Former staff – Where are they now? Part III

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Over the years, Save The Bay staff have contributed their talents and passion to advocating for a better San Francisco Bay. In this blog series, we catch up with some of the former staff who are still making waves in the environmental movement. We recently shared updates from Josh SonnenfeldNjambi Good and Darcie Goodman Collins. Former Media Relations Manager Amy Ricard worked closely with our development, policy and habitat restoration teams to communicate Save The Bay’s work to a mass audience. Today she continues to work in the environmental conservation community.

Amy Ricard

Former Media Relations Manager at Save The Bay
Current Community Relations Specialist at Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District

It’s been nearly four years since I left my role as Media Relations Manager at Save The Bay – and I still think about my experience and use the skills and knowledge I gained there weekly, if not daily. I now work at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District – a publicly-funded, voter-mandated special district tasked with conserving agricultural, natural resource, and scenic open space lands in Sonoma County. As the Community Relations Specialist, my job is to promote and advance the organization’s high profile acquisitions and land transfers, stewardship programs, educational outings, and conservation planning projects through local and national media outreach, increased online and offline constituent engagement, and community visibility.

Aside from the technical and tactical skills I gained at Save The Bay – writing press releases, working with media, generating content for email blasts/newsletters/web pages/blog posts/annual reports/etc., creating compelling constituent engagement campaigns, and more – I find that my experience at Save The Bay has served me well in the larger environmental conservation community. I take pride in the fact that I am (relatively) literate in state and federal environmental policy, I have a good working knowledge of state and federally listed endangered species, I am familiar with the landscape of organizations working locally, regionally, and nationally on conservation-related projects, and I have a good grasp of habitat restoration and climate change science, among other scientific topics.

I also continue to draw inspiration from the founders of Save The Bay – Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr, and Esther Gulick. I look at the Save The Bay flag hanging on my wall and think of their courage, intellect, determination, and commitment to the cause – and I am reminded to keep fighting the good fight. Although my personal and professional life has taken me a bit further away from the Bay shoreline, the Bay – and Save The Bay – still holds a very special place in my heart.

Former staff – Where are they now? Part II

Josh

Over the years, Save The Bay staff have contributed their talents and passion to advocating for a better San Francisco Bay. In this blog series, we catch up with some of the former staff who are still making waves in the environmental movement. We recently shared updates from Njambi Good and Darcie Goodman Collins. Former Campaign Manager Josh Sonnenfeld was a lead organizer against Cargill’s plans to pave our Bay near Redwood City. His current work at the Sierra Club has a national focus.

Josh Sonnenfeld
Former Campaign Manager at Save The Bay
Current Associate Director of the Our Wild America Campaign at the Sierra Club

I’ve been a community organizer for many years, but much of what I know about environmental advocacy and working in the non-profit sector, I learned through my four years working at Save The Bay. Save The Bay is unique in that it is one of the most professional and cutting-edge regional environmental advocacy groups around, and yet the staff operate like a family, building deep relationships with each other, while advancing incredible, visionary work. Save The Bay has an incredible history as one of the founders of the modern grassroots environmental movement, and the deep commitment of staff, donors and the thousands of volunteers always inspired me to do the best that I could to stop awful development projects and restore what’s left of our magnificent shoreline. I still miss my Save The Bay family, but am deeply grateful for all of the lessons that I learned at the organization.

In 2014 I left Save The Bay to help direct the Sierra Club’s national work to protect our land, water and wildlife. As Associate Director for the Our Wild America Campaign, I am focused on building the strength of the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization to create new parks, national monuments and wilderness areas, protect our wild heritage in the face of threats from mining, drilling and climate disruption, and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. It’s different thinking about 50 states versus one enormous watershed, but much of the work is the same – it’s about connecting people to the natural world, giving them an opportunity to be inspired by these incredible places, and then working together to build a movement that protects these special places – and our sense of wonder- for future generations.

Former staff – where are they now?

For over 50 years, Save The Bay’s work has been driven by talented and visionary leaders who are committed to improving our environment. Our storied history and esteemed accomplishments have attracted talented staff members who do great work for San Francisco Bay. Many of our former staff go on to contribute their skills to the broader environmental movement with other organizations. We recently caught up with a few former Bay Savers to ask them about what they’ve been up to since leaving Save The Bay.

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Darcie pictured with Sen. Harry Reid and former Vice President Al Gore.

Darcie Goodman Collins, PhD
Former Habitat Restoration Director at Save The Bay 
Current Executive Director of The League to Save Lake Tahoe 

For almost four years, after leaving Save The Bay, I have been leading an effort to protect an important waterbody inland from the Bay. As the Executive Director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe (aka Keep Tahoe Blue) I lead a team of 16- working to advocate, educate and collaborate to protect Lake Tahoe.

Established in 1957 by a group of concerned citizens from the Bay Area, Tahoe and elsewhere, the League to Save Lake Tahoe shares many similarities and founding members with Save The Bay. The group’s biggest initial victory was stopping an extensive development plan that would have allowed a bridge across Emerald Bay and large urban areas surrounding the Lake.

Our current campaigns are combating pollution, tackling invasive species, protecting our shorelines and promoting restoration. We approach these campaigns through our community engagement, citizen science and advocacy programs. Many of these programs are newly created and were a direct result of the influence and impact of working with the successful programs at Save The Bay. I am grateful to translate the lessons I learned at Save The Bay to the work we are doing in Tahoe to protect the Lake!

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Njambi now leads a team of grassroots organizers with Greenpeace USA.

