2005-2006: The Founding of Bay Localize
It all started with the passion and concern of a new father, Dave Room, who had taken to calling himself “Melia’s Papa” when presenting at public events about the dire state of the planet. In partnership with Post-Carbon Institute, Dave teamed up with other local activists to put together an audacious plan: the Bay Area Relocalization Project, with the goal of assessing how many resources our 9-county region was using in key economic sectors, and how much real potential there was for meeting our communities’ needs within the region itself, equitably and sustainably.
Building a Resilient and Equitable Bay Area
Now that we had a new home and a strong, enthusiastic team willing to push forward, we were more determined than ever to spread our vision of a socially just, more regionally self-reliant economy. By spring 2006, we had established an informal collaborative, the Campaign for Bay Area Localization, and began to devise a comprehensive localization strategy with major focus areas in energy, food, water, manufacturing, and finance.
Need Food, Water, and Energy? Use Your Roof!
Although Bay Localize now had a visionary blueprint for localizing our regional economy, one core challenge remained: how do we turn these ideas into practical demonstration projects that inspire people and policymakers to take bolder action? Thankfully, one of our team members, Ingrid Severson, began to see at least one compelling solution right above our heads!
Local Clean Energy Alliance: Power to the People
In 2008, Bay Localize played a central role in the establishment of the Local Clean Energy Alliance, the first alliance in California to advocate for Community Choice Energy (CCE). It all started when Neal de Snoo, then Energy Engineer for the City of Berkeley, reached out to three local organizations he respected: Sierra Club Bay Chapter, Pacific Environment, and Bay Localize. Neal wanted to share with us the potential he saw for Community Choice Energy to create locally-controlled energy systems that cities and counties could use to drive large-scale climate action significantly faster than the timelines set by the state and federal government. We were blown away by the potential, and with the help of our local partners, we co-founded the Local Energy Energy Alliance to make Community Choice happen in the East Bay and beyond.
Equipping the Movement: Community Resilience Toolkits
Bay Localize sparked a movement for community resilience rooted in social equity. To help organizers and communities meet the challenge of cutting their dependence on fossil fuels and preparing for climate change, we created powerful tools offering step-by-step strategies and practical ideas for making a difference from the local to global level. Bay Localize’s two editions of the Community Resilience Toolkit provided simple tools for community planning through the lens of building local economic resilience.
Grow Local: Urban Agriculture and the Fight for Food Justice
In the spring of 2011, famed author and urban farmer Novella Carpenter was threatened with $5,000 in fines by the City of Oakland for growing and selling food in her backyard without a “proper” permit. Alarmed, community gardeners and food justice advocates began organizing to support changes in the city policy to support urban farms and local food growing. Given Bay Localize’s mission to promote local production, we joined local community organizations to help forward these efforts at City Hall.
Resilient Communities Initiative: Empowering those Impacted Most by Climate Change
In 2015, Bay Localize organized the Resilient Communities Initiative (RCI), a coalition of grassroots organizations from disadvantaged communities across the Bay Area. The coalition began researching opportunities to influence climate adaptation planning across the region, from bay wetlands restoration to sea level rise planning, public health frameworks, grant funding criteria, to selecting speakers for the California Adaptation Forum. The Resilient Communities Initiative also organized a series of trainings for public agency staff on collaborating with grassroots organizations. In 2016, the coalition piloted its Regional Resilience Leadership Academy with a cohort of more than 200 leaders around the Bay Area.