Think Global, Act Local: Meet the Bay Hero Shaping the Future of Sustainability at Salesforce

Photo credit: Rick Lewis

“I think climate change is the biggest, most important and most complex challenge humans have ever faced.”

It’s a challenge Patrick Flynn isn’t afraid to face, and as the vice president of sustainability at Salesforce, he is poised to make an ample difference. “I feel fortunate to be alive at a time when finding solutions to climate change is at the forefront of the [environmental] conversation.”

Patrick’s specialty? Turning a bold vision into tangible change. “In corporate sustainability, we are doing things that just five or ten years ago were dreams.”

Indeed, Patrick has helped Salesforce reach staggering goals in the realm of sustainability. Under his watch, the company achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and began providing a carbon neutral cloud for customers. Recently, he pushed to establish a blackwater recycling system at the new Salesforce Tower that’s set to save 30,000 gallons of fresh water every day.

With each sustainability project, Patrick sees a chance to keep the Bay Area clean and beautiful for his two young children. “Every chance we get, we are outside near the water – the ocean, the bay, rivers, even crossing a majestic bridge over a stream.”

But he wants future generations to enjoy these awe-inspiring moments, too. “I didn’t grow up in a place with this sort of epic natural beauty, and I want to show them all of it and ensure they can show their children and so on for years to come.”

Like Save The Bay, Patrick truly believes simple steps can create meaningful change for the environment. He recommends people start by “reducing single-use plastics, purchasing certified sustainable seafood, and turning off the lights when they leave a room.” Then comes a little communication. “Sharing those habits with family and friends creates a ripple effect that makes those small initiatives incredibly impactful.”

On a company level, Patrick also feels strongly about the power of employee green teams. From organizing volunteering opportunities to hosting educational events, these groups can “ensure everyone is aware of the small steps they can take to live and work more sustainably.”

Despite the massive scale of his sustainability campaigns at Salesforce, Patrick always keeps this message in mind: “think global; act local.” In his view, “there are opportunities to solve environmental challenges all around, and if you start in the areas that you know best, then you can take that solution and share it globally.”

Working in the wetlands with Save The Bay taught him just how rewarding it is to spark change in your community. “I volunteered two years in a row on Earth Day at the same Bay Area site. During the second year, I saw the progress made throughout the previous 365 days and was immediately proud to have had a chance to make a difference.”

Save The Bay’s community-based approach truly strikes a chord with Patrick. When it comes to fighting climate change, he believes collaboration is a crucial piece of the puzzle: “solve, innovate, and share.”

 

***Save The Bay is inspired by Patrick’s work in sustainability. Ahead of our Bay Day celebration, we are proud to recognize him as a Bay Hero at this year’s Catamaran Sail on September 29.

Mother-Daughter Team Protects the Bay: Celebrating our Courageous Women Bay Heroes, Juliana Park and Sasha Youn

Sasha and Juliana volunteering at our Oro Loma nursery site

“You have to take the initiative for yourself — not wait for someone else to come up and ask if you want to do something.”

15-year-old Sasha Youn never needed textbooks or teachers to sense the high stakes of climate change.

“Ever since she was a little kid, Sasha always loved the ocean and the waterways – the whole ecosystem. We would walk Ocean or Stinson Beach, and she always had such a heart for the animals there.”

Juliana Park couldn’t be prouder of her daughter, but she admits: Sasha’s passion for the outdoors came as quite the surprise. “I never, honestly, thought about trying to protect the environment when I was growing up. But seeing how much Sasha cared made me ask: ‘what kind of world am I leaving for her, for her kids someday?’”

So, they started shaping that world for the better — when Sasha was just a 5th grader. They searched online for Bay Area environmental non-profits and Save The Bay popped up. After reading about our public restoration events, Sasha was excited to make a difference out in the wetlands.

“Being in nature, not surrounded by a bunch of cars or noisy cities, gives me peace. I wanted to volunteer with Save The Bay to help solve pollution and climate change, to help protect our Bay because it’s where we live.”

The first time they volunteered by the shoreline, Juliana was moved “to see people ages five to 80 all doing meaningful work. It felt like, ‘wow, no matter what age or socioeconomic background you are, you can experience and do something good for our Bay.’”

The more Juliana and Sasha volunteered in the wetlands, the more they worked to reduce pollution from home as well. “We compost, we’re very mindful of trash, and we try not to buy things we don’t need because it’ll go into landfill.”

Sasha volunteering at Palo Alto Baylands

By the time Sasha took a class on Philanthropy at The Bentley School, she knew exactly which organization she wanted to support. “Save The Bay puts lots of petitions and laws in action, and because it’s a non-profit, we have to donate to them. Otherwise, they can’t do all the things they’re doing to help the Bay stay healthy.”

