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Join Conservation Action Board and Staff for a Holiday Open House

 

Where: SCCA Office 540 Pacific Ave Santa Rosa

When: 5:30pm – 8pm Monday December 16th

Conservation Action’s Board and Staff are opening up our office on Monday, December 16st for an intimate holiday gathering. Here’s a top ten list of why you should attend the Conservation Action Open House:
10. Lite Finger Foods Prepared by SCCA, or Donated by Friends! (Feel Free to Bring Something to Share, But No Expectations!)
9. Wine and Beer!
8. Eco-Caroling! (A little scary to think some of us may break out in song, but tis the season!)
7. Cider!
6. Merry-Making!
5. Meet and Fellow Local Enviros and Celebrate the Season!
4. Christmas Raffle!
3. Santa might be there!
2. Elbow rubbing (it’s a small office!)
1. And the number 1 reason you should go to the Conservation Action Holiday Open House- It’s a party for YOU!
Come out and have a good time with us and get to know Conservation Action’s team of board volunteers and dedicated staff.

RSVP Here!

Posted by & filed under News.

1st District Supervisor

Susan Gorin

SCCA endorses Susan Gorin for First District Supervisor. Susan has long been a long time supporter of progressive ideals in Sonoma County. She is an advocate of city centered, transit-oriented development, and played a pivotal role in preserving more than 800 acres of open space at the now shuttered Sonoma Developmental Center for future generations. After losing her home in the Nuns Fire, Gorin took the lead on planning for the future around issues like redundant emergency alerts and creating a five-year plan to ensure the county is prepared for fires and other disasters. SCCA has long been impressed with her leadership, and is excited to support her bid for re-election. Vote Susan Gorin for 1st District Supervisor

susan-gorin.com/


3rd District Supervisor

Chris Coursey

SCCA endorses former Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey for 3rd District Supervisor. The endorsement decision was not an easy one.  SCCA had previously endorsed both Coursey and his opponent, incumbent Supervisor Shirlee Zane, in their prior bids for elected office, and both candidates had strong records of supporting environmental values. But after multiple candidate interviews, and much discussion, Conservation Action decided that Mayor Coursey is the right person to represent Sonoma County on the Board of Supervisors.  His positions on greenbelt protection, urban infill and transit-oriented development, SMART, and sustainable vineyard and winery practices strongly align with our organization’s values. We appreciate his open leadership style, independence, and commitment to transparency and citizen engagement in government decision-making.  While we deeply appreciate Supervisor Zane’s 12 years of dedicated service to our community, Chris Coursey is our choice in the March primary. Vote Chris Coursey for 3rd District Supervisor.

courseyforsupervisor.com/


5th District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins

SCCA endorses Lynda Hopkins for Fifth District Supervisor.  While our organization didn’t support Supervisor Hopkins in her first bid for elected office in 2016, she has more than earned our support for her re-election campaign.  Supervisor Hopkins is aligned with Conservation Action’s values, is focused on critical issues, and is thoroughly knowledgeable and engaged.  She is mindful of the need to protect rural spaces, was the driving force behind the synthetic pesticide ban at the county level, and is establishing herself as a champion of climate protection.  Vote Lynda Hopkins for Fifth District Supervisor.

lyndaforsupervisor.com/

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By Neal Fishman, SCCA Board President

Life sometimes takes strange twists and turns. For instance, how does a city boy from the Bronx end up as a leading Northern California environmentalist and a critical member of the SCCA board? It’s a good story and we’ll let you in on it. But first, a very big thank you to David Keller, said city boy, for his years of service to SCCA, Sonoma County and much of the rest of Northern California. David left SCCA’s board this year after 18 years. We owe him our respect and gratitude and very much miss his insights at our monthly meetings.

David grew up in the Bronx in the same congressional district now held by Alexandra Ocasio
Cortez. His family lived in a lively area of high rises that were well planned to provide more than just a place to live. There were parks and community centers, public transit, and small retail stores. It was one of the first planned high-rise communities in the country. Its goals were to provide a good quality of life for everyone, not just specific families within their own domiciles. This stuck with David and is one of the keys to how he feels about Sonoma County and its problems and opportunities.

After graduating from City College of New York with a double degree in sociology and social psychology and a minor in art David left the Bronx and headed for advanced study in Ann Arbor, Michigan, eventually getting a job as a social worker in Detroit. As he tells it, this was his last straight job and it didn’t last long. Oregon and then California beckoned.

