Emerald Keepers welcomed several environmental leaders from across the region as well as community members for its second annual Coronado Community Conference on Oct. 11.

Several speakers spoke to roughly 100 people through a full-day of interactive presentations and discussions aligned with the organization’s mission to spread education and promote advocacy for the coastal community and serve as a model for other cities.

The goal of the conference was to collaboratively build climate resilience for a sustainable future for Coronado.

We can make Coronado a model city.”

-Emerald Keepers President Amy Steward.

“We can really affect change if people come and listen and learn,” said Emerald Keepers President Amy Steward. “We can make Coronado a model city.”

The group gathered inside the Nautilus Room at the Coronado Community Center to hear from eight presenters, starting with a keynote address from University of California San Diego Psychology Professor Adam Aron.

Coronado resident Brooks Lewis, The Coronado Eagle & Journal, City of Coronado and Glorietta Bay Inn were among the event’s sponsors.

Goal: Climate action

In a presentation titled The Essential Role of Social Mobilization in Confronting the Climate Crisis, Aron used examples of student-led initiatives on his campus that have emphasized the power that one’s actions hold in construing collective change with the goal of climate action.

University of California San Diego Department of Psychology Professor Adam Aron (right) speaks at the Emerald Keepers conference. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

“I took away that you can be passionate and act like an activist at the same time,” said San Diego resident Jessica Bixby, a recent King’s College London Masters graduate in Climate Change.

Following the keynote, San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative Director Darbi Berry shared about the organization’s mission to connect cities and public agencies across San Diego to advance climate change solutions.

Berry shared that climate risks posed to San Diego County by the end of the 21st century include rising temperatures with an additional 20 to 50% increase of heat wave frequency, increased flooding as a result of a 3-foot sea level rise, additional storms with greater frequency and intensity, and a surge in wildfire risk and drought.

San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative Director Darbi Berry speaks at the Emerald Keepers conference. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

In examining intersectional climate hazards, Berry alluded to prolonged health issues such as the dangers of extreme pollution and precipitation. She referenced the Tijuana sewage crisis for local beach goers. Berry also provided numerous solutions through the San Diego Region Coastal Resilience Roadmap that she said addresses our region’s “climate shocks and stressors.”

As examples, Berry shared that the City of Chula Vista offers sustainable toolkits for energy efficiency at its libraries and San Diego International Airport’s new Terminal 1 that’s under construction is expected to be incredibly efficient with an expected electric shuttle and integrated water management.

Composting efforts

Into the afternoon, attendees enjoyed a zero-waste lunch catered by The Wild Thyme Company.

The company, according to Steward, has helped sort food waste and provided compost for the gardens at Coronado’s middle and high school Emerald Keepers clubs.

The event also attracted several community members including Coronado resident Carol Stanford, who also attended the event last year.

She said in an interview that efforts to ban single-use plastics in Coronado is something that requires more action.

“I think Coronado is going to come on board, but we need to get the word out more and have more people attend this event next year,” Stanford said.

A group of CHS Emerald Keepers interns also attended, sharing information about the organization as they distributed reusable utensil sets.

Coronado youth helping the planet

Following lunch, four of the student interns shared about current projects in Coronado schools including zero waste efforts, composting and harvesting gardens.

Abigail Pearson shares about the student group’s year-long environmental projects and accomplishments. “Every little thing matters,” Pearson says about the impacts on one’s choices and consequences. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

Seniors Cate Gregory, Bailey Manion, Dylan Berk, and junior Abigail Pearson described current ecological outreach and education efforts that encourage environmental stewardship and sustainability across the community – especially among young students.

“I’m just so proud of them, and I look forward to seeing what they continue to do and to see how the district can support them and all our student organizations.” said another Coronado resident Alexia Palacios-Peters, also a CUSD governing board trustee.

Electric shuttle

Earlier in the day, Redwood Energy Managing Principal Sean Armstrong provided information about climate friendly buildings and electrical buses and their battery capabilities.

Then, San Diego Community Power Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships Lee Friedman shared about higher renewable energy and community power plans.

Circuit Partner Success Manager Mark Iannon gave some insight into the services that the newly approved shuttle program in Coronado will offer locals and visitors from the Cays to the Village, including electric vehicle models that will help lessen emissions, a major concern for Emerald Keepers.

In another presentation, Oceana Southern California Field Representative Melissa Morris shared about the impacts of plastics, driving home that “if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses behind Russia, with the United States being the second leader,” she said.

Lastly, San Diego Audubon Society Director of Conservation Andrew Meyer shared about two of the non-profit’s projects including the Lights Out, San Diego! Campaign that encourages turning off non-essential lighting during nighttime to build awareness and to mitigate light pollution impacts on migrating birds and other wildlife.

Meyer also shared about the more than 45 Native Seed Libraries across public libraries, community gardens or schools in the county that operate to “provide food and shelter to important pollinators such as the monarch butterfly, hummingbirds and many other bird species,” according to the organization’s online website.

What’s next?

Steward of Emerald Keepers also talked through upcoming events leading into next spring.

Emerald Keepers President Amy Steward thanks 2023 Emerald Keepers Coronado Community Conference sponsors, and gives a list of upcoming events during closing remarks at its conference. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

“Don’t just keep it to yourself, spread the word,” Steward told the audience. “Make sure that you are going down there [city council] and advocating for things that are important to our community, ways to make our community emerald green, ocean blue.”

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Julieta is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering education, small business and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from UC Berkeley where she studied English, Spanish, and Journalism. Apart from reporting, Julieta enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends.