Last year on December 5, our friends, supporters and staff gathered at Rinaldo’s and Lalla’s house to celebrate the closing of 2017. It was a lovely evening, and we left the gathering with our hearts full of cheer. But there was also an undercurrent of foreboding as the Thomas Fire had just begun its destructive march as we gathered. We didn’t know it then, but our community would spend the next several weeks suffering through ash, evacuations, power outages, and property losses from the fire, only to be deeply wounded again by the Jan. 9, 2018 fatal debris flow in Montecito.
In the context of these disasters and many others this year, including the Woolsey Fire in Malibu and the widespread death and destruction from the Camp Fire in Northern California, we have emerged a much stronger action incubator. Motivated by the maxim, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” we formed the Global Citizens Club in late 2017 to engage local citizens through regular stakeholder meetings and panels addressing crucial social, economic, and environmental issues facing Santa Barbara today. Our 2018 events included:
- January: Diane D’Arrigo, NIRS’ Radioactive Waste Project Director, on the problem of nuclear waste
- February: Rebuilding Montecito: Pathways to a Resilient Future (Initiative launched: the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative)
- March: Reviving Retail in Santa Barbara: Solutions to the ‘Retail Apocalypse’ (State Street Task Force idea)
- June: Reinventing State Street: Developing a Plan for the Future– a follow up (State Street Task Force inaugurated)
- October: Santa Barbara’s Redistricting Future – a Debate on Measures G & H
- November: Public Meeting on MCMI (the first of several in planning)
Coming out of the GCC events, we also launched two ongoing initiatives:
- Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative (MCMI) – jointly with the Clean Coalition
- State Street Task Force
The Academy’s biggest single accomplishment is that we achieved nationwide recognition with the initial capitalization of JUST Capital, the now independent non-profit initially formed by Rinaldo as a joint venture between the Academy and the Chopra Foundation. Rinaldo continues to serve on the Executive, Audit and Finance and Nominating Committees of JUST Capital’s Board of Directors. We are literally changing Wall Street’s evolving definition of success from the traditional quarterly profit cycle to the embrace of a more holistic and sustainable model that will lead to businesses assuming a “Responsibility for The Whole.”’ Please see a representation of the various articles that have appeared in major publications in just the past year.
We also advanced our work to insulate our communities against foreseeable climate change impacts similar to the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow. Since 2015, the Academy has alerted local officials and organizations to the systemic flaws of our energy distribution system, and the increasing urgency to develop a synergistic, holistic approach that integrates all of our community infrastructure. Bob Perry, with the help of Kristy Jansen and Angeline Foshay (now developing sustainability policy at the City of Goleta as a CivicSpark Fellow) created the Roadmap to Resiliency infographic, which was featured at this year’s Earth Day festival and is based upon on a paper authored by energy visionary Dr. Lorenzo Kristov.
We also completed our legal campaign against the continued operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which culminated in a lawsuit against the State Lands Commission to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). When the State Lands Commission caved in to outside interests and authorized the renewal of land leases at Diablo without the required EIR, we fought against their errant decision all the way to the California Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the court declined to hear the petition, but we believe history will validate our efforts.
We are still designing our priorities for 2019 and believe it will be our best year yet. We firmly believe that our work is necessary for our community to grow and thrive and invite you to become part of the solution.