Year-End Reflections from Acterra’s Executive Director: Growing our Climate Action Movement

 · December 1, 2021

By Lauren Weston

2021 was a year of learning, stretching, and growing for Acterra, our staff, and our communities (and for me personally!).

In thinking about my daughter (about to turn four) growing and learning, and in thinking about Acterra’s growing and learning, I’ve discovered plenty of similarities and shared ground. (In fact, parents — people committed to securing the long-term welfare of children — are well aware of climate change as a thorny parental problem.) On that note, I’d like to share two big-picture thoughts.

Resources to Make a Difference

First, as a parent, the best thing I can do is be a ready resource: How can I best serve my daughter? It becomes about reassurance — making it clear that everything will be okay. You work hard, treat people well, own up to your mistakes, build familiar routines, celebrate your successes… and everything will be okay. As an Executive Director, I view this same concept, but with a different lens: How can I serve my team to be their best selves and do their best work (without burning out) when okay is tied to a planet hurting from climate change and not just a scraped knee?

In circumstances like those we currently face, it is a really hard job to sell everything being okay. My daughter used to just need cuddles. Now she needs explanations. Our Acterra team, too: we don’t have the highest salaries or the trendiest desks (seriously, some staff work from stacked books no matter how hard we try), but we do have a culture that aims to answer, “How is our work making a difference?” Impact matters deeply to our community of supporters — few metrics matter more than this. Staff morale can bend on impact as well. My role is to resource our organization to have the greatest impact so that our communities and planet thrive. 

A Personal Journey to Gas-Free

Second, in reflection and in gratitude, I also want to share something closer to home that has been made possible by Acterra —we have been electrifying our home! I have learned so much from our programming, I have taken it to heart, and my family has committed to a fossil-free transition. Our cooktop is induction, our water heater is now a heat pump water heater, our solar is getting upgraded to service a heat pump and car charger (we have had a plug-in hybrid EV for three years). This process has been more grueling and expensive than it should be, with unexpected roadblocks, but above all, our programs have taught me that it is possible. Full stop. 

Our programming inspires people every day. The beauty of Acterra is that it’s making these home electrification solutions more available—despite the lack of training for installers, the costs and confusion of permitting, and the uphill battle for information, the fossil-free writing is on the wall in California.  In my family we are well on our way, and it’s a great feeling to know that capping our gas is on the horizon. 

Working Together with Forward Momentum

With your commitment to Acterra, we can stand together against climate change, answering the question “How is our work making a difference?” Good news: your contribution will have twice the impact to support our programs into the future, thanks to a $10,000 challenge grant from a generous longtime Acterran. Won’t you please consider making a gift before December 31 to support climate action and start off 2022 with momentum?

Your end-of-year gift is essential to the sustainability of Acterra’s programs. This gift could help advocate for plant-forward diets with induction cooking classes, support climate change activism for youth, increase sustainability in your workplace, and promote solar, EV charging, and heat pump technology through multiple workshops. With your support to further our work, Acterra can keep pressing for climate change solutions and a healthy planet for all.

Here are a few examples of what we’ve accomplished this year thanks to your support:

I am so grateful to work in a community that faces our climate action challenges head on, going the road less traveled so that others can follow more easily. Thanks for being part of our community.

Lauren Weston is Acterra’s Executive Director. In December 2021 she had the honor of being one of 20 individuals invited to participate in the Environmental Leadership Program’s prestigious national Fellowship program.

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