Earth Day Organizers Announce 2018 Environmental Hero & Youth Award Recipients and Activities for a “Climate Resilient” Future


The Community Environmental Council (CEC) proudly announces the recipients of its 2018 Environmental Hero Award: water activist and author Florencia Ramirez of Oxnard, and ocean/climate activist organization SeaLegacy. The awards are granted as part of CEC’s annual Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival being held Saturday, April 21 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Alameda Park.

At the first large community festival to be held since last winter’s Thomas Fire and subsequent deadly Montecito debris flow, events over Earth Month will connect the dots between climate change and a more than 300% increase in extreme weather catastrophes worldwide since 1980.   

“In keeping with Santa Barbara’s history of turning disaster into an opportunity for meaningful change – such as the eras following the 1925 earthquake and the 1969 oil spill – the Community Environmental Council believes that the recent disasters present an opportunity to build momentum around climate resilience,” commented Sigrid Wright, CEO/Executive Director of CEC. “Our two heroes this year reflect dual approaches to building climate resilience: direct, mindful action in our daily lives – like Florencia’s call to reconsider each meal – and banding together en masse to safeguard the ecosystems that we depend on to stabilize climate – like SeaLegacy’s international movement for healthy, abundant oceans.”

Environmental Hero Awards

SeaLegacy and Ramirez will each accept the honor at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the festival Main Stage. SeaLegacy, whose Starving Polar Bear video went viral in late 2017, emphasizes that healthy oceans absorb carbon from the atmosphere and help reduce the impact of climate change – a critical component of building climate resilience. The award will be accepted by local resident and SeaLegacy patron Jodie Willard.

Oxnard resident and award-winning author Florencia Ramirez, whose book Eat Less Water has recently been featured on CBS and NPR, draws a direct line between climate resilience and adapting to a water-constrained world. After accepting her award, she will share her kitchen-table approach to protecting water supplies in a cooking demonstration at the festival’s Roots stage on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. 

The awards will be co-presented by musician Kenny Loggins and Congressman Salud Carbajal, a past CEC Environmental Hero Award recipient. Loggins, a Montecito resident, has taken part in multiple events to support the community since the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow. A deeply committed environmentalist with a long history of advocating for the planet and green parenting, his song “Conviction of the Heart” was coined the “unofficial anthem of the environmental movement” by Al Gore. As part of the Environmental Hero Awards ceremony, he will play a tune with his daughter Hana.

Carbajal, whose congressional district has been hard-hit by multiple weather-related disasters in the past year, has made climate a top priority. His first legislative action in Congress was to introduce The California Clean Coast Act, a bill that would permanently prohibit future oil and gas leasing off the coast of the entire state of California to simultaneously protect our ecosystems and push the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

One of only 3 California appointees to the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience under Obama, Carbajal is currently part of five caucuses that are committed to preserving our environment, including the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

Explore Ecology Environmental Stewardship Awards

For a second year, CEC is partnering to bring the Explore Ecology Environmental Stewardship Awards to local students, teachers, and classrooms in Santa Barbara County that have spearheaded positive change to help the environment. The 2018 award recipients are:

Gabriel Ramirez (3rd grade, La Patera Elementary); Pyp Pratt (4th grade, Marymount); Sarah Dent (7th grade, Goleta Valley Junior High); Josh Benson(10th grade, Dos Pueblos High); Jill Means (3rd grade teacher, Ellwood Elementary); Jose Caballero (Environmental Science AP & Small Scale Food Production, Santa Barbara High); and Adams Ocean Guardian Ambassadors(Adams School). 

Recipients will be honored and give acceptance speeches on the Kids Stage on Saturday, April 21 at 12:45 p.m., and afterward will join CEC Environmental Heroes Florencia Ramirez and SeaLegacy on the Main Stage at 2:00 p.m. for further recognition.

Other Climate Resilience Events/Activities

CEC is also adding events to foster conversation and action before, during and after the festival that will support the community in rallying to face the realities of climate change that have so strongly impacted our region, and in taking action to build a more climate-resilient future.

  • Entangled Waters Video Exhibit – Friday, April 13 & Saturday, April 14

8:00 – 10:30 p.m., Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

Enjoy a free, immersive video experience, projected on the walls and arches of the County Courthouse, that evokes our tangled web of humanity, sea life and pollutants. Produced by environmental steward Lamara Heartwell. Sponsored by CEC.

