SGA After 20 Years: Where We Are Now

There’s an old saying: Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

SGA was started on the premise to do good, to make communities better, and to protect the environment. Pretty ambitious—right?  Through sheer determination and persistence, we have turned that ambition into action.

Over the past 20 years, SGA has been selective about the projects we pursue. We choose projects that align with our core principles. While this might limit our workload, we’re OK with that. In fact, we’re more than OK with it. We work on projects that make a difference. When clients hire us, they know they are getting a team whose commitment to the project is almost as ingrained as their own.

So what’s the state of SGA now? We are still committed to environmental projects such as stormwater pollution prevention, recycling, and waste reduction. However, we have broadened our environmental projects to now include sustainability issues, green infrastructure,  green building, and food waste.

Since one of our core principles revolves around the betterment of communities, we have applied our public engagement and community awareness experience towards public health, capital improvement, transportation, social responsibility, and children and family projects.

We are proud that we have been able and continue to diversify our projects to help the communities we live in. Our ability to stay true to our core principles have allowed us to find allies who share our commitments. It’s nice to know that we are not alone.

Together, our clients and SGA are making a difference. This difference is the reason why we do what we do. It’s not always easy (actually—it’s never easy) but it’s rewarding. For us, growth is measured by impact and change.  While this metric might sound lofty, it has sustained us for twenty years and will continue to do so for another twenty.

How Does SGA Love the Ocean? Let Us Count the Waves!

When it comes to promoting environmental awareness, it turns out, we are not oceans apart. On May 25th, SGA, in conjunction with LA City Sanitation, helped prepare and organize the 24th annual Kids Ocean Day Adopt-A-Beach Clean Up at Dockweiler State Beach. The theme for this year’s beach clean up was “Come Together for the Ocean” and that’s what 4,000 Los Angeles students, teachers, and volunteers did.

So was it worth the weeks of preparation and planning, the exhausting day of organizing kids, teachers and volunteers, and the day-long promotion on social and traditional media?  The answer is unequivocally YES!

“I love participating in Kids Ocean Day. Seeing the smiles on the kids when they first get out of the bus really makes it all worthwhile. Those smiles remind me why we do what we do: to protect our environment and create a better place for generations to come,” Carolina Gonzalez, SGA Project Manager.

It was an incredible feat, but in the end, teaching school kids about the adverse impacts of pollution to the oceans and watersheds made it all worth it.  Students apply what they have learned in the classroom by using the beach clean up as a powerful and actionable step towards a healthier environment. The collected trash reduces the amount of non-biodegradable materials entering the oceans.

“Kids Ocean Day is one of my favorite events all year. After studying about ocean and water pollution in school, these kids get to take action about it, while seeing others join together to do it too. For some of these kids, it’s their first time at the beach. It’s great when kids get to see that what they’re learning in the classroom is relevant to the world outside of their school grounds and that they can make a positive change by taking an action as simple as picking up a piece of trash,” Angie Lee, Senior Outreach Specialist.

Education is an essential part of environmental stewardship. In an era where more and more children are disconnected from the environment, it is important to make a real investment in hands-on environmental education and outdoor learning. Studies have shown that environmental education engages students in learning, raising test scores, and encouraging youth to pursue careers in environmental and natural resources. This event gives us the opportunity to  communicate the importance of responsible environmental governance to those who will be doing the governing long into the future.

The Psychology of Wine Tasting

At their annual conference in Princeton, New Jersey, the American Association of Wine Economists, reenacted a famous wine tasting from 1976. The study was comprised of a blind tasting of the best wines from France versus the relatively unknown but burgeoning wines from Napa Valley. The results back in ‘76, showed the Napa wines famously standing toe to toe with the very best wines from France and in many cases even beating them. This result catapulted Napa onto the oenophiles map as a preeminent region for wines.

Well, at their recent conference they decided to reenact that now famous (at least for Wine Economists) event, however, this time with a twist. This time the wine tasting panel tested the best wines from France versus America’s finest wines from the great vineyards of …New Jersey. On hand were some of the best wine judges from France, Belgium and the US to help with this unexpected tasting. Lo and behold, some of the New Jersey wines ranked second, third and fourth in the whites and third and fifth in the reds…all the while coming in at 5% the cost of their French counterparts (that would be 5% the cost, as in 1/20 the price of French wines)

So why do French wines cost 20 times what their comparable New Jersey counterparts do? Because they’re French, and general society says that French wine is the best. This is our tendency to superimpose our narrative story of the world into our sensory perception. And in honor of this quirk of our mental circuitry and in the spirit of this great research project, SGA annually conducts its own blind wine tasting. Continue reading “The Psychology of Wine Tasting”