Carpentry and woodworking were his goals in Oregon but the economy in the early seventies provided few opportunities. Landing in Oakland he decided to seek new skills at the California College of Arts and Crafts and then UC Berkeley. Neither had wood working classes of any note and CCAC cost a mint, and at that time David barely had enough money to buy a package of mints. But he was told of a master woodworker living in Bolinas, Arthur Espenet, who might consider having a student.

He visited Espenet, who it turned out was just about to undertake a major project for the Smithsonian, outfitting the then new Renwick gallery. David had found a master who he then convinced to “hire” him for the princely sum of nothing. But he didn’t have to pay him either. He worked there for three years. But after a few months he was taken on as a paid employee making a living wage at the time, $3 and hour. He became a skilled wood worker and carpenter, his goal, but also made wood working tools. He devised a special jig for creating dove tails in larger thicker furniture pieces. Selling these tools and making furniture became his livelihood.

Bolinas was and is a town of often brilliant but iconoclastic individualists. David fit right in and became involved in local issues. He spearheaded the permanent opening of the beach in town and repair of the infrastructure protecting it. He supported a development moratorium based on water supply. These, and other issues, meant dealing with bureaucrats, permits and even a local election. The social worker turned wood worker was becoming an environmental activist.

After a few years David and his wife Allison moved to Petaluma where his activism blossomed over issues related to a local creek, the local sewage treatment plant, the Petaluma River, the county water agency, and eventually the Eel and Russian rivers. These all remain issues that David cares about and is active in. It didn’t take long for Bill Kortum to ask David to join the SCCA board in the late nineties. He also served a term on the Petaluma City Council. For all of his nearly 20 years on the SCCA board David was a thought leader and a tough activist. He is proud of SCCA’s role during those years promoting the SMART train, urban growth boundaries, the Ag and Open Space District, and a fix for Santa Rosa sewage treatment dilemmas.

In a way, the city boy has come full circle. The differences in his interests and life in the Bronx and eventually in Sonoma County do not loom so large today. David recounts that even in his New York days, water was always an issue and solace to him. His later work in Marin and Sonoma counties has included much thought and effort about water supply and public access to water. His experience living in a well-planned community in the Bronx informs his opinions on what types of development should be promoted in Sonoma County. His New York local hero, Jane Jacobs, got her spurs battling the powerful and legendary Robert Moses who tried but failed to put a freeway through the center of Manhattan, which would have destroyed much of the city. Jacobs powerful rebuke of Moses as well as David’s own social activism flowed easily into environmental activism in later years.

David may have left the SCCA board, but he will always remain a supporter and a firm environmental voice in the entire region. Now, along with his long-standing interest in water, David will be concentrating his concern on making sure that the rush to build new housing for all income levels is done with the same kind of care that was put into those high rises in the Bronx. He recounts a story about a conversation he had with a Berkeley architect about how long buildings last. What we do today will be with us for generations. If we don’t require development to provide space for public amenities, there won’t be any, for generations. He also recounts an encounter with a group of Japanese carpentry masters who came to California during his Bolinas days to rebuild a dismantled temple that was sent as a gift. Each member of the crew from Japan was not only a master carpenter but they each came from generations of such masters. Their skills were unmatched because of this long tradition. David stands for the long view in Sonoma County. He stands with future generations as well as our own time. He stands for an economy, where skill, craft, environmental restoration, and public goods have a key and honored place. To a great degree this is the essence of SCCA’s mission and we will continue to seek David’s guidance in the coming years.

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SCCA was hoping to see Rohnert Park become the 8th city in Sonoma County to stop using synthetic pesticides in publicly accessible areas last month but the meeting was cancelled. At the last minute, three of Rohnert Park City Councilors were unfortunately unable to attend. The Rohnert Park Pesticide Vote has been tentatively postponed until September 10th.

A HUGE thank you to the ~100 dedicated residents and concerned citizens who came out to the meeting! Please make plans to come again on Sept. 24th and speak in support of a Toxic Free Rohnert Park.

In the meantime please reach out to the Rohnert Park City Council urging them to vote in support of the health and safety of Rohnert Park’s public spaces.

 

City Manager Darrin Jenkins: dajenkins@rpcity.org
Mayor Gina Belforte: gbelforte@rpcity.org
Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan: jcallinan@rpcity.org
Councilmember Susan Hollingsworth Adams: sadams@rpcity.org
Councilmember Jake Mackenzie: jmackenzie@rpcity.org
Councilmember Pam Stafford: pstafford@rpcity.org

 

The Staff report put forward by the RP City Manager projects a significant increase in landscaping cost. We believe that it’s absolutely possible for Rohnert Park to make the transition to non-toxic landscaping with minimal cost increases, especially because all of the work is being done in-house. All of the local entities that do their landscape maintenance in-house and switched to all or mostly organic methods have seen very little or no cost increases.

