LoaTree.com http://loatree.com ...Live for a Better World Mon, 29 Jun 2015 22:38:50 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 1% for the Planet: A Responsibility to Love Blue http://loatree.com/2015/06/23/1-for-the-planet-a-responsibility-to-love-blue/ http://loatree.com/2015/06/23/1-for-the-planet-a-responsibility-to-love-blue/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 02:30:29 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=7060 Read More]]> circle-logo

We know that we have a responsibility to the planet, yet this responsibility can easily get lost as businesses often prioritize the maximization of profit at the expense of, well, the very planet on which business relies. In 2002, outdoor enthusiasts Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews founded 1% for the Planet (1%ftP), encouraging businesses to take a different approach and operate using a more environmentally conscious business model – one good for profit and the planet.

Yvon, founder of Patagonia, Inc., and Craig, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, set out and created 1%ftP, a global network where members donate one percent of annual sales to nonprofit partners committed to the health of the planet and a vision to ‘Love Blue.’ If you believe that health and wellness comes from the environment, that business is responsible for positive change, and that we can leave this blue planet better than we found it, 1%ftP is for you!

Here are some of the shining new additions to the 1%ftP network on California’s south central coast, specifically, Santa Barbara – a hotbed of environmental responsibility. These new members exemplify the role that business can play in creating a better world and healthier planet.


seavees_vintage_ad_boat_main“In 1964, a dream was born. Today the legend lives on.” This describes the pioneer brand of the authentic California lifestyle company, SeaVees.  In the 60’s, SeaVees was originally launched by B.F. Goodrich, but abruptly disappeared after seven years of production. That is until CEO Steven Tiller found one of these shoes in a second hand store in Tokyo. He and Derek Galkin were inspired by the brand’s California heritage and the shoe’s 1960’s culture – the SeaVees brand was reborn after 40 years of slumber.

“Our brand embodies the California dream, and we are committed to preserving that dream for generations to come.” A major part of the California dream today is environmental responsibility, as the state’s natural beauty is a constant reminder of the necessity for conscious practices.

1percentSeaVees represents an authentic California vibe. Their fitting room is located at 118 East Ortega Street in Santa Barbara, California where anyone can stop in during the week between 10am and 4pm to experience the quality and care that goes into the making of each style. Not only does Santa Barbara epitomize the California lifestyle the brand represents, it is a hub for changemakers who prioritize the environment. It is no coincidence that SeaVees shares this sense of responsibility.

Being a part of 1%ftP enables SeaVees to live out their commitment to protect the environment and create positive change. By contributing one percent of their net annual sales to domestic and international grassroots organizations, they are working to affect real change in the avenues of preservation and planet restoration.

Wiser Capital

Today’s world has developed technology that can drastically influence a clean energy revolution. The problem for small businesses wanting to transition to such technologies lies within the cost. Wiser Capital is the solution.

Wiser Capital Logo.  (PRNewsFoto/Wiser Capital)

Wiser Capital is a portal that coordinates the funding of solar projects by linking project developers, building owners and energy investors. The web-based platform evaluates solar projects and matches them based on specific requirements and limitations. By taking the complexity out of understanding and accessing the sustainable energy industry, solar power becomes a viable option for all businesses through a sustainable energy marketplace.

Wiser Capital’s goal is to help small businesses and nonprofits switch to solar with no out of pocket costs. “The way to do this is to decrease the cost of capital through standardization, streamlining, and transparent risk rating,” explained Megan Birney, director of Strategic Affairs. It enables host facilities to go solar without capital or expertise, helps system integrators expand with a new and broader client base, and provides investors with the capacity to evaluate projects and enable returns on their funding. “Our business model promotes environmental sustainability by helping businesses and nonprofits that previously couldn’t afford solar switch to an electricity source with no greenhouse gas emissions, while saving money,” said Birney.

This design is centered on the values of sustainability and taking care of the planet – but giving back to the community is a large factor. 1%ftP provides an outlet to do just that while also creating more connections with other mission-based companies. Sustainable energy is just one part of building a healthier planet, and 1%ftP allows Wiser to participate in the betterment of everything else necessary to achieve that goal.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 7.12.01 PM

Wiser also hopes to engage its partners in the 1%ftP network. “We envision a network of financing, construction and technology companies making commitments to the communities and places that support them. We know that by moving beyond the traditional environmental companies, we can open up new sources of funding and magnify our positive impact.”

Mattole Valley Naturals

All his life, Blaine Lando, founder of Mattole Valley Naturals, ate the macro nutrient protein blends and micro nutrient herbal greens his father Dr. Barre Lando had formulated for the specific needs of his patients. The positive impact of these foods were illustrated through Blaine and Dr. Lando’s clients, which led Blaine to founding Mattole Valley Naturals in order to share these benefits with the world.


“When we set out to build Mattole Valley Naturals as a brand, we did so with a firm ethos revolving around transparency, environmental responsibility, and authenticity; both in the products we produce and the way in which we operate. As a conscious business we strive to embody this ethos by producing the highest quality products and implementing practices in our operations with little to no environmental impact,” said Marissa Garner, who operates customer relations, finances, and more at Mattole Valley.

blaineMattole means “clear water.” The company name is the very embodiment of their values, named after the Mattole Valley and the river that runs through it. “This pristine river is the epitome of clean, untouched, and unadulterated,” explained Marissa. This can be seen as a metaphor for their unaltered products which have never been blended with fillers, additives, preservatives or natural flavors. “Our largest goal is transparency in everything we do,” shared Marissa.

Their mission and dedication to conservation and preservation is also represented in their sustainable practices. Mattole Valley Naturals packaging is 100% recyclable and the product ingredients is sourced from farmers that do not cultivate ingredients with chemical additives. “We adhere to the highest standard of sourcing; non-GMO, organic, and wildcrafted ingredients.”

Joining the 1%ftP network was the perfect opportunity to reflect these priorities through their business and support like minded organizations. Choosing to focus on domestic nonprofits, Mattole Valley Naturals supports three nonprofits committed to preservation. To pay tribute to the origin of their name, they support Sanctuary Forest and the Mattole Restoration Council in Mattole Valley as well as Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

Wholly Hemp, Salty Girl Seafood, Inc, and California Wine Festival

4oz-styling-wax-rawThree other notable additions to 1%ftP this year include Wholly Hemp, Salty Girl Seafood, and California Wine Festival. Wholly Hemp creates handmade and sustainably sourced skincare products out of their facility in Camarillo, California. They live by their vow to provide products made only with natural and unrefined ingredients. With a commitment to sustainability and honesty, they provide full disclosure of their production practices and create high quality products you can trust.

Salty Girl Seafood ensures transparency of supply in the fishmarket by working with small-scale fishermen that harvest using sustainable practices. They make certain their products are directly sourced from the fishermen who caught them. The vision came from co-founders Norah Eddy and Laura Johnson’s dedication to healthier oceans and strong fishing communities.


This year’s Santa Barbara California Wine Festival takes place at the beach on July 16-18. It is one of the largest wine festivals in the state and showcases a variety of wine, food, and music. Taking place in Santa Barbara, historical advocate for bettering our planet, it seemed only fitting to align with 1%FTP and give back to world health.

Joining the 1%FTP Network

If the values of your business align with 1%ftP’s mission and you want to repay the Earth for all it provides, you can register your business here to become a 1% for the Planet member.

Save the Date! Coming up on July 10th from 5:30-7:30PM,  LoaCom, 1% for the Planet, and the Environmental Defense Center are hosting the TGIF Celebration for species protection! Drop by to support the planet while enjoying good food, good drink and good friends – all while supporting a good cause.

Photos Courtesy of 1% for the Planet, Mattole Valley Naturals, Wiser Capital, SeaVees, and Salty Girl Seafoods, Inc.

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Occupy Beauty: Let Yourself Be Seen http://loatree.com/2015/06/11/occupy-beauty-let-yourself-be-seen/ http://loatree.com/2015/06/11/occupy-beauty-let-yourself-be-seen/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 19:03:51 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=7028 Read More]]> The Merriam-Webster definition of beauty:

BEAUTY (noun)

  1. the quality of being physically attractive
  2. the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind
  3. a beautiful woman

IMG_3772_2Why is it that the first given definition of the word beauty is centered around physical attractiveness? At her event, Occupy Beauty, Melanie Elkin invites women to radically redefine beauty and capture the true meaning of the word, modeling a new paradigm of female leadership.

Using her personal journey and struggle with body image to guide her passions, Melanie teaches women about the importance of self-love and self-care. She created Yoga’licious to help women have an honest and loving dialogue with their bodies. It is this vision and message that inspired the creation of Occupy Beauty, a mini-retreat full of yoga and exploration designed for women to spend the day nourishing and connecting with all parts of themselves. This day is an opportunity for participants to put themselves first and take exceptional care of the personal.

Redefining Beauty

“Beauty to me is getting freaky,” Melanie began as the rest of the women followed with their own perceptions of beauty. The responses flowing around the room created a new and honest definition of what the essence of beauty really is. Together, these observations created the definition that the group felt should be in Webster’s dictionary.

BEAUTY (feeling)

  1. YOU!
  2. messy, unpredictable, and silly
  3. kindness and authenticity
  4. wholeness and love

Beauty is YOU.

IMG_3766_2The room of uniquely beautiful women gathered in a circle to introduce themselves and share what they were bringing with them and what they wanted to leave with. Some brought love and wished to leave with laughter, while others brought friendship and hoped to leave with acceptance. Each woman in the circle came from a place of vulnerability and open mindedness as they let themselves see and be seen by the other warm faces in the room.

After introductions, and a candle lighting, Melanie kicked off a dialogue giving the opportunity for women to discuss what brought them to Occupy Beauty and share any sentiments or revelations about the morning’s activities. This sincere conversation illustrated the sense of community and sisterhood in the room as each person’s honesty was met with understanding and love.

Melanie then lead the group through a yoga series, and even in her yoga practice, she embodied the message of the day: beauty is you. She highlighted her beautiful, fun-loving nature and called for an unconventional yoga dance break to one of her favorite songs in between postures.

Let Yourself Be Seen

The day continued to enlighten and inspire as 12 extraordinary women were invited to sit on two panels. The first panel centered on being seen and visibility.

Outside pressure and unrealistic expectations of beauty can make women want to fall into the background. Melanie, on the other hand, encourages everyone to “let their freak flag fly” and to let all parts of themselves out into the open. It can be a challenge to see and recognize each individual in a room, but even more challenging is to let oneself be seen. Here are some of the key messages and tips from the first panel of powerful women:

  • Intimacy and love for yourself first opens the door for intimacy and love for others
  • Embrace your inner child that thrives on standing out.
  • Take time to be alone and let yourself feel things you may not want to feel: beauty is feeling.
  • Cast aside the need to “have it together” before you are ready to move forward. Don’t wait to feel beautiful or competent before taking those steps.
  • Be willing to make pleasure a priority.
  • You are beauty because you are part of life.
  • You have a good body: you have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and a heart.


Beauty As Wholeness

The second panel focused on how the whole essence of you is a part of beauty. This requires accepting all of your limitations and self judgements and including those as part of what makes you beautiful – because this is what makes you you. Even our shadow sides are beautiful. As Aparna beautifully quoted, “the only time shadow doesn’t exist is when we are in complete darkness.” Without complete self-love, we can’t fully be ourselves. Here are some of the powerful sentiments from the panel:

  • Don’t hold back because it might make others uncomfortable.
  • Beauty is a practice.
  • Your beauty is completely irrevocable.
  • Our separation from one another is an illusion and as beings we are all uniquely the same.
  • The more you try do things the same way as someone else, the further away you fall from yourself.
  • Even a rose has thorns.


As the day came to a close, participants were asked to reflect and journal on any new beliefs they had surrounding beauty and what could happen if we practiced those beliefs daily. It is time for us to change the perception of beauty that is advertised and stamped on us by the media. Living this new definition of beauty and taking the time and space to practice it would empower women and inspire a whole realm of possibilities. No one should ever feel as if they are not enough.

Melanie’s parting gem of wisdom: “The being of you is beauty. Your enoughness isn’t in a formula, box, size, or shape – it is right now, and you can play with the possibilities from there.”

Find more information on the amazing panel of women here:

Amy ChalkerAdrienne Smith, Jane Shelby Meyer, Kita Macomber, Natalie Diane, Lucinda Rae Kinch, Aparna Khanolkar, Dr. Tumi Johnson, Ashleigh Henning, Audrey Hazekam, Allison Antoinette, and Melissa Costello.

