MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) -- With the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency preparedness is a major concern for many in the Bay Area. Climate change is also a pressing issue. KPIX 5's latest Jefferson Award winner helps others learn to be resilient in the face of both.
Marin County mom Julie -- who did not want KPIX to use her last name -- is doing her part at home to help with climate change. Julie is a member of the Resilient Neighborhoods Climate Action Team. And she is signing up for MCE (Marin Clean Energy) online through its website.
MCE Community Choice Energy is a non-profit agency that offers renewable energy, or electronic generation for Marin County and other eligible Bay Area residents. PG&E allows the use of its electric lines and bills customers.
But it is MCE that provides or generates the electricity and gets paid for it. Customers like Julie pay a little extra each month in order to receive their electricity from renewable sources.
"It's incredible [and] easy to do," explained Julie. "It just takes going online, putting your PG&E number in and clicking the choice, the deep green choice. And then it comes from all renewable sources."
Signing up for MCE is one of many simple steps encouraged by Tamra Peters, founder of Resilient Neighborhoods, a non-profit dedicated to fighting climate change by helping individuals reduce their carbon footprint.
"I couldn't sit back with climate change coming on, just knowing what it was going to do to the people and the world and the future," stated Peters. "So I looked for something that I could do about it."
Peters piloted the program in 2010. At that time, she helped 100 Marin County households -- organized into 20 Climate Action Teams -- lose 500,000 pounds of carbon output.
Since then, Resilient Neighborhoods has helped its teams reduce annual area carbon emissions by more than nine million pounds. Nearly 1,500 people have participated in the program. The program's climate action team members come up with catchy team names like "The Floating Carbon Knockouts" and "The Low Carbon Mamas."
"It's five meetings over 10 weeks," explained Peters. "And the community building part is they check in with each other and they report in what they've done. 'These are the actions I've taken. This is what I discovered.'"
Team members like Julie are given scores of actions to chose from. Some of it is simple stuff, like shifting one weekly purchase to a locally owned business.
But that's just the beginning as other Resilient Neighborhood climate action team members like Lisa Williams are composting, shopping at farmers markets and using alternative methods of transportation like electric bikes.
Williams is now re-instating her compost pile after being inspired by Peters.
"Tamra is a connector," stated Williams. "And as we are seeing right now in this crisis we are in, her work is more important than ever. "
Peters also provides emergency preparedness training as part of Resilient Neighborhood's curriculum. Climate action team members are encouraged to assemble emergency supplies in order to be ready for natural disasters, fires, and power outages.
It's training that students like Williams and Julie are grateful for, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, the latest group Peters organized was supposed to graduate soon, but it won't be meeting in person for the foreseeable future due to restrictions from the pandemic, though Peters has scheduled a class meeting in April that is unlikely to happen.
"We have the power outage, we've got wildfires going on," observed Peters. "People are wearing face masks, the public health emergencies and all of that."
Still Peters remains hopeful.
"I also wanted [people] to deal with our other reality, which is adaptation. Climate change is here and we have to be resilient.," said Peters. "[With my extensive] experience working with volunteers. I knew what we could accomplish. I knew what could be done when people were empowered."
So for empowering others to make a positive change for the environment, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Tamra Peters.
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