Happy Martin Luther King Day: National Day of Service

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service.

Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”  It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national and community problems.

There are many opportunities for service in Irvine.

Click here to see our City of Irvine website special section on volunteer opportunities.

Among the many Irvine organizations that need volunteer service are: the Irvine Animal Care Center, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Farm + Food Lab at the Great Park, Irvine Fine Arts Center, the Irvine Global Village Festival, Heritage and Aviation Exhibition-Orange County Great Park, High School Youth Action Team, Irvine 2/11 Marine Adoption Committee, Irvine Disaster Emergency Communications (IDEC), Meals on Wheels, Senior Center, and the Turtle Rock Nature Center and Irvine Open Space Preserve.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to our community and directly help those in need.

In addition, Irvine Gives is a comprehensive online resource to help locate the giving opportunities you seek.

If you want to donate time, money or materials, clicking on Irvine Gives is a great place to start.

Thank you for your service to our community!

Irvine Parents: Join Us for a “Diversity Play Date”

In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our city is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated.

There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

How diverse is Irvine?  A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine.  Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.

Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.

But sometimes we face prejudice in Irvine.

That’s what happened recently when a young African-American boy was teased at school because of the color of skin.

His mother, Kourtney McGowen, was understandably hurt and upset and reached out on social media to other Irvine moms.

I’m proud of my community to say that the response she received was 100% love.

Kourtney then decided to create a “diversity play date” at an Irvine park to share — and celebrate — our diversity.

Here is how Kourtney describes what happened:

“It all started with Johnathan sharing his experiences at school with me.  He told me that children were calling him names because of his skin color. As a mom of course I tried to make him feel better about being black by purchasing books, watching certain movies and talking to him about it. I even reached out to the school leadership. But his peers quickly diminished what confidence he had just gained.

I then decided to vent to my Irvine moms group on Facebook and share my concern and frustration. I even went as far as saying ‘please teach your children to accept other children that look different than they do, it starts at home.’ I wasn’t sure how the response would be. But, to my surprise, the post went viral. I had many moms express how sorry they were, private message me for play dates and share their own similar experiences with the same thing! I felt like this was an opportunity to make a difference so I went for it!

I am now planning a play date for the entire community and calling it “Celebrate Diversity”. To my surprise so many families got excited and I have over 84 saying they’re going. I now have the City Councilwoman Melissa Fox of Irvine as well as the Irvine Community Service Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris co-hosting this event with me! It will be next Sunday January 14th at 2:00pm. I plan to go live on Facebook for a portion of the event.

This is just another example of how one voice can make change happen. How are we using our voices? For change? Or for gossip? So excited for this opportunity!”

Here are the details:

What: Diversity Play Date

When: Sunday, January 14, 2018  2:00 pm — 5:00 pm.

Where: Santa Ynez Park, 110 Santa Ynez, Irvine, CA 92606

Description:  “All ages are welcomed! Come bring your kiddos dressed in cultural clothing (if you’d like) and their favorite snack to share! This is an opportunity for us as parents to bring awareness to an ongoing issue of separating by race, culture, religion, skin color. Please join me in bringing our little ones together to encourage acceptance of others! Can’t wait to see you all!”

You can see the Facebook page for the event here.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I am extremely proud of our city for surrounding Kourtney McGowan and her son with so much love and delighted to co-host this event together with Kourtney and Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris.

I am also tremendously impressed by how Kourtney McGowan turned a negative incident into a positive learning and sharing experience for our whole community!

Please join us!

See you there!

 

 

Join Me Saturday for Irvine’s Global Village Festival!

My favorite Irvine cultural event of the year is almost here!

This coming Saturday, September 23, 2017, is the Irvine Global Village Festival!

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox at Irvine's Global Village Festival 2013

In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our city is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated.

There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s harmonious ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

How diverse is Irvine?  A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine.  Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.

Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.

This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Irvine Global Village Festival – Irvine’s largest and most attended community event.

Founded in 1998 by a group of Irvine residents to help promote understanding and build harmony within Irvine’s many diverse cultures, the Global Village Festival is now Irvine’s signature event, featuring more than 100 performances on five stages; international cuisine and food from more than 50 restaurants; an international marketplace filled with unique crafts and textiles; interactive, educational and entertaining cultural displays, demonstrations, and performances; and an international village just for kids.

More than 40 local restaurants and gourmet food trucks serve up samples of regional and international specialties from boba smoothies, miso soup, falafel, Mexican fusion tacos and German pretzels to Japanese dumplings, Hawaiian shaved ice and the all-American bacon-wrapped hot dog. Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

At the heart of the Festival is the Community Partners Pavilion, where nonprofit, local community groups and government agencies have an opportunity to showcase their programs and services to the community. Be sure to stop by the OC Voters Trailer and take the Festival Survey.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the many facets of Irvine’s diversity at the Global Village Festival – and I look forward to seeing you there!