Weren’t able to make it LIVE to the event but feeling called to learn more?  Well you are in luck, Melanie has created a transformational 3-day Yoga Retreat in the beautiful town of Ojai where you will be able to explore all that I have shared in this article and more!  For details, Melanie is offering a 30-minute complimentary no-strings attached phone call so you can learn more about the retreat and see if it is a good fit for you.  Email her at melanie@melanieelkin.com to book a call. Learn more about the retreat here.

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But sometimes, a company is forced to do more – to take a stand.

After the recent Plains All American Pipeline disaster at Refugio beach, we felt compelled to invest time and energy into something bigger.

Stand in the Sand

Created by LoaTree’s founders as a Santa Barbara-based response to British Petroleum’s 2010 Gulf oil spill, Stand in the Sand was born for a very specific purpose: to offer solidarity and support to those impacted by the Gulf Coast disaster and to raise money to aid in recovery efforts. Why? Because Santa Barbara’s own shores had been tainted by a similar disaster in 1969 that sparked the modern day environmental movement. Santa Barbara had skin in the game and was not about to let this catastrophe pass by without us providing assistance.

Nancy Marr and Jean-Michel Cousteau (l to r) with Solei and Talia (front, l to r). Keep our oceans clean and blue. ©Ronen Tivony

Forty-six years later, on May 19, 2015, Santa Barbara fell victim to society’s continued reliance on oil when a black sludge seeped onto our beaches and into our coastal waters – killing wildlife, choking out marine ecosystems, and driving a dagger into the heart of many locals who didn’t think this could happen…to us…again.

Stand in the Sand reactivated, but this time, the game was different. It was our home shores that were blackened, it was our community and our businesses that were impacted, and it was our treasured dolphins and sea lions and pelicans that now suffered. And importantly, LoaTree had a team with which to help shepherd Stand in the Sand – and a community that was behind the effort.

Community, Solidarity, Recovery

©Ronen Tivony

With the support of key environmental nonprofits, in a 10-day organizing spree, Stand in the Sand re-emerged, organizing more than 500 residents at the steps of City Hall to demand change towards a clean energy future. It was as much a demand on elected leaders as it was a call to action that personal steps be taken to reduce our personal dependence on fossil fuels.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau and founder of the Ocean Futures Society, joined members of other local nonprofits to call for an end to our continued reliance on oil, and to switch to clean, alternative technologies.

“If Santa Barbara cannot do it – with all the resources and technologies and know-how that we have – nobody can,” said Mr. Cousteau.

Left to right, Santa Barbara City Council members Cathy Murillo, Greg Hart, Mayor Helene Schneider and Bendy White. ©Ronen Tivony

After a series of speakers including Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, County Board of Supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal and others, hundreds made the mile walk down State St. to West Beach. There, they gathered along the shoreline to link arms, taking a symbolic stand against the rising black tide. It was a festive, yet powerful, moment to see young families, students, elders, kayakers and others gathered as a community to push for a better and cleaner future.

©Ronen Tivony

The Message: Be the Change

LoaTree has always believed that there is great power in leading by example: by being the change you want to see in the world. With the Refugio oil spill, and with frustrations with response efforts running high, there is plenty of blame to go around. The Santa Barbara community has every right to be critical of those at fault and to demand an end to dirty energy. However, LoaTree’s approach, and by default, Stand in the Sand’s approach, is to bring people together to channel frustrations into positive outcomes.

As such, the Stand in the Sand message remains a positive one. Stand’s mission, like LoaTree’s, is to help build community. So too is it Stand’s purpose to establish and exhibit solidarity with the many organizations working on the front lines in response to this most recent disaster. Finally, Stand continues to raise funds for recovery. Funds will be directed at regional wildlife care organizations and will be released soon. You can donate HERE.

Team LoaTree. ©Ronen Tivony

We are extremely grateful to the following organizations who lent their support in the days leading up to the Stand in the Sand Community Rally: 1% for the Planet, Community Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Center, Explore Ecology, Food & Water Watch, Fund for Santa Barbara, Gaviota Coast ConservancyHeal the OceanLucidity, Naples CoalitionOcean ConservancySave the MermaidsSprout Up, World Business AcademyUCSB Environmental Affairs Board and 350.org Santa Barbara. Special thanks to the Sierra Club for their early financial support.

LoaTree is honored to work in and be a part of a community along California’s central coast that honors its past, grounds itself in the present and works toward the future. While we hope and pray that we are never again faced with a tragedy like the one we faced two weeks ago at one of our most treasured beaches, we know that Santa Barbara is ready to unite and respond when needed.

And like the many other businesses and organizations that value a clean environment, strong economy and healthy community, LoaTree is with you – willing and ready to take a stand.

All photos courtesy of Ronen Tivony, freelance photographer, www.15images.com 

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UC Natural Reserve System: 50 Years of Research http://loatree.com/2015/06/02/uc-natural-reserve-system-50-years-of-research/ http://loatree.com/2015/06/02/uc-natural-reserve-system-50-years-of-research/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 17:00:02 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6868 Read More]]> Have you ever tried to complete a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the front of the box? That is how Andy Brooks, Director of the UC Natural Reserve System’s Carpenteria Salt Marsh Reserve, describes being an ecologist. “You don’t know how many pieces there are, but you just start piecing things together and eventually you begin to see what the big picture is.”

UCSB Carpenteria Salt Marsh  120 Acres  Plant Species: 252    Bird Species: 190 Fish Species: 37       Mammals: 11

UCSB Carpenteria Salt Marsh – 120 Acres
Plant Species: 252 Bird Species: 190
Fish Species: 37 Mammals: 11

Brooks oversees one of the 39 natural reserves operated by the University of California. For 50 years, these protected natural areas have provided undisturbed environments for research, education, and public service to help scientists piece together the ecology puzzle.

The Natural Reserve System (NRS) is a network of protected lands throughout California that serve as living laboratories for students and researchers. The NRS began as a vision of UCLA professor Kenneth S. Norris, who as a graduate student dedicated significant time studying desert iguanas outside of Palm Springs in the 1940s, then returned to his research site to find the earth bulldozed and the iguana habitat he had studied decimated.

