RE: Philanthropy Blog

Council on Foundations Q&A with Ann Sewill, Vice President of Housing & Economic Development, California Community Foundation

Picture your favorite childhood escape or a vacation destination you frequented with loved ones. Now, you are surprised by a child tugging at your sleeve asking, “What are you doing to address the impacts of climate change?”

As we celebrate and ponder a century of Community Foundation impact in our society, the convergence of community and climate is increasingly relevant. In just a few days, EGA, the Council on Foundations, and Funders Network for Smart Growth are bringing together community foundations who have led the field in incorporating sustainable communities and resilience into their work with leaders in climate science to have more dialogue on how environment, communities and community foundations connect and need to connect as we face increasing challenges to our neighborhood and world.

In our tornado-, flood-, drought-, ice-, you-name-it belt of the Midwest, we live by the maxim that it’s not “if,” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike.

oes it seem to you that we are hearing more about wildfires? There’s a reason: they are increasing in frequency and intensity and occurring over a longer period of months.

The problem was as vast as the ocean – or in our case, the Gulf of Mexico, floor. Over time, the reef system in the Gulf waters bordering Collier County in SW Florida had been destroyed by hurricanes and shifting currents. For fish and other marine life, there was nowhere to run – or hide – and the impact on Collier County’s environment and tourism industry was significant and growing more severe.

At a recent gubernatorial candidate forum I attended in Rhode Island, a Brown University professor presented on the challenges of climate change for the Ocean State. His last slide gave three examples of “win-win solutions.” At the top of the list was the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI).

Seventeen foundations, including Philanthropy Northwest member The Russell Family Foundation, have united around a mission investing agenda to deepen their investments in clean energy by divesting from fossil fuels. Through the new Divest-Invest Philanthropy project, announced on January 30, these foundations are aligning themselves with both a broader mission investing movement as well as a growing grassroots movement to persuade large institutional investors to align their financial power with their intentions to reduce climate change.

I recently attended a conference and between brochures, pamphlets, and folders, I amassed quite a bit of print material. Upon viewing the stack, I wondered: Why does information transfer require so much paper? For those who are interested in going green for their own events, here are four ideas to cut down on the paper trail:

As expected, this month’s Rio+20 conference and the People’s Summit were vast and challenging to navigate, with more than 500 side events to the official conference. Luckily, the orientation webinar and the breakfast briefings organized by the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), and the Funders Network for Transforming Globalization helped us to get the 30,000 foot view of what’s at stake, hear about the progress made on negotiations, and find out what’s important outside of the official process. Equally important, we heard points of views on what philanthropy needs to do going forward.