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Friday, February 15 , 2019, 2:14 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 54º


Community Environmental Council Brings Celebration to The Lark for Green Gala

At their fundraising event, CEC honored outgoing CEO Dave Davis and his accomplishments during his 10 year leadership role.

Honoree Dave Davis and incoming CEO Sigrid Wright stop for a photo at the CEC’s Green Gala, held at The Lark. Click to view larger
Honoree Dave Davis and incoming CEO Sigrid Wright stop for a photo at the CEC’s Green Gala, held at The Lark. (Sarah Block / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

A celebratory and festive crowd of environmental activists gathered at the The Lark in support of the Community Environmental Council’s annual Green Gala and honored outgoing CEO, Dave Davis.

“In addition to honoring a great man and his contribution to CEC and the community, we’re here tonight to celebrate CEC’s 45th anniversary and to talk about the power that even small groups like ours can have,” said CEC’s incoming CEO, Sigrid Wright.

The mission of the CEC is to identify, advocate, raise awareness and develop effective programs to solve the most pressing environmental issues that affect the Santa Barbara region.

The organization has been at the forefront of environmental sustainability, change and progression in the area. From promoting locally farmed organic foods, creating zero-net energy buildings and solar-powered homes to installing electric vehicle charging stations and implementing community-based recycling programs, the CEC is dedicated to reversing the degradation of Santa Barbara’s natural environment.

The popular Funk Zone restaurant was decked out for this private and special evening with guests greeted at the doors by supporters and volunteers.

Executive chef, Jason Paluska, and pastry chef, Jeff Haines, created a specially designed menu reflecting the commitment to locally sourced and responsibly grown food shared by CEC’s Eat Local initiative and the Lark.

Following cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and “eco-portraits” in a photo booth, the chef's served a delectable three-course dinner of local stone fruit and beets, Mary’s roasted chicken and Ras el Hanout spiced Ellwood Canyon summer squash, topped off by roasted banana profiteroles.

CEC’s five core initiatives include drive less, choose electric, go solar, ditch plastic and eat local, as methods to lessen human impact on the planet through a dedication to more renewable and less wasteful resources.

The organization’s primary focus is building a community-based movement that transitions the region off fossil fuels in one generation, with a goal of being “Fossil Free by 33.”

Amid the magic of the evening, attendees celebrated CEC and Dave Davis, who led the organization for more than 10 years.

“In Dave’s ten years as CEC’s executive director, he presided over our transition that moved CEC’s mission to focusing on renewable energy and climate change,” said emcee and Green Gala committee member, Geoff Green.

CEC’s Solarize program assists homeowners with free solar education through community workshops that provides homeowners in Santa Barbra, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties the opportunity to purchase panels at a fixed, discounted price from solar installers.

“Solar is the fastest growing renewable energy in California, and the vast majority of the solar installed in our County was in the last five years,” Wright said. “During that time CEC’s Solarize program helped install the equivalent of 20 percent of county’s total.”

Additionally, the Central Coast now has over 200 public charging stations, and CEC is working with local cities and businesses to install more for electric vehicles in the tri-county region.

“Today, if you’re driving one of the plug-in electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, you can get the equivalent of 114 mpg,” said Wright.

And, the reality of another in one of many hot days in Santa Barbara was also addressed.

“We need to keep 80 percent of the remaining known fossil fuels in the ground if we are to have a fighting chance at leaving the next generation any kind of world worth living in — and for this we need rapid, fundamental change,” Wright said.

Additionally, the gala symbolized the Lark’s partnership with the City of Santa Barbara’s food scraps program to continue a 5 year tradition of reusing over 90 percent of any waste generated at the Green Gala event.

The night's celebration of Davis highlighted a smooth transition and pointed towards continued strong leadership for the group.

“I wish the CEC the very best as you enter into new endeavors under the dedicated and competent leadership of the board and Sigrid, and her superb staff,” Davis said.

Wright's passion lit the path of strong stewardship for CEC and the environmental community at large.

“Tonight we are celebrating Dave, we are celebrating CEC’s work, and we are making visible the power of community. Please take the flashlights at your tables and turn them on. Point them up,” said Wright.

“And let’s imagine for a moment the other two million organizations and all of their advocates at gatherings across the world…all of us together shining a light.”

Click here for more information about the Community Environmental Council. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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