Core to Sierra Business Council’s mission is our commitment to being a triple bottom line organization so it’s only natural that we would lead an effort to help small businesses adopt these principles. A triple bottom line business considers more than just economic results or profit. They also value their impact on society and the environment. We often refer to these businesses as “sustainable” or “green” and research shows that they typically deliver superior customer service, score higher in job satisfaction, and perform better financially.
As you know, California witnessed its worst wildfire season on record in 2020. Over 4 million acres burned, costing us more than 10,000 homes and buildings and at least 33 lives (not to mention the long-term negative health impacts of the dense smoke experienced across the state). Wildfire is a natural part of California’s landscape, but today’s wildfires are out of balance due to a century of fire suppression and misguided forest management. As climate change accelerates the risk of extreme wildfire, 2020 could be the start of our new normal. In 2021, we have an opportunity to keep that from happening. If we take action now, we can help protect our communities and restore the health of our forests.
A project of Sierra CAMP, the Sierra Nevada Regional Climate Vulnerability Assessment will help Sierra Nevada communities prepare for climate change by examining social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities specific to our region and by providing climate planning technical assistance.
I grew up climbing on granite slabs at Donner Summit, and the rock formations fascinated me. Everywhere I went in the mountains, I found myself mesmerized by the colors, textures, and stratigraphy lines that painted the landscapes. Having grown up in Northern California in an outdoors family, the concept of conservation was ingrained very early. “Respect the playground; if you want the beautiful places you love to remain intact, then do your part.” At that point in my life, I knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to be outside and in the field solving problems (or something to that extent). Naturally, I began my academic career pursuing a degree in geology.
Fire has always had a place in California. There was a time when the state had a well-defined wildfire season, when homeowners in California’s wildland urban interface could readily insure their homes, when wildfire smoke wouldn’t blanket the entire state at one time. Unfortunately, due to a century of mismanagement of our fire ecosystem and the growing impacts of climate change, that time has passed.
For fear of sounding like a broken record, I will skip over the detailed account of how my fellowship/life is not exactly as I expected it to be, thanks to the pandemic. It’s 2021 but you could also call it December 56th, 2020. It didn’t become a brand new world January 1st, we are still wearing masks, working from home in our sweatpants, and trying to avoid refreshing the news. At the same time, I have been pondering the beauty of my unexpected journey to CivicSpark and SBC.
I have seen a tremendous amount of innovation, support, and capacity across all cities and counties as each one responds to the COVID pandemic and prioritizes broadband connectivity and affordability on behalf of their residents, businesses, and anchor institutions. There are several opportunities in 2021 to keep an eye on as we work together to bridge the digital divide. Here’s what’s going on at the county, regional, state, and federal levels.
I know I am not the only one glad to leave 2020 in the dust. At Sierra Business Council we talk a lot about turning challenges into opportunities, about implementing actionable steps that don’t just temporarily solve one-off problems but offer alternative ways of doing business, interacting with the environment, and existing in the Sierra to eradicate what causes those problems in the first place. As an organization, we’re proactive rather than reactive, and our goal is to build a region that is as well.
No one saw 2020 coming, though. Over the course of the last year, everyone has been asked to react to the unexpected, the unimaginable.