UC Irvine Burns Pinon Ridge 303 Acres Habitats: Pinion-juniper woodland,  Desert wash, freshwater seep Vertebrate species: 153    Mammals: 26

UC Irvine Burns Piñon Ridge – 303 Acres
Vertebrate species: 153 Mammals: 26

This event, an occurrence that has been tragically replicated hundreds of times as California’s population continues to increase, inspired Norris and other visionaries to co-found the NRS in January 1965.

Starting with just seven sites, the system has now expanded to all UC campuses, encompassing 756,000 acres of protected land among its 39 unique sites. Today it is the largest university-administered reserve system in the world. Researchers and students visit these living laboratories from all over the world and benefit from having access to the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the nation.

Outreach and Public Service

UC Davis Bodega Marine 326 Acres  Habitat: sub tidal, intertidal, mudflat, sandy beach, fresh/salt marsh, coastal grassland  Mammals: 30

UC Davis Bodega Marine – 326 Acres
Habitat: sub tidal, intertidal, mudflat, sandy beach, fresh/salt marsh, coastal grassland
Mammals: 30

The mission of NRS is to support university-level teaching, research, and public service. The reserves provide a variety of services to better connect with the public including opening their sites to visitors, sponsoring lecture series, and hosting hundreds of school children on field trips each year.

“The NRS provides protected lands on which people can learn about and be inspired by the natural world,” explained NRS Publications Coordinator Kathleen Wong. Having access to these habitats and ecosystems is invaluable for education.

Brooks hosts tours at the Carpentaria Salt Marsh and speaks to third and fourth grade classes often. “There are kids who go to school a mile from the beach and have never seen the ocean,” he said. “To get them out into the salt marsh to talk about why it’s important and what types of species live there is incredibly valuable.” He believes there is much more to learn from observing an animal in its natural habitat rather than reading about it in a textbook.

UC Berkeley Blue Oak Ranch 3,259 Acres Bird species: 130   Mammals: 41 Amphibians: 7       Reptiles: 14 Fish: 7

UC Berkeley Blue Oak Ranch – 3,259 Acres
Bird species: 130 Mammals: 41
Amphibians: 7 Reptiles: 14

Climate Research

UC San Diego Kendall-Frost Marsh 16 Acres Mammals: 4    Plant species: 56

UC San Diego Kendall-Frost Marsh
16 Acres
Mammals: 4 Plant species: 56

UC’s Institute for the Study of Ecological Effects of Climate Impacts (ISEECI) will begin using the NRS to detect and forecast the ecological impacts of climate change in California. ISEECI’s mission is to enable large-scale and coordinated climate research, utilizing the diverse habitats of the NRS. “The Institute will coordinate UC research and take advantage of decades of environmental and climate records,” described Wong. “Those records will become even more valuable as we focus future climate studies at the same locations.”

For most of the NRS’s 50 years, the Reserves have operated largely as autonomous units, keeping their own data and data formats; there has been little collaboration save for the few times that an individual researcher works on more than one reserve. Brooks hopes ISEECI will be able to collect data at the individual reserve level and start making that data available to databases maintained at the system level.

UC Merced Vernal Pool 6561 Acres  Rare endemic plants: 25 Bird Species: 57    Mammals: 10

UC Merced Vernal Pool – 6561 Acres
Rare endemic plants: 25
Bird Species: 57 Mammals: 10

“If the Reserve System is going to have a meaningful role to play in informing the legislature of California about climate change, we have to begin functioning as a network, and that means sharing data collected across the state at different NRS Reserves using a common framework,” said Brooks.


California is the most biologically diverse state in the nation. The knowledge gained from observing the wide variety of plants and animals in California, many of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world, can be applied to the conservation of that species and its relatives across broad regions no matter where they reside.

Wong compares protecting California’s biodiversity to managing an endowment: “These organisms and their genes are the repository from which future diversity and biological resiliency will evolve.”

UCLA White Mountain Elevation: 10,000ft

UCLA White Mountain
Elevation: 10,000ft

The NRS’s many reserves protect habitat that house many threatened and endangered species. Their preservation through these reserve sites has created many success stories from an approach that includes constant monitoring and management. Success stories include the protection of species such as the California Tiger Salamander at the Jepson Prairie Reserve, the Channel Island Fox on Santa Cruz Island Reserve, the Ventura Marsh Milk Vetch at Carpentaria Salt Marsh, and endangered Condors at Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, to name just a few.

UC Riverside Deep Canyon Reptile Species: 46    Mammals: 47 Bird Species: 228

UC Riverside /Boyd Deep Canyon
Reptile Species: 46 Mammals: 47
Bird Species: 228

“The NRS is the hidden jewel of the University of California,” Brooks said. Raising the overall awareness of the Natural Reserve System will have educational benefits to all fields of study.

The NRS provides a solution to problems many researchers face. Thanks to the NRS, they can be assured that important habitats won’t be developed into shopping malls, that species will not be hunted, and that plants will not be sprayed with pesticides, among other assurances. The reserves provide the perfect environment for ecological research and teaching. The past 50 years of research provides a foundation for scientists to continue building upon to better understand the ecological impact we’ve had on the environment as well as the many benefits, both ecological and economic, that an intact environment provides.

UC Santa Cruz Año Nuevo Island 25 Acres Serves as a breeding ground for northern elephant seals, harbor seals, California sea lions, and federally threatened steller sea lions

UC Santa Cruz Año Nuevo Island – 25 Acres
Serves as a breeding ground for northern elephant seals, harbor seals, California sea lions, and federally threatened steller sea lions

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Stand in the Sand: For a Clean Energy Future http://loatree.com/2015/05/28/stand-in-the-sand-for-a-clean-energy-future/ http://loatree.com/2015/05/28/stand-in-the-sand-for-a-clean-energy-future/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 15:00:28 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6927 Read More]]> A devastating event reached Santa Barbara’s shores last week when Plains’ All American Oil Pipeline burst, spilling 105,000 gallons of oil onto our beaches and into our seas. The #RefugioOilSpill has blackened the beaches of our beloved Gaviota Coast, leaving locals saddened by and disappointed in a continued reliance on inefficient and polluting technologies, despite the myriad of sustainable options available.

