top of page
Russian_River_Banner.jpg

Our Current Efforts

Over the years, the Russian River Alliance has been leading the way in working with and for our community, whether it has been addressing local issues of concern such as: promoting equality, improving air quality, beautification efforts, economic development, support for our businesses, bringing back traditions such as the parade of lights; to our Workforce Fund, we are a dedicated group of volunteers.

Holiday meal delivery

01

The Workforce Fund

The Workforce Fund was started at the beginning of 2018, in response to a pervasive homeless problem in the lower Russian River area.  In our lifetime, we have witnessed a larger and larger divide between rich and poor, and an explosion in homelessness. Nobody really seems to have a solution for that. Think global and act local though, right? We decided maybe we can do something about that in our small community.

Our resort area has a lot of service and hospitality industry workers. These workers are critical in serving our guests, and they work really hard. They are contributing members of our community year-round, and they are trying to make their own way. The problem is, their jobs don't pay a living wage, they are very seasonal, and the cost of housing has exploded and has become completely unaffordable for them.  Vacation rentals have also taken away a lot of our year-round housing stock. We need these folks, and they deserve to have a roof over their head. We don't want them to give up and become our future chronically homeless population. So, we started the Workforce Fund to help local working people with emergency rent to prevent homelessness. As it turns out, it is so much more affordable to prevent homelessness in the first place than to try and deal with it after the fact, and it is also morally just the right thing to do. The program has been an absolute success story.

These events were devastating for our small businesses and their employees. Our workers in many cases lost their homes, all their belongings, and their jobs from the flood - just like that with no notice, in the middle of the off-season when they were already likely struggling financially. Then again with the Kincaid Fire. Then came the worst of all of the disasters, the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Workforce Fund has had to pivot and do more disaster relief than anything over the last year, helping the same working people for the same purpose. We are boots on the ground helping with immediate needs in real time. We cannot do this without your support, and we really appreciate each and every donor that makes our work possible. So do the local workers you are ultimately helping to be able to keep working, contributing, and making their own way. They greatly appreciate your help. We truly believe prevention is the best solution to the homeless crisis.

To date, we have raised directly over $500,000 with over 99% of the funds going directly to those we help.

 

We also participated in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program where we were awarded over $800,000 where we focused our efforts specifically in our Lower Russian River area, with outreach to our local workforce to apply for six months of rental assistance.

02

Free Public Wi-Fi

In February 2022, the Russian River Alliance was awarded a grant to bring free public Wi-Fi to downtown Guerneville in Sonoma County, a disadvantaged rural community. A few months later in June of 2022, a robust network was deployed with 11 Cisco Meraki Access points that provides robust coverage to the town of 4774 population. From this success, Equitable Access California was created to address bringing free pubic Wi-Fi to the broader rural communities of Sonoma County Because rural and disadvantaged areas do not have enough income or population to attract large corporate broadband providers, our area is left with minimal, if any connectivity. During the past 5 years, the town of Guerneville has suffered through floods, fires, and a pandemic where the ability to operate online for education and disaster preparedness has been more critical than ever.

During the Walbridge and LNU fires of 2020 and 2021 all communications were down, meaning that fire fighters couldn’t reach each other, evacuation information could not get out, and pockets of residents were left without any way to know what danger was coming or how to respond.  During the pandemic education took place online, yet whole communities are unable to get cell, wifi or broadband connectivity.The challenges that Guerneville faces are very similar to pretty much every rural community in California. From our success with Guerneville, we have created a model that can be duplicated across all of rural California.
 

Coffee Bazaar
Climate Protest

03

UNFCC Observer Status

The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 198 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention. Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC.

Our small grass-roots non-profit, the Russian River Alliance was admitted as an observer organization to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Aside from being able to formally send delegates to all future Conference of the Parties (COP), there are a host of other climate conferences and events we can also participate in.

Each year, a different UN country hosts the conference.

There are several significant benefits to being admitted as an observer organization to the UNFCC.

Increased influence and visibility:

  • Access to high-level decision-making: Observer organizations can attend and participate in UNFCC meetings and conferences, including the crucial Conference of the Parties (COP) sessions. This provides a platform to share expertise, advocate for specific positions, and influence climate change policies.

  • Networking and collaboration: The UNFCC offers invaluable opportunities to connect with other NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, governments, and stakeholders with shared interests. This can lead to collaboration on projects, joint advocacy efforts, and broader impact.

  • Enhanced credibility and recognition: Admission to the UNFCC demonstrates an organization's commitment to addressing climate change and grants it access to official UN documents and resources. This can enhance its credibility and reputation within the field.

Information and knowledge exchange:

  • Early access to cutting-edge research and policy decisions: Observer organizations receive updates on the latest climate science, negotiations, and agreements. This valuable information can inform their own work and advocacy efforts.

  • Sharing expertise and best practices: Organizations can contribute their own knowledge and expertise to UNFCC discussions and working groups, enriching the overall understanding of climate change issues and potential solutions.

  • Learning from diverse perspectives: The UNFCC provides a platform for dialogue and exchange of diverse perspectives on climate change. Observer organizations can benefit from this exchange by identifying innovative approaches and broadening their understanding of the challenges and opportunities.

Other benefits:

  • Capacity building and training: The UNFCC Secretariat offers workshops and training programs on various aspects of climate change policy and negotiation. This can help observer organizations build their capacity and effectiveness in engaging with the UNFCCC process.

  • Fundraising and grant opportunities: Being an accredited observer organization can make it easier to secure funding and grants from donors and foundations interested in supporting climate action.

  • Legitimization and validation: Observer status provides a seal of approval for an organization's work on climate change, potentially attracting new partners and supporters.

04

Governance Study

In early 2022, working closely with Supervisor Hopkins office on how to address the critical lack of services and public safety, the Lower Russian River governance study was commissioned by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors with proposals being received in July of 2022.

The Request For Proposal (RFP) that was issued stated that the overall goal of the project “is to improve the delivery of government services in the lower Russian River. The consultant team will conduct a baseline analysis of current services, engage the community to identify alternatives, and develop a community supported strategic plan for local governance solutions. Examples of expenses that may be analyzed in the governance study include expenses associated with law enforcement, fire and EMS, infrastructure, parks and recreation, maintenance, finance and administration. Examples of revenue that may be considered in the study include sales tax, property tax, transportation occupancy tax, and other fees for services. Anticipated solution proposals may include establishing satellite County offices, expansion or consolidation of local service districts, and possible municipal incorporation for some or all of the region. This study will also determine boundaries for the service area(s) based on needs, historic and current boundaries, local management capacity, and funding sources.”

On October 30, 2023, a draft report of the long anticipated Lower Russian River governance study was published on the Sonoma County website after a year and a half, and only two of the three planned community workshops.

Laws and regulations
Parade of Lights

05

Parade of Lights

While the Russian River Alliance is focused on very critical issues, the ability to celebrate our community is as equally as important. To this end, we have been working hard at resurrecting some of our traditions that were lost to COVID-19. One of these being the Guerneville Parade of Lights which happens on the first Saturday of December.

06

Past Accomplishments

While the disasters that have befallen the lower Russian River has brought the focus on the our Work Force Fund, as an unincorporated area, the Russian River Alliance does so much more as it serves to address local issues of concern such as promoting equality, improving air quality, blight remediation, beautification efforts, vagrancy, drug and crime issues, economic development, support for our businesses, programs for community residents, and road and other infrastructure improvements. We believe in strengthening our neighborhoods and commercial corridors, while providing a welcoming environment for all.  

Equality.png
bottom of page