Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 2, 2014

Around Town

BROWNIES GO HOLLYWOOD ... A group of 8- and 9-year-old girls who make up Brownie Troop 60068 of Palo Alto were one of the three finalists selected in the open category of the city's 2014 Greenlight Film and Fashion Festival, which, to celebrate Earth Day, showcased short films on environmental topics made by local kids in grades K through 12. The films had to be five minutes or shorter (or a five-minute excerpt from a longer film), and entrants had to choose one of eight designated topics to focus on: role models, "lessons from the past," changing climate change, "be the inspiration," environmental justice, "pick a law," pollution and health, and "Who is exposed?" The festival took place on April 24, with finalists from the 70 submissions screening their films. The Brownie troop's film, "Good Brownies Save Water!," shows the 14 girls split into two groups, with one group more on the ball when it comes to water-conservation and the other, dubbed "Girls of Anarchy Troop One-Half," not so much. In a series of comedic sketches, the troop's better half gives tips on how small changes in habit can save water. The young filmmakers, who all attend Fairmeadow Elementary School, used money earned from the sale of Girl Scout cookies to fund the film. As a finalist, they were awarded $250 along with a trophy. To watch the film, search for "Good Brownies Save Water!" on YouTube.

DO IT FOR THE GREEN ... The City of Palo Alto has entered yet another green competition, but this one is a big one: the multi-year, $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition that aims to challenge communities across the country to dramatically rethink their energy use. Palo Alto is up against 50 other small to mid-sized communities (a requirement was population size between 5,000 and 250,0000). The city's Utilities Department, with help from Public Works, will work closely with local energy-efficiency experts to develop a sure-to-be-groundbreaking, long-term energy-efficiency plan that must demonstrate effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. The city must first submit a basic application, after which it will be evaluated against all other applications and then potentially move forward to further stages of the competition. The process doesn't conclude until 2017, when one green haven will win a whopping $5 million to use to implement its energy-saving plan. "Should the city win the competition, staff will seek direction from council regarding where to apply the prize money," states an early staff report indicating the city's intent to participate. The report also indicates various local entities that could hop on board to help with the effort: Acterra, Carbon Free Palo Alto, Stanford University and the Palo Alto Unified School District, among others.

DROUGHT REPORT ... No more frolicking in Stanford fountains in the warm weather. The university announced this week a temporary 5 percent cutback in its water use, a goal it hopes to achieve by immediately implementing a range of water-conservation measures, from shutting off and draining the campus's 18 fountains to addressing leaks, calibrating water fixtures, optimizing irrigation systems, retrofitting high-use fixtures and installing smart, weather-based irrigation controllers. Hoping to get more community members on board to combat the state's continuing drought, the university also rolled out a new campaign and website, sustainable.stanford.edu/waterwise, offering tips and resources for individuals' water-conservation. The new efforts are part of what Stanford has dubbed its Drought Response Plan, the result of months of analysis and planning by Land, Buildings & Real Estate staff, sparked by California Gov. Jerry Brown's drought emergency declaration in January.

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