As dedicated volunteers continue their valiant efforts to clean up and respond to effected marine life, Stand in the Sand, a project of LoaTree, asks you to join with community on Sunday, May 31 for a Community Rally for a Clean Energy Future at 1PM. The rally will be held in downtown Santa Barbara at De la Guerra Plaza, followed immediately by taking the message to the streets, filling State Street’s sidewalks as the crowd heads toward the West Beach waterfront. At the water’s edge, a ‘human boom’ will be formed to symbolically stem the rising black tide.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 7.39.01 PM


Stand in the Sand was formed in Santa Barbara in response to the 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill in order to create a unified front with our east coast neighbors and stand with the communities affected by that tragic event. With the 1969 Santa Barbara oil disaster as a backdrop, Santa Barbara residents knew all to well the damaging effects of oil extraction on a community. But today, Stand in the Sand stands in is own backyard, committed to a renewed and expanded movement that unites communities rural and urban, coastal and inland, left and right to promote a clean, renewable energy future.

The Stand message is a positive one, encouraging people to ‘flip the switch’ to a clean energy future. Stand’s goals are unity as a community, solidarity with regional nonprofit partners, creating an environment of hope, and raising money for local organizations working on recovery efforts.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 8.09.18 PM


On Sunday May 31st, Stand in the Sand and its partners will gather at City Hall at 1PM for a community rally with elected leaders, nonprofits responding to the oil spill, members of the public and special guests. We will rebirth the environmental movement on the same shores where it began.

SITS_InstagramDRESS IN YELLOW and bring your family and friends. Get creative! Painted faces, signs, instruments, costumes and any other ideas to help get the message out are highly encouraged. Let’s get LOUD!

Explore Ecology/Art from Scrap will host a sign making party on Thursday, May 28th from 5-8PM at 302 E. Cota St. Bring some supplies and get creative!

Think green when commuting to the event. Leave the fossil fuels behind and bring your bike, skateboard, or your own two feet. If you have an electric vehicle or ‘green car,’ please bring it! Green cars are invited to regroup at West Beach after the rally. There will also be a bike valet at De la Guerra Plaza. Deck out your ride with signs and colors, and help draw some attention to your dedication to clean and green technologies while we’re riding in style.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 8.19.46 PM


As members of the Santa Barbara community, we need to re-establish our voices. After the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, visionaries from our community ignited the modern environmental movement. That response to the ill effects of the oil industry can only be magnified 46 years later – think of the impact we can have today.


Stand in the Sand has created a GoFundMe page to assist in oil spill recovery efforts. All proceeds generated will be directed to the front lines of wildlife and ecosystem recovery. Special thanks to Sierra Club California who has stepped up with a generous contribution to help underwrite costs associated with the upcoming rally. If the Stand in the Sand fundraising goal is not for you and you would prefer to support advocacy, policy change and education around the issue of fossil fuels and clean energy, please consider donating directly to any of Stand in the Sand’s nonprofit partners found at www.Standinthesand.org.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 8.06.30 PM

See you on Sunday, May 31!

Masthead photo by Erin Feinblatt, Stand in the Sand, 2010, Santa Barbara West Beach.

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Plains All American Oil Spill: The Latest http://loatree.com/2015/05/22/plains-all-american-oil-spill-the-latest/ http://loatree.com/2015/05/22/plains-all-american-oil-spill-the-latest/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 22:17:45 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6898 Read More]]> On May 19th the biodiversity of the Gaviota Coast fell victim to the ill-effects of the oil industry. While LoaTree responds to the calls of concerned residents and helps coordinate a broad based community response, here is the most up to date information regarding Plains All American’s #RefugioOilSpill that we could find.

The Spill

Since Tuesday, local, state and federal agencies have been responding to the tragic oil spill caused from the burst of a pipeline along the Gaviota Coastline in Southern California. The United States Coast Guard, the US Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management have all joined in the effort to clean up the oil and attend to affected wildlife.

The total amount of oil released from the Plains All American Oil pipeline is still under investigation, however it is estimated that up to 2,500 barrels (105,000 gallons) of crude oil was spilled. Approximately 500 barrels (21,000 gallons) of this is likely to have spilled into the ocean, entering  from the storm drain at Refugio State Beach. The spill was confirmed by a Plains employee at 1:30pm.Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.20.43 PM

The All American Pipeline

The spill originated from Line 901, the Las Flores to Gaviota pipeline. The pipeline was shut down at approximately 11:30 AM when a control room employee noticed some abnormalities in the line. The cause of the spill cannot be determined until it is possible to excavate the pipeline. This specific line holds a capacity of 150,000 barrels (6,300,000 gallons) of crude oil daily, operating at 1,200 barrels/hour (50,400 gallons/hour).

The oil was flowing from an aboveground storage tank facility in Las Flores to refineries throughout Southern California.

All American Pipeline constructed Line 901 in 1987. There was a major internal inspection of the pipeline in 2012, which was normal. Another inspection was performed a few weeks ago, but the results are not yet available. Comprehensive internal inspections typically occur on a five-year schedule by industry standards.

Investigations of the pipeline and the cause of its failure are underway through the review of operating history and Control Center Data.

oil spill

Response and Safety

As of 9am today, May 22, recovery efforts have collected approximately 145 barrels (6,090 gallons) of oil using vacuum trucks, skimmer boats and other resources.

The safety of the first responders and prevention of oil migration to the shoreline is the priority of the cleanup effort. Every step taken is to ensure minimal impact to the unique habitats of this precious coastline. Despite the smell of petroleum in the air, there is little immediate threat to public safety at this time, and current reports show no harmful contaminants in the air. Air quality levels will continue to be monitored in the impacted areas.

It is too early in the response effort to estimate the ultimate impacts to the environment and local wildlife, as well associated cleanup costs, but the current focus is to urgently and thoroughly clean up the spill and relieve any damage to the affected areas. The Plains oil company will follow established procedures for reimbursement.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.39.28 PMWhat Can You Do?

Stand in the Sand is organizing a community rally on Sunday, May 31st. Details have yet to be determined, but they are encouraging interested community members to save the date and register at standinthesand.org for event updates. Stand in the Sand is a project of LoaTree. Follow Stand in the Sand and LoaTree‘s Facebook pages for daily updates.

Top feature image by David McNew/Getty Images. Sources above gleaned from recent news reports as well as UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management alumni, Marisa Villareal.

