Playhouse Arts/CUNA gets $100K grant for ‘resilience hub’ at new Valley West Community Center

VALLEY WEST – A whopping $100,000 in PG&E grant funding has landed in Valley West’s lap for creation of a “resilience hub” to help residents make it through emergency events.

The grant to Playhouse Arts/CUNA (Communidad Unida del Norte de Arcata/Community United of North Arcata) will fund an emergency facility inside the new Valley West Community Center now being installed at the Woodsman Hall at 4700 Valley East Blvd.

The news has tireless Valley West advocate, CUNA coordinator and City Councilmember Kimberley White “over the moon” for seeing her grantwriting efforts of last June bear fruit.

Kimberley White

“A resilience hub in Valley West has been a long time coming,” White told PG&E. “Throughout the execution of our resilience hub feasibility study, we heard repeatedly in our empathy interviews with Valley West residents that there was a tremendous lack of resources in North Arcata. CUNA is thrilled to be a recipient of PG&E’s $100,000 Resilience Hubs Grant and we are extremely excited to develop and operate this community-based resilience hub, for the betterment of the Valley West/North Arcata community.”PG&E’s Resilience Hubs Grants Program funds projects intended to “provide a physical space or set of resources that supports community resilience — such as access to power, shelter and information — to climate-driven extreme weather events, including wildfires, as well as future Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.”

The resilience hub within the Community Center will offer emergency resources such as solar backup power, filtered air, coordinated communication, plus food and water distribution. PG&E says the facility could help residents weather coastal and inland flooding, heat waves, wildfires and more powerful storms, plus “slow onset stresses” like sea level rise and rising average temperatures.

Once established, the hub can be used year-round “to build and sustain community adaptive capacity in a trusted location,” PG&E says.

White said multiple programs are in development for the greater Community Center, including a culinary program called “What’s Cooking?” It will offer monthly community meals headed up by local culinary experts using local produce along with teaching folks how to cook using commodities, nutrition, how to shop on a budget and more. Each month will have a different theme or focus.

“We are also hoping to collaborate with UC Davis Center for Cooperatives Master Food Preservers to teach food preservation techniques, food safety and emergency preparedness,” White said. A reach-in refrigerator and freezer are also planned for installation.

Hours of operation and staffing for the new Community Center are as yet unknown.White cautioned that the facility isn’t being planned for use as an Extreme Weather Shelter.

A separate Arcata Police Department substation with its own entrance will also be housed at the hall.
White said the grant win has given her confidence to apply for more funding, which will be needed to build and sustain programs for the long haul.

Drawn from a $900,000 pool of funds distributed among nine organizations in Northern California for local climate resilience efforts, the highly competitive grant won by Playhouse Arts/CUNA is one of just three design/build projects funded by the utility in California.

The three $100,000 design and build project awardees were CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), Mariposa County and Playhouse Arts/CUNA.

The PG&E program also awarded $25,000 each to four feasibility projects for assessment of resilience hub needs and/or conceptual ideas for a resilience hub. Those grant recipients were the African American Network of Kern County, California State Parks Foundation, the City of Oakland and the Willow Creek Youth Partnership DBA Dream Quest.
Willow Creek Dream Quest provides area youth with healthy, vocational, educational and creative opportunities while building community strength and sustainability through a variety of programs.

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