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The Sonoma Climate Challenge: A Test for All of Us

Jun 27, 2019
by Tish Levee

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Daily Acts has sponsored the Community Resilience Challenge for ten years; now they’re partnering with the Regional Climate Protection Agency (RCPA) to launch the Sonoma Climate Challenge.

The Challenge has actions varying in cost and difficulty that save water and energy and reduce pollution. Rated from easy to challenging, each action has information about how to do it, upfront cost in dollars, time commitment to take action, savings in resources, dollar cost of the action, and more information on resources to help you. Individuals earn points by taking 67 different actions, many of them very easy—see them all at the dashboard at when you sign up at sonomaclimatechallenge.org.

Daily Acts began the Community Resilience Challenge ten years ago with a goal of planting 350 gardens in one weekend—greatly exceeded with 628 gardens. Since then over 81,000 individual actions have been taken, and the Challenge has spread to other cities and states.

Currently 23 communities— including ones in Hawaii, Virginia, Oregon, Utah, and Montana, as well as Northern California and the Central Coast—are taking part in the Challenge, which began in early May in Sonoma County.

As the website is a tool for many communities, some things are a bit generic. For instance, instead of having an action to join Evergreen—Sonoma Clean Power’s 100% Renewable Energy Program—there’s an action “Choose Green Energy,” with directions for signing up through your local power company.

The Sonoma Climate Challenge goal is to have 500 households taking part by December. Currently 183 households have signed up. It’s also possible for households to join with up to 10 others to form a team or with an unlimited number of people to form a community which can compete with other teams or communities. You can access links for joining or forming a team or a community on your dashboard when you sign up.

Initially I felt I wouldn’t get many points, having already taken many actions. However, checking with RCPA’s Brant Arthur I found I could get points for ongoing actions such as “Recycling” or “Eating Lower on the Food Chain,” by marking them completed as of the current date. For one-time actions that I completed before the Challenge, such as “Installing LED bulbs”or “Choose Green Energy,” I could click the blue link, “Already Completed this Action,” but I’d get no points for them.

So why join? If you’ve been reading my column—“For the Planet”—in the Gazette, you know that we have reached a climate crisis, and that we need to act now to avert a complete climate breakdown.

Daily Acts Program Manager Kerry Fugett told me that “we really need a culture change” to tackle the climate crisis. “If we truly want to be role models for next generation, we need to look at each of our daily actions—because our individual actions truly matter—and see where we can live in more alignment with our values; each of our actions shift us towards this needed culture change.”

This is what the Challenge is designed to do. It’s not taking action in isolation, it’s talking about it and getting friends onboard and creating the culture change we have to have. (Talking to friends about the climate crisis is one of the actions as is holding a house meeting about climate change.)

Sonoma County is a leader in climate action and sustainability, but, as Mark Landman, the Chair of RCPA, says, “when it comes to meeting our next critical goals, there has never been a time when your daily actions mattered more.”

Trathen Heckman, Daily Act’s founder, invites us to “join in a shared commitment to climate action that enriches our lives and protects our future. By acting together, and making it fun and inspiring, Sonoma County can unleash the power of community and rise to this historic moment of crisis and opportunity.”

As Kerry says, “we need to be the change we want to see in the world;” the Sonoma Climate Challenge can empower us at a time when it seems all the news about the climate is very dismal—and it’s fun, too!

Thanks to Daily Acts’ Kerry Fugett and RCPA’s Brant Arthur for their input and help.

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