Welcome back to the Cool Block series! Today I’m going to be talking about three topics: Topic 6 ‘Safe, Healthy and Green Block,’ Topic 7 ‘Resourceful and Community Rich Block,’ and Topic 8 ‘Living as a Cool Block.’ 

Topic 6 is all about creating a community in which everyone feels safe, and leads a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Some of the actions include but are not limited to: helping out vulnerable neighbors in need, getting cars to slow down, removing hazardous waste, planting trees, planting gardens together, eliminating litter with teamwork and protecting neighborhood wetlands and streams. When completing this topic, my team members and I noticed that a lot of these efforts are already happening here at UCSB. For example, I’m an intern at Your Children’s Trees at UCSB, where we work on planting native trees around campus in hopes to restore the native ecosystem. There is also a wonderful group of students and community members working on the Isla Vista Food Forest, filled with edible, medicinal and native plants that benefit our community. Amongst a number of amazing projects, UCSB CCBER is working on restoring the North Campus Open Space—which was a golf course 15 years ago—back into its native marshlands and wetlands. Coming out of COVID, Isla Vista Surfrider is continuing their beach clean ups—events in which students can volunteer to go and pick up trash from our beautiful beaches here in Isla Vista—to help better our community and the environment. One of our group members, Piper Lovegreen, talked about construction on her street, which has resulted in an increase in litter. She has taken it upon herself to pick up the litter, as well as politely telling the construction workers where the garbage bins are located. She has also started using compostable doggie bags to eliminate her plastic use. 

Topic 7 focuses on the sharing of resources and creating a better sense of community. A few actions within this topic include: embracing diversity on the block (IV/UCSB Community Relations Committee), sharing tools with neighbors (UCSB Free and For Sale), and participating in a food cooperative as a block (IV Food Co Op). One of our amazing group members, Alyssa Jain, really enjoyed Topic 7 because she was forced to get creative during COVID times. Instead of hanging out in person, she and her neighbor have started exchanging baked goods at each other’s doorsteps. 

Topic 8, the final topic, focuses on continuing the program on your block, expanding it to other blocks, engaging in broader civic action and helping decarbonize your city. We have not had our meeting for Topic 8 yet, but some of the actions that we are going to take include keeping our block cool (making sure that our newfound actions become long lasting habits), growing our cool block (IV/UCSB Community Relations Committee), becoming actively engaged in our city (UCSB Environmental Affairs Board), and working towards decarbonizing your city!

Being a part of the Cool Block experience has brought together a group of friends who otherwise probably would have never met. It has taught us how to break down intimidating problems and tackle them as a team. Cool Block helps instill lifelong sustainable habits that not only decrease one’s individual carbon footprint, but also trains and inspires people to decrease an entire community’s carbon footprint.

Written by Chloe Ortiz, UCSB CNI Fellow