Thrive E&S TAG - September 2019


Public Education on Green Topics: Goals, Reach, & Impact


A Community Discussion on Program Effectiveness to Build Relations & Optimize Results



This moderated discussion, with whiteboarding, drew expertise from dozens of program managers that plan and run community education events on green topics in SMC -- lectures, panels, movies, courses, tabling, & others.

Through open discourse, we identified existing programs and resources, and examined ideas and partner to improve results.

  • Date - Wed September 18, 11.30a-1p (+30 min optional networking)
  • Location - Redwood Shores Branch Library, 399 Marine Pkwy, Redwood City (NEW)
  • Attendees - 33 people representing 23 organizations; attendee mix = 67% nonprofit, 18% government, 6% business, 9% education
  • Blog - see below


  • 350 Silicon Valley - Nicole Kemeny, President
  • Citizens' Climate Lobby - Doug Silverstein, Volunteer
  • Citizens Environmental Council of Burlingame - Terry Nagel, Board Member
  • The City of Burlingame - Andrea Pappajohn, Sustainability Fellow
  • Committee for Green Foothills - Helen Wolter, Legislative Advocate
  • Elkus Ranch - Dr. Maggie La Rochelle Gunn, 4-H Youth Development Advisor & Acting Ranch Director
  • Friends of Edgewood Park - Kathy Goforth, Board Member
  • The HEAL Project - Naomi Stern, Programs Manager
  • Peninsula Open Space Trust - Mark Medeiros, Senior Manager of Community Engagement
  • SMC Office of Education - Andra Yeghoian, Environmental Literacy Leader
  • SMC Office of Sustainability - Avana Andrade, Sustainability Academy Program Manager
  • SunWork - Tom Kabat, Volunteer
  • Sustainable San Mateo County - Terry Nagel, Board Member

Survey comments

  • "Good broad overview to spark many potential ideas."
  • "Great group of people assembled. I liked the diversity of topics represented."
  • "I really enjoyed hearing about the work being done across the county & having the opportunity to network."
  • "Learned more about groups – possible partners."

BLOG - September E&S TAG review: Four Ideas to Advance ‘Public Education on Green Topics’

Doug Silverstein, Green County San Mateo & Petra Silton, Thrive Alliance. 10/1/19

At the monthly Environment & Sustainability (E&S) Thrive Action Group (TAG) meeting on Wednesday September 18 in Redwood City, 33 individuals from 23 local organizations met for a community discussion on public education program effectiveness - to build relations & optimize results.

Of these attendees, 67% were from nonprofits, 20% from government, and the rest from youth groups and small businesses. Thirteen presented their challenges, successes, and growth strategies in 5-minute reports (slides) including:

350 Silicon Valley, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Citizens Environmental Council of Burlingame, the City of Burlingame, Committee for Green Foothills, Elkus Ranch, Friends of Edgewood Park, the HEAL Project, Peninsula Open Space Trust, SMC Office of Education, SMC Office of Sustainability, SunWork, & Sustainable San Mateo County.

From presentations and comments, 3 themes stood out:

  1. Participating groups have overlapping goals and needs
  2. Multi-group collaboration could yield stronger results
  3. Public Ed programs must target diverse audiences

‘Public Education on Green Topics’ Goals & Reach

Overarching goals for all organizations:

  • reach a broad audience to encourage sustainable behavior
  • lower the communities’ ecological footprints
  • inspire happy and healthy living

Goals for individual organizations:

  1. Educate attendees
  2. Attract new members & volunteers
  3. Identify new donors

Audiences for public education:

  1. All local residents
  2. Nature/outdoor enthusiasts
  3. Youth and/or teachers
  4. Underserved communities
  5. Opinion leaders & decision makers

Overlapping Resource Needs

Attending organizations identified overlapping resource needs and communicated the benefits of working together. In sharing resources and leveraging common tools, attendees inferred they could do more with existing assets.

Identified resources that could be shared included:

  • Unified community directory & calendar
  • Event locations
  • Event content including speakers & media
  • E-marketing systems for outreach & registration
  • Common pre-event planning & post-event summaries templates

One innovative idea and possible path to shared success is a high-profile, county-wide event series with one or a few large sponsors, plus a handful of smaller co-sponsors, that is run in multiple locations such as Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, and Redwood City.

Working together, could we provide broader sustainability education as well as identify more members, volunteers, and donors?

Four Ideas to Advance ‘Public Education on Green Topics’

The September and previous E&S TAG meetings’ post-event surveys showed attendees gained substantially from learning about of a breadth similar organizations’ policy initiatives and programs -- hearing success stories and considering partnerships.

September respondents rated the event as 4.3 on a scale 5.0, and likely to attend again as 4.4. Still, attendees want more time for open discussion and networking.

As such the E&S TAG, will continue to bring the environmental sustainability community together with a desire to unify and enable broad success.

To further advance this success, our 2 organizations are also collectively working on the following:

  1. Unified community directory & calendar
  2. Locations & content – pairing help needed & offered
  3. Pre-event planning & post-event summary templates
  4. High-profile, county-wide event series – Thrive Alliance and Green County San Mateo are exploring this idea with a handful of organizations

If you’d like to be a part of any of these four initiatives, or others like them, please email Petra and Doug.


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  • Doug Silverstein
    published this page in E&S TAG 2019-08-14 16:15:44 -0700