Inspirational Leadership: From Dentistry to the Assembly

Early in my career as a practicing dentist I never imagined that I would end up as a politician in Sacramento. Yet, nearly thirty years after first opening a family dental practice in Cloverdale, I am now proud to represent a diverse and important district as a California State Assemblymember. The 2nd District comprises all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa. If you are familiar with the dynamics of California’s North Coast, you might imagine the extensive range of legislative concerns that are important to me and my constituents.Jim_Wood_speaking_2.jpg

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The Potential for Electrification in Transportation

The future of transportation will be low-carbon

There are many reasons to plan for a transportation system that cuts out carbon emissions. A transition to low-carbon transportation could reduce the impacts of climate change, improve our air quality and help switch to local sustainable energy sources. In addition to increasing the amount of biking, walking and transit - switching from gas cars to electric vehicles is the biggest cut to our carbon diet that we can expect to see in the coming decade. Low energy cars at the Sonoma County Water Agency.

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Judgment in Paris: Federal Climate Change Legislation Then – Global Impact Now

The Leadership Institute kicked off the 2016 new year with Representative Mike Thompson joining the Speakers Series. The evening talk found Representative Thompson discussing the history of climate change legislation, specifically on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 and the events leading from then to the historic agreement in Paris.

Did you miss the event? Then you can watch Representative Thompson's recorded discussion on climate change legislation here.

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Listening to Student Voices: Sustainability Education and Student Centered Learning

“All education is environmental education…by what is included or excluded we teach the young that they are a part of, or apart from the natural world.”

David W. Orr, 2005

Do many high school kids these days have a sense of what’s really going on with the environment, with social equity issues, with where the energy they use comes from, with where their water will come from in the future? Where do they get this information, and who helps them to find it? Does the public school system here in Sonoma County do a good job in helping students navigate these interconnected issues that will play a substantial role in their later lives? 

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The Resilient Investor

In November, Speakers Series guest Christopher Peck discussed The Resilient Investor: A Plan for Your Life, Not Just Your Money, his recently published co-authored book. The Resilient Investor paints a dynamic framework that is simple for all to use in order to enhance personal, community, and societal resilience. We invite you watch Christopher's recorded presentation and hope that you discover new ways to invest and thrive in an unpredictable society.

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Resilient Investing: You, Your Money, and Your Stuff--How to Thrive in Turbulent Times

Does the challenge of making informed decisions about your life seem far more complex today than it did even a short time ago? Does the future—yours, and that of the world—feel highly uncertain, perhaps even precarious?

I can sense you there, nodding in agreement. Social inequities, environmental degradation, stock market volatility, economic uncertainty, and technological innovations are combining to make the near- to mid-term future more uncertain than ever—amazing breakthroughs, disruptive breakdowns, and muddling along much as we have been are all realistic possibilities. In the face of this uncertainty, you need a resilient approach that is poised and ready to adapt as needed to a range of possible social trajectories.

Fortunately, Resilient Investing offers a way forward, guiding you to make choices that help you to thrive in your own life, while at the same time contributing toward larger, shared goals for our community and society as a whole. The framework that my colleagues and I developed and I’ll share with you below will help you take advantage of a simple fact: every day, you are making investments in yourself, your money, and your stuff.  By making all of these a conscious part of your “resilient investing plan,” you can leverage each of them to better move you towards your most cherished goals.

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Harvest Today, Harvest Tomorrow

In October, the Leadership Institute hosted an evening panel conversation about practices and efforts occurring today to ensure a future viability of Sonoma County viticulture and rural lands. The evening included an honest discussion about current efforts to make the Sonoma County wine industry more sustainable. We invite you to watch the recorded conversation of that night!

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Two Million Steps

We stood at the Southern Terminus in a small town on the Mexico-California border. It was April 21st, and our backpacks were neatly situated with warm clothes, shelter, a change of socks, six liters of water, a stove, and seven days of food. As we took our first step on the trail, we commenced the next stage, six months, 2,655 miles of our lives. Our subsequent two million steps would take us through vast and varying ecosystems and extreme weather conditions, from Mexico to Canada. 

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Building a "Culture of Health" in Sonoma County

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What would you say is our community’s most important health issue? Twelve years ago, as I was starting a master’s degree program in Public Health at the University of Washington, I did an informal survey of people on the streets of Seattle with this exact question. Nearly all said “access to health insurance.” Of course, this was before the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare existed, which greatly improved access, but most people still equate health with health care. One of the exciting things underway in Sonoma County is that there is a “collective impact” movement to expand how people are thinking about health across all sectors of the community. Health Action is not just looking beyond health care, but “upstream” at the root causes of health and well-being. It is prioritizing education, income, and community connectedness in addition to addressing the health system. I can honestly say that since the inception of Health Action in 2007, I have seen a culture shift underway in how Sonoma County thinks about health.

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True Sustainability Leadership Focuses on Common Interests

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
-- Samuel Johnson

As Fellows of the Leadership Institute, and as people who are engaged in sustainability efforts, you have a great opportunity to bring together your specialized expertise with broad trends that are happening regionally, statewide, and nationally. Indeed, bringing Fellows together is both the greatest asset of and contribution made by the Leadership Institute – I still feel connected to the Fellows from my class. 

Less than a year ago, I made a significant change from serving my community through government to supporting communities statewide through a benefit corporation, California Clean Power. For me, working with small towns, rural counties, and bustling cities has underscored how critical local leaders are to our collective efforts for environmental, economic, and equitable communities.

Turbine Behind

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