Not in recent memory has such a diverse group gathered in such jubilation at Davis Community Chambers solely to celebrate and honor local passion — both past and present — for building a sustainable community. The room was filled with excitement, pride, and hope; enthusiastic applause punctuated the ceremonial presentations for a full hour this past Tuesday just before the regular City Council meeting.

On the docket were four related proclamations:

  • Big Day of Giving
  • Earth Day 2019
  • Burger Battle awards
  • Environmental Recognition Awards

Those giving and receiving accolades included members of local non-profits artfully asking for generous donations this coming May 2 as part of Big Day of Giving; a phalanx of expectant chefs and supportive diners; special presenters Ann Evans, Randii MacNear, and Lois Wolk; city commissioners; long-time local climate warriors; and young and empassioned young people sizing up the shoes they have been redesigning in their own unique ways. Family and friends came to support the awardees, parents and children, students, and seniors, all together for a treasured moment in a shared cause.

City Sustainability Coordinator Kerry Daane-Loux accepted the Earth Day proclamation and is the driving force behind the City’s Environmental Recognition Awards — as well as many other significant sustainability efforts — and serves as liaison to the Natural Resources Commission who selected the winners from the nominees.

Cool Davis, while not honored directly, was named several times, attesting to the the depth of our engagement and support for community sustainability efforts. Cool Davis provided support to partner COOL Cuisine for the Burger Battle, has supported Larry Fisher and Circle of Bees as partners over the years (Larry won a Cool Davis Eco Hero award in 2010), and we work very closely with Yvonne Hunter and Aaron Nitzkin on pilot and campaign activities. Cool Davis is proud of their and our efforts to advance the emergence of Davis as a resilient and interconnected community in the process of preparing for the climate impacts ahead and implementing the solutions that will move us forward.

Visit the full photo gallery

Read the full Earth Day proclamation

Read the Big Day of Giving proclamation

City Sustainability Coordinator Kerry Daane-Loux accepted the Earth Day proclamation and is the driving force behind the City’s Environmental Recognition Awards. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.

COOL Cuisine Burger Battle Awards

After short proclamations about Big Day of Giving and Earth Day, the COOL Cuisine Burger Battle was up. COOL Cuisine’s two overall goals were more than met: to create a fun, community effort that helps the City of Davis meet its environmental goals, and to get omnivores to enjoy eating planet-friendly food. Over 5000 burgers were sold creating a savings of 14 metric tonnes of greenhouse gasses and 3 million gallons of water.

Organizer Anya McCann stepped to the dais amid solid applause to recognize the top awards for the Burger Battle: one to Bistro33 for Most Popular Gourmet Burger, rated highest for texture, juiciness, and similarity to real meat, and another to deVere’s Irish Pub, which won Highest Number of Burgers Sold for their Southwest Vegan Burger and tied for Best Dressed Burger in Downtown. Server Andrea Ferris received the Fantastic Burger Battle Promotion award.

Visit the full list of Burger Battle winners

Read more about the Burger Battle competition

2019 Environmental Recognition Awards

The next proclamation followed right in step, with a who’s who of sustainable programs and practices. The individual awards went to two highly deserving community members who have contributed their expertise and drive to numerous important causes and efforts in Davis over many years (more details below):


  • Larry Fisher
  • Yvonne Hunter

The business awards went to two local businesses that have not only improved the resiliency and economic strength of our town, but whose leaders have contributed their own time and effort outside the business-as-usual box (more details below):

Business (co-awardees):

  • Aaron Nitzkin, Solar Roof Dynamics
  • Kevin Perry, Urban Rain Design

The non-profit award went to a unique non-profit led by Christian Coulon that advocates for the bees, infusing art and honey making with practical solutions for stressed swarms (and homeowners) (more details below). As he accepted the award, Christian reported there were “pollinators in his belly,” which got a good laugh from the crowd.

  • Non-Profit: Circle of Bees

The final legacy award was most deservedly given to Central Park Gardens, with certificates for Maynard Skinner, Emily Griswold, and Peggy Smith (more details below).

  • Environmental Legacy: Central Park and Central Park Gardens

The three distinguished presenters, Ann Evans, Randii MacNear, and Lois Wolk, each gave a bit of the history of Central Park and Central Park Gardens, along with some of their personal reminisces, before presenting the award. Former Davis Mayor Ann Evans, at Maynard Skinner’s insistence, reenacted (with him) Maynard’s promise kept — as he had vowed to mow the lawn of the completed park in exchange for setting aside an “economic” approach to the space.

Former mayor and State Senator Lois Wolk ended her reminisces by reporting that her first comment, upon hearing that Central Park Gardens would receive the award, was, “Don’t give them a plaque, give them a plant!” With a laugh, she handed them a certificate, saying, “I am here to present you with a proclamation and congratulations.”

