In our February newsletter, we introduce The CivicSpark Diaries, a monthly update from CivicSpark fellow Margot Stert on her work for Sustainable Napa County. This month, we also give you an update on new rules for solar customers, the threat to California's plastic bag ban, and current advocacy efforts for the "Do Not Flush" movement.
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February 2016 E-News


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
Dear friend,

This spring, I am taking on about 30,000 new responsibilities – and by the summer this number could grow to upwards of 50,000. These new responsibilities? A hive of bees.  

Because I don’t want to take on the care for thousands of these little critters without really knowing what I am getting into, I signed up for two classes through Napa Valley Adult Education that start this month
 one on Sustainable Hive Treatment and the other on Beekeeping Basics.  

While the growing stack of bee-related books and beekeeping blogs are helpful, there is nothing like practical experience handling and understanding bees and hives and the teachings of a local expert.   

To be clear, I’m not in this for the honey though that will be a nice perk of my new avocation. I’m just simply fascinated by these intriguing, industrious, smart, hard-working little creatures. And I am in awe of the role that they play in agriculture and the ecosystem
 – and how they help keep us fed. And let’s be honest, I want to hang out with them.  

Am I worried about getting stung? Not really. I’ve been stung before and it’s usually been either my fault or no fault; bees are lovers
 – not fighters. A dear friend describes them as “tiny kittens with wings.” I’ve saved my share of bees over the years from pools and puddles and bird baths, always letting them shake it off and dry out on my hand or my arm, and once or twice on my shoulder before they fly off to continue their important bee jobs. And I feel like I’ve set the world right – just a tiny little bit.  

So now I think I am ready to take the next step. I’ve had all the makings of a hive for over a year, but last year was faced with the fact that local bees (queens to be exact) were not easy to come by. So rather than import bees that are not accustomed to the Napa Valley climate or, let’s face it, the lifestyle, I decided to wait until the timing was better. And I was hoping to find a beekeeping suit that’s a little more flattering. Perhaps it simply needs a belt... 

Wish me luck! 

Jeri Gill
CEO, Sustainable Napa County

Each month CivicSpark fellow Margot Stert will provide an overview of her project work for Sustainable Napa County. In this first installment, Margot fills us in on the Electric Vehicle (EV) study progress.  The goal of this project is to accelerate EV infrastructure (and EV use) in Napa County. 

CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local governments (in my case, the governments in Napa County) to address climate change in California, administered by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. I've been with CivicSpark and Sustainable Napa County for two months now, and I've been focusing my efforts on the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Study. The first month entailed a lot of background research on EVs and familiarizing myself with the fundamentals of the industry. Even though my work relates to my studies at UCLA, I'm realizing that I have quite a lot to learn, which is both challenging and exciting.

Napa County Roundup

Yountville: On February 2, 2016, Yountville became the final town in Napa County to ban single-use plastic bags in all retail stores except for restaurants with a 10-cent charge for paper bags. The bill goes into effect on March 3, 2016.

Napa County: Reusing buildings is a great way to save energy and money, and Napa County is doing just that. The county is in the process of surplusing three properties in city of Napa: Water Street, Sullivan block (parking lot in 3rd street), and the Old Sonoma campus of Health and Human Services. 

Legislative Update

California Public Utilities Commission Expands Solar Net Metering
After many months of deliberation, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to adopt new rules that uphold net metering for future solar customers of the state’s large investor-owned utilities (IOUs). The decision, put forward by CPUC President Michael Picker and approved by the Commission in a 3-2 vote, represents a balanced path forward that will support consumer savings, local jobs, healthier communities and climate progress. 

California’s Plastic Bag Ban Threatened
Cities and counties throughout California have passed more than 140 local ordinances banning single-use plastic bags, and in 2014 Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 270 into law extending the ban statewide. In the last 12 months, four out-of-state plastic manufacturers have spent in excess of $4 million on an initiative on the November 2016 ballot to block implementation of the state law. Now it will be up to voters. The effort isn’t just about overturning sound policy. The California vote in November is a chance to put an immediate stop to the distribution of more than 10 billion plastic bags annually. But more than that, success at the ballot will send a signal across the country and globe: the public supports the elimination of unnecessary and polluting plastic garbage. Read more... 