 

Examples of cities and city agencies that have gone Toxic Free without significant cost increase include:

The Sonoma County Agencies‘ synthetic pesticide “ban” that passed last June that keeps synthetic pesticides out of most publicly accessible areas came with no associated FTE or cost increases. Regional Parks does all of their landscape maintenance in-house and their workers are under the same union as Rohnert Park’s public works employees.
Sebastopol stopped using synthetic pesticides (except in emergency cases) in 2000 and their landscape budget did not increase as a result. Sebastopol does all of their landscaping in-house.
Santa Rosa City Schools does all of their landscape maintenance in-house. They did not ask for a budget increase when the school board voted unanimously to stop using synthetic weedkillers in January 2018.
Cotati estimated that switching to organic weed killers would cost an extra $1,500-2,000/year. Cotati uses a landscape contractor for all of their maintenance. 
Healdsburg stopped using synthetic pesticides in parks and other publicly accessible areas in 2017 and did not ask for a budget increase. Healdsburg uses a landscape contractor. 
The City of Sonoma stopped using glyphosate (the only synthetic weedkiller they were using) in April 2019 with no associated cost increase.
Santa Rosa Water stopped using synthetic pesticides on their urban facilities in 2015 by doing a simple product swap (stopped using RoundUP, started using an OMRI/organic product). This change came with no budget impact.
City Council in Santa Rosa voted unanimously last fall to instruct their landscape contractor to stop using synthetic weedkillers and use only OMRI/organic chemicals. This change came with no budget increase.
The only local example I have of landscape costs going up by large magnification factors when adopting non-toxic practices is in Windsor. This is partially because the city is asking the new contractor to be responsible for more work than the previous contractor, but there must be other factors. Windsor relies heavily on landscape contractors. 
Switching to nontoxic landscaping for Rohnert Park will likely mean more than just swapping out products. It will require taking a fresh look at current practices, eliminating the tasks that don’t make sense, and trying new things. It’s extremely difficult to estimate how much this all will cost, which is mostly likely why some  initial cost estimates come out so high. As synthetic pesticide-free park maintenance becomes more common locally, we’ll get a much better idea of its true cost. For now, we must implore Rohnert Park leadership to see the value in removing synthetic pesticides from public spaces and believe that the Public Works staff is capable of rising to the challenge.

 

Past Toxic Free Future Successes!

8/13/19 Cotati City Council votes to ban glyphosate and to prepare a plan to ban all synthetic pesticides on city property.
6/4/19 Sonoma County Supervisors ban synthetic weedkillers on publicly accessible County-owned land
1/5/19 City of Sonoma bans glyphosate on city-owned land
9/5/18 Town of Windsor bans all synthetic pesticides
8/22/18 Santa Rosa bans synthetic pesticides in city landscape contract
1/8/18 Santa Rosa City Schools ban synthetic herbicides
5/1/2000 Sebastopol becomes the first city in Sonoma County to ban synthetic pesticides

Posted by & filed under Events, Past Events.

Join Conservation Action for a float down the Russian River with Don McEnhill, the Russian Riverkeeper & Riverkeeper Executive Director and SOAR’s Larry Laba!

Learn about current water and river issues, and how we can do our part to help protect this incredibly valuable resource.

Paddle down the beautiful Middle Reach of the Russian River and the Syar Beach. This remote ~3.5 mile journey will take us through an intimate and rarely accessed part of the river; providing the opportunity to see the river’s abundant wildlife in a new light! The Trip with go from Healdsburg Memorial Beach to the Crow Bar. There will be great places to swim along the way.

Please bring your own water and snacks.

Key Details!

Date: Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Slide Scale Donation: $40-100

RSVP: Email matt@conservationaction.org for tickets

Arrival Time: 4:45 pm

Start Time: 5:30 pm (we will leave on time, so don’t be late) Total Paddle Time: 1 Hour

Meeting Location: 20 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg

Click Here for a Map

Canoes are provided for you and are sponsored by Russian River Adventures!

or send a check to “SCCA, 540 Pacific Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404” noting “Riverfloat”

Posted by & filed under News.

SCCA is very happy to announce the 2019 GrassRoots Gala Award Winners. These esteemed people have shown great passion, fortitude, ability, and leadership in the field of Environmental Politics. We salute their ongoing efforts to ensure Sonoma County has a bright and sustainable future for all!

 

Reserve Your Tickets Today!

