Year End Outreach to Friends and Supporters

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December 5, 2018

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Last December 5th, we gathered at Rinaldo & Lalla’s house to celebrate the closing of the 2017 year. It was a lovely evening, spent with many friends, supporters, and staff of the World Business Academy, and we left the gathering with our hearts full of cheer. But there was also an undercurrent of foreboding as what would become the widespread destruction of the Thomas Fire had just begun and was burning as we gathered. Having started a day earlier, 45 miles to the south in Santa Paula, the fire grew exponentially overnight, and while we didn’t know it then, the central coast would spend the next several weeks suffering through ash, evacuations, power outages, property losses, and loss of life. Then, only a few weeks after the destruction of the fire had subsided, heavy rains battered the scorched foothills and caused a massive flow of boulders, mud and debris to tear a hole through the Montecito community, claiming too many lives, destroying many homes and businesses and forever changing the fabric of the community’s collective spirit and soul.

On this one year anniversary of the start of the Thomas Fire, and remembering the procession of fires that have scarred California, from Santa Rosa to the County (Lake/Napa/Yolo), Ferguson, Carr, Mendocino Complex, and most recently the Camp and Woolsey fires, we want to ask each of you to take a moment to reflect on this past year, from the tragic loss and suffering to the joyful realization of things achieved, friends met, and reunion of families and communities.

In the context of these disasters…

We formed the Global Citizens Club at the tail end of 2017, motivated by the saying “Think Globally, Act Locally” as an action incubator to engage local citizens through regular stakeholder meetings and panels addressing the most crucial social, economic, and environmental issues faced by Santa Barbara today.

Our 2018 events included:

Coming out of the GCC Events, we launched two on-going initiatives:
1. Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative (MCMI) – with the Clean Coalition
2. State Street Task Force

We also continued work on the California Clean Energy Moonshot – SBR3; through presentations Rinaldo gave in April at Grid Scale Energy Conference, and in September at the California Vision 2020 conference; as well as through the completion of a four-minute animated video on Microgrids, the survey of potential solar siting locations coastal Santa Barbara giving us a vision of our distributed energy future, and the launching of the MCMI, both as a public service to add resilience to Montecito, and as the first building block in the transition to a renewables-based community microgrid future.

The Academy’s biggest single accomplishment this year is that we achieved nationwide recognition for JUST Capital, the now independent non-profit Rinaldo formed initially as a joint venture between the Academy and the Chopra Foundation. Rinaldo continues to serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of JUST Capital with its Chairman, Paul Tudor Jones and CEO, Martin Whittaker. In addition, Rinaldo continues to serve as Chair of the Audit and Finance Committees of the JUST Capital Board and on the Nominating Committee as well. As you can see, this has been a major effort, and it is paying off. We are literally changing Wall Street’s evolving definition of success to embrace a more holistic and sustainable model that will contribute to business assuming “Responsibility for The Whole.” Please take a minute to see a representation of the various articles that have appeared in major publications in just the past year. The Academy’s work will continue at the same pace in 2019, with a view to further strengthening JUST Capital and convincing even more business executives and Wall Street tycoons what business Must accomplish if we are going to avert global catastrophe brought on by numerous potential issues like climate change, excess human migration, the acidification of the oceans, the destruction of rainforests, global die-off of ocean coral, and the like.

Also in 2019, we will be working to develop curricula on Microgrids and our distributed energy future for classes ranging from elementary through high school; continuing the collaborative effort on MCMI with Clean Coalition, as well as promoting clean renewable energy for California, the US and the globe; supporting the growing green hydrogen revolution, and exploring new technologies for carbon capture and climate remediation. Also in 2019, we will continue to participate in the local efforts to revitalize downtown Santa Barbara as a building block towards an economically resilient community.

Part of the revitalization will be to insulate our communities against the foreseeable impacts from climate change events similar to the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow. Since 2015, the Academy has alerted local officials and organizations to the systemic flaws of our energy distribution system, and the increasing urgency to develop a synergistic, holistic approach that integrates all of our community infrastructure. Bob Perry, with the help of Kristy Jansen and Angeline Foshay (now developing sustainability policy at the City of Goleta as a CivicSpark Fellow) created the Roadmap to Resiliency infographic, which was featured at this year’s Earth Day festival and is based upon on a paper authored by energy visionary Dr. Lorenzo Kristov, with whom the Academy has collaborated in the past. In his paper, Kristov describes a future where community systems complement and reinforce each other, and common and living areas are planned in a manner that minimizes waste and maximizes efficiency and resiliency. Our world is approaching an inflection point, and this is the future we must strive towards to ensure our survival. To that end, the Academy is also working with other activists and organizations to launch a local chapter of Climate Mobilization, a nationwide organization which former Executive Director Matt Renner is working on to bring to fruition. In so many areas, the primary obstructions are sociopolitical, and we must break those logjams in order to move society forward.

Another important aspect of our vision for creating a safe and clean energy future for California, and by extension the rest of the world, was our legal campaign against the continued operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, culminating in a lawsuit against the State Lands Commission to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as required under the California Environmental Quality Act, the cornerstone of California’s environmental legacy and future. Impacts to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant are accumulating and pose a potentially catastrophic danger to our community and planet from health issues associated with the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere from both normal operations and a Fukushima-type extreme event. As you may remember, the Academy had commissioned scientists to prepare studies on this issue and discovered that infant mortality and cancer levels were significantly higher in adjacent and downwind areas than in any other place in California. When the State Lands Commission caved in to outside interests and authorized the renewal of land leases at Diablo without the required EIR under CEQA, we fought against their errant decision all the way to the California Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the court declined to hear the petition, but we believe history will validate our efforts, and we remain undeterred in our mission to make this world a safer place.

In addition to all the work on clean and safe energy, fostering changes in the downtown corridor, hosting a conversation on the perils of gerrymandering and the need for independent redistricting, and the dangers of nuclear waste, we also published The Optimist Daily every weekday for 312 days of the year, hosted 11 radio shows on the intersection of politics, society and the economy, continued to help guide JUST Capital, Ethic Mark and other organizations engaged in promoting pro-social Business in the United States and the world.  We are still designing our priorities for 2019, but with your help and continued support, we believe it will be our best year yet. Our work is necessary for our community to grow and thrive. We hope that you will continue to financially support the Academy so that we can deal with the needs and changes that will happen and will need our attention. We are happy to meet with anyone who desires more information on our work.

Thank you so much!

Rinaldo S. Brutoco                                   Judi Weisbart
President & CEO                                        VP Community Relations