Diane Bailey, Executive Director of Menlo Spark, talks about the new non-profit’s mission

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on May 13, 2015

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There’s a new non-profit in town, Menlo Spark, with an ambitious goal — to make the City of Menlo Park climate neutral (zero carbon) by 2025.

“The city already has a climate action plan that calls for a 27% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2020. This is a good foundation to start with, but we will be pressing for much more,” said the organization’s Executive Director Diane Bailey.

Menlo Sparks was co-founded by current and past Environmental Quality Commission members Chris DeCardy and Mitch Slomiak in Feburary. Seed money was provided by the Flora Family Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation.  The community is invited to an official launch event tonight (May 13) from 7:30 to 9:30 pm at Kepler’s.

Diane said she’s been an environmental advocate since an awakening as a young adult when she realized that the beautiful upstate New York town she was from doubled as a Superfund site.

“The awareness that my childhood surroundings were incredibly toxic prompted me to go into engineering,” she said. “I wanted to develop the technical skills to clean up instead of covering up.” (She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington University and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Rice University.)

Diane views Menlo Park as a near perfect locale for marshaling environmental resources. “Between Stanford and the many people involved in tech as well as activism, there’s a great brain trust of creativity and innovation,” she said. “If we can establish leadership and demonstrate a pathway to dealing with climate change, to get greenhouse emissions eventually to zero, it will save businesses money and make the community thrive.”

At the event at Kepler’s tonight, there will be presentations by the two co-founders as well remarks from Mayor Catherine Carlton and Diane, who says the main thrust of the evening is to come together and meet and learn from your neighbors. “Our advisory board is composed of leaders from civic, business and non-profit sectors,” she said. “We believe we’ve put the foundation in place to weave the threads together to achieve climate neutrality. Our hope is that other cities the size of Menlo Park will be empowered to follow suit.”

Photo by Irene Searles

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