Randii MacNear, founding Davis Farmer’s Market Manager, quoted recipient Peggy Smith, UC Extension Master Gardener, who said, “We thought we were restoring a garden, but found we were building a community.” Randii described recipients Peggy and Emily Griswold with the UC Davis Arboretum together as the force behind the “garden fairies” and the recent garden transformation.

Afterwards, a reception was held in City Hall offering planet friendly repasts donated by Burger Battle restaurants and others during which lively conversation and heartfelt congratulations were exchanged. Burger Battle brain trust, Anya McCann, corralled the chefs and others at one end of the hallway during the reception to announce the tasting team awards and hand out certificates and gifts, including handsome Burger Battle aprons.

Long-time resident and environmental volunteer and activist Lynne Nittler reported that it was a special event and added, somewhat ironically: “It just makes you want to live in Davis!”

Valley Clean Energy Interim General Manager Mitch Sears voted Christian Coulon’s confession of pollinators in his belly as the most quotable statement of the evening.

For the full text of the meeting agenda and related documents, visit the City Council Agenda web page and the agenda for April 23.


A large and enthusiastic crowd gathered for the awards proclamations. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


Larry Fisher has dedicated his life’s work to upcycling materials rather than downcycling them. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


Environmental Recognition Award recipient Yvonne Hunter shares a smile with Council Member Lucas Frerichs Tuesday April 23, 2019. Photo credit: Zoe Poppenga.


Aaron Nitzkin accepts the award on behalf of his firm, Solar Roof Dynamics. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


Kevin Perry accepts the award on behalf of his firm Urban Rain Design, flanked by his son and intern. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


Christian Coulon accepts the award on behalf of Circle of Bees. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


Randii MacNear, Lois Wolk, and Ann Evans presented the Environmental Legacy Award to Central Park Gardens. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


Maynard Skinner, Emily Griswold, and Peggy Smith accepted the award on behalf of Central Park Gardens. Photo credit Zoe Poppenga.


City of Davis 2019 Environmental Recognition Awards

Text of the 2019 Environmental Recognition Award proclamations, including  contributions from Kerry Daane-Loux, the nominators, and the presenters.

Larry Fisher is a modern day tinker who lives and works locally to convert trash into useful goods, and is the living embodiment of the credo, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Larry has “walked the walk,” providing 30 plus years of community improvements using almost exclusively recycled materials for many purposes and inspiring and encouraging others to do the same. Larry is proactive in community service through volunteer projects at N Street Cohousing, the Delta of Venus’ “low carbon” landscaping, and the Davis Bike Collective, refurbishing discarded bikes for children of low-income farm workers.

Larry Fisher created “TOREMA,” which stands for TOtally REcycled MAterials, holding tool-making workshops and publishing videos on social media websites on reducing one’s environmental footprint. Larry has worked extensively with the UC Davis community, including the Student Farm, the Craft Center, and Annual Solar Boat Regatta Competition, providing recycled materials, advise, expertise and inspiration to students. He has also provided materials for art, science, and gardening projects at city and county schools, and for underserved populations.

Yvonne Hunter has been a local leader and a steady hand in supporting new programs and policies to make the City of Davis a more sustainable community. Yvonne retired in 2014 from a 30-year career with the California League of Cities’ Institute for Local Government, a job which focused on environmental advocacy, policy and legislation.

Yvonne has dedicated time and expertise in Davis for decades including volunteering for the Valley Clean Energy Community Advisory Committee, the Ad Hoc Community Choice Energy Committee, the successful Davis PrimeTime competition, and other energy efficiency/retrofit efforts.

Yvonne has continued to be proactive in community service through her role as project manager of the Cool Davis/City of Davis Home Heating and Cooling pilot. She is a master photographer supplying high quality images to the City and Cool Davis. Yvonne now lives in Village Homes with her best friend, service partner, and Cool Davis mascot, Ollie.

Kevin Perry FASLA (Urban Rain Design) has shown exceptional initiative and made a noticeable impact in the Davis community through innovation in advocacy and design to advance and improve urban green infrastructure. Kevin is a nationally recognized leader in integrating stormwater management with high-quality urban design. Kevin’s innovative stormwater projects seamlessly blend the concepts of art, education, and ecological function.

Kevin received his Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture in 1996 at the University of California, Davis, and now teaches advanced UC Davis studio courses in green infrastructure and continues to inspire and educate landscape architecture’s next generation in sustainable design. He is recognized for his pro-bono work in City of Davis, including a conceptual design for City Hall to include rain capture which led to the City receiving $300,000 Urban Rivers grant, and work with Davis Manor residents to develop a community-driven green streets master plan.

Aaron Nitzkin (Solar Roof Dynamics) has made a noticeable impact in the Davis community as a solar contractor with an innovative partnership with roofing contractors, with the ultimate goal of helping to transform the traditional roofing industry by becoming competitive solar installers. Aaron developed this unique approach that both increases adoption of solar rooftop systems and improves the integrity of photovoltaic systems installed by combining system installation with roof installations.