Here are some important Festival details:

What: Irvine Global Village Festival

When: Saturday, September 23, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Where: Bill Barber Park, 4 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA

Cost: Admission is FREE! Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

Parking: There is no on-site parking at the event.  Festival Parking is permitted in the lot at 20 Corporate Park and in the structure at 30 Corporate Park only. The Festival is 0.7 miles from this location.  Take the free shuttles to the Festival that will be in operation 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or the walk (about 15 minutes) via Murphy to Alton. Disabled Person Parking will be available at the San Juan or Civic Center parking lots adjacent to Bill Barber Park. Please have the appropriate placard visible when entering the parking lot.

Bike to the Festival:  The easiest way to get to the Festival is by bike. The City of Irvine has an extensive system of bike trails to get you to and from the event, and once inside, riders can safely and securely store their bikes at the Festival’s free Bike Valet area, hosted by the Bicycle Club of Irvine and the Orange County Bicycle Coalition. Use Irvine’s Bike Map to plan your trip.

Pets: Dogs are welcome at the Irvine Global Village Festival! However, owners must be responsible for their pets; dogs must be on leash, interact well in a large crowd and remain in the charge of a person competent to restrain them.

See you there!

Join Me at “Comedy Unleashed” Fundraiser for the Irvine Animal Care Center

Join me on Tuesday, September 19, for “Comedy Unleashed”  — the Second Annual Comedy Fundraiser for the Irvine Animal Care Center

Enjoy a night of dinner and laughs at Irvine Improv with comedian Debi Gutierrez.

Tickets are $35 and include admission to the show and dinner (venue service fees may apply to ticket purchase).

All proceeds benefit the animals in our care.

Doors opens at 5:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m.

Ages 18 and older.

Purchase your tickets online here.

The Irvine Animal Care Center is a progressive and innovative municipal animal shelter that continually strives to strengthen the human-animal bond and improve the welfare of animals by promoting their humane care and treatment.

The Center’s 3.73 acre, park-like facility cares for thousands of homeless, neglected and abused animals every year. All animals in their care receive veterinary care, high-quality food, soft bedding and daily socialization.

Your support helps the Center fulfill its mission of placing all adoptable animals into permanent, loving, responsible pet homes and reuniting owner-identified animals with their owners; providing a safe, clean, caring and enriching environment that meets the high standards of our community and provides the community a resource of trained and knowledgeable staff and volunteers; and promoting human responsibility for companion animals.

Click here to learn more about the Center’s adoption program and to see the dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals that are currently looking for new forever homes.

We are so fortunate to have the Irvine Animal Center in our community!

What: Comedy Unleashed: Second Annual Comedy Unleashed Fundraiser for the Irvine Animal Care Center

Where: Irvine Improv,  527 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618

When: Tuesday, September 19 at 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

See you there!

Join Me at OCFA’s “Day of Remembrance” Ceremony Honoring Those We Lost on September 11, 2001

The sky was falling and streaked with blood
I heard you calling me, then you disappeared into the dust
Up the stairs, into the fire . . . 
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love.

Please join me, the brave men and women of the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), and other members of the OCFA Board of Directors at a special “Day of Remembrance” Ceremony at OCFA Headquarters in Irvine, honoring those lost on September 11, 2001.

The ceremony is in memory of all of those lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

This service will provide an opportunity for the OCFA to conduct an organizational salute to all of those who lost their lives and pay a special tribute to the following uniformed services:

• 343 fallen members of F.D.N.Y.

• 23 fallen members of N.Y.P.D.

• 37 fallen members of the NY Port Authority Police

Speakers include OCFA Senior Chaplain Dave Keehn, OCFA Acting Fire Chief Dave Anderson, OCFA Board Chair Beth Swift, OCFA Board Vice-Chair Ed Sachs, Third District OC Supervisor and Board Director Todd Spitzer.

The OCFA’s Honor Guard will be present.

The ceremony will include a bell ringing by OCFA Honor Guard Member Mike Patterson and the playing of “Amazing Grace” by OCFA Bagpiper Marc Stone.

The services will start at 8:40 a.m. on Monday, September 11, 2017, and conclude at 9:10 a.m.

OCFA Headquarters is located at 1 Fire Authority Road, Irvine, CA 92602

For more information, please contact Captain Steve Concialdi, OC Fire Authority PIO,  at (714) 357-7782 or steveconcialdi@ocfa.org.

