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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

Fourteen-year-old Catalina Russell has grown up with Santa Barbara’s Earth Day Festival. Since before she can remember, her mom has been bringing her to the celebration that strives to inspire the community to protect and preserve the world we live in. Five years ago, when she was just nine years old, Catalina decided she wanted to do more than passively enjoy the festival. She signed up as a volunteer to help the event she had come to love – and she’s kept coming back to volunteer every year since.

“I love the sense of community among the volunteers,” Catalina says. “People are always nice, and they make helping out fun. Plus, I’m really into saving the Earth, and I want people see that we can make sustainable changes in our own lives that help do that.”

Volunteers at the Earth Day Festival do everything from assisting with vendor check-in, greeting festival guests and conducting crowd counts, working in the Green Car Show area, and helping with the children’s activities. They also assist with stage management, parking, and social media.

In the past, Catalina has enjoyed helping out with the Green Car Show, which hosts the largest collection of efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A few months before the 2013 festival, she decided to build her own electric vehicle. The homeschooled Santa Barbara native designed and constructed a solar-powered cart out of a few scraps of wood, old bicycle parts, a 300-watt motor, two 12-volt batteries, and a throttle to control the speed.

Her cart tops off around 15mph, which is perfect for riding around her neighborhood. It has also come in handy for her business delivering food to vendors at the local farmers market who are unable to leave their stands. Last year she brought her solar cart to the festival, displaying it in the Green Car Show, where its innovative design caught the eye of CEC’s Environmental Hero, Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Catalina will be back at the 2014 festival, volunteering, and showing off her homemade solar powered vehicle. To learn more about her other electric vehicle projects, visit her website, or come find her at the festival in the Live Green zone at booth #507.

Motivated by Catalina’s spirit of volunteerism and inventiveness?

Join us! The Community Environmental Council is asking for volunteers for pre-festival setup on Wednesday, April 23, from 11am-5pm and Thursday, April 25, from 11am-7pm. Volunteers are also needed the days of the festival on Saturday, April 26, from 7am-9pm and on Sunday, April 27, from 9am-9pm. Each volunteer shift is a 3-hour commitment.

The festival is a great opportunity for high school students to earn required community service hours necessary for graduating, as well as for corporate volunteer teams from local businesses who want to help make the festival a success. Check out the CEC’s Volunteer page to learn more, or email for more information.

And don’t forget Catalina’s last words of advice. “Bring your sunglasses, sunscreen, and reusable water bottles. And have fun!”

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