In December, we kick-off of our new Y&HOW Sustainable Living Workshops, a series of one-hour virtual meetings focused on practical and actionable things residents and businesses can do to live sustainably and reduce the carbon footprints.  The line-up for this Wednesday 11 am series includes local experts on water quality and conservation, local food production, proper recycling practices, and assessing solar options, with more to follow.  Keep an eye out for the email flyers and be sure to register. These learning opportunities complement presentations we  provide for local homeowners associations, professional groups, religious congregations and civic groups.  This fall we addressed members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Naples, the Naples PEO chapter, and are excited about an upcoming presentation to the local NAACP chapter in early December.

Later this winter, the SWFL Climate Compass Series returns with three national speakers.  On February 16th we’ll host Chef Moonen, a Master Development Chef with Perry’s Restaurants who will present ‘Sustainable Pescatarians: Ensuring Sustainable Practices in the Seafood Industry; March 16th the Ocean Conservancy’s Chief Climate Scientist Dr. Sarah Cooley and Florida Director, JP Booker will talk about the ‘Unequivocal and Unprecedented Climate Change in the Ocean’, and Ford Motor Company’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Ms. Cynthia Williams will close out the series with a talk about Ford’s Commitment to ‘Leading the Electrification Revolution’ on April 13th.  Mark your calendars and encourage friends and family to tune in by hosting your own watch party.

In terms of advancing regional resiliency, Growing Climate Solutions continues to support the FGCU Water School’s effort to launch the SWFL Regional Resilience Compact.  The effort to forge collaboration among 15 local jurisdictions on climate resilience has been spearheaded by Professor Mike Savarese since 2019.  On October 8th, the first official meeting of the nascent compact was held at FGCU’s Emergent Technology Center.  The meeting was professionally facilitated by the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium (FCRC) Consensus Center, a 30-year old organization created by the state legislature to conduct inclusive and participatory consensus-building activities and dispute resolution among local, regional, and national governmental organizations. The first meeting sought to initiate discussion on a compact governance structure and identify priority projects for the first year of operation. The meeting was attended by over 90 participants, including elected officials, government staff, regional non-profits organizations, and concerned citizens.  A second organizational meeting is tentatively scheduled for early January 2022.

Growing Climate Solutions is also growing its tree planting initiatives by forging collaborations among local partners that will put more trees in the ground this coming year.  Having completed some initial projects with Robbie’s Tree Fund and Cheney Landscaping this summer, we are proud to be planning two larger projects with these partners and Cornerstone Methodist Church in Naples.  Preliminary plans are to obtain about 500 saplings in January, and with the help of volunteers, pot and nurture them over the winter. Around National Arbor Day in late April, following a ‘creation care’ themed worship service, the trees would be adopted and planted by church congregants at their homes. Using I-Tree software, we can document where the trees end up and can calculate their ecosystem benefits in the years to come. By bringing together multiple groups, some with funding, some with volunteers, others with plant expertise, and land for storage, Growing Climate Solutions is evolving the collaborative model for a bigger impact.  If you like to play in dirt and plant, keep an eye out for our announcement of volunteer opportunities to pot saplings, distribute trees and even plant one in your yard.