By Lauren Woodfill
The election results last month brought some uncertainty to the future political commitment to the environment. On a federal level, it is unclear what role the new administration will take when it comes to the critical issues of climate change, environmental justice, and the future health of our global environment and community.
What is certain, however, is that across the country, millions of dedicated environmental stewards are rising to challenges facing our planet. For some, this is just the next chapter in a long history of activism. For others, this uncertainty has spurred the empowerment to get involved for the first time. In our Bay Area community, the recent election also brought much to be proud of. Instead of focusing on the unknown, join us in celebrating our successes, and using them as a path for our next chapter.
Examples of Environmental Election Triumphs
- California voters upheld the plastic bag ban by voting YES on Proposition 67 and rejected the plastic bag industry’s attempt to manipulate the election by voting NO on Proposition 65. California voted to keep harmful plastics out of our streets, watersheds, and oceans, and the state is now the first in the nation to ban plastic bags. This is a huge victory for the health our environment, especially for aquatic animals who ingest plastic, and a powerful signal that industry interests are not always in charge.
- The Bay Area voted to prioritize public transportation with Measure RR, a trend seen across the country as over 45 initiatives for increasing public transportation options, bike aces, and general walkability of cities were put to vote. Over 60% of these initiatives passed. The popularity of these indicatives sends a powerful message about the value we place in building more sustainable cities.
- On a local level, many progressive and sustainability minded local representatives were elected to city councils, school boards, and more. Although often large-scale actions are given more publicity, state and local policies usually provide the framework for federal programs and are the testing ground for innovative solutions to large issues like climate change.
Opportunity for Involvement
On a local level, there is opportunity for more political involvement to continue working toward a more sustainable future. Two upcoming opportunities include:
The Contra Costa County Sustainability Commission is actively seeking applicants to fill five at-large member seats. The Commission provides advice to the Board of Supervisors and county staff on the implementation of the county’s Climate Action Plan, engagement of the community, and the realizations of fairness and equity in sustainability programs. Go here to check out more information on the Commission and the application process, which will be accepting application until December 19th, 2016.
Additionally, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is seeking Advisory Committee members to develop recommendations on what projects to fund. The Authority is a government agency that allocates resources to wetland and shoreline projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more, and apply, go here. Application process closes on December 15th, 2016.
We are proud of the strong community support and action that we see every day in our own cities. Let’s continue to participate in the political progress beyond the ballot box to build a more sustainable and resilient future.
Photo credit: http://www.politicspa.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/I-Voted-Sticker.png