EDC’s Annual Green & Blue: A Coastal Celebration Honors Hillary Hauser

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 18, 2024
Front: Lee Heller, State Senator Monique Limón, Congressman Salud Carbajal, Linda Krop, Eleanor Gartner, and Andi Garcia; Back: Stephanie Roberson, Geordie Scully, Hannah Atkinson, Goleta Councilmember James Kyriaco, and Alex Katz (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Environmental Defense Center held its annual event titled, Green & Blue: A Coastal Celebration, on Sunday, June 9, in the lush green gardens at Rancho La Patera & Stow House in Goleta.

The 500 attendees of supporters, friends, families, fans, and politicians from the tri-county region and beyond came together to celebrate the organization’s successes of coastal and climate issues. During the reception, Silent Auction items went fast while guests dined on hors d’oeuvres and dessert from Duo Catering, beer from Rincon Brewery, and wine from the Ojai Vineyard. 

The EDC honored the various Chumash and Tongva communities, who provided the original names of the Channel Islands for use as the names of the sponsorship levels, such as Limuw, the name for Santa Cruz Island, and Wi’Ma for Santa Rosa Island. EDC staff stating, “We are using these names to acknowledge that the places we are working to protect are unceded Indigenous lands.”

The program opened with the Land Acknowledgment by Mia Lopez who taught and advised that it is important and respectful to honor the correct Chumash tribe name for each land area and not group it just under the name Chumash. She encouraged people to reach out for guidance. 

Present were EDC Board President Rob Tadlock and EDC Board VP Lauren Trujillo who provided the welcome remarks and acknowledged present elected officials. They also noted the EDC Board members
David PowdrellGerardo AyalaRichard FrancisVijaya JammalamadakaJai Ranganathan, Jim Salzman, Leanne Schlinger and Sabrina Venskus; and the EDC staff of Executive Director Alex Katz, Assistant Director Betsy Weber, Senior Analyst/Watershed Program Director Brian Trautwein, Marine Conservation Program Associate Azsha Hudson, Chief Counsel Linda Krop, Deputy Chief Counsel Maggie Hall, Staff Attorney/EJ Program Outreach Coordinator Matthew Campa, Staff Attorney Jeremy Frankel, Staff Attorney Rachel KondorBrandi Webber, Office Manager & Event Coordinator, and Lily Purvis, Administrative Assistant.

HTO from left Noah Boland, Randi and Harry Rabin, Hillary Hauser, Branden Ayoran, Jasmin Tupy, Curt, and Valerie Ayoran (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Katz talked about EDC’s mission, top accomplishments, and future goals. He said, “We honor the victories we have accomplished such as preserving historic ranch land, protecting Santa Maria River steelhead trout by increasing water access for the fish via the Twitchell damn, and stopping Exxon from trucking oil through the communities and restarting the oil platform rigs off the Gaviota Coast. I hear they decided to leave the area as well. Our strategic plan is our mission to protect the environment, stopping Naples on the Gaviota coast, protecting the Chumash Marine Sanctuary and our ocean, advance environmental justice to protect the Cat Canyon Aquifer for drinking water and agriculture, protect the climate and stop oil companies from turning on equipment that had been turned off for the past 20 years.”

HTO from left Noah Boland, Randi and Harry Rabin, Hillary Hauser, Branden Ayoran, Jasmin Tupy, Curt, and Valerie Ayoran (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The live auction was a serious mic drop after securing over $110,000 via the energetic and humorous skills of professional auctioneer Jim Nye. 

Chief Counsel, Linda Krop introduced the 2024 Environmental Hero, Founder, President and Executive Director of Heal the Ocean, Hillary Hauser. She stated the top historic facts about Hauser’s 26 years of work in the environment, along with personal accomplishments in diving, surfing, photojournalism, author, music (piano), and that she has a Wikipedia page. She presented Hauser a round shaped hand-carved wood award inlaid with a dolphin.

Hauser was lively, animated, and made both humorous and serious statements in her acceptance speech, a tone she is well-known for in her advocacy work. She had at the podium with her, attorney Jeff Young, with whom she founded Heal the Ocean in August 1998. She talked about how the organization came about, retracing Santa Barbara history, her journalism work at the SB News-Press of a 26-page manuscript about the bacteria pollutants in the ocean, the rioting surfers holding signs reading our ocean or a toilet, and First District Supervisor Naomi Schwartz advising Hauser that she needed to have an organization to request the legislation she wanted. Hauser came up with the name Heal the Ocean while taking an ocean swim to decide her course of action after meeting with Schwartz. From there, the rest is HTO history, from becoming a nonprofit under the Jean-Michel Cousteau organization, being the first to DNA test the ocean for contaminants, establishing the South Coast Beach Communities Septic-to-Sewer project, to present day work on oil well capping. She acknowledged all the HTO staff from start to present. In closing Hauser quoted American anthropologist Margaret Mead by saying, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world, in fact it is the only thing that ever has.”

Hauser will be retiring at some point this year. Along with her retirement, HTO’s serious wingman, Program Director Harry Rabin will step down and be a consultant while still working on the data and oil project with Marine Science Institute researcher Ira Leifer.  

411: www.environmentaldefensecenter.org/


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