Tag Archives: environment

Zoom with HTO & Expert Panelists on Thursday, June 17 @ 7PM to Hear How the Summerland Oil Wells are Being Capped & Learn What’s Next on the List!

Many HTO fans know about our organization’s work capping the leaking oil wells of Summerland. For decades, oil has been leaking from the wellheads of some of the first offshore oil rigs in the world, over 400 of them right here in Santa Barbara County. The beaches in Summerland were a major source of oil pollution, which, spread as far southeast as Carpinteria and northwest along the coast to Miramar, Hammonds, and East Beach.

Finding the exact locations of these leaks and making the determination that they were indeed old wellheads vs. natural seeps took years of research both above and below the ocean. Good observations, sophisticated technology – from drones and ROV’s to multibeam sonar – and determination, all would need to be deployed to solve the mystery of where the oil plumes were coming from, to arrive at a viable solution to stop the flow of oil into the ocean.

After years of collaboration, Heal the Ocean, former California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, UCSB, InterAct, the California State Lands Commission, and our own Advisory Board Member Harry Rabin (who is greatly responsible for keeping the project on course), have successfully worked together to cap the leaking oil wells off Summerland Beach. 

Join us tonight, Thursday, June 17, 2021, at 7 pm as we come together to tell the story of this victory for the environment at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Zoom event: Detecting and Capping Leaking Oil Wells in Summerland. This Zoom presentation will be led by producer, director, and documentary filmmaker Harry Rabin, the CEO, and founder of On the Wave Productions who worked alongside engineers and divers in the Summerland oil well field. The event will feature panelists who were involved in this environmental success, including:

• Mike Giuliani – Head engineer at InterAct – the contractors working under the California State Lands Commission (SLC);

• Joe Fabel – an attorney for the SLC;

• Hillary Hauser – Executive Director of Heal the Ocean;

• David Valentine, Ph.D. – Founding Director of the Marine Science program in the College of Creative Studies at UCSB & current Professor of Geochemistry and Microbiology at UCSB;

• Hannah-Beth Jackson – Former CA State Senator who authored SB 44 the Coastal Hazards & Legacy Oil & Gas Wells Removal & Remediation Program, which has secured $2 million per year in funding for the Summerland work.

The event is free for all, but registration is required. To register for the Zoom event, please click here. We hope to “see” you all on Thursday, June 17, at 7 p.m. for this interesting discussion.

NOTE: The next well, Ohlsson 805, is scheduled to be capped next month, in July 2021; and Duquesne, a beach well, is scheduled to be capped at the end of the 2021 year, in December – to end the year with a Christmas present for everyone!

Thank you to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and the event sponsor Marie L. Morrisroe!

CEC’s Santa Barbara Earth Day Green Film Festival

Films include Gaviota: The End of Southern California and Better Together

Featured as a part of the Community Environmental Council (CEC) Santa Barbara Virtual Earth Day celebration, the Green Film Festival will share a collection of over a dozen Earth-centered films from around the world during the festival, which is live online at http://sbearthday.org on 4/22, 23 & 24, as well as remaining with recorded content viewable from that site for a month, until 5/21.

The Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 sparked Earth Day, 52 years ago. Community Environmental Council will hold the 51st annual Santa Barbara Earth Day festival virtually this year. Films featured at the CEC Santa Barbara Earth Day Green Film Festival fulfill the mission to advance environmental and social justice, environmental regeneration, climate healing and community resilience. Selections feature local films as well as a collection of short films from around the world. Highlights include:

Gaviota: The End of Southern California

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf7XL4eXV2g

Produced by Tamlorn Chase and Directed by Shaw Leonard, Gaviota: The End of Southern California is a 40-minute film that explores one of the most threatened biodiversity hotspots in the world. In a monumental collaboration of artists, activists, and environmental organizations, this film documents the wildlife that thrives here like no other place in Southern California. Meticulously filmed over the course of five years, the film leads audiences from the ocean floor of the Santa Barbara Channel to the peaks of the jagged Santa Ynez Mountains. This wild journey crosses paths with breaching humpback whales, red-tailed hawks and elusive mountain lions. With nearly 90% of Southern California’s coast lost to development, the preservation of this coastline is the last bastion of hope for wildlife fighting to survive against a world closing in on them.

