By Chris Granger, Volunteer Executive Director

In 2010 a small group of volunteers jumped in with both feet to take on the engagement of the Davis Community to reduce our community’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. After three and a half years, four Festivals, multiple events and actions, Cool Davis is looking forward to a focused expansion of our efforts. 2013 was a very productive year, and as we enter 2014 we are stepping into a new phase.

Coolest City in California

After competing in the Cool California Challenge, last June Davis became California’s first — Coolest California City. In 2014 the City of Davis and Cool Davis have been accepted into the Georgetown Energy Prize Competition for 5 million dollars in prize money. Recently, we have been invited to participate in Phase 2 of the Cool California Challenge which starts-up again in the spring.

Working with local and regional partners we tested community-wide and neighborhood outreach strategies to prepare for more robust community outreach in the coming year. We are looking forward to collaborative work with partners like the City, Valley Climate Action Center, and researchers from UC Davis working on projects like the siting of EV charging stations.

Cool Davis Festival

Many households signed up at the Cool Davis Festival.
Many households signed up at the Cool Davis Festival.

Our 4th Cool Davis Festival last fall attracted 3000 + attendees, 72 exhibitors, 74 performers & artists.  329 Veggie bags were distributed; 235 new Cool Homes signed up; and 140 volunteers participated in the 6 hours of sunshine, fun and inspiration. Next fall’s Festival is set for October 11th.

Signing up new households

Signing up households with our Cool Homes checklist, we identified what households are doing already and the new actions they would like to attempt. Over 500 households have completed some version of the checklist. In the coming year we plan to increase that number dramatically. The Cool Davis Board of Directors is considering a stretch goal for the year of 5000 households.

Supporting climate action groups

Leading the way to support the formation of new working groups in the community, Cool Davis leaders helped form 1) Yolano Climate Action, a working group made up of advocates from many different environmental groups advocating on federal, state and local policy issues, and 2) the Interfaith Coalition for Climate Justice made up of faith communities in Yolo county who are working together to act on climate issues. The Interfaith Coalition is holding a conference on March 30th. Cool Davis is committed to providing support to the formation of collaborative groups working on climate action projects.

What’s next?
• Moving Cool Davis activities and programs out into neighborhoods and community organizations with our One Cool City Campaign.
• Focusing on household engagement and specific household actions that will maximize ghg reductions for the whole community.
• Building our Cool Futures Campaign Fund from $30,000 to $100,000
• Growing our relationships with local businesses to mobilize market forces in the household adoption of greenhouse gas reduction solutions, technology and actions in our community.
• Seeking grant funding from government and private sources, in partnership with the City of Davis and other organizations.
• Nurturing and expanding our volunteer base to support our programs alongside the hiring of key staff to lead the One Cool City Campaign.

As my daughter’s third grade teacher would say – attitude is everything. So I leave you with a few thoughts that help me deal with the challenges we face.

• The ghg reductions we seek encompass all aspects of our lives. There are lots of places to start!
• We all (even the experts among us) have a lot to learn. We can help each other.
• The perfect technologies are not here yet. We must do the best we can with what we have and encourage investment, experimentation and creativity for the next solutions.
• None of us has all the answers. We can’t possibly change everything at once or agree all the time about solutions. But we can forgive the weaknesses in ourselves and each other, and get busy with changing the things we can. We are the solution to the problem.

Working together, having fun!

Cool Davis remains committed to having and making fun in the midst of the very serious challenges of climate change. If we work creatively together we can enhance the resilience of our community. Through neighbor to neighbor connections, and creative learning we can combine good food, music, arts and laughter with the hard work of kicking our high carbon habits!

Be Cool! Have Fun! Take the Next Step!