Doing the right thing can have tangible rewards. And in the case of the valley's air pollution, doing the right thing can put a new hybrid automobile in your garage.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is rolling out the most sweeping initiative in its history,
Healthy Air Living. This comprehensive, year-round, multifaceted program involves every sector of the valley's population. It's a new collaboration with residents, businesses and organizations. The goal is simple: Improve the health and quality of life of all valley residents through strategies to clean up our air.
One facet of Healthy Air Living is a weeklong intensive focus on alternatives to the things we do that produce emissions, from July 7 to 13 (hence, the opportunity to win the aforementioned vehicle). More details on Healthy Air Living Week will be forthcoming this spring.
You might be asking, why Healthy Air Living? Why now?
The valley's tough air-quality challenges, which are a surprise to no one, present an opportunity for all of us. We can take the valley to a place where our ingenuity, creativity and hard work will be a source of genuine pride. We already are well on our way. Many regions are looking at valley strategies -- including pioneering rulemaking (the unprecedented development-impact rule recently vindicated after a two-year court battle) -- as a model for improving their air.
The goal of Healthy Air Living is to make air quality a real priority in the day-to-day decisions of all individuals and businesses. Much can be accomplished through voluntary measures that help individuals and businesses save money and reduce pollution.
In advancing Healthy Air Living, we need
help from every individual, business and municipality. Businesses already have invested great sums in applying clean-air technologies and will continue to be major partners. The district is conducting intensive, targeted outreach to segments of the community that
previously have not been at the forefront of the air-quality dialogue.
To achieve the success we know is possible, we need to build alliances with new participants, such as faith-based organizations. This natural overlap with good stewardship of the Earth and caring about air quality has exciting potential. The district is looking forward to working with this vibrant and engaging community.
Strategies are being developed with the capabilities and needs of target groups in mind. For example, our outreach to businesses and cities offers a virtual "toolbox" of strategies that ultimately can reduce vehicle miles traveled by individuals: telecommuting, flexible work schedules and on-site employee services such as banking, stamp sales and dry cleaning pickup and delivery.
Individuals can put Healthy Air Living tips to work at home by forgoing aerosols or using an electric lawn mower instead of a gas-powered mower. These familiar strategies were part of the Spare the Air program, which has been absorbed into Healthy Air Living.
To explain Healthy Air Living and solicit more ideas, the air district is hosting three free one-day Healthy Air Living summits:
March 25, Bakersfield, Holiday Inn Select Hotel and Convention Center;
March 26, Fresno, Radisson Hotel and Conference Center;
March 27, Modesto, DoubleTree Hotel.
Registration and more information is available at www.healthyairliving.com.
I invite each valley resident to take a part in strategizing Healthy Air Living and attending a summit. We can make dramatic improvements in our air quality years ahead of schedule. But it requires all of us to embrace this initiative and live a healthy-air life.
Sadredin is the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.