By Ryan O'Hara
The 27-acre Eames Ranch is located in the countryside of Petaluma, CA. Among other creatures and curiosities, it’s home to 20 sheep and their famous guard llama, Lulu. Walk to the right of the main building and you’ll see a garden teeming with deliciousness.
The Ranch gets its name from famous mid-century designers Charles & Ray Eames. Specifically, it was the home of their daughter, Lucia Eames. While they are best known for their chairs, the Eameses saw design as problem-solving at a fundamental level. Gathering as much information as possible helped them understand the shape and scope of any problem, which explains why their designs have withstood the test of time. Their “learn by doing” process is ingenious because it truly works, and is one which I have adopted into my own life. It has been an honor and a great pleasure to be at the Ranch, working closely with a small, motivated group.
My biggest project as a Climate Corps Fellow at the Ranch has been establishing baseline data on water usage, energy and more. During my first few weeks our brilliant ranch foreman Adam, installed an app called Sense to monitor our energy use. The Sense app’s real-time energy use graph came in handy for a presentation about energy and lighting. Seeing the live change in energy use between having the lights on and off turned out to be very effective; members of the team told me afterward that they changed their habits after the presentation. This response was encouraging because changing habits is an important means to the end goal of sustainability.
By George Spencer
The Climate Corps Education Outside program is planting the seeds of science and ecoliteracy to grow environmental leaders. We open the classroom door to school gardens that get students connected to the ecosystem around them. Our outdoor classrooms are living laboratories and our students are scientists, who observe their environments, take risks, and drive their own learning through inquiry based lessons.
While the outdoor classroom certainly provides the space for science learning, it also has the hidden benefit of being a bastion of social emotional relief and respite for student regulation and grounding, helping students build inner resilience for a complex world. Sarah Grossman-Kahn is a second year CCEO Fellow, who is passionate about creating this space of refuge for students in her garden classroom. Sarah shared this story with us, from before COVID-19, when Bay Area schools were still open:
By Tyler Valdes and Jessica Redden
As the world came to a halt and schools began to shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at SEI sheltered in our homes along with others including teachers, students, school staff, and their families. Many of us turned on lights and appliances, turned up the air conditioning or heating, plugged in our devices, and made meals with the stove and microwave. From telecommuting to online classes, we are home now more than ever and we are consuming more energy than ever! Remember that oven you hadn't touched for months? Were you one of many (including ourselves) that made banana bread in the first few months of shelter-in-place? Alongside baking, we have all taken on activities that use energy in some shape or form. As students consume energy during stay-at-home orders, it is critical that they are aware of the importance of energy conservation and energy efficient technologies. These energy saving habits will carry on when they return to school and eventually to their own homes or places of work.
The SEI Team
Environmental education and workforce development experts share stories from the field