The Power of Relentless Optimism

By Martin Bond, CESC Executive Director

On January 20, 2017, President Donald J. Trump took office, while activists here in California organized protests and marches against his administration in which huge crowds participated.

I believe him a remarkably poor fit for the office of president. I am against most of his policies, his lack of empathy, and his hate-filled tirades in speeches and on Twitter. As someone who works with vulnerable communities and encourages clean energy, I find President Trump is in direct contradiction to what I do and talk about every day.  It would be easy to give up and give in to despair and fear. I will not. I have faith in the American people to not give in to an autocrat. I choose to take a positive view; change can be effected by a focused, relentless effort to make an impact towards a better world.

As President Trump said himself, we cannot be all talk and no action. Complaining about his policies to other like-minded friends doesn’t help. Protests, marches, and complaints are important, yet alone they will not effect change in him, or the world. I as an individual, and we as a community, can do more than just talk.

We can act by:

* Leading by example to support the very groups coming under attack: immigrants, Muslims, women, and people of color.  We need to protect those most vulnerable among us, because once it is OK to hurt them, who will be next?

* Continuing to combat climate change through our choices in: transportation, (electric vehicles, bikes, mass transit), purchasing energy (renewable sources, purchasing ‘green energy’ from our utilities), and how we live (buying local, participating in our communities). Climate change is an existential threat to our civilization, and we can still make an impact with the choices we make toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

* Taking control of our attitudes and choices we make every day. We can choose to see the good in our neighbors, the humanity in immigrants escaping violence, and the opportunities in the challenges we are facing today.

* Joining groups and communities of like-minded individuals to effect change in the world.

I need to be strong and not lose myself into despair or apathy. I can make a difference and build a better future. However, I have to act. One by one, first in small groups, then in large, we will build a community to fight for a better world.

I will remember to have gratitude for the good parts of my life, my family, my friends, and this great organization I am fortunate enough to be a part of.

I know these times, this administration, and this president are not permanent. Policies being made right now can be overturned and will not affect us forever. The actions of this president are not normal behavior, and many people are fighting against his recent policies.

I have work to do. We will get through these tough times. We will get through it, together.

Good News for Oakland Home Repair


Community Energy Services Corporation is pleased to announce that the Callison Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation have made new grants in support of CESC’s Oakland Home Repair program for 2017. The Oakland Home Repair Program brings needed home repair services to Oakland seniors. Several individual donors also gave in support of the program in 2017, and the Partnership Foundation, a current funder, also renewed its support.

In Alameda County, 45,000 housing units have moderate to severe physical problems (Alameda County Healthy Homes Department). Many Oakland residents lack the knowledge, strength or resources to make needed repairs or to hire a contractor to do the work, especially seniors on fixed incomes who may additionally be wary of strangers coming to their homes.  According to the Alameda County Community Development Agency, “As the number of seniors living in substandard conditions continues to climb in the City of Oakland it is imperative that we address the need for seniors to age in place.” Maricela Foster, Director of the agency, calls CESC’s Oakland Home Repair program an “exceedingly needed service.”

Oakland Construction Tech Jesús Ávila prepares for a kitchen repair

Served by a skilled and seasoned home repair team, the program made health and safety repairs for 17 senior households in 2015 and 12 in 2016 for a total of several hundred individual repairs. Repairs can include most types of plumbing, electrical and carpentry repairs, furnace and minor roof repairs, and the installation of safety features such as grab bars, handrails, and ramps.

“Oakland Home Repair is one of my favorite programs because I love to see seniors in my neighborhood getting the help they need for the home that they have worked so hard for,” says Program Assistant Jennifer Robles. Are you an Oakland senior who needs help with repairs? Contact Jennifer today to find out how to enroll in the Oakland Home Repair program.


Going Green in West Oakland

If you’re serious about trying to lessen the impact of your own actions on the environment, you may have looked into the environmental practices of the businesses in your community before choosing a shop or vendor. Or perhaps you are concerned about how pollutants generated by local businesses may harm you, your children, or others in your community. For people who live or work in West Oakland, with air pollution many times higher than in the rest of Alameda County, encouraging businesses to take up more sustainable practices is paramount. Yet even if small businesses in that neighborhood want to make needed changes, they may lack the resources to do so.

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. EPA Region 9, Community Energy Services (CESC) partnered with the Alameda County Green Business Program and the California Air Resources Board in 2016 to create Green West Oakland. Part of the Bay Area Green Business Program, which not only verifies that businesses meet higher standards of environmental performance and offers public certification that consumers and neighbors can trust, Green West Oakland also provides support to local businesses to help them comply with environmental regulations and take actions to conserve resources, prevent pollution, and minimize waste. The goal of Green West Oakland has been to increase Green Business Program participation and awareness in the underserved West Oakland business community.

CESC recently attended a celebration and press event in honor of Green West Oakland’s work (held at Mandela Foods Cooperative, one of the newly certified businesses). The event showcased business leaders who participated in the program, EPA administrators involved in the grantmaking, leaders from the organizations involved (including CESC’s Martin Bond), and others involved in the project. Check out our great video about the event!

With support from Green West Oakland, twelve businesses have begun the certification process through the Green Business Program, and dozens more have become aware of opportunities to improve their business practices. Congratulations to the twelve businesses in West Oakland that are in the process of becoming certified as Green Businesses!


Brown Sugar Kitchen
Sandy Walker/Ellen Webb Dance Foundation
La Bonne Cuisine (recertification)
OMSS Truck Scales & Mini Mart
Zella’s Soulful Kitchen
West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
Craig Communications
Every Dog Has Its Day Care
Mandela Foods Cooperative
Starline Supply Company
Pipe Spy



The Green Business Program tracked the environmental impacts of the Green West Oakland Project, and it has made a difference!

Are you interested in greening your business or helping a local business to do so? Although the Green West Oakland project has been completed, the Alameda County Green Business Program still offers technical assistance and incentives to many types of businesses towards Green Business certification. CESC also helps small and medium-sized businesses with energy-efficiency upgrades including lighting, refrigeration and referrals to HVAC programs. Contact us now.

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