 

    Leader in Environmental Justice and Equity Award – OMAR GALLARDO, Landpaths –

     Presenter: Algería de la Cruz

Honoring distinguished leadership in environmental justice and equity in our community. Gallardo is the oldest child of immigrant farm workers from Mexico, and the first one to pursue college. He is passionate about connecting people both to the land and to each other, while building community and staying true to his roots. With humanity and grace, he has excelled at community organizing, expanded the diversity and relevance of Landpaths’ programs and led countless youth to share his love of the land.

 

     Upstream Swimmer Award – RACHEL HUNDLEY, Sonoma City Council –

     Presenter: Chris Coursey

For a Sonoma County elected or appointed representative who has shown resolve in the face of adversity in standing for environmental principles despite opposition. In the face of intense retribution for an environmental vote, Hundley stood her ground and had a national impact on how women in politics can overcome a misogynistic smear campaign.

 

     Dick Day Community Activist Award – RICHARD CHARTER, Senior Fellow, The Ocean Foundation –

     Presenter: Neal Fishman

Honoring the activist spirit who goes the extra mile and shows outstanding organization in support of the protection and enhancement of our environment. Charter is a local and national hero in ocean protection. He helped to establish and maintain a 27-year congressional ban on offshore drilling along the Pacific, Atlantic and Florida Gulf coastlines. He worked with tens-of-thousands of people to create a network of five National Marine Sanctuaries to make coastal protection off of a large portion of the California Coast permanent, plus worked with indigenous people from Alaska and the conservation community to achieve a permanent drilling prohibition in Alaska’s fishery-rich Bristol Bay.

 

     Bill Kortum Innovative Leader Award – LISA MICHELI , Ph.D. –

     Presenter: Dennis Rosatti

Honoring ingenuity, creativity, and innovation in environmental activism and policy. Micheli is an internationally acclaimed expert on climate change. As the executive director of Pepperwood Preserve, a 3,200-acre ecological research center, she and her team of scientists are doing extraordinary work on climate adaptive land management. Notably, she is integrating indigenous perspectives and biocultural knowledge into the land management, habitat restoration work and educational programming.

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Urgent Action Alert:

Please join us at the Board of Supervisors Meeting Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 8:30am

Location: Board of Supervisors Chambers 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa

Agenda Item to be Discussed: Toxic Free Future in and around Sonoma County Public Areas

The Board of Supervisors will be voting on a resolution to adopt an Integrated Pest Management system and prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, in sensitive areas.

Let your voice be heard! We urge you to show up at the meeting and let Board of Supervisors know that our county’s residents are unified in opposition to the use of dangerous synthetic pesticides in our public spaces! Show them that their constituents demand they make the responsible decision!

Over the past three years SCCA has worked diligently to ban Toxic Pesticides, such as Glyphosate (Round-Up) and neonicotinoids, in Sonoma County public areas. SCCA has led the way in advocating for and achieving restricted use of these dangerous chemicals in various cities in the County, such as Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sonoma and Petaluma;. These cities are now safer and greener for all residents. We are currently engaged in organizing bans in the remaining cities through our Canvass, spreading the word through community discussions and educational events in Rohnert Park and Cotati, as well as helping organize local activists in Cloverdale.

For too long the solution to pest control and weed abatement has been to spray more harmful chemicals on the problem, with little regard for the direct effects of these chemicals on our community members and the environment. We now know the terrible health hazards associated with not only Round-Up but many other pesticides used by city and county workers, all in the name of controlling weeds in our parks and open spaces. We have non toxic alternatives that can be a part of a more responsible Integrated Pest Management System. SCCA is dedicated to lead the way through education, canvassing and advocacy, aiding Sonoma County to realize the goal of a true toxic free future for our families, neighbors and communities.

Help us fund this critical work with $5, $15, $55, or $150 now!

Support Now

The County has already:

✔️ Stopped spraying on the County Complex

✔️ Worked on integrated pest management plans to reduce pesticide use by Transportation & Public Works, Sonoma Water and Regional Parks

✔️ Started testing OMRI (certified organic) and mechanical alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

On Tuesday when the resolution passes we will:

✔️ Establish official NO SPRAY ZONES to include playgrounds, plazas, playing fields, sidewalks, libraries and county campuses;

✔️ Direct staff to formally map and publish a list of all no-spray zones by the end of the year (which will include the areas mentioned above, and more);

✔️Commit to annual public reporting of pesticide use to ensure transparency and accountability to our policies;

✔️ Establish County policy to eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides in highly trafficked areas, eliminate routine synthetic pesticide use in our parks and open space, and prioritize organic and mechanical alternatives.

SCCA is member funded and can not do this important work without the support of our community. Please consider becoming a sustaining member and donate monthly or quarterly to enable SCCA’s fight for a healthy and green Sonoma County!

