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Sonoma County Gazette
The New Normal and our Circle of Influence

The New Normal and Our Circle of Influence 

Apr 19, 2017


With the 5-year drought officially at an end in California, we collectively breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to a fresh, verdant season after heavy winter rains. What lessons from the drought can we draw from? When we band together for a common purpose, we are more resilient than we think. Resilience is the ability to recover, and even thrive, in the face of adversity.

Now that the rains have started back up, pouring forth like a mighty faucet, do we dare to squander this precious resource? Or are we ready for conservation and community resilience to be our “New Normal”?

Community Resilience ChallengeOur relationship with water; how we capture, use, and conserve water; is forever changed.Governor Jerry Brown said in April that “Conservation must remain a way of life.” California residents are in a significant position of choosing to keep the future needs of our home state in clear focus, and we each have an active role to play in this New Normal. Our “Circle of Influence” is a concept which includes the things within our reach to affect, act on, and do something about. When you focus your energy on the choices within your reach, there is so much in our world we have power to influence!

During the drought, urban water efficiency was the hero, the quiet achiever, saving more water at a lower cost. Now that the drought is over, it is up to all of us to flex our power to continue to design systems that are efficient and reuse every drop. We cannot go back to the way things were before, and we must plan for the future.

This means that we plant perennial food gardens and drought tolerant pollinator plants while the water table is high, so they are well established by the time the next Climate Change induced dry spell comes along. We continue to replace our appliances with high efficiency models, while also implementing the low-tech solutions that are at our fingertips. We design water catchment into our outdoor spaces: landscape contours and rain gardens passively capture flowing water, with collection barrels, cisterns, and tanks storing our roof runoff. Greywater is vital to residential water reuse and ridiculously easy to use once installed.

Sonoma County – there is so much positivity within your circle of influence! Community events are popping up left and right, bringing people together to plan a way forward through these chaotic times. There are classes on water conservation techniques, garden design, composting and more through city and county resources as well as with local non-profits like Daily Acts. Daily Acts is currently running its annual Community Resilience Challenge, which highlights actions we can all take to build our community more resilient, while providing incentives and education on how to achieve our goals.

So where does YOUR power lie? What is within your Circle of Influence? The lessons of the drought are fresh, but it’s not all about water. What can you choose to do today that creates the New Normal of a connected and resilient community? Can you choose five plants to add to your garden to feed the birds and bees? Can you invite friends and neighbors for dinner to talk about the things that concern you (how about planning together for bulk purchases to save money and reduce waste)?

Tap into your Circle of Influence because it feels good. Adopt the New Normal because it’s the right thing to do. Make the sustainable choice because it makes our future more certainly like the world we want to live in. Involve others because we’re all in this together. Do it because we are more powerful than we think we are.

The Community Resilience Challenge is an education and action program ofDaily Acts that runs every spring through the end of May and is now in its 8th year. Participants register actions online  and all actions are quantified at the end of the Challenge to tell the story of our collective impact. Participants are eligible for local discounts, free incentives, and special raffles to help encourage you on your journey. Make your community proud. Stand up and be counted! Register today!


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