Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe title=
Former location of the Unity Shoppe (Photo: Unity Shoppe)
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Source: Radius Commercial Real Estate

A local leader in the regional climate movement has announced plans to grow its operations and relocate to a larger space located at 1219 State St. in downtown Santa Barbara. The Community Environmental Council (CEC) will expand its footprint in all the right ways when it takes up residence in the prominent storefront space formerly occupied by the Unity Shoppe across from The Granada Theatre.

While just around the corner from the CEC’s previous home at 26 W. Anapamu St., it’s a notable move for the homegrown nonprofit as it takes on roughly 8,000 more square feet to better suit an array of new programs and ramp up its engagement with the community.

At a time when the downtown commercial corridor centered on State Street has had to battle challenges with changing retail trends and the pandemic, the CEC is providing a much needed breath of fresh air to the area.

And this downtown reinvigoration doesn’t stop with the CEC. Westmont College will soon open a satellite campus at the CEC’s old space on Anapamu, which they recently purchased from the CEC’s landlord, the Hutton Parker Foundation. The Hutton Parker Foundation is well known in the community for its funding programs and direct assistance to community-based nonprofit organizations throughout Santa Barbara County as a part of its mission to foster financial stability and organizational sustainability in these agencies.

“We were already in talks with Tom Parker about a location change when the time was right,” said CEC CEO Sigrid Wright, in reference to Parker, president of the Hutton Parker Foundation. “With our staff and programming expanding, we would have soon outgrown our space and we knew we wanted to eventually move to a more visible location, like State Street. The timing of the sale to Westmont presented the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Due to the pandemic, the CEC is operating almost completely remotely at the moment, “but we can’t pause our efforts as we seek to advance rapid and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. Eventually we will need this space to build regional capacity and expand our outreach to the community,” added Wright.

The CEC is developing three new programs to more closely engage adults and youth in the climate movement: a Climate Leadership Program, a Climate Justice Program and a Climate Resilience Program.

“After the pandemic these programs will rely on large gatherings and in-person events that will need adequate meeting and training spaces,” said Wright. “At that time, this new location will allow us to connect more deeply with the community through training rooms and facilities and a new webinar studio.” The CEC is also speaking with an architect about building micro workspaces throughout the facility so that people can work outside or socially-distanced during COVID-19 when the region moves out of the purple tier.

Wright says that while the CEC’s future programming may take on “hybrid” formats and maintain some digital aspects that were developed as a result of the pandemic -- including it’s a webinar series, virtual roundtable sessions and real-time translated bilingual events -- they are moving ahead in planning for when they will be able to convene in person and are expecting as much as a 50 percent increase in staff in the next few years.

“We hope to be an anchor of environmental stewardship and leadership through community-centered events, such as participating in Santa Barbara’s First Thursdays or hosting film screenings. This block of State Street, which has traditionally been part of a food corridor, will allow for opportunities to promote sustainable and local food systems. And since this particular building had already been utilized by previous nonprofits, it felt right to us. We envision this to become more than just an office space. Instead, we hope to create a community space that showcases the positive opportunities and vibrancy of environmentalism in Santa Barbara,” said Wright.

“We feel like we landed in exactly the right place at the right time, and we couldn’t have done it without the stellar collaboration of Paul Gamberdella and the entire Radius team and Tom at the Hutton Parker Foundation.”

Wright says there’s room for even more collaboration as the new location has more space than the CEC will initially need, so there is potential to sublet some of it and bring in an organization that shares in their community values.

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a-1611392296 Jan 23, 2021 12:58 AM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

Thank you Hutton Parker Foundation, for ALL you do.

They subsidize office space for Alzheimer's Association and Center for Successful Aging (I refer to upper Chapala). I don't know what I would have done without the support groups held in that building and the aid of both those non-profits housed in your Chapala St. building. I am forever grateful and supportive.

