At the ribbon cutting of CEC's Environmental Hub, from left, City Council Members Oscar Gutierrez and Kristen Sneddon, CEC CEO Sigrid Wright, CEC Boardmember Laura Francis, Mayor Randy Rowse, CEC Board President Barbara S. Lindemann, and Mary Lynn Harms-Romo of the Chamber of Commerce. | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

The grand opening of the Community Environmental Council’s (CEC) new Environmental Hub on State Street was standing-room only on Thursday night. Mayor Randy Rowse joked he hadn’t seen so many people in one place since Chubby Checker was in town. 

CEC CEO Sigrid Wright | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Attendees did have to do The Twist to navigate the space, which was overflowing with excited community members, CEC staff, board members, and supporters. 

A celebratory air permeated in every corner of the building, which has the CEC’s history written along its walls, the Hub itself marking a new chapter in the nonprofit’s story. Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez thanked the CEC on behalf of his generation and future generations for bringing together climate activism, art, education, and leadership in the heart of the community. 

He and other city leaders were among the huge crowd that toured the nearly-completed space in the city’s downtown ARTS district.  

People flowed between the various conference rooms and offices laced throughout the two-story, open space, grabbing climate-friendly appetizers and refreshments along the way. Some got comfortable at the rentable hot-desks and lounging areas, while others chatted and admired the Hub’s earthy tones and charming style. 

Decorating any empty space on walls and tables were sepia-toned photos of monarch butterflies, accompanied by pamphlets informing visitors of their dwindling numbers in California, regional revival efforts, and what locals can do to help. Artist Elizabeth Weber explained that her photos are meant to convey the butterflies’ spirit and our spirit in nature, with the coloring of the photos creating a link between grief and hope. 

Many of the Hub’s rooms, including the media lab, had “Coming Soon!” or “For Lease” signs pasted on their glass walls, just waiting to be used by any activists in need of a place to work. Anyone who leases a room in the Hub will join other environmental and social justice organizations, including White Buffalo Land Trust and Human Rights Watch. 

Before long, attendees had wrapped up their tours and packed closely together in the Hub’s atrium for the inaugural ribbon-cutting.

In the center of the room, next to the flourishing ficus tree, CEC CEO Sigrid Wright was joined by Mayor Rowse to cut the ceremonial ribbon using  the classic, comically large scissors labeled “City of Santa Barbara.”

Wright thanked the CEC’s supporters and those who helped make the Hub a reality, saying that tackling climate change needs to be an “all-in” effort. Activism requires space for solutions to sprout, which the newly opened Environmental Hub is undoubtedly equipped to provide.


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