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Oceans Before Humans: A Changing Coral Reef Community http://loatree.com/2015/05/15/oceans-before-humans-a-changing-coral-reef-community/ http://loatree.com/2015/05/15/oceans-before-humans-a-changing-coral-reef-community/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 16:59:50 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6844 Read More]]> In my last blog post, “Oceans Before Humans: An Investigation into the Decline of Shark Populations,” I walked you through Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Fellow Erin Dillon’s project examining what shark populations might have looked like before humans began to harvest them.  Like my previous ones, this post will look at the dynamic Caribbean ocean, but with a focus on coral reefs and how they have changed over the last 7,000 years.

A graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in Marine Biology, I have been working with STRI as a paleobiology (a field that combines field research of current environments and organisms with that of fossils) with research intern for Aaron O’Dea and Andrew Alteri, comparing fossil and modern coral reefs. I have been focusing specifically on the interactions between the dusky damselfish and a type of reef-building coral known as staghorn coral, wherein the damselfish causes damage to the coral’s tissue. In response to this damage, the coral produces growths known as “chimneys,” which are calcareous (made up of calcium carbonate) and as such are well preserved in the fossil record, which makes it possible to compare the frequency of chimneys on coral branches between 7000-year-old fossil reefs and modern Caribbean reefs.

The Courageous Coral and Dastardly Damselfish

iil_diagram_coral_polyp_structureCommonly thought of as plants or rocks, corals are actually animals, and are members of the phylum Cnidaria, which makes them a close relative of organisms like jellyfish. Corals are composed of numerous colonies of individual but genetically identical polyps that sit in a cup-shaped depression in the coral, and produce an internal skeleton made of calcium carbonate. Each polyp has several nematocysts, or tentacles, used in feeding which first sting and subdue prey before ushering it into the waiting mouth.

Most corals get additional energy and nutrients in the form of oxygen and carbohydrates from a unicellular organism called zooxanthellae, which live in the polyps, which in turn receive metabolic waste from the coral in the form of phosphorous, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Because these symbiotic organisms are photosynthetic (meaning that as plants they convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy), the corals must inhabit clear shallow tropical and subtropical waters that allow adequate light penetration.

As anyone who has Googled “coral reefs” can attest, corals are beautiful, yet most don’t know that they are also:

  1. amazing-coral-reefs-12 Crucial to biodiversity – corals create microhabitats for countless marine species, including up to 25% of the world’s fish biodiversity!
  2. An indicator species – because they are so sensitive to light and temperature, corals can only tolerate a narrow range of water conditions, and thus are environmental indicators of water quality.
  3. Providers of ecosystem services – coral reefs aid in breaking up wave action.
  4. Economically important – corals contribute a significant amount of money to economic areas such as tourism (valued by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to contribute around $9.6 billion) and fisheries.
  5. A carbon sink.

Now, add damselfish, our second species of interest. The dusky damselfish has a weak stomach, which means it has a difficult time digesting anything but the most delicate of algae.  Because of this, it engages in a mutualistic behavior of plant-herbivore gardening with filamentous algae [a relationship akin to that of bees consuming the pollen of flowers and then dispersing it on land].  The fish deliberately damage patches of coral, effectively killing portions of the coral, permitting space for the colonization of the algae, which the fish then “farm.”  In response to the bites of these damselfish, the coral pdusky-damselfishroduces distinct protuberances, or “chimneys.” My research seeks to quantify and compare the abundance of these chimneys on 7,000-year-old fossil reefs with those found on modern Caribbean reefs.

Overfishing has led to a marked removal of top predators from oceanic ecosystems, allowing for mesopredator release (rapid increase in medium-sized predators such as damselfish as a result of the lack of large predators). This mesopredator release may have allowed damselfish populations to increase, thus allowing them to kill more coral, and create more chimneys. (For more information on overfishing, LoaTree blogger Juliet Taylor has written an awesome piece that summarizes the key points in her post “Planet Ocean: The Status of Our Fisheries and How You Can Help.”)

A Drop in the Ocean

P2241614_1024Fossil and recent coral branches were collected off the southwest coast of Isla Colón in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, and were then brought back to Panama City where I examined them for the presence or absence of chimneys-like growths. Chimneys are distinguished from other growths by the following characteristics: 1). Small bumps or cylinders 0.25 – 2 cm long 2). Absent from underside of segment 3). Hollow (sometimes with algae inside) 4.)Occurring in clusters.

Preliminary results are striking and clearly demonstrate that chimneys are not only vastly more common in the modern reef, but larger as well. This suggests that a significant change has taken place in the interaction between damselfish and staghorn coral, which could be the result of the following:

  1. A change in the relationship between fish, coral, and algae
  2. An increased abundance of damselfish
  3. Decreased growth rate of the coral (this would result in an apparent increase in chimney density)

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 1.51.18 PMPursuing this research also leads to an exhaustive list of questions.  But since science is rarely straight forward it is highly unlikely that there is a simple answer, especially since we are dealing with the ocean which feels the global effects of events like nutrient pollution, sedimentation, ocean acidification, and increasing ocean temperatures. These issues and others need to be taken into consideration when asking the seemingly simple question of what is going on in these reef systems today that has caused such a change from the past?

While the loss of coral from damselfish gardening may seem negligible and insignificant when compared to larger threats such as disease, the additive effects exacerbate the issue of already poor coral health, and we now are seeing corals getting pushed towards a point where they are unable to recover properly from any kind of damage.  Results from this survey have the potential to help determine if the widespread decline in corals is a shift that communities have experienced before, or if this radical decline is an unprecedented trend brought about by human actions interfering in the marine environment.   

ways to protect coral reefsIf you’re interested in learning more about coral reefs and their conservation, or even how you can get involved, I encourage you to visit: Ocean Health Index: Coral Reefs, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, Coral Reef Alliance.  Unfortunately while threats to these dynamic coral habitats are vast there’s still hope!

Tune in next time for something completely different! 

Images courtesy of: 2) Coral internal structure (Kris Beckert, IAN Image Library)/ 3) Coral Reef 4) Damselfish 7) Ways You Can Help

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In Every Breath – Let Life Flow http://loatree.com/2015/04/27/in-every-breath-let-life-flow/ http://loatree.com/2015/04/27/in-every-breath-let-life-flow/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:21:33 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6761 Read More]]> You know what’s pretty incredible? The fact that we can breathe.

