Making Isla Vista the First Carbon Neutral Community by 2025
Isla Vista and UCSB aerial photo by John Wiley
Source: World Business Academy
David Gershon, a senior Fellow of the World Business Academy and founder of the Empowerment Institute, an organization dedicated to making social change on large scales, was featured at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) this week.
Most recently, Gershon has focused on making solutions for climate change a reality, and one of his current projects called Cool Block is set in the tight community of Isla Vista, which houses most of the UCSB population and many long-time locals.
On Wednesday, Gershon will presented a systemic strategy to help Isla Vista become carbon neutral in five years that can be scaled throughout the world.
In the Spring quarter of 2019, Gershon co-lead a course at UCSB titled “The World in 2050: Sustainable Development and its Alternatives” in which upper-division students enacted Cool Block. Cool Block is a community program that gives “block leaders” a toolkit to inspire climate change action on their blocks and in their larger neighborhoods.
The purpose of Cool Block is to set feasible, obtainable goals block by block to bring together the power of bottom up collective change. Cool Block groups meet every other week, depending on their personal schedules, and work together to reduce their carbon footprints, become more disaster resilient, and build community livability.
How will Isla Vista become the first carbon neutral community in just five short years? Cities make up nearly 70 percent of global carbon emissions, and 70 percent of those emissions come from residents’ lifestyle choices.
If you can empower residents to adopt low-carbon lifestyles, you can activate the whole system of bottom up and top down change.
Isla Vista houses a unique population largely composed of UCSB students and faculty, making it a socially aware, environmentally conscious, and highly educated area. The organizing and brain power of this community is like no other, and student groups and faculty members are already coming together to be the first place to take the steps that the world needs to see.
Gershon explains, “I have been searching 30 years for a breakthrough climate solution that can get traction and be scalable, and I believe I have found such a solution. The key is combining top down and bottom up approaches which have been insufficient on their own to gain traction. That’s what I’m working toward, one block, one community at a time, and we’re getting traction!”
Our society must evolve, and these students have the power and are ready to create the bottom up change that Gershon and many others deem necessary.