Daily Acts issues a green challenge

The nonprofit Daily Acts is throwing down the gauntlet and asking people to commit to reducing their resource use. On May 17 and 18, Petalumans all across town will take part in the fifth annual Community Resilience Challenge, finding unique ways to become more self-reliant with actions that save water, grow food, conserve energy and build a community.

The actions on the list can range from installing water-saving fixtures in the home, to limiting showers to five minutes, to joining a carpool or unplugging cords and electronics that aren't in use to save electricity.

Participants can also propose their own creative ideas for helping the environment. Petaluma resident D'Lynda Fischer decided to contribute to the campaign by setting up a bike cleaning and maintenance stand outside her 1st Street home once a month throughout the summer, in an effort to encourage people to make the environmentally friendly choice to ride a bicycle.

"My friends who like to tootle around town on bikes and not their cars have these bikes but don't understand how they function — the chains haven't been cleaned in forever, and they're inefficient machines," Fischer said.

Having formerly opened an athletic shop when she lived in Los Angeles that helped athletes prepare for triathlons, Fischer has done enough light bike maintenance, from realigning brakes to pumping tires to oiling up chains, to prepare her to set up shop outside her house once a month to help fellow cyclists.

"There's a need for this — the challenge is letting people know I'm doing it," Fischer said. Without a marketing plan, she's relying on word of mouth to let people know when and where she'll be at her post. Right now, she's thinking of doing it for every last Sunday of the month through the end of the summer.

Other actions for the challenge come from teams, such as the McDowell Elementary School community garden, which was a recipient of a compost donation from Sonoma Compost for its community garden that feeds low-income families seeking fresh food.

McDowell's garden has been around for the last decade, said Patricia Souza, a community entrepreneur who deals with family resources for the Petaluma City Schools District. Currently, the garden provides fresh food for roughly 13 low-income residents in the community — a welcome feat in a school with a high percentage of low-income families, Souza said.

"These families are very low-income, but they want to eat well," she said.

Local businesses, too, are getting in on the action to participate in the Daily Acts challenge.

Petaluma-based Straus Family Creamery has endorsed the challenge, having signed up 12 of their employees to pledge individual actions.

"It aligns with our commitment for sustainability," said president Albert Straus.

The company will tend a vegetable garden at its creamery in Marshall, has solar power in Petaluma and continues to explore water conservation and energy resourcefulness, Straus said.

"We're a sustainable family farm, and being sustainable is part of our mission," Straus said.

Participants can register their actions and see what others have planned online at the Daily Acts website. So far, there are 4,011 actions registered on the site in Sonoma County. However, said Daily Acts' Temra Costa, the nonprofit has yet to meet its goal for the total number of participants, and is hoping another 500 sign up for this weekend's challenge.

Formerly known as the 350 Home and Garden Challenge, Daily Acts changed the name of the event to connote a broader effort at sustainability. This year's challenge marks Daily Acts' fifth year of mobilizing individuals, schools, organizations, municipalities and businesses to pledge to take action in creating a more "resilient" future.

(Contact Annie Sciacca at argus@arguscourier.com)