  • Connect the Climate Dots: Public Art & Writing Project – Saturday, April 21 & Sunday April 22

Saturday, 11:00 – 6:00 p.m.; Sunday,11:00 – 5:00 p.m. Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival.

Take part in an interactive writing and art project to visually connect the dots between climate change, a 300% increase in extreme weather events since 1980, and the solutions we can act on today to create a climate-resilient future. Sponsored by CEC, The Poetry Booth, South Coast Writing Project’s Young Writers Camp, and Santa Barbara High School’s Visual and Arts Design Academy. 

  • Drought, Fire and Flood: Climate Change and Our New Normal – Wednesday, April 25

7:00 – 9:00 p.m., Granada Theatre.

Join a free community town hall that will address urgent questions: how we can improve our readiness and response to climate impacts, and what this new reality requires for both policy and practice to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure, our businesses, our homes, our community, and our region. Includes flash talks from UCSB experts, a keynote from former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, a panel discussion moderated by CEC’s CEO/Executive Director Sigrid Wright, and Q&A with key officials from Santa Barbara Fire, County, and nonprofits. Presented in association with CEC, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts (Granada Theatre) and UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

The festival itself will have dozens of other ways to learn about and take action on building climate resilience. Community members can support by volunteering at the festival. Sign up for 3-hour shifts as individuals or groups at Attendees can connect with over 200 organizations throughout the park that are involved in responding to recent disasters and/or cultivating solutions.

About Florencia Ramirez

As a researcher trained at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, Florencia sets out to understand problems afflicting vulnerable communities and looks for solutions. Her articles appear in the San Jose Mercury News; the James Beard awarded Edible Communities Magazines and her blog. Eat Less Water received the prestigious Gift of Freedom Creative Nonfiction genre prize from A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO). She lives in the coastal town of Oxnard, California with her husband and three children. Learn more at

About SeaLegacy

SeaLegacy is a nonprofit collective of some of the most experienced and renowned photographers, filmmakers and storytellers working on behalf of our oceans. The organization was co-founded in 2014 by Cristina Mittermeier, a pioneer of the modern conservation photography movement, and Paul Nicklen, the renowned National Geographic polar photographer. For over 20 years, Cristina and Paul have used their imagery to convert apathy into action and to bring about powerful conservation wins. SeaLegacy works with a council of experts to identify projects that together are building healthy and abundant oceans. They invest in community-centered solutions and rally global support for projects through our massive media footprint. Learn more

About Community Environmental Council and the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival

In the wake of the devastating 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara’s shores, a group of local concerned citizens began talking about a different way of looking at environmental systems. During that time, Senator Gaylord Nelson visited Santa Barbara to view the damage from the oil spill. When he returned to Washington, D.C., he introduced a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth. Over the next few years, around the country the environmental movement was born – including the Community Environmental Council. In CEC’s first act as a newly established non-profit, it hosted one of the first Earth Day celebrations in the U.S. in 1970.

Since 1970, CEC has led the Santa Barbara region – and at times California and the nation – in creative solutions to some of the toughest environmental problems. CEC innovates and incubates real-life solutions in areas with the most impact on climate change. Our programs – including the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival – provide pathways to clean vehicles, solar energy, resilient food systems, and reduction of single-use plastic. Find CEC on the web at and on and

For up-to-the-minute information on Santa Barbara Earth Day:

Festival Partners

In 2018 the Community Environmental Council is partnering with Carp Events, Cultivate Events, Learningden Preschool, LoaTree, New Noise, Oniracom, SBBike, and WA Event Management to produce the event. Major sponsors currently include MarBorg Industries, the Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator, Toyota, So Delicious, the City of Santa Barbara, Cox Communications, the Firestone Walker Brewing Company featuring 805 Beer, LogicMonitor, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Perry Ford, the Central Coast Clean Cities Coalition, Advanced Veterinary Specialists, Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, Chevrolet, Envision Solar, Impact Hub Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Honda and Santa Barbara Nissan. Major media sponsors include the Santa Barbara Independent, KJEE, KCRW, the Sentinel, KEYT, KCSB and Visit Santa Barbara. 

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