How Cool is That?

Neighbors Unite for Climate Change Action with Cool Petaluma

An interview with Natasha Juliana, cofounder and campaign director of Cool Petaluma

Natasha Juliana
Photo by Lorena Fernandez-Fernandez

Made Local: What is Cool Petaluma?

Natasha Juliana: Cool Petaluma is a grassroots nonprofit that inspires local climate action through community building. By bringing people together, we create the connections and team spirit needed to address the complex environmental issues that face us today and help protect the future for the next generation. Plus, it’s a lot more fun that way!

ML: How was the idea sparked, and how did you bring it into reality?

NJ: This idea was sparked by the Cool City Challenge in the fall of 2021. This competition invited California cities to step up and prove widespread community participation. Three cities won the challenge—Los Angeles, Irvine, and Petaluma!

ML: What is the Team Leader Program?

NJ: We know that climate change and social division are threatening to drastically and irrevocably damage life on Earth. Most people want to help, but have no idea where to start. Our Team Leader Program trains volunteers to organize their friends or neighbors to work together, building social bonds while lowering their carbon footprint. Cool Petaluma has trained over 200 leaders to go out and create their own teams across the city.

Cool Block Team campfire meeting.
Photo by Inga Vesik

ML: Tell us about the Cool Teams program.

NJ: A Team Leader creates their Cool Team and facilitates a series of events that help everyone understand both the problems and the solutions to our current climate crisis. Our program offers a step-by-step process that provides information, resources, and inspiration to take action through our five topic areas:

   1.   Prepare for Emergencies

   2.   Rethink Consumption

   3.   Transform Transportation

   4.   Improve Buildings

   5.   Restore Nature

Individual action done privately might not move the needle, but individual actions done collectively and publicly create the culture shift we need. The peer-to-peer influence these teams generate redefines what “normal” is for our community—from learning to mend clothes to swapping out our car for a cargo bike.

ML: How is Cool Petaluma different from other organizations?

NJ: Cool Petaluma is rare in that it directly empowers residents to make meaningful improvements in their lives and in their neighborhoods across all major sectors of their environmental footprint. We take complicated ideas and break them down into simple, easy-to-understand parts so that everyone can find their agency and become part of the solution.

ML: What events are coming up in May-June?

NJ: Our third annual Local Resource Expo 2024 is on Tuesday, May 21 from 5–8 PM at the Petaluma Fairgrounds. This free event brings you face to face with the amazing local resources our community has to offer as we work to become more resilient and planet friendly. Our next Swag Stamping Party will be on Saturday, June 1, from 11 AM–1 PM at Jupiter Foods. We make upcycled merchandise by stamping our logo on your existing clothes, backpacks, dishtowels, scarves—you name it! Or pick up a pre-made piece created from a thrift store find.

Team Leader Lisamarie Eldredge
Photo by Natasha Juliana

ML: How can someone get involved?

NJ: To get involved, go to our website at First, sign up for our inspiring and informative weekly newsletter. Then, you’ll be in the loop for all the fun and effective ways to participate.

ML: What do you want locals to know about Cool Petaluma?

NJ: We are a fun and welcoming group that strives to make local climate action accessible to as many people as possible. Please join us! We love to hear from other communities who want to start something like this in their town and are working to create a replicable model so others can take this idea of team-based local climate action and run with it!

Upcoming Event

Resource Expo, Tuesday, May 21, 5-8pm Petaluma Fairgrounds

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