Better Together 

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/312615053 

The 1969 Union Oil blowout mobilized the Santa Barbara community to fight for the environment, inspiring the creation of many nonprofit organizations, Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency and one of the first interdisciplinary Environmental Studies programs. The legacy of the oil spill continues to inform local citizens, who have come together over the years to protect the air and water, preserve open spaces and for each other, as to when 3,000 volunteers joined the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade to dig mud from homes after the deadly 2018 debris flow. As the world faces a global climate disruption, community resilience is more important than ever, and this one has practice.

“We all feel like we’re part of an ecosystem, that there’s an ecology of our relationships, so that what affects one person, affects us all in some way. We’re tied in an inescapable web of mutuality and interdependence.” — David Pellow, Chair, UCSB Environmental Studies Program

Better Together, narrated by Christopher Lloyd, directed by Isaac Hernandez and produced by Mercury Press International, features the following organizations: 350.org-Santa Barbara; African Women Rising; Chumash Maritime Association; Citizen’s Planning Association of Santa Barbara County; Committees for Land, Air, Water and Species; Community Environmental Council; Direct Relief; Environmental Defense Center; Food & Water Watch; Get Oil Out!; Gaviota Coast Conservancy; Habitat for Humanity of Santa Barbara County; Mission Blue; Montecito Trails Foundation; Pisces Foundation; Santa Barbara Audubon Society, Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade; Santa Barbara Channelkeeper; Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue; Santa Barbara Declaration of Environmental Rights; Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network; SB Strong; Sierra Club Santa Barbara; The Solutions Project; and UCSB Environmental Studies. 

CEC’s Santa Barbara Earth Day Green Film Festival was produced by Mercury Press International.

“Earth Day – Every Day” Opinion Piece

Despite the pandemic, carbon dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere have just climbed to the highest concentration in recorded history – over 421 parts per million. As central coast Californians, we see the consequences of this all around us: including much hotter temperatures, severe fires, rising sea level, and significant droughts. Since 1895, the average temperature in Santa Barbara County has increased by over 4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There has never been a more important time for Earth Day. Earth Day celebrates our life-giving and remarkable environment, while also providing crucial information about threats to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the public lands we enjoy and our climate. One of the most positive aspects of Earth Day is discovering strategies to help address the challenges our planet and our well-being face, in order to do our part to help heal the environment for current and future generations.

One day or one weekend, however, is not enough to tackle what needs to be accomplished to protect our planet and ourselves. The lessons from Earth Day can and must be incorporated into our lives every day as new, sustainable and win-win habits. 

Recognizing this, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) and I worked together to create “Earth Day – Every Day,” which can be accessed on the Santa Barbara Earth Day website: https://sbearthday.org/eded.  In honor of the year 2021, “Earth Day – Every Day” contains 21 informative, win-win, research-based commitments including Slaying Energy Vampires; Earth Conscious Transportation; Lower the Paper Flow; Reuse; and Buh-Bye Food Waste.

Five years ago, as the Sherpa Fire was raging, my husband and I decided to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. The heartbreaking signs of climate change were everywhere – not only in Santa Barbara County, but also throughout our state, our nation and the world. 

In addition to climate change, we also had so many other environmental reasons to take personal action, including reducing our negative impacts on threatened and endangered species, air and water pollution, plastic pollution and water scarcity. Because we could not do everything at once, we made a list, which turned into the 21 positive actions in “Earth Day – Every Day.”

Over the ensuing years, we have implemented at least one recommended action in each of the “Earth Day – Every Day” Commitments described on CEC’s website. In every instance, we have been exceedingly happy with the results. In addition to reducing our carbon and pollution footprints, we have often saved money, and also meaningfully increased our quality of life on numerous levels, including doing a much better job “walking the talk.” There is so much at stake.

What’s more, it has been fun. Really fun. Perfection has never been the goal, just thoughtful reductions implemented over time, with lots of interesting and beneficial discoveries – and a few laughs (we are still not sure we are using beeswax wraps correctly).

