Community Action Plan to Create a More Breathable Future in Fairfield

By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager

Fairfield residents will come together to create a path towards cleaner, healthier air in their community at a public community action plan workshop 12-3 pm Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Fairfield Adult Recreation Center.
Register here.

This indicator map through CalEnviroScreen shows the high asthma rates in Solano County 

Solano County, on the whole, has the ninth highest asthma rate in California, with the majority of Fairfield neighborhoods east of the I-80 having a more severe asthma burden than 90% of other census tracts. To address our air pollution and empower the community to tackle the air quality issues afflicting their city, Sustainable Solano will be facilitating the creation of an Air Quality Community Action Plan with Fairfield residents in a public workshop Jan. 28.

During the creation of this community-driven action plan, residents, governmental agencies and air quality experts will highlight the vulnerabilities they see in Fairfield’s short- and long-term air health, and identify priority actions they wish to see taken by the city to ensure that current and future generations in Fairfield have equitable access to clean air.

The Youth Air Protectors led a sustainability walk through Fairfield that highlighted air quality concerns in the city

This event will build off of earlier roundtables hosted in Fairfield, where a few of the key concerns raised by community members included air pollution in relation to traffic, improving Fairfield’s walkability and bikeability, air quality concerns regarding agriculture, setting up a community air monitoring station in Fairfield, and Travis Air Force Base’s impact on air quality.

By participating in the creation of a community action plan, residents can have a voice in how important issues are addressed within their communities. We’ve seen the value of such community engagement in Suisun City, where a community-driven action plan around flood risk and resilience continues to inform city decisions and future planning. We hope to see a similar impact in Fairfield around air quality.


The Vision for a SuSol Education Center

By Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano has had a vision for a while now: To have an office space that serves as a place of education around the many things we teach about, such as sustainable landscaping, water capture and reuse; cooking with seasonal, sustainable local food; and building community resilience.

We have been lucky to spend the past few years in our office at the Global Center for Success on Mare Island. This office space puts us near nonprofit partner organizations and the beauty of the Vallejo People’s Garden and the Pollinator Pathway garden we installed with them and Solano RCD in front of the building. But as our team has grown in number, we find there are limitations in a one-room office, both for our team members’ needs as well as ways we would like to interact with all of you in the community.

And so we are returning to that original vision.

We would love to find a safe and beautiful place where we can create and exhibit the solutions we’ve been teaching and demonstrating for nearly 25 years. These may include a permaculture garden or farm, sustainable water techniques, solar energy and maybe even chickens. There could be a commercial kitchen space for teaching classes and preparing food (or the potential to add such a space). We also need a shared workspace and a place to gather around a table for large team or partner meetings, and an area to house tools and equipment, promotional materials and office files. The property would need to be zoned to allow for office space and would need to be able to support visitors coming to the site for meetings, classes and demonstrations.

We’ve seen creative and innovative ways individuals, organizations and cities have supported such projects. In Berkeley, the Ecology Center runs EcoHouse, which was founded in 1999 when a group of individuals “collectively purchased and transformed a small, dilapidated North Berkeley home into a demonstration house and garden.” In American Canyon, the city offered up an old public works yard to be transformed into the Napa River Ecology Center in partnership with the American Canyon Community Parks Foundation. Santa Cruz Permaculture now stewards a 26-acre farm under a 30-year lease as part of its operations.

We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions for supporting this vision! Reach out to us at

Even with this active vision for an education center, Sustainable Solano is committed to continuing hands-on sustainable landscaping and resilience-building workshops, cooking classes, and internships within Solano communities, because these are the very heart of our work. Our goal is to bring neighbors together in ways that help them connect with each other, the Earth, and themselves.

Re-envisioning Fairfield’s Streets: Youth Air Protectors Present Final Projects Aug. 27

By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager

Over the course of the past five months, SuSol’s high school Youth Air Protectors have dedicated themselves to learning about the air quality in Fairfield and using their voices to bring the community together to tackle environmental injustices in the city. From spreading awareness at tabling events throughout Fairfield, to helping to facilitate air quality-focused meetings, to leading residents on a sustainability walking tour of downtown, the Youth Air Protectors have been indispensable in the push for a healthier, more breathable Fairfield.

August marks the last month of this internship cohort, and our students will be presenting their final projects to the community on Aug. 27. Each air protector chose a street in Fairfield with poor walkability and high volumes of traffic, and reimagined them to be more pedestrian friendly, green and promote cleaner air. We believe that if their concepts and ideas were actually implemented, such changes could help to reduce the high asthma rate of Fairfield, mitigate the impacts of the urban heat island effect, and bring our community together on our sidewalks and streets.

Here the YAP interns share about their final projects. See the projects and talk with the students on Aug. 27!  (Ed. Note: Intern statements are lightly edited for clarity.)

