How We Got Started

CSMC began as discussions among a small group of 8 people concerned about the impacts of the unsustainable use of fossil fuels. That initial concern broadened to include the related dangers posed by climate change and the decline of our natural resources. 


Those discussions led to a desire to share information about these issues and to promote change. That took the form of publishing a newsletter and organizing groups in various communities sharing the goals of raising community consciousness and promoting projects designed to make our communities more sustainable with respect to food, energy, water, transportation, etc. Currently, there are eight local action groups: 


Sustainable Pacific Grove – Spring 2006 
Sustainable Monterey (formerly Monterey Green Action) – Winter 2007 
Sustainable Seaside – Spring 2008 

Sustainable Salinas – Winter 2008 

Citizens for Sustainable Marina (C4SM) – Spring 2009 

Big Sur Advocates for a Green Environment –B-SAGE (Formerly Big Sur Powerdown) – Winter 2010 
Sustainable Carmel – Winter 2011 

Sustainable Del Rey Oaks – Summer 2019 


CSMC became a non-profit corporation in 2007. The originating group, now with some different members, became a Board of Directors and began to take its current form as an administrative “umbrella” for Local Action Groups (LAGs) working toward the goal of sustainability in their own communities. CSMC’s non-profit status permits the Local Action Groups to accept tax-deductible donations for their own projects, to apply for grants and to make use of public meeting spaces. A major part of CSMC’s role has become the coordination of activities that cross community lines, such as regional environmental initiatives. That has been aided by CSMC’s website, and its Facebook and Instagram presence.  


The Board of Directors ideally includes at least one representative from each Local Action Group. The Board meets quarterly, with frequent electronic communication between Board meetings. An Advisory committee composed of the five Board Officers and our historian, Robert Frischmuth, handles the day-to-day operations. The Agenda and Minutes of the meetings taking place between the quarterly Board meetings are shared with Board Members and LAG leaders to encourage awareness of and input to the items under discussion.  Other committees are formed as needed.  


In addition to the work of the Local Action Groups, CSMC has also supported County-wide campaigns on issues affecting our communities at large, Measure Z (fracking ban in Monterey County), Fort Ord Monterey Downs development project, Monterey Bay Community Power, to name the most recent ones. 


Remembering Denyse

Denyse Frischmuth, a past president and founding member of CSMC and SPGdied in July 2020. Her keen, lively mind and boundless energy epitomized her many involvements in environmental causes in Monterey County. These causes included organizational leadership in programs for curbside recycling, solar panels on new commercial buildings, and a workplace carpooling program. In one of her last campaigns before her untimely death, Denyse, with SPG, spearheaded the effort to eliminate single-use plastics in Pacific Grove.

Denyse’s passion, perseverance and positive outlook inspired countless others to follow her lead as an environmental steward. In recognition of her tireless work, she was awarded the honor of 2007 Woman of the Year by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

Not surprisingly, Denyse developed mutually respectful relationships with city planners and council members.  Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake remembers Denyse as “such a friendly, thoughtful person, but perhaps most striking was her dedication to the community and her drive to help us move in a direction that will benefit the environment for future generations. She was in all things considerate and caring.  I know her legacy will stand for a long time.”

You can help continue Denyse’s life work by making a memorial gift.

Mail a check payable to “Community Foundation for Monterey County” with “Communities for Sustainable Monterey County Endowment Fund (or CSMC Fund)” in the memo line to: Community Foundation for Monterey County, 2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940. Or, to make the gift on-line to the CSMC Fund, click here

To make a gift of stock or other assets. Contact Christine Dawson, CFMC Vice President Philanthropic Services at 831.375.9712 x126 to learn more.