Bold Climate Action
The double blow of the Thomas Fire and ensuing debris flow in 2018 left no doubt about the increasing threats of climate change to Santa Barbara County. Hotter days, extended droughts, wildfires, more violent and unpredictable storms are the region’s new normal.
Thankfully, the Central Coast is home to one of the nation’s most accomplished environmental action nonprofits, which – in step with its forward thinking reputation – reoriented its focus to meet climate change head on 15 years ago. The Community Environmental Council’s CEO Sigrid Wright draws on the organization’s 50 years of experience in “innovating, incubating, bringing to scale and fledging” environmental solutions – such as leading the nation in recycling and other game-changing feats.
In recent years, CEC has worked to drive down fossil fuel use for transportation, support a healthy and just local food system, better manage waste, and green the grid. Over 800 households have gone through CEC’s Solarize program, which provides bulk-purchased solar panels to make the green transition more affordable. CEC has helped install over 850 electric vehicle charging stations on the Central Coast, working toward California’s goal of putting five million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030 – including getting low-income drivers behind the wheel. “When paired together, rooftop solar is used to charge the electric vehicles,” Wright says. “We call it driving on sunshine.”
Even still, Wright recognizes that the climate crisis is unfolding rapidly and will require massive on-the-ground momentum to reverse emissions and protect the region from its impacts. To get there, CEC’s bold plan to reach Carbon Zero in the next decade is to:
•Ensure that the Central Coast has the tools it needs to meet or establish transformative climate goals for transportation, renewable energy, organic waste and nature-based carbon farming
•Spur concrete action to safeguard the Central Coast from the impacts of climate threats like extreme heat, wildfire, drought, sea level rise, and storms
•Build a troop of diverse climate stewards and youth activists who can build community support for action
•Establish a local green workforce development initiative centered on climate justice
•Establish a pilot community compost project and food recovery kitchens throughout the County to extend the life of fresh surplus food and prevent food waste
•Establish solar-powered Resilience Centers to support vulnerable populations
•Install 1 megawatt of solar on regional nonprofits and schools
•Deploy cutting-edge transportation technology – including all-electric transit and school buses, and electric vehicle car share, and on-demand transportation services
• Prevent the waste of 240,000 pounds a year of edible food from restaurants, caterers and grocery stores, and provide it to organizations serving people in need
Director of Development: Nicole Eads
The Community Environmental Council (CEC) advances rapid and equitable solutions to the climate crisis – including ambitious zero carbon goals, drawdown of excess carbon, and protection against the impacts of climate change. CEC was recognized as a 2020 California Nonprofit of the Year and a City of Santa Barbara Climate Hero and is led by CEO Sigrid Wright who was recently named 2022 Congressional Woman of the Year. CEC has worked since 1970 to incubate and innovate real-life environmental solutions that directly affect the California Central Coast. Our programs lead to clean vehicles, solar energy, resilient food systems, and reduction of single-use plastic.
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Clear Thinking on Climate Change
CEC helped me understand the basics and the complexities of climate change, and how to take steps in my life to make positive changes. I also gained a deeper understanding of how to strategically bring environmental sustainability into my work to help clients be successful.
Reverse, Repair, Protect. Saving the Central Coast and Our Planet
The Community Environmental Council (CEC) must raise $15 million to fund its Protect Our Climate: Reverse, Repair, Protect campaign, the nonprofit’s ambitious plan to halt the climate crisis. As of late in 2022, CEC had raised $11.7 million, and all gifts will be matched by the John C. Mithun Foundation, up to $100,000. Funding will propel CEC’s work in several key areas, as well as establish an 8,000-square-foot Environmental Hub on Santa Barbara’s State Street – a living laboratory for people from all walks of life to design equitable climate solutions and put nature’s solutions to work.
“The Hub will fill a much-needed gap for a gathering space for the social sector, and will feature the Conklin Community Room, a flexible-use conference room. It also includes a professional webinar studio, small meeting rooms, “hot desk” rentals, and use for after-hours events such as film screenings, lectures, and receptions,” says Sigrid Wright, CEC’s CEO. “Our intention is that people from across the region who share the mission of protecting the Central Coast can have a place to design the future together.”
Campaign Leadership Donors
James S. Bower Foundation
Sheila & Tom Cullen
Emily, Dan, Casey & Willow Engel
G. A. Fowler Family Foundation
Nancy & Karl Hutterer
Karen & John Jostes
Charles D. (Kim) Kimbell
Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing
John C. Mithun Foundation
Betsy & Charles Newman
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
Sea Forward Fund
Judy & Jack Stapelmann
Suzanne & John Steed
Leslie Sweem Bhutani
& Ashish Bhutani
& G. William Arnett
Zegar Family Foundation