Did you pledge to grow food, save water, conserve energy, reduce your waste, or build community during the month of May? June has arrived, and the 2015 Community Resilience Challenge has come to a successful close. Our passionate and dedicated team is busy counting up the last of your actions, but we are proud to report you have already pledged several thousand actions so far, many of those made by students! We are proud of the numbers, but the best part has been listening to you talk about the great things you are doing for your community. Here are our highlights for this year’s Challenge:


Contra Costa Residents are Jazzed about Conserving Water


The drought is at the top of everyone’s mind, which was clear from this year’s pledges. Many people are making the extra effort to save water they’d normally let run down the drain. We were delighted to discover just how many people are collecting water in buckets from their showers and kitchen sinks to help grow their gardens. It seems like an old-fashioned habit that requires a little extra work, but it surely pays off. More money in your pocket after paying the water bill, and more clean water saved!


The desire to lose the lawn is also evident. Both Contra Costa Water District and East Bay Municipal Utility District are offering rebates for converting your lawn, so county residents are letting their grass go brown, and many are landscaping these areas into drought-tolerant, native plant gardens that can survive without much water.


Consequently, landscapers with this kind of knowledge are in high demand, so many people have been putting off the project. However, because “sheet mulching” was on our list of suggested actions, many residents inquired about the idea. If you haven’t already heard about it, sheet mulching is a great way to convert your lawn on your own, because it costs less and helps promote healthy soil for your plants. If you’re wondering how this can be done, check out our action guide on sheet mulching by visiting “Action Guides > Food & Garden” on our website (it’s the first link on the list).


Furthermore, some ambitious residents stepped up to the plate and pledged to build rainwater catchment systems or install a greywater system in their homes. Though these projects take a little more time and planning, they can be most helpful in reducing the number of gallons of water you use each day. Sustainable Contra Costa hosted a greywater installation workshop in May at a home in Antioch. Because there was a waitlist for this project, we are hoping to provide another installation workshop so those who pledged to build this kind of system can learn just how to do it. In the meantime, a great resource to check out is Laura Allen’s book The Water-Wise Home” as well as Greywater Action.


Meaningful Prizes Thanks to Our Partners and Sponsors


Creating a stronger, healthier community or household is the best kind of prize for taking action to grow food, save resources, and reduce waste. However, we offered a variety of different prizes to those who registered their actions, and all of these prizes enabled you follow through with your pledges.


Navlet’s kindly donated us bags of seeds and gift cards, as did Bill’s Ace Hardware. Mount Diablo Recycling, Half Price Books, and 511 Contra Costa gave us stacks and stacks of reusable bags to help you skip the disposable bags at the store and plastic bags at farmers markets. A handful of residents in Central County and Eastern Contra Costa won 10-ride and 24-hour bus passes thanks to donations made by County Connection and Tri Delta Transit, respectively. Other wonderful prizes included a coupon for one free edible plant from the Markham Arboretum & Nature Park nursery; coupons for a free bag of compost from Mount Diablo Recycling; pens and notepads from Contra Costa Water District; free passes from Walnut Creek’s YogaWorks; and YMCA Pleasant Hill passes.


One prize that will go out to all residents who provided their email address is a free yard of EcoMulch. EcoMulch is a great company that offers organic, healthy mulch, soil, and compost for you to landscape your yard the healthy way. They are located on Pacheco Boulevard up in Martinez. If you pledged and provided a valid email address, you should receive your coupon in the next several weeks, if not earlier. If you’re not going to use the mulch, consider asking your neighbors if they need it to convert their lawn.


So many of our other partners and sponsors offered discounts and other prizes as well as help promoting our efforts. Please visit our website and click on “Special Offers” to see what prizes are available. We are so thankful to our partners for their donations, and we could tell you shared our sentiment! What were your favorite prizes this year, and how have they helped you get started on your pledges? Let us know in the comments.


Thousands of Student Pledges


This year, we stepped up to our own challenge: getting out to more schools to increase youngster participation! Those under the age of 18 often possess a unique ability to imagine the possibilities of a better world and find creative ways to drive awareness and make a change. Adults can be both positive and practical, but kids have a unique kind of optimism and imagination that we wanted to capture this spring.


Our team member Kat Atkinson, who runs a mind-body school enrichment program for kids called Stretch|Imagine|Relax, reached out to nearly 50 schools in the county. Teachers were encouraged to hold discussions about sustainability in the classroom and have their students create and commit to three actions. Below is a picture of the pledge sheets students filled out in school.



We also collected actions from many kids at events and farmers markets during Earth Week and throughout the month of May. Kids were given a list of several actions to read through, which is pictured below.


Thought we’re still counting up the last of our pledges, the majority of actions pledged by kids in our county had to do with reducing waste. The other two most popular types of actions were saving water and conserving energy.


Are you a teacher or youth group leader that would like to bring this to your kids next May? Please leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!



Thank you to all who took part in the Community Resilience Challenge this year. It’s more important than ever that we review and adjust our lifestyle habits to better benefit our families, friends, and the greater community. Tell us below what improvements you’re making this year!

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