Inspired by Sasha’s determination, Juliana took action, too. After attending our art gallery fundraiser and Catamaran Sail, Juliana opened up her home this Women’s History Month to honor Save The Bay’s courageous women founders. “It was great for Sasha and me to hear how they weren’t scientists or engineers, they just had the heart to keep the Bay clean.”

In spreading the word about our work, Juliana sends a message about gratitude. “On a personal level, I feel sharing Save The Bay with others, showing that we have something so beautiful here, our Bay – whatever we do to protect it is enough. It’s a start!”

This summer, Sasha took a significant step in that direction, securing her very first internship as a Development Fellow with Save The Bay. She says she enjoyed the mix of restoration fieldwork and outreach projects – plus the opportunity to learn even more about our founders.

“Knowing three women founded Save The Bay inspired me to take further steps toward environmental activism, because they showed if you’re passionate enough about something, you can do anything, no matter who you are.”

 

***Save The Bay is deeply grateful for all that Juliana and Sasha do to protect our beautiful Bay. Ahead of our big Bay Day celebration, we are proud to present these Bay Heroes with a special Courageous Women Award at this year’s Catamaran Sail – September 29th.

Saving The Bay through Meaningful Partnerships: Meet Bay Hero John Bourgeois

John exploring Alviso Slough

“Fishing was a part of my childhood. We’d hop on our bikes and go fishing for hours. It was a nice way to spend a weekend day, and there were always lots of bayous to explore.”

Even as a little kid growing up in southern Louisiana, John Bourgeois knew he wanted to do more than just marvel at wetlands. He wanted to protect them.

“This sounds weird, but I feel deeply wronged by what we’ve done to the environment… and it’s always informed how I interact with the natural world.”

Decades before he took the helm as Executive Project Manager for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, John set his mind on studying biology and ecology in his home state. To him, Louisiana faces “no bigger environmental issue than wetland loss.”

Initially, John hoped to solve the state’s challenges as an environmental lawyer. Spending one college summer as an intern in Washington, D.C. was all it took to change his mind.

“Seeing how the sausage is made in D.C…. I decided I would rather go into the technical side than the legal side.” John sensed the path toward significant wetland restoration would be “very long and political” if he spent his career in Washington. He also found it disheartening to watch “really bright people, a year or two out of law school, doing pretty menial work in congressional offices.”

Bedwell Bayfront Park, one of John’s favorite SF Bay views (photo credit: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle)

So, John shifted gears to research, eager to build up wetlands on a faster scale than policy work allowed. He carried out studies in the “mangrove swamps of Micronesia” among other locations, gaining more and more experience in coastal restoration.

Ultimately, in joining the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, John says he landed the “perfect combo of what I thought I’d be doing — it unites science, policy, and has the applied aspect all in one.”

In many respects, the role of Executive Project Manager puts John at the center of a spider web. On a daily basis, he communicates with “regulatory agencies, local municipalities, utilities, research institutions” and a range of other groups.

Gaining support for a project with multiple phases and mighty goals presents a variety of challenges. But John says the secret to forming meaningful partnerships is quite simple: you just have to be honest. “We’re on a long-term path to success, but you might have to admit to some short-term failures, and it’s really appreciated, that transparency.”

John says he’s found it truly rewarding to collaborate with Save The Bay throughout the years. “I engage with Save The Bay on multiple levels – including working closely with [Habitat Restoration Director] Donna Ball addressing on-the-ground restoration efforts or salt pond sites.”

John alongside Donna Ball, Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Director

He’s also far from disappointed at the pace – or impact — of Save The Bay’s policy efforts. “Save The Bay’s work is not just an important part of our project, but so critical to the Bay Area restoration community.” John says Save The Bay’s decade-long push for Measure AA proved “fundamental” for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project to move forward.

John is grateful for this, as he enjoys the chance to share its story with diverse crowds. “Throughout high school and into college, I was active in debate and acting. I think both have helped me tell a story, tailor my message to difference audiences so it sticks.”

Now, with help from long-time partners like Save The Bay, John gets to watch his favorite kind of wetland story unfold: “the bulldozers moving dirt, local species coming back, Bay waters flowing again, habitat establishing — I’m the most excited seeing these on-the-ground results.”

