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Sustainable Solutions: Our Sustainable “Village” Climate Adaptation Plan - May 2015 - by Sam Euston

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Sustainable Solutions:
Our Sustainable “Village” Climate Adaptation Plan
May 2015 - by Sam Euston

by Sam Euston

So what will it take; as our Sonoma County proverbial “Village” positions itself as a leader in the development and implementation of a Sustainable approach toward Climate Adaptation?

This was one of the questions that I had on my mind while attending the recent Sonoma County Adaptation Forum.  Below are a few of the things I learned, and answers that I walked away with:

First, there is the assessment, the influence, the confronting of the challenges (both current and future) of climate change, and the adaptation plan necessary for our community to sustain itself.

As Kate Meis (Executive Director, Local Government Commission) relayed recently at the very well organized and attended, Sonoma County Adaptation Forum (SCAF):   

Our Communities are changing, the impacts and influence of climate change is here.

There are demographic changes taking place.

  • The aging of the population (example; adaptive planning for temperature extremes & increased incidence of heat stroke)
  • The increasing diversity of the population
  • The rapid shift regarding the way people are
    • moving
    • working
    • using technology to communicate (such as Social Media)
  • The immediate and long term adaptive challenges (example; drought preparation)
  • The innovative opportunities that are presenting themselves (example; multi-use of water & waste)

As several presenters repeated throughout the Forum “the crucial answer to the success of our community, will be our direct correlation to our resiliency. What measures have we considered and can actively implement?”

In Kate’s summary of the Forum she stressed that: “We need to expect more from:

  • Our investments
  • The implementation toward resource multi-use” (example: water)

Kate emphasized many key areas: “we need to:

  • Expect more from the beer & wine industries
  • Expect more from our energy systems (not only owning it, direct it toward cleaner & greener)
  • Expect more from our food systems
  • Expect more from public lands
  • Expect more from our yards (example: daily acts.org)
  • Expect more from our waste (example: Arcata, CA sewage treatment system)
  • Efficient utilization of biomass
  • Expand utilization of food waste (example: Crop Mobsters)
  • Innovate solutions that establish integrated partnerships (examples):
    • building horizontal and vertical connections
    • working across the multiple sectors
    • working across the jurisdictional sectors
    • establish working partnerships from the individual, to the international level
  • Focus emphasis on solutions that work for:
    • the people
    • our natural systems
    • our built environments
    • our economy that supports the people.
  • Develop solutions that work for all community members
    • Acknowledge that diversity is also a key element
    • Address racial inequity; our zip code determining our outcome from birth to death is disconcerting”

So, how does a community begin to address these areas?  Well, this is what I’ve talked about in previous columns; SCAF just stated in different terms.

Once again, I’m going back to Kate’s impactful presentation at SCAF:

“Considering the limited resources:

  • Look at the budget
    • Is there transparency?
    • What is prioritized?

The community’s budget and investments determine what goes into the ground

 Are our investments supporting resiliency?

  • Are our investments supporting resiliency?
  • Are our investments supporting all of our community members?”

So, what do we look for? Here are some examples:

What are our community’s investments currently being made in:

  • our neighborhoods?
  • transportation?
  • law enforcement?
  • access to food?
  • health care?
  • energy resiliency?
  • energy efficiency?
  • community choice aggregation?
  • low impact development?
  • water recycling and reuse?
  • livable, walkable & active communities?
  • alternative transportation modes, which can help the community?

What is prioritized as well as, where and with whom, does the responsibility lie for the outcomes and resiliency regarding our community?

Sustainable Solution Leadership involves planning, innovating, adopting, implementing, piloting and refining Climate Adaptation infrastructure and policies that build resiliency. 

In attending the Sonoma County Adaptation Forum, it was clear that we have very dedicated, knowledgeable, highly skilled and competent local human resources, which can help create and mold Sustainable Climate Adaptation policies. As a leader, our policies have the potential to be utilized by our state, other states, and even the federal legislature.

As Justin Witt (Environmental Planner at Brelje & Race) stated: "You’ve heard that it takes a village, I would offer that to respond to climate challenges, it will take a village with a plan." And now taking the lead, our Sonoma Village Plan!