I've used the CEC as an information source since the 90's. Whenever it was, it was before the city had home recycling. I used to bring large loads to a center from my workplace. Shrug. Nothing will change the minds of the current posters. Nor mine.

Voice of Reason Jan 22, 2021 02:52 PM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

I think someone of that comes from not being sure which comment I'm replying to with how the replies are structured, and there are certainly things lost discussing hot topics in a few sentences. But those "environmentalists" can be real phonies and hypocrites. My biggest issue with them is while we still consume petroleum products they want to ban the extraction in our state/county (and the jobs and tax revenue it creates) where we have the strictest environmental protections in the world. So the "environmentalist" who still consumes petroleum products would rather it be extracted in a far away land where there is less concern for the environment (if any) or concern for the local labor force and population who has to live near it, then transport the petroleum back to the US for processing and consumption. Overall it's actually much worse for the environment but man does screaming "stop drilling in Santa Barbara!" really signal your virtue.

Sail380 Jan 22, 2021 12:50 PM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

To really be an environmental leader, they should only have outdoor offices and only work when the sun is shinning. Remember these people when the grid is down and you can't heat your home with clean burning natural gas!!!

a-1611392540 Jan 23, 2021 01:02 AM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

Who is telling anyone to convert?!

Jurisdictions in many states are considering and legislating that new construction have electric power in place of the gas that we are accustomed to. I'm 60, grew up with gas stove, and most of my last 40 years have been spent cooking on an electric stove, from 1970's apartment buildings to houses.

SBTownie Jan 22, 2021 02:09 PM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

I completely agree with you. And I do think we see more eye to eye than YOU think I try to agree with you often, VOR, but then I find you arguing with me about things I didn't even say. LOL. I DO agree with you on many things. "Environmentalists" (I put that in quotes because I truly consider most environmentalists to be frauds and science deniers) want to pretend like most emissions drops we've seen are from solar or "renewables," when really the vast progress we've made is largely by switching out from coal to nat gas. I am a big proponent of natural gas and nuclear fission to bridge the gap until we get to the fusion future. And I think solar and wind are a huge waste of time except in circumstances relating to stuff like needing to get local power in totally remote or off-grid locations. I have had it with the hippie mentality in town here. It is totally divorced from reality and what is actually possible and should be done to address emissions reductions.

Voice of Reason Jan 22, 2021 02:01 PM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

SBTownie, I think we see eye to eye much more that it may seem. One very green way to utilize our existing nat-gas infrastructure and a stepping stone to carbon neutral electrical generation is using nat-gas generators that use an electrochemical reaction rather than combustion to produce electricity with small fraction of the emissions. When properly retrofitted (our designed in with a new build) it not only provides electricity but the waste is used for the hot water system. In addition to fewer emissions the house/business is using it's energy more efficiently with the heat recapture. But alas, our leaders are too focused on the end game so they have good material for their next election (like mandating only EV vehicles be sold in CA by 2035) rather than the many incremental steps we need to take in order get there.

SBTownie Jan 22, 2021 01:41 PM
Community Environmental Council to Occupy Former Unity Shoppe

And these people are over the moon that we're killing Diablo Canyon (9% of California's total energy, carbon-free, 24/7 on a few acres of land). Fake environmentalists.

EdHat needs a post on how our city council has gone totally rogue and is trying to ban natural gas in all new construction. I think most (though not all) Santa Barbarans recognize the need to reduce emissions and "believe" in climate change, but it's pretty insulting to tell us to convert homes to fully electric in an era of living under the threat of constant power shut offs. No hot water. No ability to cook. No gas fireplaces (I guess you can have an ethanol burner, or combust wood and pollute the air while releasing carbon in an "old fashioned" way). I am really concerned that they are overstepping and using COVID as cover for slipping stuff through because people can't show up and state their opposition. Noozhawk has a great op-ed from the Chamber of Commerce on why the city council was totally wrong on this.

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