 

**Save The Bay will honor John Bourgeois as one of a select group of Bay Heroes during our third annual Bay Day celebration – October 6, 2018. Learn how you can dig in, vote, or donate like a true Bay Hero: bayday.org

Clean Roads Start with YOU: Simple Ways to Reduce Pollution

Photo Credit : Alan Dep, Marin Independent Journal

By: Vicki Dehnert

The debris you see on the shoulders of our Bay Area roads is more than just unsightly. It’s also a threat to our environment and natural habitat.  I co-founded Marin Clean Highways to help address this issue in Marin County. I’m also excited to partner with Save The Bay to highlight the failure of Caltrans—the agency in charge of our state highways—to keep Bay Area roads clean and prevent trash from polluting the Bay.

There are actions your community can take to improve areas that are not under Caltrans’ control.  In Marin County, we created a consortium, “Clean Marin” comprised of many other local organizations concerned with the environment (my organization, Marin Clean Highways, is just one of several).  By banding together, we now have a more powerful voice when we speak with our elected officials about our environmental concerns. We were so successful in growing our base of organizations that Marin County Department of Public Works now spearheads our efforts — a perfect example of private-public collaboration.

Our Successes are a blueprint for your successes.

Here are four strategies to rid your community of trash and save the Bay.

  • Push to get highway shoulder areas adopted through Caltrans’ “Adopt A Highway” program.

Keep a close eye on the adoptee areas—we found a few were underperforming with minimal cleanups and asked Caltrans to intervene. We are happy to report that things have improved.

  • Sound off about illegal unsecured loads being carried in the back of pickup trucks.

Debris spills out of trucks daily, and although state law requires loads to be secured, the law is often not enforced by local CHP due to workforce shortages. Our community is looking at ways to raise funds needed for hiring off-duty CHP patrol officers to specifically enforce these laws. Also, through our efforts, our local waste management company allows us to distribute tarps and educational materials to unsecured trucks entering their facility.

  • Rally local businesses and residents to raise funds that will help remove weeds and trash from highways and frontage roads.

In Marin County, many of the frontage roads to Highway 101 are full of trash and weeds. Marin Clean Highways raised funds from businesses and residents to contract with the San Rafael Downtown Streets Team to pick up frontage road litter on a weekly basis. What a difference this has made!

  • Attend city and county meetings to let your elected officials know how important clean highways are to your community.

In recent years, city and county budgets were pared down, and litter cleanup is not a priority. Share your sentiments and concerns with elected officials that serve your community.

We have a long way to go to get the clean roads and environment we want. But when we work together, across the nine Bay Area counties, our local success, however small, can become something much greater and help make the Bay Area better.

As Co-Founder of Marin Clean Highways, Vicky Dehnert is on a mission to reduce trash pollution across the Bay Area. She is a former educator who switched gears to high tech. Vicky has called Marin home for the last eight years.

David Lewis: 20 Years of Impact and the Future of our Bay

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, David Lewis, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo

“David Lewis is a pioneer of our environment…” San Francisco Mayor London Breed

“David Lewis has the tenacity, political savvy, and passion that leads to progress…” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo

“David Lewis wouldn’t give up until he got every last vote…” Felicia Madsen, Save The Bay Action Fund Board Director

These are just a few of the accolades that were shared about David Lewis, who last week celebrated his 20th anniversary as Executive Director of Save The Bay, at Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco. Hundreds of elected officials, advocates, volunteers, and supporters gathered to toast one of the region’s top environmental advocates.

David Lewis celebrating his 20 years of impact

David insisted he and Save The Bay aren’t satisfied with past victories, but inspired to take on new challenges facing the Bay, including existential threats to Bay Area communities from climate change.

David noted climate impacts originally predicted for the middle of this century are happening now, all over the globe, and in the Bay:

  • More extreme droughts and floods, more powerful rainstorms and forest fires – killing people and wildlife.
  • Sea level rise and thermal expansion of the ocean shrinking beaches and marshes.
  • The San Francisco Embarcadero, which never used to flood – now floods several times a year during King Tides. Within a decade, it could flood monthly.

And yet, most days, climate change isn’t even the top story. Our planet’s survival is competing with the news cycle of the day and often the situation feels depressing, exhausting and dire. But… change is possible.

Save The Bay has faced long odds before, and won. That’s what we do! But making big changes will require more than just good policy positions or fun events.  Change requires action and that takes power.

Save The Bay Action Fund Board of Directors

That is why we created Save The Bay Action Fund – because making big changes requires direct advocacy in city halls and the state capitol, joining with allies from organized labor, business, and environmental justice.  We need to mobilize everyone in the Bay Area to get more involved and vote… every election.  David called on each of us to be bold, not timid – to do more, not less.  If we all do our part, our combined strength and energy will ensure the Bay and Bay Area are resilient in the decades ahead.

Congratulations, David, on 20 years of impact for San Francisco Bay.  Here’s to the next 20!

P.S.  Learn more about Save The Bay Action Fund by visiting sfbayactionfund.org.