surf and began to notice how everything, and I mean everything, funnels into the bay of LA. After a storm, we were warned not to surf for at least 48 hours due to the increase in contaminants.  This really hit home when I saw all the trash, litter, diapers and dead possums in the water. 

CGW’s drive towards climate equity keeps me passionate. As a secular Jew from Los Angeles, the concept of social justice was constantly discussed in my family and community. I love that I am able to learn about the specific environmental aspects of social justice; and, I feel honored that CGW provides me with opportunities to correct the glaring injustices of the world.

I hope to create an impact at CGW by following the mantra of scalability.  The world won’t be saved in one day, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I hope to create more research and insights into the correlation between mental health and the environment. I hope to create opportunities of redressing historical environmental injustices. I hope to leave the world a better place than how I found it. I am an asset to the mission because of my training and passion towards research: I like reading and I like learning! I can also bridge seemingly disparate parts into a whole. I will continue to contribute to CGW through my passion, research skills, unique insights and perseverance.

Meet Mike Meador, California Greenworks Founder & CEO

Mike has served as the leader of this environmental nonprofit for 20 years. He holds both a BA and MBA and is passionate about environmental justice, open space, and protection of our natural resources air, water and land. 

Here’s more from Mike about why he started and remains committed to California Greenworks:

My family was involved in the agriculture industry in Texas, and much of my perspective comes from that experience. When I moved to Los Angeles, my eyes were quickly drawn to the abundance of urban blight: areas ridden with deteriorating or abandoned homes and other buildings, vacant lots, weeds and very little green space. 

In Los Angeles, I met a girl from Kenya encouraged me to look at into the environmental space. That was back in 2000, and there weren’t very many African Americans involved in the environmental movement. At this time, we were just looking at what we could do to make things better in Los Angeles specifically. When we talk about environmental justice – the majority of low income communities are in the same areas as those industrial facilities – which harms health and wellbeing – and we started looking into projects as to how to improve this.

It was on a sailing trip with another founding member that California Greenworks was born. Noticing the excess trash in the water and all our conversations about environmental injustice in the background, it became clear something needed to be done. It should be a civil right for everyone to have clean water and clean air. And so, we started California Greenworks to create that change.

A Reflection on 20 Years of Environmental Action as We Celebrate Our Anniversary

It is no simple mission we set out on 20 years ago, when California Greenworks moved from idea to reality. Yet, it is the simple things over time that have left an impression.

As a founder, I, alongside my good friend Nancy, was baffled at the urban blight that plagued the inner city. Yet, motivated by an inner passion for green spaces and equal rights for disadvantaged communities – we testified against the litter in our oceans and streets, the environmental inequities that faced the world, a community filled with systems of injustice … we started California Greenworks. 

We took on our mission as protecting the planet from these systems of injustice: not solely for the sake of the planet, but, importantly, for the sake of our fellow citizens. 

This first step was two decades ago. 

One of the most important lessons we have learned is scalability. We do not – and in fact, cannot – solve every issue wholly and miraculously. One tree can make a difference. One community clean up can create positive outcomes. One student’s life impacted can make a difference.

For example, I remember a student participating in our youth education program, and he told me this program gave him his first opportunity to see the ocean. It really struck me how simple things like a visit to the beach may not be simple to others. This scenario is one among the long list of burdens of climate injustice.

While every one act makes a difference, the fact of scalability is one we must address our current climate with now. The world is on a path towards calamity. Since an ecosystem is, by definition, about connections and systems, an often overlooked connection within environmentalism is the social justice aspect. 

Today, in America, there are systems in place that pave the way towards calamity. Institutions designed to protect us, instead commit murder. When the simple utterance of Black Lives Matter creates anger and fear, this is a symptom of the calamitous path. 

Throughout the history of the United States, people of color have been targeted and attacked for being people of color. This system has plagued these populations in marginalized communities, disproportionately impacted by issues of climate change – among other challenges. Since these atrocities are systemic, the solutions must also be systemic. 

We cannot solve everything at once, but we can create means of redemption. If you are concerned with the foreboding environment, we remind you that the environment can only be saved when our systems of injustice are footnotes in history. As a scalable remedy, we invite everyone to say the names of the most recent victims of this system: Alonzo Bagley, Tyre Nichols, Keenan Anderson, Eric Holmes, Ki’Azia Miller, Eric Allen … the list is tremendous. Through remembrance we can be motivated towards action. Through one single action, we can be motivated to take the next step and create more action.

Now we must march forward together, tackling issues of climate inequity, climate change and planet earth sustainability. We have to take a more proactive position, and get in control of our environment and that means finding ways to reduce fossil fuels and be more responsive to the needs of our climate. 

There are great places in our city that we can enjoy. For example, Kenneth Hahn Park is among my favorite places to visit – it’s close to me, and it’s improved quite considerably over the years. This is proof that, working together, we can create positive change and restore our environment.

I look forward to meeting more community members and working alongside you to create this change, for the next 20 years and beyond. 

Celebrating 20 Years in Service

Our team at California Greenworks is excited to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2023. We’d love you to join us this year in our mission to create a more equitable and green community. Check out our upcoming CELA Awards ceremony, where you can meet environment leaders honored for their impact, and be inspired to take environmental action. 


Tips to Xeriscaping Your Lawn

Youth Pave the Way for a Greener Future

Climate Equity and Your Wallet: Energy and Technology Assistance for Qualified California Residents

Cesar Chavez Day of Remembrance – A Call to Action

On Saturday, March 26, 2022, the California Greenworks team had the privilege of participating in the Cesar Chavez Day of Remembrance hosted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.  

The event was a powerful reminder that anyone can create a positive change in our world, even under the direst of circumstances.  

Cesar Chavez, a civil rights, Latino and farm labor leader, is often recognized as one of the first environmental justice leaders. One major example is his leadership in the Grape Boycott, protesting the use of harmful pesticides on the fruit. 

The Keynote speaker, Teresa Romero, President of the United Farm Workers, offered an empowering perspective on the history of social activism in environmental justice, as well as calls to action.  

My takeaway? We must follow suit in THIS CALL TO ACTION, and make sure we become responsible stewards of the environment, and always with social justice at the forefront.

Two honorees were presented with awards to thank them for their contributions to empowering underserved communities in climate equity: US Representative Tony Cárdenas (29th District), and Larry Itlong, Filipino American Labor Organizer, whose daughter Patty Itlong Serda accepted on his behalf.  

And of course, the musical talents of Las Colibri, an all-female string ensemble specializing in modern takes on Mariachi, had the audience singing along. 

Earth Day 2022: Invest in Our Planet in south Los Angeles

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … no, not the holidays – but Earth Day month! At California Greenworks we of course love the opportunity to educate about and activate positive climate change.

Earth Day 2022 is coming up on April 22. This year’s theme is Invest in the Planet. Our mission serves to do this every day, and we invite you to join us!