Whether it is in the context of the individual, family, community, nation, or world, the ability to endure and adapt to ever changing environmental, economic, and social circumstances is fundamental to survival and progress.
And yet, even at a time when the convergence of the environmental, economic, and social challenges are approaching numerous tipping points that could permanently alter the balance of nature that supports our existence, what is truly mystifying is that this man-made disaster has not been addressed with the urgency it demands.
We are fortunate to live in a city with a proud tradition of preserving its heritage and culture for future generations to inherit and pay forward. Using its General Plan, Claremont has periodically identified and adapted to previous challenges to its identity such as urbanization, urban sprawl, the regional housing shortage, and the cost and future demands for energy.
Most recently, after completing a two-year “comprehensive process to identify our vision for the twenty-first century,” the City Council adopted the 2006 General Plan, which identified and established the concept of sustainability as a “fundamental planning tool.” Emphasizing this point, the General Plan called for the creation of a Sustainable City Plan.
Adopted in 2008, the Plan established both short and long term action plans in seven goal areas that 1) consider the long term impacts of all City decisions; 2) protect, preserve and restore our natural environment; 3) partner with the community and strategic partners in achieving our sustainability goals; and 4) become a regional leader on sustainability issues.
However, even in a community as forward looking and accomplished as Claremont, I sense complacency has replaced the enthusiasm and resolve demonstrated during the plan development and early implementation phases of the Sustainable City Plan, despite the magnitude of the impacts that serve as prophetic warnings advanced in the “Demystifying Sustainability” Series.
That said, I am writing to share a renewed optimism that Claremont can achieve its vision of becoming a model sustainable city. With the adoption of the first scheduled revision of the City Sustainability plan in 2013 came the well-deserved recognition and increased role of Sustainable Claremont in achieving the plan's communitywide goals. This year,the Sustainable Claremont Innovation and Resource Center was opened in space generously donated by Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and for the first time, Sustainable Claremont is receiving partial funding through a contract with the City. And, most recently, Sustainable Claremont led the effort to compete in the Cool California Challenge, coming in a close second to Riverside and collecting around $22,000 to help run the Center.
To date, all of these efforts, and the many smaller but significant ones since 2008 and before, have been undertaken by a handful of people led by Dr. Freeman Allen, who for decades has been the prophetic voice of reason behind, the outspoken advocate for, and the architect of the action plan that guilds our City’s sustainability efforts. The persistence of this effort and its many achievements to date were unquestionably the basis for Claremont being afforded its greates opportunity to advance our goal of becomina a sustainable city — being one of 52 cities nationwide selected as a participant in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. This winner-take-all competition will award $5 million to the city that demonstrates the greatest progress towards implementing sustainable energy use reductions in residential and public buildings over the next two years.
Called the Claremont Energy Challenge, this communitywide effort will be a joint effort of the City and Sustainable Claremont, and will utilize Devon Hartman’s award-winning Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Program as the platform on which to develop household and public building adapted approaches to energy reduction, based on the premise that everyone can do something to reduce energy usage.
This is clearly the opportunity for those, who like me, have felt a sense of urgency to act to meet the challenges identified in our 2006 General Plan and 2013 Sustainability City Plan. By mobilizing behind the Claremont Energy Challenge banner, by doing whatever we can to reduce energy usage, and by volunteering to promote and support this effort we can continue the proud tradition of preserving Claremont's heritage and cultury for future generations to inherit and pay forward.
We can do it!
It’s a truism that every journey begins with a single step. The journey is unlikely to have an end, but the benefits to all of us along the way are well worth working for. Some actions are simple and easy to implement; others may take longer and require more effort and money. We call on all citizens to become involved in some way and help to move Claremont into a sustainable future.
Demystifying Sustainability is an initiative of Sustainable Claremont (sustainableclaremont.org).