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As Conservation Action moves toward the future, we know we’ll need a strong board and staffing presence to implement our plans and goals. In this era of Trumpian breaking-of-norms, we aim to be a solid base to grow grassroots policy and leaders.

 

Two New Board Members.

To that end, we’re happy to announce Blake Hooper, aide to Congressman Jared Huffman, and Miles Burgin, member of Wine Country Young Democrats have joined the Board. These two active community members bring important insights to our Board table from the national and local perspective. We are committed to growing Conservation Action through this transition time, and we are grateful for the continued support of our community in helping to ensure that SCCA remains our County’s watchdog and environmental steward as our community faces the growing pressures of development, social and environmental injustice, and climate change.

Dedicated and Talented Staff.

On the staffing front, we are lucky to have dedicated staff working daily for Conservation Action. Erica Buonasissi, Operations Manager, and Matt Callaway, Canvass Director, will be keeping our campaigns moving forward, with Board direction and participation.  Both Matt and Erica are seasoned in Conservation Action operations and management, and we’re confident in the role they will play going forward. We are preparing for the coming election season in 2020, and have a number of important issue campaigns to press forward in the coming months.

Interim Executive Management.

Additionally, our former longtime Executive Director, Dennis Rosatti, has agreed to a short term role in helping guide our internal and external affairs while the Board takes a breath and prepares to search for new permanent staffing, and we as an organization work full steam ahead on campaigns and our Gala. Dennis has a strong knowledge of what it takes to make Conservation Action go, and has expanded his service offerings since leaving Conservation Action to include non-profit executive support, as well as public relations and campaign management.

Chief Financial Officer consultant.

Also, the Board is pleased to announce a financial consultant arrangement with City of Sebastopol Councilwoman Una Glass, a  longtime former SCCA Board Member and former Coastwalk CA Executive Director. Ms Glass has a growing clientele of non-profits under her guidance, and we look forward to a continued partnership with her oversight.

Open Executive Director role.

We will release an announcement in the months ahead about the process to fill this role. We also are aiming to announce some new additions to our Board of Directors in the coming months, as we still have some space for a variety of input at our Board table.

Celebrate with us!

We look forward to seeing many of you at our Grassroots Gala on July 13th, where we celebrate 28 years of success in the face of environmental challenges. Congressman Jared Huffman will discuss “Environmentalism in the Age of Trump,”  and we also have a special video message from renowned climate change activist Bill McKibben. More information on tickets and sponsorships are available at: www.conservationaction.org/Gala2019.

Sincerely,

Neal Fishman, Board President

Michael Allen, Board Chairman

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We wish to share the news that our Executive Director, Daisy Pistey-Lyhne, has completed her tenure at SCCA. We have been grateful for her return to Sonoma County to take the helm of the organization at a moment of transition, and we are grateful for the work accomplished under her leadership in the past year, including:

  • Bringing back our door-to-door canvass, and bolstering the success of the Measure M “Parks for All” campaign
  • Reaching 55,000 households with SCCA’s candidate endorsements, achieving a 75% success rate overall for our endorsed candidates
  • Helping to elect environmental candidates despite the influence of big money
  • Moving forward our Toxic Free Future campaign to ban synthetic pesticides in public spaces
  • Bringing forth a local neighborhood’s need for a safe train crossing, gaining the attention of SMART officials and the City of Santa Rosa
  • Successfully pressuring Rohnert Park to place the renewal of its Urban Growth Boundary on the March 2020 ballot

Daisy came into her advocacy as a protégé of SCCA’s founder Bill Kortum, and continued Bill’s commitment to the “never give up, never back down” philosophy of SCCA, along with his passion for community organizing. As SCCA moves forward and charts a course toward the future, we appreciate Daisy’s dedication to the continuing success of the organization and our involvement with the broader community.

In Daisy’s absence, we will be keeping our campaigns moving forward through the work of our Board and community members, and looking forward to the coming election season in 2020. We will release an announcement in the months ahead about the process to fill this open role.

We are committed to supporting SCCA through this transition as we prepare for our annual Grassroots Gala on July 13th. We look forward to seeing Daisy’s success with her next endeavors, and are grateful for the continued support of our community in helping to ensure that SCCA remains our County’s watchdog and environmental steward as our community faces the growing pressures of development, social and environmental injustice, and climate change.

We look forward to seeing many of you on July 13th as we celebrate our 28 years of success in the face of challenges, and as we discuss our theme: “Environmentalism in the Age of Trump,” with Congressman Jared Huffman as our keynote speaker, and a special video message from Bill McKibben. More information on tickets and sponsorships are available at: www.conservationaction.org/Gala2019

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors
Sonoma County Conservation Action

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