Aaron has been proactive in community service through his role as Chair of the Cool Davis Solar Task Force since 2016, shepherding the development and adoption of aggressive and comprehensive ‘Double Up on Solar’ campaign goals by City Council.

He has been proactive in community service through his role as creator and organizer of Davis Green Drinks public speaker series, attended by hundreds of local community members including businesses, developers, university faculty, staff and students, residents, City staff and others.

Christian Coulon (Circle of Bees) was selected as awardee in the non-profit organization category based on recognition of a dedicated volunteer network and actions to protect and sustain pollinator habitat within the City. Circle of Bees has had a wide-spread community and environmental impact through their dedication to assisting Davis businesses and residents with bee swarm capture and relocating swarms to appropriate spaces.

Circle of Bees connects people with the environment through arts. Swarm capture devices are artistic works that engage people with the bees in a unique educational approach about the role of bees in our environment while providing visual beautification of our urban environment. Circle of Bees is a leader in bee education, community engagement, art and environmental enhancement throughout Davis. Circle of Bees operates as a folk art collective, a living classroom experience, and a high-tech experiment in suburban and urban ecology.

Environmental Legacy: Central Park and Central Park Gardens. The Natural Resources Commission implemented the Environmental Legacy Awards in 2017, Davis’s Centennial Year, to commemorate significant milestones in Davis’s sustainability and environmental history. Mayor Brett Lee introduced the next three speakers and their mandate to bring the history of the park alive and congratulate those who have contributed to its current and past successes.

Ann Evans (former Davis Mayor): Central Park is Davis’ oldest park, originally built in 1937 as a one-block city space between 4th and 5th adjacent to the old Lincoln Highway. In the mid-1980s, it was expanded through community activism and ‘Save Open Space’ (SOS) efforts, led by Maynard Skinner and others. The 1986 purchase of the commercial parking lot named the ‘Arden Mayfair’ site (former home of Davis Elementary School from 1918-1966) allowed Central Park to double in size to its current central downtown configuration, which was completed in 1990.

For almost 30 years, Central Park has been a center of the community life of Davis, functioning as a town square. Central Park is home to many beloved institutions:

  • Davis Farmers Market and the addition of the Market Pavilion, water fountain plaza, and children’s play areas in 1994
  • ‘3rd and B Teen Center’ built in 1991 and converted to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 2010
  • Pedal-powered ‘Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze’ with community art tiles created by Davis children in 1995
  • Other elements including children’s play areas, the landmark oak tree and community stage, on-going improvements, demonstration gardens, and art

Randii MacNear (Davis Farmers Market Manager): Central Park and Central Park Gardens have been a focus of love and attention for many individuals since the early days, including

  • Maynard Skinner, former Davis Mayor, leader of the SOS (save our space) movement and volunteer turf mower
  • Ann Evans, former Davis Mayor at the time the decision was made to purchase the site between 3rd and 4th, B and C
  • Mark Francis and his firm CoDesign Landscape Architects, facilitators of input during community workshops and park design master planners
  • Bob Cordrey, former Parks Superintendent
  • Lois Wolk, former Davis Mayor during some of the subsequent park additions and enhancements
  • Jim Zanetto, Architect and designer of the Market Pavillion
  • UC Davis Arboretum, Rotary Clubs, Davis Farm to School, and Yolo County Master Gardeners who have lovingly improved the gardens, adding art, color, pollinators, educational interpretation, and more
  • And of course, Emily Griswold and Peggy Smith, who are the leaders of the ‘garden fairies’ and the vision of the garden transformation in recent years.

I have watched and worked by the side of this space for over 38 years as manager of the neighboring Davis Farmers Market. It has been a long, winding garden path for them to get to where they are today. I have seen this space as a parking lot, a barren dirt mud hole, and now, as a magical garden.

Central Park Gardens functions as an urban oasis, a sustainable garden, a teaching lab and demonstration garden for natives, wildlife, drought tolerant and edible plantings, and as a treasured community space.

Lois Wolk (former California State Senator): Central Park Garden is accessible and welcoming to all ages and all levels of gardening knowledge. Children are welcomed and find lots of areas to explore. I remember the garden being created in 1990 (more or less) when I first joined the council. It was developed by Bob Cordrey who cared for our urban forest and our parks with commitment and talent. The garden immediately drew volunteers and quickly expanded from single flowers (mostly roses) to a variety of plants and shrubs, many native to our area.

Art was added – my favorite is the caterpillar. The people who care for the garden have turned it into an urban gem that reflects our Davis soil and climate. Central Park Gardens has really embraced the challenges of gardening in a changing valley with our temperature extremes and water fluctuations. And it has inspired many others (including me) to muster up our courage to do likewise!