There have been abundant highlights associated with our “Earth Day – Every Day” journey. Some of them include: 1) planting oaks and sycamores and watching them grow; 2) buying an electric vehicle, and fueling it with power generated by our 16 beautiful solar panels; 3) discovering and using toilet paper made from recycled products (not old growth trees); 4) installing and using low flow showerheads and shower buckets to conserve water and help water the garden; 5) buying and using silicon cookie sheet liners instead of aluminum foil (they are so much better); 6) canceling unwanted mail (and reducing waste and frustration); 7) finding and using laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent that does not come in a plastic container; 8) finding non-toxic ways to remove pests from the garden (especially using soapy water); 9) figuring out systems to always bring re-usable shopping bags to the store; 10) testifying as a public member at numerous hearings to advance renewable energy in our community (and having the decision makers act!). There are so many more.

What will be your Top 10 list? 

Together, we can help address some of the greatest threats humans have ever faced – climate change, fresh water depletion, plastic pollution and pervasive toxic pollution – one person and one community at a time. Let’s do it. Let’s make every day our Earth Day.

She’s Our Hero

Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, is the recipient of the Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council’s 2021 Environmental Hero Award.

“Her work exemplifies what it means to build the broad, boots-on-the-ground base of activism that we need to go all in together on the climate crisis,” says the CEC executive director Sigrid Wright, who will present the award at the Earth Day Festival in April along with UCSB’s Dehlsen chair of environmental studies David Pellow.

Leonard is also the founder of The Story of Stuff and previously spent two decades working on international sustainability as well as environmental and health issues.

She says California is the “pace car” in the climate race – meaning both state and regional organizations like the CEC have a huge responsibility in moving the world forward.

Leonard joins an esteemed list of heroes including activist Paul Hawken, U.S. Congress members Lois Capps and Salud Carbajal, Titanic film director James Cameron, science educator Bill Nye, actress Daryl Hannah, and Tesla Motors magnate Elon Musk.

Finding a Community of Giving

As philanthropists, it is our view that wealth is both a blessing and a responsibility. We have been most fortunate to be blessed with bounty in our lives and believe that it is our moral obligation to share this bounty by giving. For us, wealth creates a sacred trust to be put to use in helping to repair our world in impactful ways to improve the lives of others and hopefully advance our human condition through our efforts in giving.

Growing up, both of us experienced financial strains and sometimes even hardships. We both know what it means to struggle and so can appreciate the struggles of others. We say “there but for the grace of God go I.” 

We established our Zegar Family Foundation thirteen years ago as the primary vehicle through which we make gifts to others. The mission of our foundation is “to give back by improving the larger world around us and the lives of others where our gifts can yield meaningful tangible impact for a better world.”

Over the years, our areas of giving have evolved and we now concentrate our giving efforts in two key focus areas – Environment and Sustainability as well as Justice and Human Rights. Yet other core values remain important to us such as arts and culture, health, education, and helping those in need especially in the community around us.

“These goals of supporting our Santa Barbara community while seeking advances for the larger world around us are not mutually exclusive.”

Thus, when we bought our home here in Montecito six years ago, we were determined to become involved in local philanthropy and set about to learn more. With so many local not-for-profits per capita (and without the aid of this terrific philanthropy giving book guide you now have) we turned to Charity Navigator and found the highly rated Direct Relief. Inspired by the work of Direct Relief, we not only made a grant to contribute to constructing their much needed new building, but also offered a challenge match which helped spur the capital campaign forward.

By doing so, we not only helped Direct Relief, but this gift opened doors for us into the Santa Barbara giving community. We met numerous other philanthropists and good people who remain our friends to this day. From there, we began to learn of a broad range of other giving opportunities, for example, ranging from our next capital contribution made to MOXI, an educational children’s museum then being constructed, to supporting Pacific Pride’s LGBTQ programs to assisting the services of Girls Inc. for local girls by providing a grant for a new position to helping to fund performing arts at our beautiful, iconic Granada Theatre.

