August is upon us, and as families wind down vacations and kids return to school, at Growing Climate Solutions we are completing 2020-21 projects and planning for the upcoming season.  In early June we completed the Climate Patch program for our partners at the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. The Climate Patch introduces young women to the basic science principles of the carbon cycle, greenhouse effect, and renewable energy. Its associated activities aim to foster an environmental ethic that supports adopting responsible personal choices including sustainable lifestyle habits and participation in community advocacy. The Climate Patch was introduced to Girl Scouts via a 1-hour webinar featuring prominent women involved in climate science, advocacy, and sustainability efforts. Guests interviewed during the launch event included Ms. Mary Draves, Chief Sustainability Officer for Dow, Dr. Tiffany Troxler from Florida International University, Ms. Camille Coley, VP at the Museum of Natural History and Torrend Collins from the Environmental Defense Council.  We hope that as afterschool activities return in September, troupes in the region will choose to pursue the Climate Patch

For many of us, the Fourth of July festivities were overshadowed with preparations for Tropical Storm Elsa, the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which formed on July 2, almost six weeks earlier than the average date of the Atlantic’s first storm. Flooded roads prevented travel in parts of Charlotte, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, with the National Weather Service reporting rainfall totals up to 11 inches in Punta Gorda. We urge our readers not to simply pay lip service to early June hurricane planning, but actually review preparation plans, supplies, and insurance policies. We don’t need a direct strike to be adversely impacted. Flooding from the related near-miss storm can still cause property damage or leave your stranded on the road.

Having waited for the onset of the rainy season, Growing Climate Solutions dove into final preparations for a tree planting event organized with Robbie’s Tree Funds, Habitat for Humanity of Collier County, and OneTree, a Fort Myers based nonprofit. On the morning of Saturday, July 17, approximately 40 volunteers planted thirty, large “Shady Lady” black olive trees at the newly developing Whitaker Woods Habitat for Humanity community in East Naples. Welcoming remarks were made by Bridget Washburn and Dr. Ana Puszkin-Chevlin of Growing Climate Solutions, Lisa Lefkow, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Collier County, Mark Schwab of Robbie’s Trees Fund, and Collier County Commissioner Rick LoCastro.  Will Revehl of OneTree provided the tree planting demonstration and tools, and donations of landscape materials were offered by Cheney Landscaping and Naples Fertilizer and Garden Center.  Volunteers included representatives from Citizens Climate Lobby, Greater Naples Leadership, the Salvation Army and the Gulf Coast High Key Club. This pilot planting established a template for planting climate-friendly trees and increase the resilience of Habitat for Humanity communities.  While trees increase the aesthetic appeal, Growing Climate Solutions focuses on educating new homeowners and planting volunteers about how trees mitigate the impacts of climate change by providing cooling shade, removing carbon dioxide from the air, stabilizing soil, providing native habitat and naturally purifying water as it filters through their root systems.

Our mission to promote a climate-positive lifestyle and incentivize climate-conscious actions throughout Southwest Florida audience is always top of mind when planning our programming.  For 2022 we are evaluating ideas for a broad-based Community Climate Challenge to complement our 2nd Annual Climate Compass Speaker Series.  In the coming weeks, our Leadership Circle Partners may receive a brief survey asking for input on this project. Please take the time to give us feedback on a couple of ideas, as the success of the Community Challenge will hinge on the engagement of the partners, so we want to develop a project that our partner organizations find exciting and executable.

Speaking of partners, we are pleased to announce Earth OS/Earth One Health recently signed our pledge, becoming a new Growing Climate Solutions partner.  If you are a business owner or are involved in local civic, professional, or faith organizations we encourage you and these organizations to learn about becoming a partner. The commitment is simple. Partners are asked to support our mission and principles of climate awareness and help others understand the links between climate, health, and prosperity. We also ask Partners to help us cultivate our network by introducing us to other organizations and stakeholders and promoting our educational events.  A link to our partner pledge is found here.  There is no financial commitment. Our goal is to build a network of climate-literate stakeholders and engage citizens in ongoing opportunities to embrace actions that support environmental health and thriving communities.  We are also happy to present to your business or organization climate-focused topics tailored to your interest and level of knowledge.