New Program in Fairfield Will Tackle Poor Air Quality

By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager

Interstate 80 cuts through Fairfield / Photo Credit: Tony Webster, Flickr

For too long, residents of Fairfield have had to shoulder a burden that, in large part, remains unseen by the naked eye — poor air quality. Despite its lack of visibility, this threat follows many residents in all aspects of their lives in the form of increased rates of asthma and higher rates of cardiovascular disease. This strain prevents children from playing outside, ruins family barbeques, and makes it harder for residents to connect and enjoy our community spaces. A new program from Sustainable Solano, with funding from the California Air Resources Board, invites you to join the grassroots movement to ensure everyone in Fairfield can breathe clean and safe air.

Being wedged between Interstate 80 and Highway 12, Fairfield is vulnerable to the pollutants produced by high volumes of traffic. Additionally, wildfires fill our air with dangerous smoke that can make simply going outside a risk to our health. Through the new air quality program, Sustainable Solano will collaborate with Fairfield residents through the establishment of a high school Youth Air Protectors Program and an extensive community outreach campaign.

The Youth Air Protectors program will assist Fairfield in reclaiming the clean air we all have a right to, inspiring a new generation of activists. High school students will have the opportunity to problem solve as a tight-knit team to tackle air pollution. Each team of up to 10 students will make a five-month commitment to the program, with the first group starting work this fall. Youth Air Protectors will be empowered to collect air quality data in Fairfield, analyze the sustainability of Fairfield’s urban planning, and reflect on how environmental hazards disproportionately impact different communities. Students will play a pivotal role in spreading air quality awareness in Fairfield and will help spearhead the movement for a more walkable and sustainable future. SuSol will share more information on how to apply for the Air Protectors program in the coming weeks.

We are excited to form bridges with Fairfield residents to forge a community-centered push for clean, breathable air. We hope to see collaborations with passionate Fairfield residents that will inspire widespread participation in clean air advocacy. In conjunction with the Youth Air Protectors, we will draw upon the needs of the community and will work with local leaders to provide beautification projects that can encourage more walking and biking, as opposed to driving. Finally, using direct community feedback and conversations, we will assist the people of Fairfield in constructing an Air Quality Action Plan that will serve as a blueprint for continued efforts in addressing air quality within the city and serve as a model for other cities.

The air quality program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Fairfield needs active community members to make our city a safe, green, and beautiful community for all of us. If you are interested in becoming a sustainability leader – as a student or concerned resident – or if you have any questions, please reach out! I can be contacted directly via email at alex@sustainablesolano.org. I look forward to building a brighter Fairfield, together.

Youth Air Protectors Program

The program is a five-month commitment with priority given to Fairfield students, though open to any high school students in Solano County.

The program will

Create valuable leadership experiences;
Prepare you to effectively communicate the importance of sustainability;
Serve as a gateway for a future career in environmental science;
Provide impactful and engaging volunteer hours;
Offer a stipend for successfully completing the program.

Interested in joining the fall group? Contact alex@sustainablesolano.org 

New Program to Focus on Air Quality in Fairfield

Sustainable Solano Awarded 3-Year, $260,000 Community Air Grant

By Sustainable Solano

Photo credit: Visit Fairfield

A new program that will focus on air quality concerns, causes and solutions will help Fairfield residents to address air pollution within the community.

Sustainable Solano was recently awarded a $260,000 Community Air Grant that will support the planning and implementation of this new program over the next three years. The goal of the program will be to build public awareness around air pollution, its environmental causes and health effects, and engage community members in ways to monitor and mitigate air pollution on an individual and community scale. It will launch later this spring.

“From the crosswinds to the local environmental conditions, poor air quality impacts the population of Fairfield greatly,” Sustainable Solano Executive Director Elena Karoulina said, citing the grant and highlighting its importance. “Our goal is to increase public awareness and strengthen community capacity to monitor and respond to air quality issues in real time with help of local youth leaders.”

The program will engage high school youth leaders through a Youth Air Protectors program. These youth will research the air quality challenges for their communities, create outreach campaigns and support community-based projects centered around air quality. The program also will increase the number of air monitors in and around Fairfield, and will build community resilience through air quality mitigation projects, such as planting trees or improving community spaces to make them more appealing for foot and bike transportation.

Ultimately, the youth involved in the program will create an air quality plan for the City of Fairfield that incorporates what they have learned through research and community engagement and could set the foundation for future air quality improvement projects. This plan could serve as a model for other Solano County communities, as well as the greater region.

Sustainable Solano was one of 33 community organizations and five Native American Tribes that received a total of $10 million in grant funding from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for projects that would help reduce air pollution in communities.

The Community Air Grants program is part of CARB’s overall efforts to implement Assembly Bill 617. Community Air Grants are designed to establish a community-focused approach to improving air quality and reducing exposure to toxic air pollutants at the neighborhood level. AB 617 is unique in that it requires CARB and air districts to work with residents, businesses and other stakeholders to tackle air pollution at the community scale. The current grants elevate community voices and their specific priorities regarding air pollution where they live.

As a result, the projects funded will help communities identify areas with the most harmful air emissions and then take actions to reduce exposure or address the underlying cause of the pollution.

“The Community Air Grants provided by CARB are an important tool to help residents and Tribal communities throughout the state identify and combat the harmful effects of local air pollution — and create a cleaner environment for their families,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph.

Read more from CARB’s press release about the Community Air Grants program and find additional resources here: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/news/carb-awards-10-million-grants-dozens-communities-statewide-fight-air-pollution

 

About Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, youth leadership, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit sustainablesolano.org

About CARB

CARB is the lead agency in California for cleaning up the air and fighting climate change to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards. Its mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective reduction of air and climate pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.