Not only that, but with every single breath we take we have access to clean, fresh air. We don’t have to put forth any effort – our bodies do this automatically for us!

BreathI know it seems simple, but think about it: this very act of inhaling and exhaling that we take for granted is the very action that gives us life!

The amount of oxygen we allow ourselves to take in directly relates to the amount of life we allow ourselves to take in.

For instance, sometimes I notice I’m holding my breath when I’m in the middle of something stressful. When I do this, I know that on a subconscious level I don’t feel safe. I’ve reverted to fear based thoughts like: “I need to stay in control, worry, or figure this out.” AKA- “I’m not fully taken care of and supported by life.”

On the other hand, when my breathing is relaxed, open and full, I’m usually in a more positive space and subconsciously thinking: “Life flows in perfect harmony. It’s safe for me to be present and trust in the process of life.”

Have you ever noticed how your mood and your breathing are connected? 

the trick is to breatheTaking a few relaxing, full inhales and exhales can do wonders to your mood. When you breathe steadily and openly, you signal to your brain that you’re safe, and your nervous systems will naturally begin to calm down. On the other hand, when your breathing is short, your amygdala (the part of your brain that monitors your “fight or flight” response in stressful situations) is usually stimulated. In “fight or flight” mode our bodies don’t recognize the difference between “tiger chasing me” stress versus “how am I going to pay the bills” stress, so we tend to be on edge either way.

As you calm your breath, you’ll calm your body. I don’t know about you, but I’m much happier when I’m not running from a tiger (or worrying about first world problems).

The way you breathe is the way you allow life to flow through you. Are you open, and allowing yourself to receive fully? 

Take a breath with me: Roll your shoulders back and down. Breathe all the way down into your belly and notice how open and calming that feels. :) Do this a few times today, and notice what happens. I’d love to hear how if it changes your mood or your day.

Here’s to letting life flow,



Erin DiAngelis is a health to wealth coach, speaker and yogi. She specializes in helping clients heal their relationship with their body and food, without dieting, so they can create more money, love and happiness in their lives. When she’s not coaching, you can find her running on the beach, planning her next travel adventure, or doing yoga. You can connect with her at www.erindiangelis.com.

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Oceans Before Humans: An Investigation Into the Decline of Shark Populations http://loatree.com/2015/04/27/oceans-before-humans-an-investigation-into-the-decline-of-shark-populations/ http://loatree.com/2015/04/27/oceans-before-humans-an-investigation-into-the-decline-of-shark-populations/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:53:13 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6677 Read More]]> In my last blog post, “Oceans Before Humans: What Can Sponges Tell Us?”, I walked you through Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Intern Mike Hynes’ project examining how and why sponge communities in the Caribbean have shifted over time, and how this information is helping to develop better, more informed conservation measures. Today I’m going to focus on a different project by Erin Dillon, a Stanford University grad with a degree in Marine Biology. Working on a collaborative project here in Panama with Aaron O’Dea (STRI), Dick Norris (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and Katie Kramer (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Erin is examining what shark populations might have looked like before humans began to harvest them. By examining shark dermal denticles – essentially “teeth” on the skin of sharks – Erin hopes to add one more piece to the puzzle of what a “pristine” ecosystem looked like.

Unlike bony fish, sharks are cartilaginous, meaning their bodies are predominantly made of a flexible connective tissue called cartilage. Instead of being covered in traditional fish scales, the bodies of sharks are covered with these dermal denticles. These rigid scales are the reason the skin of sharks feels rough to the touch if you stroke towards the sharks head as opposed to in the direction of their tail — sort of like rubbing sand paper.

Dreaming of Denticles

denticles_on_sharkThe purpose of dermal denticles is two-fold: 1) to reduce drag and turbulence, enabling sharks to swim more efficiently, and 2) to provide protection. Both of these functions are accomplished by the composition of the denticles; a layer of dentine (like our teeth) that is covered by an enamel-like substance called vitrodentine, which adds further structure and protection to the denticle. While they stop growing in size after a certain point, denticles are constantly being produced as a shark grows. These denticles grow around the body of the shark, producing outer coverage that could be compared to wearing a chainmail suit; this arrangement combined with the strength of the denticles provides protection from large predators such as other sharks, down to small parasites (http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/white_shark/scales.htm).

Denticles come in a wide variety of morphologies that correspond to various functions characteristic of certain species of sharks. Previous studies have organized them into five different functional groups:


  1. Generalized – more ancestral form found in most sharks, particularly those living closer to the bottom – these play a variety of roles.
  2. Abrasion strength – thicker denticles which protect demersal sharks from the rough environments they inhabit.
  3. Defensive – deter the settlement of small organisms and parasites on the skin of demersal and schooling sharks.
  4. Drag reduction – interfere with the boundary layer created by water moving past the shark as it swims to improve its hydrodynamic properties.
  5. Bioluminescent – permit bioluminescent sharks to have photophores and for the light to shine through – most common in mesopelagic sharks.

Ranging in size from 100µm to 1.2mm in size (a size range from the diameter of a human hair to the diameter of a pin), finding the denticles requires a high-powered microscope. While one might assume that because these dermal denticles sound so unique, they must be easy to spot – this couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, on average, Erin says she usually finds a measly four denticles per kilogram (a little over 2 pounds) of sediment!

From Top Predator to Top Conservation Priority

Because these denticles are made of such hardy materials, they are preserved surprisingly well in sediment and can therefore be used as a proxy for the abundance and taxonomic diversity of sharks in the past. With the help of these miniscule and elusive dermal denticles, Erin is seeking to reconstruct what shark populations looked like before human impact in the Caribbean, specifically in Bocas del Toro, Panama and the Dominican Republic. Using dermal denticles that have been preserved in sediment from both living and dead modern reefs in addition to those from similar 8,000-6,000 year old fossil reef sites, Erin is able to compare both the size and taxonomic composition of shark assemblages over time starting with when their populations were in a “pristine” condition, and progressing to current stock sizes that have been heavily impacted by human interactions.


Preliminary data suggests that the functional community composition of sharks may have shifted over time, particularly in terms of the relative abundance of demersal and predatory sharks, which play important and diverse roles in maintaining coral reef health and resilience. By discovering pre-human baselines and understanding how shark communities have changed since that time period, Erin and her fellow researchers hope that more accurate conservation goals can be developed and met.