“I redesigned the intersection of North Texas and Utah Street to make traveling through the area more sustainable. My design includes protected bike lanes and sidewalks, reduced lane sizes to protect pedestrians further, better views, bus stops, and more! I’m a firm believer that walkability is one of the most essential (and undervalued) parts of a sustainable city, and this project reflects that.”
– Sachi Bansal

“I decided to choose the street redesign project because after taking a sustainability walk around downtown Fairfield, it became clear that there are a lot of improvements to be made for Fairfield’s roads. The main issues I noticed during the walk were a lack of shade on the sidewalks, the lack of safety for bikers on the bike lanes, and lack of greenery. I wanted to make a drawing of a street where I implemented changes to combat these issues.”
– Prabhjot Kaur

“For my project I decided to redesign the street Travis Boulevard. I thought that it had too many street lanes and though it made sense since it leads to a highway, I reimagined it to be in a people-oriented city and worked upon that. Along with changing the street I also changed the buildings and parking lots in a way where it would look more pleasing, and easier to access. I also added wider sidewalks, a bus stop and a bicycle rack so it would encourage public transportation. I hope that Fairfield in the future would incorporate these ideas to create a more sustainable environment while also adding more elements that persuade people to try to live sustainably; like recycling, farming, shopping locally and more!”
– Esther Lopez

“I choose to redesign the Pennsylvania Avenue and West Texas Street intersection because it has a lot of potential in terms of walkability. In this model, I hope to show that Fairfield can become more people-friendly even with our current infrastructure.”
– Hannah Lopez

“Enhancing Fairfield’s existing infrastructure to be more sustainable is imperative in bettering the lives of residents while promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. For my project, I chose to redesign the Gateway Plaza, a strip mall located adjacent to the Solano Town Center. Featuring a sizable parking lot with hundreds of parking spaces and minimal walkability, the Gateway Plaza is a motorist’s paradise. Through visualizing how the area could be altered with bikers and pedestrians in mind, I intend to show how changes towards sustainability are realizable in even the most seemingly despairing of locations.”
– Harjot Singh

Register for the event here. If you or someone you know would like to sign up for the next cohort of high school Fairfield Youth Air Protectors, starting Sept. 7, apply here. 

We’re excited to share our greener, more just vision of Fairfield with you and hope to see you there. 

Gift of the Generations

By Alana Mirror, creator of This Wonderful World: a musical reality-show where love for ourselves, each other, and the Earth become one

We introduced Alana and her This Wonderful World project when she attended the Pollinator Pathway garden installation and created a series of three songs from that experience. Since then, she’s done a series of songs about the installation of Peace of Eden community garden at City Church Fairfield, and a series inspired by the Vallejo People’s Garden. This is her reflection and the last song in her spring series — it highlights community gardens through SuSol’s Solano Gardens program. We appreciate reposting it here with her permission.

I’ve never felt like I had much of a green thumb. Though I’ve always known that growing a garden is a staple of sustainable living, I never really felt capable. Growing up, we didn’t have a garden. Other than the tomatoes that my grandpa grew, or my great-grandma’s home-dried oregano, I just thought food came from the store.

It wasn’t until I found Sustainable Solano that things began changing. I remember the first time I went to one of their community events — such diversity! All ages, shapes, colors and sizes were represented. There were people who seemed super experienced in the garden, and then there were folks (like me) who found the courage to show up as amateurs.

No one embarrassed us. No one rolled their eyes. Tips were shared with kindness and patience. I felt embraced and appreciated just for showing up. There seemed to be a shared understanding: we’ve all grown up in a culture that’s been disconnected from the source, and we’re all still finding our way home.

Before the rise of industrial agriculture, participating in the cultivation of food has been a human staple. But my great-grandma’s generation tended not to pass it on. Why would she? The Great Depression was hard and the supermarkets were miraculous. All it took was one generation for that long line of ancestral wisdom to disappear.

Fortunately, it wasn’t lost completely, which is evident in the fact that there’s enormous efforts being put forth to help reestablish our most basic connection with Earth: food. For non-home owners (like me — and 44% of California), just having a place to practice gardening is a gift. But when you add education and community to that, the roots really start to grow back. Recently the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, declared loneliness an epidemic where 60% of us feel a desperate hunger for belonging. His solution: social connection.

The garden not only offers a place to connect, but a way to connect. Metaphors of the earth remind us of our shared human condition where we all know what it’s like to be vulnerable when we sprout and withered when we’re spent. We all know the frustration from pesky weeds and the exhilaration of fruit that’s sweetening. The garden gives us language to connect in where we all belong, through the seasons, in the bird song. Here we are reminded that it’s OK to need each other. Witnessing the bees pollinating, the fungi decomposing, the compost nourishing, we are reassured that everything needs each other, and everything has something to give. We are reminded of the abundance that comes when we work together — how precious the fruit is when our love has nurtured it.

It may sound a bit woo-woo, but it’s true: there’s a vibration that’s inherent. As one of the program managers for Solano Gardens, Jazzmin Ballou, confidently confirmed: “all I need to do is touch the Earth to tune in, and quiet my mind, to give me a glorious sense of sacred belonging.”

