By Sustainable Solano

Community members and volunteers came together to create Vallejo’s first Resilient Neighborhood hub in 2019. The program will expand to Suisun City in 2021.

Sustainable Solano is excited to announce that we have received a grant through PG&E Corporation Foundation that will support helping Suisun City residents learn about and address the challenges of increased flooding and bring together city leaders and community members as they work on larger plans to address flood risks from sea-level rise and more severe rain events.

The funding through the Better Together Resilient Communities Grant will grow Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods program, which began in Vallejo last year as a pilot project to bring neighbors together through sustainable landscaping projects and build community capacity and resilience. That pilot program was funded through a previous grant from PG&E and supported the creation of two neighborhood Resilient Hubs in Vallejo, Morningside Botanical Bounty and Growing Together.

We will use the insights and lessons learned from the Vallejo pilot as well as other Sustainable Solano programs to support the development of the new Suisun City project. We have learned that community strengths reside in people’s hearts, in their ability to work together toward common goals and to consider the good of the whole. One of the key goals of the project is wide community outreach and meetings that will shape the city’s Suisun City Flood Resiliency Action Plan.

We will create a Resilient Neighborhood in a Suisun City community at high risk for flooding that also has environmental and socioeconomic factors that create more vulnerability and less resiliency when faced with natural disasters. Various green infrastructure elements, such as stormwater-capturing in-ground swales, trees for shade and soil stabilization, rainwater-capturing edible landscapes, or other community-selected solutions, will be installed throughout the neighborhood through hands-on workshops. These workshops will provide information and get community input on flood risk.

As part of the project, a Youth Environmental Leadership internship will create the opportunity to work with our team learning about flooding risks, mitigation strategies, community outreach and Resilient Neighborhoods. Their experience also will help shape future youth fellowships.

Finally, we hope this project will serve as a catalyst for bringing together cities with shared and similar vulnerabilities. With the help of our partners, we want to support Solano County governments that face flooding risks in initiating multijurisdictional efforts to address those risks. Partners for the project include the city of Suisun City and the Suisun City Environment and Climate Committee, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. BCDC has studied flood risk in the county and the need for more equitable planning that involves the community. It will help foster collaboration between different municipalities and organizations.

An important part of this expansion will be hiring a new Resilient Neighborhoods program manager at Sustainable Solano. The program manager in this part-time position will be charged with bringing together community members to discuss community-driven approaches to flooding challenges, coordinating with city leaders as they create their own strategies to address flood risk and cooperate with other Solano County city leaders who face similar or shared risks, and overseeing the work of the Youth Environmental Leadership interns. Find out more about the position here. We hope to fill it by mid-January with a candidate who is comfortable both working closely with community members as well as elected officials and city staff.

We are so excited about bringing the Resilient Neighborhoods program to Suisun City through this project and look forward to sharing more with you in the months to come!