Giving: Community Environmental Council


Last week, the HOTY and I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful “Gypsy” themed fundraiser for the Community Environmental Council (CEC).


By the way, in addition to being phenomenally philanthropic, Santa Barbara is an incredibly party-themed kind of town. I’ve never lived in a place in which people love to dress up in costumes more than they do here. It’s such fun…and a real hoot!

The CEC event was a really wonderful evening, put together by the extraordinary Merryl Brown Events.

The CEC is an organization whose mission is to identify, advocate, raise awareness, and develop effective programs to solve the most pressing environmental issues that affect the Santa Barbara region. We currently focus all of our energy on building a community-based movement that transitions the region off of fossil fuels in one generation…with the goal of being Fossil Free by ’33.

One of the statistics that I love the most about the CEC is that it is the very first environmental advocacy group in the country, founded in 1970 (Silver Lining).

Here are some other interesting tidbits about the CEC:

  • The CEC identifies an issue and works to solve it (e.g., curbside recycling)
  • The current focus is transitioning our region off of fossil fuels in one generation
  • Unique programming including “Plug In Santa Barbara,” identifying charging stations for electric vehicles to make it easier for vehicle owners to keep ‘charged up’
  • They are working to increase commercial solar projects in much the same way as we increased residential solar with the Solarize SB program in the summer of 2011. Forty-nine homeowners added solar during Solarize SB for a total of 205kW of power from the sun. More than 230,000 pounds of carbon dioxide will be mitigated yearly as a result.
  • Their “Rethink the Drink” program is adding refill stations to area schools and providing canteens to those in need. The pilot program saw a total of 6 stations and they are adding another 7 stations this year. Current stations have been used more than 66,000 times since January 2011.

One of the especially unique aspects of this year’s fundraising efforts is the auction of a “Gypsy Caravan.” It is being sold as an artist studio, guest cottage, romantic getaway or over-the-top conversation piece. It’s pretty amazing, featuring sleeping quarters for two in a custom-built and dressed double bed, built-in desk and closet, indoor and outdoor sconces and a painted chandelier with antique Austrian crystals, powered by an off-grid solar panel. Beginning today, it will be available to buy on the Charity Buzz website…if you’re interested. I’m just sayin’…

Photograph by Elizabeth Messina


Hopefully you all have environmental programs in your communities or states. What are you working on? What interests you? I’d love to hear about your philanthropic environmental efforts!


How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

~Anne Frank

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