Sustainable Danville Area (“SDA”) has promoted the benefits of shopping locally, recycling, reducing, and re-purposing since its inception on Earth Day in 2010. SDA came about from three like-minded individuals who wanted to make a difference in their community. “It was actually three women, myself included, that just really care about our community and care about keeping it thriving in good condition for our children and our children’s children,” says Darlene Gayler of Gayler Construction. “We just want to make it so that everybody has a healthy quality of life, that there’s a strong local economy, and we keep the environment as pristine as it is now.”
Before co-founding SDA, Gayler didn’t have a whole lot of sustainability experience. “I don’t know why all of a sudden this just resonated with me,” she says. Her day job is in the construction industry with her husband as Vice President for Gayler Construction. “We are sustainable, green builders and have been for probably close to 10 years now.” Since the business is already green, what she’s learned with SDA has had an impact on how she operates her home and office.
SDA really came about because of the efforts of a neighboring town. “Lafayette had got this going and I just really liked what they were doing for their community,” Gayler says. “I wished we had one for the Danville/Alamo area. It just so happened that I connected with two other women who were thinking along the same lines and we started this organization.”
In just two years of operation, the Sustainable Danville Area has already made a significant impact on the community. “We have accomplished so much, it’s just been amazing,” says Gayler. “Through SDA we’ve done school programs and biking programs, landscaping programs, right now we’re working with the town to implement downtown bike parking to really increase the numbers, getting people out of the cars and onto bikes.”
About a year ago San Ramon Valley High School mentioned they wanted to do a Bike To School Day, but had no means of being able to cater to a high volume of bike parking on the school grounds. “We approached the East Bay Bike Coalition and asked if there was a way we could get their portable bike racks,” Gayler says. “We worked it out, we drove to Berkeley, picked them up and assembled them the night before. With two days notice I think there were almost 200 bicyclists that came to school that day. It was just amazing.”
As SDA benefits the community, the community gives back to them as well. Gayler mentions one particular individual, Jonathan Adams, who recently helped SDA in finishing a build of portable bike racks for the downtown high school and big downtown events, like the 4th of July parade and arts and crafts fairs. Adams did this as part of an Eagle Scout project. Gayler hopes to award him for his efforts at the Spring Fling/Green Home Expo.
“We’re doing a lot of different things,” Gayler says. “We partnered with a high school student for a Just Say Water program to get some of the local restaurants to only serve water when water was requested. We’re working with a bunch of different schools, helping to organize programs and events to get their schools greener and into recycling.” One of the biggest impacts SDA has had was when they started the Danville Area Sustainable Business program. “We’re trying to help local businesses who practice sustainable efforts,” says Gayler. “We promote them to the community so that those people, where sustainability matters, know what companies to support.” From the get go this program was a grand success. “Our first year alone we had 40 businesses sign up. We were pretty jazzed by that.”
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Article & Photo: Courtesy of Local Happenings Magazine