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On Deadline: A big transition coming in the long urgency of local environmental activism

Original post made on Apr 12, 2013

The impending retirement of Michael Closson after a decade leading the Palo Alto-based environmental organization Acterra marks the beginning of a search for a replacement.

This story contains 48 words.

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Comments (2)

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Posted by Peter Drekmeier
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 5:41 am

Many thanks to Jay Thorwaldson for sharing his historical knowledge of the local environmental movement. It should be noted that Jay played a key role in saving Bair Island in the Redwood City baylands.

I'd like to add that the recent opening of the Devil's Slide Tunnels was a huge environmental victory, putting an end to the 50-year debate over how to address the recurring closures of Highway 1 on the San Mateo Coast. Environmentalists, such as Ollie Mayer from Woodside and Lennie Roberts from Portola Valley, fought for decades to stop a freeway bypass over Montara Mountain that would have opened the coast to massive development. At one time, a four-lane freeway was planned along the coast from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo.

People can view a video about the Devil's Slide Tunnel victory at Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Bob Wenzlau
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.

While I laud this names mentioned above, this concept of environmentalism is antiquated and narrow.

This narrow view is a form of environmental illiteracy. Inadvertently one might celebrate preserving a local habitat, while at the same time one's consumption decimates an unseen habitat perhaps larger than the local habitat one fought to protect. The goal posts for environmentalism have changed, and become more complex to cross.

I would augment the editorial's history to track those who have worked to manage the urban impact - eliminating toxics, reducing energy use, water use, and waste. I laud those who found that environmentalism is not measured by what does not go down the drain or in the trash can, but what is avoided by considerate purchases. I can't celebrate protecting a marsh when we fill a canyon 60 miles away with the same trash.

Let's add to our local environmental history individuals like Gil Masters and Jim Leckie (Stanford Profs) that showed the way for early models of solar energy and conservation. Add other representative pioneers like Connie Smyser (then) and Phil Bobel (now) that take on the impact our city's environmental impact. Let's remember John Jevons through Common Ground teaching urban agriculture. And of course lets add those like Walt Hayes who have had the skill of tying this altogether. This environmentalism began symbolically at Earth Day, and carries forward as a compliment to the "preservationist" style of environmentalism.

I know that Michael saw both sides of these "environments" and sought to build the synergies between the two. I would have hoped the editorial to alude to this other facet of environmentalism.

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