WHAT WE DO
“Designing and building a sustainable and just civilization…through pragmatic, well-designed, replicable, and scalable implementation of sustainable systems policy, education, research, and infrastructure”
SSRF strives to be an active participant in working to make our community and society to become more sustainable and just. We develop active collaborations with organizations, public agencies and small private companies that share our interests and goals. Our projects and programs go beyond vision to actual deployment and to function as models that can be replicated in other cities and towns in California, the United States and the World.
SSRF and its collaborators work together to develop regenerative agriculture education and training programs for operators of small farms in the Monterey Bay Region. We support urban agriculture and community farming, both of which are increasingly recognized as sustainable long-term alternative to the large-scale, corporate enterprises that provide most of the nation’s food. You can read more about regenerative agriculture, our projects and background information on our Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture page.
THE FUTURE OF ELECTRICITY IN CALIFORNIA
SSRF and its partners are working to develop community-owned renewable microgrid projects that can provide low-cost solar electricity, increase resilience to power disruptions and contribute to the evolution of California’s electricity future. You can read about these projects on our “Future of Electricity in California” page.
CLOSING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The world’s economic system is currently based on an open-ended system of production, consumption and disposal, whereby valuable raw materials end up in landfills or polluting the environment. In a world of limited resources and pollution space, it is essential that we begin to reduce inputs and throughputs and recycle waste outputs back into the production cycle. SSRF is focusing on the procurement end of the materials flow cycle, since this is where careful product choices can have a significant impact on waste streams. If, for example, all containers and utensils flowing through a restaurant are reusable or readily compostable, customers don’t have to decide in which bin to put their wastes. And if businesses can provide reusable containers for bulk products, needless wrapping and bags will not be necessary. To learn more about this effort, please visit our “Circular Economy” page.
AFFORDABLE AND SUSTAINABLE HOUSING
SSRF and its partners are working to increase affordable housing options in Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County by making backyard Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units as common and as acceptable as sliced bread. ADUs and JADUs offer numerous advantages over more conventional projects to build new housing in the region (and across California). They do not require costly new land acquisition or significant infrastructural additions, because the homeowner already owns the construction site and utilities are accessible through the main house on the property. The construction footprint is small, a number of affordable financing options are available, the unit can provide a respectable return on investment, and it can house tenants, family and even homeowners seeking to downsize. You can learn more about affordable and sustainable housing on our “ADUs in Our Backyard” page.
Sustainability Now! is a biweekly radio program and podcast on KSQD, 90.7 FM in Santa Cruz and KSQD.org streaming on the internet. The show, cohosted by SSRF co-founder Ronnie Lipschutz and environmental consultant Brooke Wright, presents a range of interviews with environmental activists, academics, authors, philosophers and business people, all of whom are working to protect and sustain nature in the Monterey Bay Region, California and the World. You can find links to previous shows at KSQD.org and on our “Sustainability Now!” page.
BRINGING THE GREEN ECONOMY TO LIFE
SSRF’s education programs seek to offer high school and university students and post-graduates the knowledge and know-how to hone skills needed for success through hands-on training in sustainability-related systems design and development in areas such as energy, food, water, transportation, waste, and housing, among others.
- Develop and provide high-quality, compelling instructors and educational resources for schools and universities.
- Assist schools and universities with the design and implementation of sustainable systems classes and programs.
- Provide technical and logistical support for building hands-on academic and longitudinal research projects that advance a sustainable systems agenda.
- Provide staff, technical, and logistical support for school, local government, and non-profit institutions that are implementing sustainable systems education and outreach initiatives.
- Build alliances across local and regional education institutions for cooperative education and leading edge applied research focused on implementing scalable and replicable sustainable infrastructure and policy.