What’s next for this dermal denticle diva? For the moment, Erin’s project is focused solely on Caribbean reefs, but she has her sights set on expanding the study to the Pacific. Such data would facilitate a comparison of how the modern-day spatial diversity and natural abundance of sharks in the Caribbean vs. the Pacific is reflected in dermal denticle assemblages. This is particularly interesting considering how different these habitats are, in addition to the fact that Caribbean underwent a massive extinction 2 million years ago!


If you would like to learn a little more about shark conservation, here are a couple links to provide you with some great foundational information: 1) Ocean Health Index: Global State of Sharks, Rays, and Chimeras 2) Shark Trust

Also please check out Madison Stewart, a truly awe-inspiring shark conservationist who proves daily that sharks are stupendous creatures that deserve not only our protection, but our love as well.

Tune in next time to hear a little about my own project here at STRI working with Caribbean corals!

Images Courtesy of: 1) Shark Decline Map

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Partnership for Excellence 2015 – Creating Excellence at Every Level http://loatree.com/2015/04/21/partnership-for-excellence-2015-creating-excellence-at-every-level/ http://loatree.com/2015/04/21/partnership-for-excellence-2015-creating-excellence-at-every-level/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:18:55 +0000 http://loatree.com/?p=6733 Read More]]> With more than 72,000 active nonprofits in California contributing to 15% of California’s gross state product, the business world should take heed of the power of the nonprofit sector. The 2015 Partnership for Excellence (PFE) conference brought together revolutionary thinkers from the nonprofit, business and philanthropic communities working to strengthen the many nonprofits active within Santa Barbara County.

This year’s PFE program, Recognizing Strengths: Creating Excellence at Every Level, provided a space for attendees to build and strengthen relationships, and learn valuable techniques for nonprofits to maximize the impact they have in their communities.

Planting the Seeds for Organizational Growth

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Diana Whitney

Heading the pack of inspiring individuals was keynote speaker Diana Whitney, PhD, founder of the Corporation for Positive Change. With a speaking style centered on interactive storytelling, she ignited the audience with her rich and relatable experiences, filling them with confidence to inspire action.

“Every organization needs a positive revolution,” she said.

Dr. Whitney advocated for nonprofit leaders to better their organizations through positive processes. She stressed that “no one can learn by being told what they’re doing wrong.” Leaders can help their employees achieve goals by using appreciative inquiry; asking them questions based on their values and hopes for the organization rather than focusing on what could have been done better. Giving specific directions instead of criticism, and being more appreciative of an individual’s strengths will transform any toxicity in the work environment into productivity.

She endorsed positive change through appreciative leadership. “Solutions are found through thinking with people rather than thinking for them.” This year’s conference was unique in that Dr. Whitney actively helped in planning the day’s workshops, providing all the tools necessary to integrate appreciative leadership into their organizations.

Passion Over Statistics

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Lisa Braithwaite

Public speaking coach and author of the popular blog Speak Schmeak, Lisa Braithwaite, answered the question; How Can You Inspire Great Community Support by Sharing Stories and Speaking from the Heart? Being able to tell stories and speak passionately is a powerful tool for nonprofits with a vision. Her words were not lost on the room full of passionate individuals who center their profession on working for a greater cause.

Braithwaite tossed aside mundane public speaking practices and asked her audience to reframe any negative preconceptions into positive practices. “Barriers are created when you take yourself too seriously,” she said. “Embrace your uniqueness and don’t get caught up in trying to impress anyone.” The same rules apply in a presentation format as when making friends on the playground: just be yourself.

Her biggest piece of advice to people wanting to sell themselves and their vision to an audience was to create an emotional experience. Don’t “fire hose” the audience with excess facts and statistics. “People buy on emotion and then justify it with fact,” explained Braithwaite. In this business, passion and enthusiasm is so much more valuable than statistics and numbers.

Bethany Markee, self-titled ‘chef turned lunch lady’ and winner of Fast Pitch, a local cash competition for nonprofits, recently won $25,000 dollars for her mission to bring healthy lunches to elementary schools using the techniques Braithwaite discussed. Chef B. encouraged everyone to overcome their fears and told the audience that “thinking it was going to be hard was actually the hardest part.”

People as your Biggest Resource

Leading From Within Founder and President, Ken Saxon, teamed up with Deborah Holmes, Associate Director of CALM, and Dave Davis, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of the Community Environmental Council to facilitate a leadership workshop titled How Can You Foster and Grow Leadership At All Levels?

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Individuals connecting during breakout sessions

Quoting Helen Keller, Saxon reminded us that “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” His philosophy is centered on the idea that in order to maximize efficiency in your organization one needs to invest in human capital. “People are the biggest resource in nonprofits,” he said. Since 10% of the United State’s population works for a nonprofit organization, employers should use this people power to let employees take risks and support them throughout the process.

Using reflective practice, leaders can help foster creativity and openness among their team members. Holmes explained that when leaders take time to stop and think about their own responses and reactions, they can prevent misunderstanding and unnecessary negativity. It’s about understanding your own biases. To grow your own organization you must encourage people’s potential. She noted that “leaders get used to having people listen to them, when in reality they should be the ones listening.”

Davis added that it’s ok to miss your objective sometimes as long as you aimed high to begin with. The top down mentality in many organizations is hindering valuable opportunities for communication. Leaders should be checking in with employees all the time, rather than every few weeks through feedback reports.

Why it Matters: Causes Count

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Jan Masaoka

CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits, Jan Masaoka, discussed the recent impact study, Causes Count, which measured the economic power of California’s nonprofit sector. This is the first study of its kind recognizing nonprofits as competitive businesses. Lets face it – money gets people’s attention.

Nonprofits are already trusted institutions. Causes Count’s survey showed that 80 percent of Californians are confident that these organizations act on the public’s behalf and deliver quality services. Causes Count gave these beliefs an economic backing, which will hopefully put these important organizations on policy makers’ radars and allow them to be more competitive with for-profit businesses. If California leaders worked more closely with nonprofits, the combination of economic force and people power will lead to unique and powerful community solutions.

This is a call to action for nonprofit organizations to get a seat at the decision-making table and get important community leaders, businesses and institutions to ask them the important question: “what does the nonprofit sector think?”

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