On Wednesday, September 22nd, our community will come together for the 13th Annual Leadership in Sustainability Awards Celebration to celebrate and honor those who demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to living sustainably. Congratulations to all the individuals and organizations working towards making Contra Costa communities so healthy, beautiful, clean, and resilient!
Lifetime Achievement: Jack Dice, The Muffin People
For over 33 years, octogenarian Jack Dice and The Muffin People have been working to develop community partnerships, conserve resources and address social justice by helping underserved individuals. Their program saves landfill space and brings nutritious food to those who need it most.
The Muffin People was founded by the men's fellowship group from Moraga's St. Monica Church. At one stop years ago, a shelter client anticipating a muffin breakfast treat noted the volunteers' arrival by announcing, "Here comes the Muffin Man," and the name stuck. Since the group grew to include women, the organization rebranded itself the Muffin People.
As Program Coordinator, Jack spends about 10 hours a week setting up the schedule in two-month blocks in addition to driving a once-a-week shift. Six days a week, volunteers load up their personal vehicles with hundreds of pounds of food and make the drive to Oakland, delivering groceries to the St. Mary's Center, Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program and St. Vincent de Paul.
The Muffin People collect from all three Lamorinda Safeways, Trader Joe's, Diablo Foods, and Whole Foods in Lafayette, as well as Lunardi's in Walnut Creek.
The Watershed Project is committed to building environmental resiliency and equity in the San Francisco Bay Area. Consisting of a passionate community of educators, nature lovers, facilitators, artists, and problem-solvers, the group includes experts in San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean ecosystems, biology, and habitat and plant communities. Since 1997, they have trained some 7,000 educators in place-based environmental education, and have served some 30,000 students and 50,000 volunteers around the Bay Area. They hope to help people realize they are part of a living community—the web of organisms that inhabit the larger San Francisco Bay watershed and depend on it for clean soil, air, and water. Through educating, community organizing, implementing vital green infrastructure projects and restoring creeks, shorelines, and native plant communities, The Watershed Project values and encourages community science as a tool, and are leaders in environmental education who consciously create room for the next generation of leaders.
Aglantis, CoCo San Sustainable Farm and Co-Founder Carolyn Phinney
CoCo San Sustainable Farm is a sustainable urban farm that has donated over 25,000 pounds of produce to local food banks since May 2021. The farm currently grows produce on less than one of its 15 acres of Central San buffer land, using recycled water that goes through additional treatment to become agricultural grade and would otherwise be discharged into the Bay. The farm’s goal is to grow and donate 500,000 pounds of produce once it reaches full capacity.
Since 2010, Aglantis’ co-founder and volunteer Director Carolyn Phinney and her collaborators have steadfastly maintained their vision and navigated many obstacles. The recycled water used for irrigation is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients, and provides free fertilizer. The farm has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint by growing and delivering locally, and using natural fertilizer and other sustainable methods. In particular, they use regenerative processes to increase organic matter and sequester carbon in the soil. Classes on the farm provide job skills training that is relevant to local businesses, including hands-on STEM classes, safety, measurement, and the 21st Century Employability Skills needed to succeed in the workplace.
Grant and Heather Hamilton, EcoMulch
Grant and Heather Hamilton, who own both EcoMulch and Hamilton Tree Service, provide free high quality mulch to non-profit farms and cities as well as other nonprofits to help conserve water and restore the hydrology of the land. The Hamiltons love their community and are especially supportive of projects that teach environmental protection. Described as the type of community members who always pitch in and help, both Grant and Heather give generously of themselves- whether it's mowing tall weeds on a Sunday to prevent fires or teaching gardening to school children, both have contributed time and materials to various construction projects at nonprofits in recent years. In the last 3 years, Hamilton Trees has donated approximately a 2 foot deep, 30 acre-feet of mulch to cover CoCo San Sustainable Farm; they recycle or re-purposes 100% of tree materials.
Congratulations to our other finalists for this category, Delta Bowl and Resourcefill!
Devin Jackson, Foothill Middle School
Devin Jackson is an accomplished “green” middle school STEM teacher, environmental sustainability coordinator, citizen scientist, and land steward. He is the lead Environmental Sustainability Coordinator and staff advisor for the Environmentally Concerned Kids (E.C.K.) Club at Foothill Middle School whose goals are to promote environmental awareness through “Eck-ducation”, reduce Foothill’s ecological Footprint and reach 80% waste diversion by 2045. As an environmental educator and middle school science teacher, Devin values listening to and learning from community members, scientists & activists who support “green” principles and apply eco-literacy skills to evidence-based scientific knowledge. Devin is also a certified climate change educator with National Geographic Explorers, a NASA GLOBE Educator, NOAA Ocean Guardian educator, and the Environmental Education Vice President of Outside The Box 925. He is a life-long learner with a passion for teaching science and environmental principles.
Congratulations to our other finalist for this category, Tracy Marcial from the Contra Costa Community College District!
Ray Harts, Healthy Hearts Institute
Ray Harts built and designed Healthy Hearts Institute, a two-acre El Pueblo Community Garden in El Pueblo subsidized housing in Pittsburg. He is committed to helping eradicate food deserts and empower individuals and the community where he grew up. Ray believes access to healthy, affordable food is a right and should be available to everyone. Growing crops in this community garden provides the opportunity and space for neighbors to interact with each other and build healthier outcomes.
Over the years, Ray has provided classes in nutritional cooking, exercise, strength training, yoga, and stress management. He employs community members to work alongside him and partners with the Housing Authority of the County of Contra Costa, an eco therapist, CCC Master Gardeners, and the Growing Healthy People for Pittsburg group, among many others.
Congratulations to our other finalists for this category: Marti Roach (Moraga), Jasmine Cisneros (Little Sprouts Garden Academy), Karen Marriner (Walnut Creek), and Terri Edwards-Nixon (Let's Grow Together)!
Devon Bradley is an outstanding environmental leader at Miramonte High School. Two years ago, founded the Miramonte Environmental Solutions club, which he continues to lead as a senior. Under Devon’s leadership, the club created Project HEART, and worked to pass a polystyrene ban ordinance for the City of Orinda all while leading efforts to educate the Miramonte student body on proper sorting during lunch. Project HEART’s mission was to keep restaurants in business during the pandemic while encouraging environmental sustainability. The club did this by promoting takeout on social media to raise funds to purchase the restaurant's compostable takeout materials. During the 2020-21 school year, Devon also interned with RecycleSmart and was instrumental in conducting a multi-high school, virtual Earth Day Summit in April 2021. Devon is a leader in educating and motivating his peers, school community, Orinda and Contra Costa County at large to reduce waste.
Congratulations to our other finalists for this category, Alexandra Bunik from Walnut Creek and Isaac De Rosas and Lance Sanchez from De la Salle!
Honoree: Kramer/May Home
This home remodel in San Pablo features rooftop solar, a reflective roof, a mini-split heat pump HVAC system, and an amazing California native plant garden, to name just a few of the energy & water-conserving features.