Over the years here, we have been active caring members of the Santa Barbara giving community, stepping up to help those in need following the Montecito mudslides two and a half years ago and more recently giving multiple grants for COVID relief. Our community philanthropy and commitment is in addition to the philanthropic focus of our foundation with which we try to make change and have impact on a potentially grander scale. These goals of supporting our Santa Barbara community while seeking advances for the larger world around us are not mutually exclusive.

We are so happy to be part of this caring community in Santa Barbara. There are so many ways to help improve the world and give to the many in need. We hope that you too will find a path of giving that resonates and be inspired by this guide to give back in ways that you can!

Simon Pivots to Social Justice

Rachel Simon would be the first to admit she was blessed by the circumstances of her birth. 

Her father is Herbert “Herb” Simon, the Indianapolis-based real-estate billionaire (and owner of the Indiana Pacers!), and her mother is Diane Meyer Simon, the notable political and environmental activist who founded Global Green, U.S.A.

Her father, Simon says, gave his kids “just enough room to make our own way, but was always there to instill the most important core values.” 

Diane Meyer Simon was an active figure in the populist progressivism of the early Kennedy era. “My mom was just, you know, this super-cool woman, she worked for Bobby Kennedy and had all these awesome stories,” Simon says. “She was an environmental activist and so a lot of my interests probably followed from watching her do her work. [My parents are] both extremely engaged in the community and politically active. So, I mean, I lucked out. We all did.”

Together, Simon says, her parents created in her “a very environmentally conscious and progressive thinker.” 

That progressive thinker is now leading the second generation of philanthropy at the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, based in Indianapolis, but with a regional and even global reach focusing on the environment, education, art and culture, and issues of social justice and sustainability. 

As lucky as Simon is to have cool parents with a desire to give back to their communities and the means to do it, she is also grateful for the gifts that come with being the daughter of two distinct regions that are integral to the country’s cultural fabric – the American Midwest and the American Riviera. 

As director of the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Rachel Simon is bringing her diverse geographic and cultural influences together as she leads the foundation into a new decade brimming with urgent challenges

Simon was born in Indianapolis and spent a good part of her childhood as a Hoosier, before her parents took up primary residence in Montecito. She returned to Indianapolis to attend the Herron School of Art and Design in the early 2000s. She majored in painting, something she laments she doesn’t find enough time for these days, and stayed in Indianapolis upon graduating. 

Simons says she loves the seasons and close-knit community there, but admits that California and Montecito are never far from her mind. Montecito had a familiar small-town feel as her early childhood, and yet the West Coast opened her cultural horizons and helped hone a keen interest in climate and sustainability. 

“As much as Indianapolis raised me, Montecito raised me,” she says. “If I hadn’t spent so much time in California, I definitely wouldn’t think the way I think, and wouldn’t be aware of the things I’m aware of… the social issues that are the forefront of the brain.”

As director of the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Simon is bringing her diverse geographic and cultural influences together as she leads the foundation into a new decade brimming with urgent challenges, especially related to climate change, sustainability, and social justice. Simon says the foundation has just finished a strategic planning session that will keep its philosophy intact but will focus efforts more directly in some key areas. 

“We are still focused on the environment, arts and culture, and basic needs,” she says, “but social justice will be its own impact area.”

She says the foundation will also work to sharpen its mission and message, especially working with grassroots, community-based organizations. “You know, you can support the education and then you can support equity in education. You can support the environment and then you can support environmental justice, and depending on how you tailor your focus, it could be in a bunch of different areas,” says Simon. “The intersectionality of [environmental and social justice] is so important for people to recognize right now.”

Getting back to parental influences, Simon says she’s “a huge basketball fan” but she won’t give her love to the Lakers, even though she attended USC, just down the road from Staples Center, for a couple years. That’s understandable as Simon is active with Indiana Pacers Foundation. For the Pacers, she has love, for the Lakers, it is “respect.” 

Hey, we can live with that, after all, love and respect is what it’s all really about and that, in the end, seems like Simon’s true inheritance. 

“Speaking of my parents, one of the most important things that they taught us was that we were so blessed and so fortunate… Every day that I work on foundation work, I feel grateful and blessed that I have the opportunity to give back because of the hard work of my parents. So, it’s an awesome responsibility that I’m grateful for.”