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Communities in Recovery Podcast

March 30, 2021

A JFF podcast series telling stories of economic recovery from across California

Our communities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing struggles with racial injustice. Every day, we hear reports about the crumbling economy, the skyrocketing unemployment rate, and growing inequalities. But who are the people behind the statistics? Who are the Californians who have had to work, teach, learn, and live in entirely new ways over the past year?

In our podcast series called “Communities in Recovery,” JFF elevates the voices of members of our communities who have been impacted by the economic crisis. Through their stories, we examine what it takes to recover stronger and more equitably.

Can Technology Help Workers Unlock Pandemic-Proof Careers?

Episode 1: Navigating Student Life in the CA Community College System During a Pandemic

Our host, JFF Associate Director Renee Faulkner, will explore how the lives of two California Community College students changed when campuses closed in March 2020. From experiencing food insecurity and managing family dynamics to mastering online learning…and TikTok, Josh Elizondo and Jamie Vasquez reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their educational and career trajectories, and what it will take to get back on track.

Episode 2: Small Business Ownership and Entrepreneurship in California’s Economic Recovery

Small businesses — your favorite food truck, your family’s mechanic, your reliable mom and pop shop — make up about 99.8% of California businesses. Today, we’re talking to business owners and entrepreneurs from Oakland and Stockton to learn about the impact of the pandemic on their lives and business, how local regions can intentionally support and invest in businesses, and about JFF’s work in Inclusive Regional Economic Development in California to promote small businesses recovery and resiliency.

Episode 3: Community-Based Strategies for Equitable COVID-19 Recovery

In this episode, JFF is joined by Sandra Celedon, President and CEO of Fresno Building Healthy Communities. Sandra walks us through the importance of community-based organizations (CBO) and how they’ve become critical during the pandemic. Her story illustrates how helping your community can start in one place, like advocating for public parks, and then broaden to championing healthcare access for those who need it most.

Episode 4: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey through the Pandemic

In this episode, JFF explores the generational impacts of the pandemic through one family’s experience. We are joined by Galyna and Yuliya Monastyrska, a mother and daughter duo based in Woodland and Santa Cruz, CA, respectively. Like many of us, they leaned on family, friends, and in their case, their Ukranian diaspora community in new and important ways during this last year. Through reflection on their unique professional and educational pivots, Galyna and Yuliya share how they found connection, support, and opportunity for themselves and others during this challenging era of COVID-19.

Learn more about Get Virtual, the business Yuliya helped launch in order to help other small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Episode 5: What Does Recovery Mean to Gen-Z?

While most everyone faced challenges and hardships due to COVID-19, younger generations, like generation Z, were uniquely affected — having to grow up quickly and give up quintessential moments in a high schooler’s experience like prom and graduation walks. On our fifth episode, Renée Faulkner speaks with two California high school students, Cameron Butler and Ellyette Morales. We hear how the pandemic knocked their plans off course, where they found the support to keep pursuing their dreams, and what they’ve taken away from their experiences. Cameron and Ellyette bring valuable insight and clarity to what students endured this last year and what inclusive recovery looks like for them.

Organizations and schools mentioned in this episode:

Episode 6: Housing, Urban Development, and Building the “New Normal” Together

In our season finale, JFF Senior Program Manager, Dr. Mara Lockowandt, steps in as our host, interviewing three guests from the housing and urban development space. First, Lauren Kennedy of the North Valley Housing Trust shares some of the unique and complex recovery stories of her Northern CA community in Chico, still rebuilding after a devasting wildfire and navigating historically unjust housing practices. Then Tyrone Williams and Julius Austin share about their critical work at the Sacramento Promise Zone and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), exploring among other things, how deeply connected we all are and what it takes for all Californians to thrive and succeed. As we wrap up our “Communities in Recovery” series, all three guests remind us of what we have overcome in this last year, and how we need to continue to work towards solutions to achieve an inclusive recovery for all.

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We’d like to hear the stories of workers, teachers, students, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and other community members from across the state. We’re very interested in learning how they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it caused. What challenges have they overcome? What are their hopes for the future?

If you know anyone who has a story to tell and is willing to share it with us—and with our podcast listeners—we’d love to hear it.

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