www.montereycountyweekly.com october 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 Paul Hawken is a doer and a thinker on a large scale. You may know him from his successful footprint in the business world: In the 1960s, he founded Erewhon, one of the first notable natural foods companies in the U.S.; in 1979, he cofounded the gardening supply company Smith & Hawken. He’s gone on to become an author of eight books including The Ecology of Commerce and Project Drawdown, for which he collaborated with some 200 experts to rank different strategies for drawing down atmospheric carbon. His top ideas are surprisingly doable, but global—things like family planning, education for girls, high-tech refrigeration and tropical forest protection. Hawken’s most recent book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, explores ecological systems, with a focus on the food system. This is all high-level, global stuff. But as he prepares to speak in Monterey County on Oct. 25, at the invitation of Communities for Sustainable Monterey County and the Cannery Row chapter of the Rotary Club, Hawken is interested in how we can make change locally. “The only way you can achieve regeneration is in a region—it’s place-based, by definition,” Hawken says. “A place has people, land, food, pollinators, water, culture, relationships, community—that’s where it happens, it doesn’t happen at COP 28.” (COP 28, the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties, is scheduled to take place Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in Dubai.) Hawken is rightly skeptical of COP (“This is the 28th one— can somebody tell me what has come out of it, please?”). But for the challenges global climate negotiations present, he sees corrective opportunities at a community scale. “There is trust. Where you are is where you are going to be the most effective. I can do something about where I live, and the people I know.” Hawken is not pollyannaish— he’s interested instead in making scientifically based decisions to live and do better. Some of the examples that Hawken shares have documented local corollaries: The world is running out of sand, and Monterey County activists led a successful campaign to shut down the Cemex sand mine in Marina, leading to beach replenishment. Moths are disappearing at an alarming rate; locally, CSMC has been involved in measurable progress in planting pollinator species and native plants in gardens and parks. The Rotary-CSMC partnership that invited Hawken to speak locally has titled his talk “An Evening of Hope,” but Hawken is less interested in hope than courage—he sees fear as the stumbling block that too often stands in the way of progress. Whether it’s fear, despair or helplessness that keeps us from engaging locally, the team that invited Hawken has a baseline message to get over it, and go make a difference in the community that you live in. “We have a number of examples of how well we’ve done synthesizing big ideas on a global level and putting them into action at a local level,” says rotarian Tim Flanagan. “We’ve put big ideas into action in small, rural Monterey County.” (Flanagan is retired from ReGen Monterey, a forward-thinking solid waste agency with a track record of doing just that.) Cathy Rivera, president of CSMC, observes the community-building that is required for any successful initiative as sometimes the greater success than the outcome itself: “Actions have brought people together in a network—that gives me hope,” she says. “It is truly the connections to each other that give us the resilience we need. In silos, everyone wants to retreat.” This is very much what Hawken has in mind when he talks about regeneration. Environmental efforts should not leave us feeling depleted, but replenished. Regeneration, Hawken adds, is nature’s default mode—the very cells of our bodies are always renewing. There’s no reason except our own stubbornness for us to not live that way at a community level. “Monterey County can learn to be a better place for people in Monterey County,” Hawken says. “That’s regeneration. It’s fundamentally about care.” An Evening of Hope: A Conversation with Paul Hawken takes place from 4-7pm (5:30pm presentation begins; gallery and silent auction start at 4pm) on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Otter Student Union, CSUMB, 3118 Inter-Garrison Road, Seaside. $40; $20/student. 275-3113, sustainablemontereycounty.org/ aneveningofhope. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@mcweekly.com. Forward Thinking A leading environmentalist has a message about change at the local level. By Sara Rubin Math Problem…Squid had plenty of shrimp-flavored popcorn ready when Squid curled up in the lair Oct. 10 to watch, via Zoom, whether the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s board would vote to pursue a buyout of Cal Am’s local water system, thus entering the fray of the eminent domain process (Cal Am is not a willing seller). The board did, unanimously, and their comments before voting spoke to the benefits of a publicly owned water system versus one owned by profit-seeking investors. That private system is calculating the potential hit. The morning after the vote, Squid’s colleague received a proprietary report from Northcoast Research, a Cleveland-based investment advisory firm for institutional investors, that already had an analysis for how the vote might impact the stock price of American Water, Cal Am’s parent company—Wall Street doesn’t sleep. Squid’s takeaway is that it won’t have much impact, in part because California represents just 5.6 percent of American Water’s customer count, and Cal Am’s Monterey system is just 22 percent of its statewide total. Doing the math, that means the local system includes about 1.2 percent of American Water’s customer count. The report also notes the company’s estimated value of about $35 billion. So, 1.2 percent of that is $420 million, more than $600 million below what Cal Am claims its local system to be worth. There must be gold in them pipes. Black and White and Gray… Squid is dusting off Squid’s finest for LULAC #2055’s black-and-white ball on Oct. 21. The “tuxedo and gown affair” serves as a 50th anniversary celebration and—at $125 a person or $1,500 a table—a fundraiser for the advocacy group’s ongoing scholarship program. In some past years, the City of Salinas has sponsored a table—but not this year. Chapter President Chris Barrera wrote to city leaders in May asking that they consider sponsoring it. Two days later, he followed up: “Upon further consideration, I am withdrawing my request.” (Squid viewed various emails via a California Public Records Act request.) There’s been a lot of innuendo and accusation in Salinas City Hall in recent months when it comes to paying for tickets for city leaders to attend events. “With all this hoopla, I didn’t want LULAC’s name to be dragged into it,” Barrera tells Squid’s colleague. A lot of the hoopla is coming from Councilmember Andrew Sandoval, also a LULAC #2055 volunteer. Sandoval says for now, until the city creates a policy on event sponsorships, non-sponsorship is the best outcome: “We want to make sure there’s public trust.” Squid is reminded of a saying that does not apply to Squid’s undersea lair: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “It’s fundamentally about care.” Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com