It’s truly a gift. As someone who has struggled with my fair share of loneliness, I hardly recognize myself after spending these last few months in community gardening. As much as self-help strategies have served me, there’s been no greater cure than serving. Of course I’m still learning a lot, but I’m not as embarrassed about it anymore. The confidence and connection that comes from growing together has sent ripples through my whole life. It’s an overflow that’s yearning to be shared, a gift begging to be given, a joy to pass on (as our ancestors did not so long ago) to a world that, every day, is rediscovering our beauty.

Thank you for reminding me.

This Wonderful World is the latest production from Alana’s greater work, called The Living Mirror Project, a creative practice that generates peace by seeing ourselves in everything.

Learn more about This Wonderful World here
Watch the whole series here
Sign up for Alana’s newsletter here
Contact Alana at if there are any service events that you think should be celebrated in this series, or for more info on booking a live musical show.

Fellowship Focuses on Environmental Justice, Supports Pollinators in Vacaville

By Patrick Murphy, Program Manager

As part of Sustainable Solano’s Environmental Justice Leadership Fellowship, seven students from multiple Solano County cities undertook a research and green infrastructure project in Vacaville. Students focused on the Markham neighborhood, a community grappling with several environmental challenges, and explored possible solutions, including walkability, available green spaces, and usable wildlife habitats.

Students engaged with the local community, spending time within the neighborhood, assessing the severity of each issue and researching possible mitigation approaches.

Pollinator garden installation at the Vacaville Boys and Girls Club (above) and student presentations (below)

Each student then delivered public presentations at various locations around Vacaville, including the Rocky Hill Trail, the Town Square library, and an Earth Day event in Andrews Park. The culmination of their efforts was the installation of a much-anticipated pollinator garden at the Vacaville Boys and Girls Club, where the students also presented their research findings. Situated right in the heart of the Markham neighborhood, the local community had been seeking a native pollinator garden since 2018.

Permaculture Designer Scott Dodson was able to design a compact and attractive native pollinator garden space at the Boys and Girls Club, which was installed by the EJLF students, Boys and Girls Club members and community volunteers during a public installation day hosted by Sustainable Solano. The garden’s design prioritized water conservation while creating an extensive habitat for the region’s pollinators. Additional pollinator plants are being raised in beds owned by Solano Unity Network across the street at the Vacaville People’s Garden. Educational signage was placed throughout the gardens, providing valuable information about the native California pollinator species for residents.

A volunteer from Rio Vista was able to produce five large-capacity bat boxes with student support for the pollinator garden and surrounding Markham community. “Bat boxes” are nesting boxes for bats to raise their young. Bats are known for their pest control capabilities. Each bat consumes vast numbers of insects each night, reducing the need for harmful pesticides and keeping the local ecological niche competitive. They and many pollinators are keystone species, and have a disproportionately large impact on the ecosystem.

Additional bat boxes are available to community members in the Markham area who would like to help strengthen the local bat population. If you live within 3 miles of Holly Lane and are interested in hosting a bat box on your property, please contact us here.

This ambitious project demonstrated the power of collective action in addressing environmental justice and promoting biodiversity. With the installation of these vibrant green spaces, the local community now has the opportunity to interact with and appreciate the importance of coexisting with nature. As the pollinator garden at the Boys and Girls Club continues to flourish, it promises to act as a sign post, promoting environmental consciousness in the Markham neighborhood.

Bat Boxes

Live in the Markham community and want to host a bat box on your property?
Reach us here

Interested in building a bat box for your own property?
Find instructions here

Let’s Make Fairfield a Walkable Forest

By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager

Growing up on a fairly quiet street, my summers were filled with wiffleball and basketball in the middle of the road. It’s no surprise that as we have become more and more dependent on our cars and shifted further towards virtual work, we have lost some of our connection between our community and nature. Concrete maintains a stranglehold on our streets and yards, while increasingly blistering summers and poor air quality limit our freedom to access our city’s amenities and outdoors. What we need is a drastic change to what we, as a community, prioritize in our public spaces, and that starts with you.

Map of Fairfield Communities

Sustainable Solano is looking to help grow an urban forest here in central Fairfield (see map above), where we have identified a lack of walkable infrastructure and a desperate need for tree canopy cover. By shading our yards, sidewalks, and streets with tree cover, we can mitigate the impacts of urban heat islands (making our 100+ degree summer days much more livable and reducing your energy costs), purify our polluted air, and make it more pleasant for our community to walk, bike and play outdoors more often.

SuSol has several programs that focus on creating green spaces within our cities, including waterwise, sustainable yards and community gardens that support neighborhoods through creating access to fresh garden produce. Through our programs, we seek to create resilient neighborhoods where neighbors can come together to create spaces that are abundant in habitat and tree cover and where neighbors can share resources. We’re inviting Fairfield residents, particularly those in the areas labeled in the map, to come together with their community around this type of project.

We can help support these efforts through our programs! If you want to transform and beautify your block with trees and greenery, please fill out this interest form so we can see if the site is a good fit for our programs. SuSol brings together community members in free educational workshops that are used to install these gardens, which are planned and led by a professional designer. There is a commitment from the property owner, but the programs help to fund these projects. If you’re interested for your yard or community, let us know, and please share this with your neighbors so we can grow beautiful, breathable, and walkable communities.