Autonomous Vehicle Technology in Irvine: Moving Irvine Toward Greener, Smarter Transportation Solutions

Mercedes-Benz Future Bus mit CityPilot; teilautomatisiert fahrender Stadtbus mit Ampelerkennung; Hindernis- und Fußgängererkennung; 10 Kameras; automatisierte Haltestellenfahrten; Radarsysteme für Nah- und Fernbereich Basisfahrzeug: Mercedes-Benz Citaro; OM 936 mit 220 kW/299 PS; 7,7 L Hubraum, Länge/Breite/Höhe: 12.135/2.550/3.120 mm ; Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot; semi-automated city bus with traffic light recognition; recognition of obstacles and pedestrians; automated bus stop approaches basic vehicle: Mercedes-Benz Citaro; OM 936 rated at 220 kW/299 hp; displacement 7.7 l; length/width/height: 12135/2550/3120 mm;

Note:  I recently had the opportunity to present a talk to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) about bringing research and jobs to Irvine involving the development of autonomous vehicle technology.  Among those present were representatives of major innovative corporations.  I would like to say thank you to Irvine Planning Commissioner Dustin Nirschl for his invaluable help in writing this talk and in bringing AV technology to Irvine. 

Here is the text of that talk.

Irvine boasts a long-standing, commitment to planning that has resulted in it’s being viewed as one of the more desirable locations in the nation.  The city has been planned under a village community model to ensure that residents enjoy safe, accessible, family-oriented living, with short commutes to local entertainment, dining, shopping, and nearby schools.  To complement these village communities, Irvine has consistently worked to develop a robust network of bicycle paths.

Recently, Irvine’s population has surged, and two high-density hubs are nearly built out.  Residents still travel to close-proximity, village destinations, but now also frequent the Spectrum and Irvine Business Complex hubs.  These high-density hubs draw additional vehicle trips on Irvine roadways because: (1) the hub is too far to make walking/bicycling practical, (2) bicycle/pedestrian paths fail to completely connect community to key locations, or (3) a form of preferred alternative transportation such as shuttle or trolley is unavailable to the commuter. Congestion is compounded because Irvine’s daily population nearly doubles due to the influx of business professionals circulating to the Spectrum and IBC hubs. These issues signal that Irvine has reached a point of maturation where more sophisticated and smarter transportation planning with increased transportation choices for Irvine’s residents and commuters is required.

As a 21st century city, Irvine must shape its transportation initiatives and policy to accommodate its residents both for today and for the future.  One especially encouraging option for the future is the use of autonomous vehicles (AVs).  AV technology promises efficiency, and sustainability, as well as economic opportunity, improved freedom, and safety for residents.

Irvine is committed to both listening and leading. We recognize that implementing AV technology can only be done with the City fully behind the project.  We will need to continually educate residents, and to continue to refine the processes we intend to pursue to integrate AV into the community.  For this reason, we are working to re-purpose an abandoned air strip for the establishment of a Center for Excellence conducting AV and other research.  The Center for Excellence will house key players like Tesla and other innovative technology companies.  City partnerships with these innovative companies can enable necessary testing, while simultaneously demystifying many of the unknowns surrounding AV transportation.  Moreover, it will help develop additional partnerships and find ways to overcome infrastructure obstacles and regulatory issues raised by AV transportation to implement AV transportation in the City.

The City also plans to work closely with the University of California Irvine to find ways to bring the UCI Applied Innovation Department, an innovative technology incubator, into the City’s AV effort. This unique department connects the University’s intellectual property and entrepreneurism studies to real world applications.  In addition, the City will look to work with UCI Law School’s innovative Technology & Entrepreneurship Competition, which challenges interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from across the University to structure and negotiate a joint development agreement for a new and exciting technology.  We believe the Center for Excellence can integrate UCI faculty and students into an unrivaled force for research and real-world technological progress.

In addition, we are channeling Irvine City staff toward opportunities involving zero emissions and green city initiatives.  Recently, the VW settlement made available funding for City proposals committed to ZEV infrastructure, public outreach, redevelopment, and green city initiatives.  Obtaining extrinsic funding can help boost public participation and political momentum, while minimizing financial risk.  These initiatives are established to incentivize political mobility, and to lighten transition burdens.

Policymakers in California and across the country understand that local economies, the environment, and resident health all benefit across individual and collective layers of the community by embracing smart, green innovation, especially in transportation.

As an Irvine City Councilmember, I am grateful for the opportunity to better enable and further this quest.  In January, I successfully committed Irvine’s city staff to the exploration and implementation of advanced transportation methods and infrastructure.

I believe that our city, our businesses, and our people can become more connected.  AV transportation modes can connect village communities and travelers by acting as a first/last mile solution to business, entertainment, and transportation hubs.

We look forward to a greener, smarter future, but understand we have work to do right now to make that future possible.

Invitation to My Swearing-In Ceremony

incoming-reception-fox-02

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Please join me at Irvine City Hall on Tues., December 13, for my swearing-in ceremony as a member of the Irvine City Council.

My election victory was the result of the contributions and hard work of many people. I am tremendously grateful for your efforts and contributions, and I am honored and privileged to serve the residents of Irvine.

I am also honored to announce that California State Treasurer John Chiang will swear me in.

The swearing-in ceremony will take place at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, at Irvine City Hall, located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606.

There will be a reception afterward, beginning at 6:00 pm.

I have attached a copy of the invitation here.

I hope to see you there!

With appreciation,

Melissa Fox
Irvine City Councilmember-Elect