California Product Stewardship Council and Others
Advocate “Do Not Flush”
More than 100 environmental and health organizations, agencies, activists and even state legislators sent a signed a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Ostroff urging the FDA to end its “flush list” recommendation. The group instead suggested creating a single disposal guidance system, such as a secure medicine take-back program, that is endorsed by all federal agencies and is consistently communicated on all federal websites and materials. Read more...

Making Connections


No Drugs Down the Drain
Don’t flush your unwanted medications – take them to a safe disposal facility. Home-generated medications can be dropped off at several locations in Napa County. Click here for a list of locations.
climate investment mapCalifornia Climate Investments Map
This website illustrates California’s growing investments to combat climate change and grow its clean-energy economy. Use this site to view climate investments in any of the state’s 120 legislative districts including a summary by district and economic sector and locations of climate and clean energy projects. Click here to access the website.

PSA Contest for High School Students
The Water Conservation Programs of the City of Calistoga, City of Napa, Town of Yountville, City of St. Helena, City of American Canyon, Napa County and Napa County Resource Conservation District are sponsoring a video contest for High School Students of Napa County. Prizes are offered to first, second and third place winners. The PSA focus is Every Drop Counts – Water Conservation as the new normal for California. How will your life change now that droughts and floods will be more persistent? What does everyday conservation look like to you? Deadline is April 5. Click here for more information.

Mark Your Calendar

Wednesday, February 10, 7 pm
Manzanitas, Animals and Fire

California is the center of diversity for manzanitas. They are the ‘rock stars’ of woody plant diversity. Ranging from the Sierra Nevada mountains to coastal bluffs along the Pacific, from temperate rainforests to arid mountain slopes in Southern California, manzanita species can be found in an astonishing array of environments. Join Tom Parker, Professor of Biology at CSU to learn about how this diverse genus has adapted to flourish with wildfire and use animals to help with their seed dispersal and survival. Click here for more info.

Friday, March 4, 9 am-6 pm
The Business of Local Energy Symposium

The Center for Climate Protection is hosting a Symposium to accelerate California’s shift to a clean energy economy, driven by local government and business. The Symposium takes place in San Jose and provides a forum to exchange ideas about Community Choice Energy programs and to learn about current energy policy, regulations, markets, and technology. Click here for more info.
Tuesday, March 22, 9 am-6 pm
13th Annual Water Conservation Showcase
The annual Water Conservation Showcase brings together experts, innovative products and services, and the sustainable development community to address one of the largest concerns of Californians: water. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) partners with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to bring together local and national experts to address water conservation topics including policies, rebates, business case studies, treatment innovations, storm-water management, low impact development, water supply history and future, and water reuse solutions. This free event takes place in San Francisco at the PG&E Pacific Energy Center.  Click here for more info. 

March, April and May
Free Home Composting Workshops
Learn how to turn yardwaste and kitchen scraps into wonderfully rich compost to use as a soil amendment or mulch in your garden. Discover the basics of backyard composting, worm composting and grasscycling. Become familiar with tools, techniques and types of bins. Sign up for a free workshop and take home a special gift to get you started right away. Click here for more info and to register. 

Friday, April 8, 1-4 (Business)
Saturday, April 9, 9 am-3 pm (Residence
Project WET Workshop for Teachers
Upper Valley Waste Management Agency is hosting a two-day hazardous waste collection event. Businesses need to schedule an appointment and will charged a small fee but there is no cost to residential customers of Upper Valley Disposal Service on Clover Flat Landfill. For more information, call 707-259-8330.

Did You Know...

February is National Bird Feeding Month and they even have a logo! (source)

Leap Day is every fours years....almost. It's every four years except years ending with "00" that are not divisible by 400. The year in which Leap Day occurs, is called a Leap Year.

The space industry was an early adopter of solar technology. In the 1960s the space industry began to use solar technology to provide power aboard spacecrafts. The Vanguard 1 – the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells – remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit – logging more than 6 billion miles. 

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Our mailing address is:
1556 First Street, Suite 102, Napa, CA 94559 
(707) 927-3858 

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