By Sam Waterstone, Santa Barbara Foundation:
When the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, environmentalists around the country were disappointed and frustrated. Nevertheless, green-thinking individuals like Santa Barbara’s Seth Streeter believed that the decision could serve as a catalyst for a new wave of collective sustainable action.
This influenced Streeter to organize his own environmental group focused on promoting sustainable practices and encouraging collaboration throughout the entire Santa Barbara community. Streeter is CEO of Mission Wealth, a Social Venture Partner, and the founding leader of the successful Fast Pitch SB venture-pitch program that provided communication training to 40 nonprofit organizations and hundreds of individuals in 2014 and 2015. He also sits on the Advisory Council for the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, and is deeply invested in the well-being of the county and its residents.
“I knew we couldn’t count on the government to solve climate change. It’s up to us as citizens, and this realization could be our rallying cry,” Streeter explained. “There are over 50 environmental nonprofits here in Santa Barbara and they’re all doing great things – but they’re all competing for shelf space for their programs, for dollars, for volunteers. So I thought, how do we create a way to unify these organizations behind one common cause?” With his unique background in finance, venture capitalism, philanthropy and environmentalism, Streeter formed SustainSB, an environmental sustainability project aimed at unifying local organizations, institutions, and community leaders.
In 2017, Streeter brought together a group of 100 Santa Barbara County environmentalists and community leaders throughout the year to brainstorm a better way to organize community environmental efforts. This group of stakeholders participated in a “design sprint” (held at the Santa Barbara Foundation) that resulted in identifying 24 key performance indicators, unique to Santa Barbara County, across six broad categories: Food, Energy, Waste/Consumption, Transportation, Water and Land/Built Environment. They decided to team up with WeSpire, a technology platform that would allow them to build a mobile application for engaging the community in environmental campaigns.
Following the Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito mudslides in 2018, Streeter and his team rebranded as Sustainable Future and grew to include community resiliency and personal well-being campaigns, with a scope that could eventually extend beyond Santa Barbara to other cities and counties in California.