For the second year in a row, SD350 has been awarded a grant from the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. This year’s grant, which again recognizes SD350’s activism in the fight against fracking in California, is for $5000.
Patagonia’s grant program donates 1% of annual sales – not profit! – to local action-oriented organizations that build public involvement in defense of the environment. In a video on the company’s grant website, Lisa Pike Sheehy explains why: “No matter how much we strive for sustainability, we are still using non-renewable resources. For that, we tax ourselves.”
A privately held company, Patagonia has the freedom to fund grassroots groups that use creative methods to engage communities to take action on environmental issues, actions that include but also go beyond education and awareness-building. “We often fund groups that other companies don’t feel comfortable funding,” says spokesperson Hans Cole, adding, “Maybe it’s because the issues are too political or too hot. That’s where we feel we can make the most difference.”
San Diego County’s Patagonia store, which encouraged and received our grant applications, is located in Cardiff. Local Patagonia stores accept grant proposals throughout the year. These are reviewed by the employees’ Grants Council at the Ventura headquarters, but the employees at the local stores are actively involved in deciding where the money goes for grants in their region. The Cardiff store North County is where the story of SD350’s successful grants begins.
At the end of the 2013-14 grant cycle, the Cardiff store still had money not yet granted. Because that store’s employees were concerned with the spread of fracking in California, they were looking around for a local group with an active anti-fracking record. They found SD350, and their representative Paul Amato contacted SD350’s Masada Disenhouse. That conversation, in which Masada detailed our anti-fracking activities, convinced Amato that SD350 should apply for a grant. Masada turned the project over to Peg Mitchell and Nicole Peill-Moelter, co-leaders of the Fracking Team, who wrote last year’s successful proposal.
For this year’s proposal, Peg and Nicole built on last year’s, emphasizing the year’s successes which had been helped along by the first Patagonia grant. Again, the reapplication began at the Cardiff store, where SD350’s Sue Zesky was soliciting donations of raffle items for the fall fundraiser featuring Bill McKibben. She was asked if SD350 would be interested in applying for a grant. Unaware we’d already been a grant recipient, she told Masada, which was how she found out about the first successful grant application.
The second proposal asks again for funds to build on SD350’s efforts to build a powerful grassroots movement with the goal of achieving a ban on fracking in California. The Fracking Team now has ongoing programs of community education, advocacy, and coalition-building throughout San Diego County, while at the same time managing to gain media visibility for those efforts.
Patagonia particularly supports SD350’s emphasis on coalitions with other local organizations, like CoastKeeper, Environmental Health Coalition, Activist San Diego, Citizens Climate Lobby, and others, exceeding last year’s goal of ten such partnerships. Within SD350’s membership, commitment to anti-fracking activism increased from 50 to 589. This past year a collaboration formed between SD350 and IBEW Local in San Diego has generated a lot of enthusiasm. The electrical workers union has been helping us make the case that the clean energy economy does not have to sacrifice jobs.
Says Fracking Team co-leader Nicole Peill-Moelter of this second successful grant, “We’d accomplished so much with so little money, we earned that grant.”
The work of co-leaders Peg and Nicole has been recognized by invitations to join in organizing statewide anti-fracking actions. Peg was invited to attend a Californians-Against-Fracking Leadership Summit to discuss growing the movement and mapping out the 2015 campaign to stop fracking locally and statewide.
Ever the optimist, Peg gave this response to a question about future grant applications: “When the new application period begins on May 1, we may re-apply to make up the difference between the $5000 we received this year and the $12,000 we can possibly receive in a calendar year.”
Congratulations to Peg, Nicole, Masada, Sue and all SD350 members whose contributions of time and hard work have grown and energized the anti-fracking movement in San Diego County.