Our Current Climate Action Groups
In 2021, Yale University did a survey assessing public opinion about the climate crisis in the United States. According to that survey, 72% of Americans believed that global warming was real. About that same amount said that they believed that global warming would harm future generations. Sixty five percent stated that citizens should do more and 59% believed that local officials should also do more to address it. The main problem is that most people don’t know where to begin and the scale of what needs to be done can be overwhelming. Our action groups provide you with a few different ways to get involved with solutions on a local level right here in Healdsburg.
Historical Context: In September 2019, the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) Board adopted a Climate Emergency Resolution outlining the agency’s commitment to leading countywide efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the decade ahead. Healdsburg followed suit later the same year. RCPA was directed to develop a new strategy, the Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy, to mobilize an emergency response commensurate with the scale of the crisis.
Healdsburg’s mayor, Ariel Kelley, is currently our representative on the RCPA. To meet the Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, Sonoma County as a whole must reduce its GHG emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels. It must also achieve an increase in carbon sequestration that is large enough to remove the remaining CO2 from the atmosphere. We all need to work together to make this happen.
According to the RCPA’s most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the vast majority of our GHG emissions in Healdsburg are from transportation (55%) and building energy (38%). Our building energy emissions are the highest of any jurisdiction in Sonoma County.
Move! Healdsburg Action Group
The Sonoma County Transportation Authority reported in its Sonoma County Travel Behavior Study that 59% of vehicle trips in Healdsburg were less than 5 miles and 44% of trips were under 2 miles. If Healdsburg is going to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, we need to get out of our cars and use alternative forms of transport.
Making our streets and sidewalks safer for cyclists, especially children, and pedestrians is an issue that this action group takes very seriously. According to a survey conducted in late 2021 by Healdsburg 2040, one of the most important reasons why people who know how to ride a bike don’t bike more frequently in Healdsburg is that they “don’t think Healdsburg streets are safe for cyclists.” You can see more information in the results of the 2021 Slow Streets Survey conducted by Healdsburg 2040. The top reason cited was that “I need to transport more than I can carry on a bike.”
Residents have spoken about bicycle and pedestrian safety repeatedly at City Council meetings. They have also met with city officials about their concerns. So far, there has been little concrete action but we believe that things are about to change. At this moment, the current funding for the Grove Street Neighborhood Plan and the Healdsburg Avenue Complete Streets Project provides Healdsburg with an opportunity to act boldly and creatively. This action group is committed to making our streets safer and creating a much healthier environment for our residents.
Idle-Free Healdsburg Action Group
- There are many negative health aspects that result from the air pollution of idling vehicles, from asthma and allergies to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
- Idling is not regulated and though California has anti-idling regulations for commercial vehicles, it does not have any for passenger cars. Additionally, the commercial idling regulations are not robustly enforced.
- In order to shift the culture to idle-free, we need to begin with the students. This is underscored in this video from the EPA. The students will also need a supervising adult at the school, and ideally the team can meet weekly throughout the school year for the campaign to be successful.
The EPA website also gives a sample schedule for a campaign, which begins in the fall and lasts the entire school year. School will be starting soon and this group is looking for others who would like to be involved. So far, we have a few volunteers willing to launch efforts at Healdsburg Elementary, Westside School, Geyserville Elementary, Healdsburg High, the Healdsburg School, and Slater Middle School in Santa Rosa (with a teacher who lives in Healdsburg.)
Here are a few other resources if you want to read more:
Water Stewardship Action Group
Historical Context: Global warming has increased insecurity regarding water. Recently, we have experienced both extremely dry years and serious flooding. Water became a major issue for many residents in 2021 when the City went to Stage 3 of its Urban Water Management Plan due to the extreme drought that the City of Healdsburg faced. In both 2021 and 2022, Lake Mendocino water levels were extremely low and the State Water Board issued curtailments. In 2021, recycled water from the Healdsburg Waste Water Treatment Plant was provided to residents who installed tanks on their property when drip irrigation was prohibited. In 2022, the City discontinued the free delivery of recycled water but many residents continued to pay for these deliveries from private providers to help the City conserve water. Since we were in Stage 2 instead of Stage 3, limited irrigation was allowed in 2022 but only on certain days of the week. Residents were encouraged to continue to cut water use by replacing lawns and planting drought resistant plants and trees. Conservation efforts exceeded the City’s expectations and residential water use was cut by a whopping 40%.
With the atmospheric rivers and the rain that came in the winter of 2023, Lake Mendocino has filled up but the drought is far from over. This action group strongly believes that we can’t go back to what we were doing prior to 2021. A water crisis remains. In addition to working with residents on water conservation, we strongly support the City’s efforts to construct wells with the capacity for both storage and recharge as well as its efforts to expand the purple pipe system to parks, schools, playgrounds and possibly, some day, to residential nieghborhoods. We would like to see the City also devote some resources to increase water storage during extremely wet years. Options might include large rainwater gardens on City property, rain catchment systems, or constructed wetlands.
Become a Beaver Believer!
Additionally, some members of this action group are interested in supporting an initiative to bring back the beaver on the Russian River and other creeks as a way of slowing the flow of water. They are planning an event about this at The 222 on April 22, 2024.
Finally, one book that this action group highly recommends was written by Erica Gies called Water Always Wins. Check it out!
Cool Healdsburg Action Group
Cool Healdsburg is a grassroots effort by residents ready to take action preparing for emergencies, reducing carbon emissions, saving water and building a more vibrant community block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. We believe that change happens when small numbers of people publicly and collectively align their actions to address the climate crisis. Cool Healdsburg gives people a meaningful way to participate and builds on the excellent work that COPE (Communities Organized to Prepare for Emergencies) is doing.
Many cities throughout California are adopting “Cool” programs to organize residents, improve communication, measure progress, and draw their local neighborhoods together in the fight to address the climate crisis. Current “Cool” cities include Petaluma, Davis, Irvine, San Francisco and Palo Alto. Some use the coolblock platform while others use BrightAction or their own locally developed application. This action group hopes Healdsburg will become a “Cool” city.
Members of his group have networked with Cool Petaluma organizers and attended some of their events. Cool Petaluma is currently developing its own platform after first implementing the coolblock platform through a grant. We also met with Lisa Altieri, the CEO of BrightAction, to explore another alternative to coolblock. The platform developed by BrightAction would allow us to efficiently communicate with and recruit new neighborhoods into our efforts. BrightAction would provide a dedicated website for Cool Healdsburg.
Sonoma County actually participated in a pilot a few years ago with BrightAction during the Sonoma Climate Challenge. However, this did not include neighborhood organizing but merely allowed individuals to calculate their carbon footprints. Resuscitating a county wide effort with neighborhood organizing as a major component was discussed at the January 2023 Climate Action Advisory Committee for the Regional Climate Protection Authority. We are waiting to hear if there is a way to fund a countywide effort in which jurisdictions could play a part. Healdsburg’s two appointed representatives on the Climate Action Advisory Committee are Tyra Benoit and Stephanie Turk. If that doesn’t happen through RCPA, we will revisit how to do this on our own in the City of Healdsburg. However, this effort would require that we raise funds through grants or donations in order to offer this online program.
Dr. Erica Chenoweth of the Harvard Kennedy School suggests that if we can get 3.5% of the population engaged in sustained action, a movement will succeed. We can do this in Healdsburg. It would mean that of our 11,275 residents, we would need around 394 actively involved, person to person, neighborhood by neighborhood. Are you ready to join us?
Greener Energy Sources Action Group
More details from this newly formed action group coming soon.