Sebastopol California, A Nuclear Free Zone

Sebastopol in Sonoma County, California, is a Nuclear Free Zone, approx. 52 miles north of San Francisco. 20 minutes from the scenic Sonoma coast, Sebastopol is very much on the same page as Sonoma County about protecting, preserving and using ecologically sound measures to sustain its lifestyle, health and growth. In 1986, residents approved an initiative declaring Sebastopol a "Nuclear Free Zone".  The town does not use pesticides in city landscaping, and also bought a hybrid instead of a standard police car.


One former resident, the famed cartoonist and writer Charles Schulz, passed away, but even today, his family fortune has helped preserve the lifestyle that Sonoma County residents find unique among the coastal cities of the 1000 miles of California coast.  In September 2009, his wife, philanthropist Jean Schulz, pledged  $2 million matching gift to Sonoma Land Trust campaign, Redwoods to the Bay: Saving Sonoma County's Signature Landscapes. Worried about the ongoing development pressures on local lands and the need to preserve large open spaces, "I want our grandchildren
and their children to be able to enjoy the same stunning vistas that you and I treasure today," she said, referring to 5,630-acres of Jenner Headlands.


Sonoma County is unique among more than 50 California counties with its Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District Legislative Program. In May 2009, the District solicited Request for Proposals (RFP) for Federal Legislative Advocacy services to support and strengthen its work to permanently protect the diverse agricultural, natural resource, and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations.


That's a little background to put the city of Sebastopol in perspective. This garden spot of California that values its natural places and wants to keep them has done as much as any city to promote ecology. Once a plum and apple growing region, horticulturist Luther Burbank had gardens in this fertile region, which hosts an annual Apple Blossom Festival and Gravenstein Apple Fair. While that event draws thousands to the region, the vineyards now produce grapes used in some of the top wines consumed internationally, bringing attention to the lush landscape.


Here are some of the things that Sebastopol has done to promote a green lifestyle:

Skate Park and Community Garden

Visit the City of Sebastopol's skate park and community garden located at 6700 Laguna Park Way. We have not found another city in California that has combined a skatepark with a community garden. This project allows citizens to rent a plot and grow their own fruits and vegetables. Sebastopol supports local agriculture through partnership with the local Farm Market held Sundays at the Town Plaza. Sebastopol supports the concept of local foods, reducing transportation costs and pollution, as well as maintaining a more diverse local economy. The City also supports home gardens, and Sebastopol’s newest park, the skate park/community garden park, features individual community garden plots for use by residents who may not be able to have a garden where they live.


West County Community Seed Bank

Inviting all interested gardeners to join in cultivating a grassroots community seed bank that supports Sonoma County gardeners with free, locally grown, open pollinated, pesticide and GMO-free seeds. this is a project that is overdue and needed throughout California. Events such as Garlic Exchange and Tasting, include seed and plant exchanges, followed by local food potluck dining. The garlic exchange is one example of event in which attendees are invited to bring any varieties of plants they would like to share.

Energy Independence Program

The City of Sebastopol entered into an agreement with the County of Sonoma to participate in the Energy Independence Program. Both residential and commercial property owners in the incorporated city jurisdiction are eligible for loans for energy efficient or water conservation retrofit of existing buildings.

Adopt A Landscape Volunteer Program

A Sebastopol program of community involvement allows an individual, group or business to adopt a median, island or park area.

Mandatory Green Building Program

The City of Sebastopol adopted mandatory sustainable building criteria based on the County of Sonoma Waste Management Agency - Green Building Guidelines. The program is intended for new residential construction, new commercial construction and commercial remodels 1800 square feet and larger.

Transition Sebastopol Program

Transition Sebastopol empowers communities to squarely face the challenges of peak oil, climate change and global economic instability, and to unleash the collective genius of their own people to find the answers and solutions to sustainability into the future. Asking, "How are we going to drastically reduce carbon emissions (in response to climate change), significantly rebuild resilience (in response to peak oil), and greatly strengthen our local economy (in response to economic instability)?" the Transition Initiatives make no claim to have all the answers.  By building on the wisdom of the past and accessing the pool of ingenuity, skills and determination, however, solutions can readily emerge, say those who founded this program. Believing that now is the time to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being, this group is but one of many focused on the future.

What You Can Do -- from the City of Sebastopol

Together, we can make a difference to reduce energy use and pollution, live a more sustainable life, and reduce greenhouse gases.

1. Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (cfl).

2. Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer.

3. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner to save up to 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

4. Install a programmable thermostat to save you $100 a year on your energy bill.

5. Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases, thus saving up to 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!

6. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket. You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action.

7. Use less hot water and washing your clothes in cold or warm water.

8. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible, saving  700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.

9. Recycle. Yard debris containers can also be used for composting fruit and vegetables from your kitchen.

10. Turn off electronic devices you’re not using, saving thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

11. Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them. Energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

12. Connect a rain barrel to downspouts to collect rain water. Be sure to use appropriate design to prevent mosquito infestation.

13, Replace high-flow toilets with ultra-low flow fixtures.

14. Try car sharing. Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance.

15. Walk or bike to your destination—it’s good for you and the earth!

16. Buy locally grown and produced foods. The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.

17. Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

18. Seek out and support local farmers markets.

19. Buy organic foods as much as possible. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

19. Avoid heavily packaged products. You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

20. Eat less meat. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters.

21. Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible.
Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year!

22. Keep your car tuned up.When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

23. Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated. Proper inflation can improve gas mileage and for every gallon saved, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

24. When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle.

25. Try telecommuting from home.

26. Consider a green roof for your new home or addition.

27. Fly less. Air travel produces large amounts of emissions.

28. Plant a tree. Trees reduce ambient temperatures in hot weather, reducing the need for air conditioning. Shading pavement (streets and driveways) can reduce what is known as the ‘urban heat island effect’ whereby some urban areas have higher than normal temperatures due to extensive paved areas and lack of natural vegetation.





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