Community Resilience and Drought Solutions!

Lawn to garden transformation

Lawn to garden transformation

Picture the following taking place in your neighborhood. Another lawn biting the dust under layers of compost and cardboard. A newly installed greywater system feeding drought tolerant and native landscape. Rainwater catchment barrels watering food gardens. Kids performing home water audits checking for leaky faucets, pipes, and hoses. These are just a few of the many actions being taken for the Community Resilience Challenge, an annual community mobilization campaign organized by Daily Acts that encourages people to pledge sustainability actions online and receive generous incentives just for participating (like a free yard of compost)! The ripple effects of these actions are the unexpected connections, social capitol, and true sense of belonging gained when we share the work, build the future we want to see, and live our inspiration.

This is one such story of that ripple effect. In 2013, at Daily Acts’ annual fundraiser Ripple the World, volunteer Judy Mazzeo spoke about the purpose, joy and sense of belonging she has found with Daily Acts. “I saw community in action and I was hooked!” In the year since she installed her waterwise food forest and greywater system in her front yard, she met more neighbors than in two decades of living there.

Nancy Hage was moved by Judy’s story and knew she had to do something. Nancy and Jim had lived in their Santa Rosa neighborhood for 30 years without knowing many neighbors. In 2014 for the Community Resilience Challenge, students of Weaving Earth o Center for Relational Education buried Nancy & Jim’s water-guzzling lawn and installed a beautiful water-wise garden, side-walk benches and a Free Library Box. By transforming their water-thirsty lawn into a food and medicine producing, drought tolerant landscape complete with community spaces, they are saving 16,000 gallons of water per month in the summer AND have met more neighbors than in the previous three decades!!!  The kids in the neighborhood love the Free Library Box and curbside strawberries, families and neighbors sit on the sidewalk benches, and street traffic slows down to view their yard. Since last spring, six other households on the same block have converted their landscapes to be more drought friendly.

Trathen Heckman, executive director of Daily Acts, explains that “A key indicator of community resilience is neighbor to neighbor relations and trust. So a cornerstone of building community resilience is building personal resilience: people taking action in their homes and gardens; getting skilled and getting connected with neighbors and other people to share the work; supporting our local elected officials in choosing clean power, a healthy food system, and to support a local living economy. Our best investment in the future is the basics: healthy soils, food in the pantry, rain in the tank, engaged neighbors and leaders who understand this rare and precious planetary moment and are taking effective action on it.”

Daily Acts continues to grow this movement of neighbors inspiring neighbors. Co-hosting with the Sonoma Marin Water Saving Partnership, three upcoming tours on May 16th in Petaluma, Cotati and Windsor will showcase water-saving strategies and eco-friendly garden tips. Come get inspired by transformed homesteads, greywater systems, rain water catchment, sheet mulched lawns, bioswales and water-wise edible, medicinal and native plants. Daily Acts is also offering several workshops teaching valuable water conservation skills in sheet mulching, bioswale design, and rain garden installation to help capture and redirect more rainwater into the landscape. Find more information and register for these amazing upcoming events through their website at

We need your help in making the 2015 Community Resilience Challenge more successful than ever! Nancy & Jim’s story is just one action out of 7,058 local Challenge actions and 16,477 regional and national Challenge actions registered for last year’s Challenge. Roughly 1.5 million gallons of water were saved by actions taken by 2014 Challenge participants. Share this call to action and register for the 2015 Challenge online at What inspiring, drought-busting, community-building actions and opportunities will you commit to this month?

Thank you for making these stories happen. By committing to these actions that make our communities more resilient, healthy and just: you start the ripple that touches hearts, inspires action, unites neighbors and catalyzes transformation.

To learn more visit or phone (707) 789-9664.

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