provided to The Santiva Chronicle
The SanCap Citizens for a Resilient Future, a coalition of concerned citizens and more than a dozen community organizations, is launching three new topical working groups to provide resources to local residents and businesses. The working groups include “Resilient Buildings,” “Natural Environment/Landscaping,” and “Communications.”
Each working group will be led by volunteers and one or more liaisons from the SanCap Citizens for a Resilient Future steering committee.
The Resilient Building working group will be co-led by Kip Buntrock, a 50-year-plus resident of Sanibel with a background in condominium management, and Brian Wilson, a new Sanibel resident with a background in construction who moved here just after the storm to help the community rebuild. The steering committee liaisons will include Dr. Tom Bierma, a retired environmental health professor, and Erika Steiner, board member from Community Housing and Resources.
“Given Sanibel and Captiva’s history and focus on sustainability, I think this community has a unique opportunity to lead on resilience and show other communities what it means to be a resilient coastal community much as it has led on clean water and other issues,” Bierma said.
The Natural Environment/Landscapes working group will be led by volunteer Walter Cheatham, a Sanibel resident with a background in environmental education. Liaisons from the steering committee will include Dr. Carrie Schuman from Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, and Sanibel resident and master gardener Mariana Pardo.
“I’m excited to see how this new working group can complement efforts already underway and build on the successes of our member organizations,” Pardo said.
The Communications working group will be led by Maureen McGauran, owner of Beachwalker Marketing and Communications, a marketing consulting organization serving local businesses and nonprofits.
“We have a great team, including communications professionals and others with an interest in getting the word out about the importance of resiliency in our communities,” McGauran said.
The steering committee liaison will be Mark Heiman, who is a board member of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society. According to Heiman, the group is currently in the process of building a website and will be launching a Facebook group later this year.
“Our goal is to continue to achieve a high level of community involvement with this project. We want to both hear from people to understand their needs and involve people to be part of the solution,” Heiman said.
In addition to these three new working groups, the existing Sanibel-Captiva Renewable Energy Working Group will serve as the resilience coalition’s team to address energy resilience. According to the group’s co-founder and co-chair, Bob Moore, that includes evaluating how energy infrastructure can be enhanced to perform more effectively in the face of future storms, especially for emergency services, as well long-term planning to reduce energy demand and reduce, or ultimately eliminate, our reliance on fossil fuels to power our homes, businesses, and transportation.
“Today clean energy like wind and solar are the cheapest forms of new energy generation in most of the world. Renewable energy makes good economic and good environmental sense,” Moore said. “We are lucky to have LCEC as our local utility to help us explore new and better solutions to our energy needs.”
“These new working groups will provide support to community members who are in the process of restoring or rebuilding their homes and businesses with a focus on resiliency,” said Dr. Carrie Schuman, coastal resilience manager at SCCF and co-chair of the SanCap Citizens for a Resilient Future steering committee. “That could include identifying best practices for hardening a building against future storms or flooding; technology to reduce energy usage, costs, and carbon footprint; or strategies to make landscapes more resilient.”
“It’s great to see such a high level of engagement from the community,” Moore added. “Hurricane Ian was a wake-up call for the Sanibel and Captiva communities. While we all hope a storm of that magnitude will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, we know the impacts of climate change represent a significant issue we must address. It’s great to see the community come together to confront the ways we must adapt, and also to pursue the ways we can help mitigate future effects through transitioning to clean energy technologies.”
The SanCap Citizens for a Resilient Future was formed on the heels of Hurricane Ian with leadership from Sanibel councilman, John Henshaw and participation from other local organizations.
Organizations that are currently a part of this resilience coalition include in alphabetical order, America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva, Captiva Community Panel (CCP), Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD), Children’s Education Center of the Islands (CECI), City of Sanibel, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), Committee of the Islands (COTI), Community Housing and Resources, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society – Friends of the Refuge, F.I.S.H. of SanCap, Lee County Climate Reality Project, Sanibel Strong, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), Sanibel-Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Sanibel-Captiva Renewable Energy Working Group, and UF/IFAS Lee County Extension.
Those interested in joining working group can complete this online form.