It’s hard to overstate the importance of neighbors coming together and preparing for disasters, natural or otherwise.
Because in times of emergency like power outages, wildfires, earthquakes, floods, or global pandemics, we have to rely on each other. Our friends, neighbors and family can make a vital difference when governments, utilities or public safety agencies fail.
I strongly believe in the power of community. And a community united around a common goal is what gets things done.
Let me tell you about an initiative that is taking on this challenge proactively: Cool Block. This program, which focuses on impacts related to climate change, takes a “one block at a time” approach, helping people know and work with their immediate neighbors to plan for emergencies and disasters.
Cool Block started in California and will add other states to the project, and eventually other communities around the world. The 4-6 month program offers unique tracking technology to show people the impact their household actions are having on the environment, both in terms of reducing carbon emissions and increasing water conservation. ‘water.
The latest cohort of 14 Mountain View Block Leaders began meeting and planning in January, focusing on sustainability and community building. Some groups are still meeting virtually, but others are meeting in person when conditions permit. A group installed a rain barrel. Another is to compile a contact list for all the neighbors in their block. And another is investigating options for solar power in HOA communities.
I was drawn to the program because of its ability to foster a greater sense of community – something I think we need more of. Three years ago, I proposed that the county support a three-year pilot program, and with additional support from the City of Mountain View, Cool Block was launched. Last year we extended our contract with Cool Block for two more years.
Cool Block is creating an old-school neighborhood in a 21st century way through the use of technology. Neighborhoods can track their progress online and see how their neighborhood compares to others. It also gives them access to the resources of municipal services to help them implement the chosen actions.
This came in particularly handy when COVID hit. In 2020, a few of the teams that signed up for the inaugural session persevered, pursuing their goals and objectives virtually. The combination of a warming planet and a global pandemic has sparked heightened awareness of the importance of resilience and environmental sustainability.
If you live in Mountain View and want to learn more, or want to bring Cool Block to your neighborhood, visit the Mountain View Cool Block webpage or email [email protected]
A better world, a better neighborhood, happens block by block.
Joe Simitian is a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. He represents District 5, including Mountain View, and can be reached at [email protected]