Njambi Good
Former Chief Strategy Officer at Save The Bay
Current Senior Director for Grassroots Engagement at Greenpeace USA

I now work at Greenpeace USA and am their senior director for Grassroots Engagement.  I work with a team of about 25 organizers around the country that are tasked with engaging, developing and mobilizing volunteer leaders around Greenpeace’s priority campaigns. As a global organization running myriad campaign projects ranging from preventing climate change, to stopping drilling in the Arctic, to working to achieve a more equitable democracy in the US, each day is very full, dynamic, and challenging. The teams I manage include organizers working with students around the country, staff leading critical campaign fights on climate change in communities all over the US, and movement building specialists whose focus is to help other smaller grassroots organizations campaign on climate justice.

I really both enjoyed and learned a lot from my time at Save the Bay. Save the Bay is able to successfully work on a variety of campaign projects, beyond what you would expect for an organization of its size. And it was wonderful to be working at an organization with such an empowering grassroots organizing history and legacy.  It was so motivating to be able to get out to our restoration sites and to be able to both participate in the restoration and get to see how meaningful that experience was for hundreds of volunteers. I still feel very committed to the mission of Save the Bay, and want to stay connected as a volunteer and donor.

6 Bay Recreation hotspots

At Save The Bay, we believe the best way to stay inspired to protect the Bay is to enjoy it.
Here are a few of our favorite spots:

IMG_1797-minAngel Island! There are few places where you can get a 360 degree view of the Central Bay. It’s amazing to be in a natural, protected area while viewing city skylines and learning about the region’s immigration history.”

— Allison Chan, Clean Bay Campaign Manager

Photo: Rene Rivers

“More than anywhere else in the Bay, China Camp State Park is where my passions come together. It is one of the best places to mountain bike near the Bay, with a fun rolling Bay shore trail for beginners and some more challenging technical stuff further from the road. Trail running here is fantastic too, from the narrow singletrack loop near the shore to a climb that reaches a former Nike missile silo with expansive Bay views. And the wetlands here are some of the most publicly accessible tidal marsh in the Bay Area, exactly the kind of habitat Save The Bay fights to preserve and protect every day.”

— Cyril Manning, Communications Director

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“I love to ride the ferry across the bay! Whether it be to visit a tourist destination like Alcatraz or Angel island or to indulge in a more leisurely commute- the ferry is a great way to experience new views of the bay. My favorite thing to do is order a beer in the evening and watch the sun go down on our glorious bridges.”

Jessie Olson, Nursery Manager

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“Biking along the Bay from San Leandro down to Hayward by Eden Landing.  It’s a beautiful place to bike.”— Vinnie Bacon, Salesforce Specialist

Looking west toward the South Bay from the top of Mission Peak.
“As much as I love to be near water, the view of the South Bay and nearby salt ponds from Mission Peak in Fremont is well worth the steep climb to the 2,516 foot summit.  On a clear day you can even see the San Francisco skyline and other regional landmarks.”— Vivian Reed, Communications Assistant
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“If you’ve ever crossed the Dumbarton Bridge, you’ve definitely seen Coyote Hills Regional Park in Union City—those tantalizing grasslands that rise up from the glassy waters just north of the freeway. Spend a couple hours on two wheels and you can cut through lush inland marsh, traverse steep, rocky ridges on dirt trails, trace a gentle paved path along the sinewy hillsides, and follow the levy loop way out into the Bay itself. Along the way you’ll see a ridiculous diversity of stunning birds: we’re talking raptors, egrets, herons, pelicans, avocets, black-necked stilts, and about a million others. (Yes, that’s why this is part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.) Want more? The park connects right up to the Alameda Creek trail—a paved path stretching 12 miles to Niles Canyon without a single street crossing, and one of the few places in the Bay where I’ve come up close to a golden eagle.)”— Cyril Manning, Communications Director

Show us where your favorite spot is to hang out by the Bay! Tag your Bay recreation pics on Instagram and Twitter using #MyBayPhoto.

Oil Trains and Environmental Justice

Stop Crude By Rail
A local activist protests crude by rail in Martinez. Photo by Daniel Adel.

Crude oil is being shipped from Canada via rail to refineries along the West Coast, exposing millions of Californians to health and environmental risks. With five major refineries in the East Bay, the number of trains carrying crude oil into the Bay Area could increase exponentially, posing severe risks to our local waterways and communities.

In the Bay Area, refineries in Benicia, Martinez, and Richmond are targets for expansion, putting the surrounding communities and our Bay at risk of a disastrous oil spill. Tar sands fuel is harder to clean out of waterways than a typical oil spill, since the heavy crude quickly sinks to the bottom and destroys habitat.  The fuel mixture used for transit is also explosive enough to combust on impact. And this dangerous substance is being transported using outdated equipment that is not designed for carrying explosive hazardous materials.

Bomb trains in your backyard

Millions of Californians live near train routes carrying crude oil and may not even be aware that highly hazardous train cars are passing through their backyards and near their local rivers. Thanks to the work of ForestEthics, you can use this online tool to map the nearest oil trains to any address in the U.S. or Canada. Simply plug in your address to see how far you live from a blast zone, the 1-mile evacuation area recommended after an oil train derailment.

In a recent report entitled Crude Injustice on the Rails, ForestEthics and Communities for a Better Environment compared U.S. Census data with blast zone data. They uncovered a disturbing fact — 80% of the 5.5 million Californians with homes in the blast zone live in environmental justice communities. According to Matt Krogh of ForestEthics, “In California you are 33 percent more likely to live in the blast zone if you live in a nonwhite, low income, or non-English speaking household.” Perhaps it is not surprising that the communities whose environments have been most degraded by industry would experience the highest potential risk by crude by rail.

Local resistance

The Bay Area is known for local resistance and this issue is no exception. “Crude by rail will only come here if we allow it,” said Greg Karras, Senior Scientist at Communities for a Better Environment. Bay Area activists have spoken out through peaceful protest and direct action in the Refinery Corridor between Martinez and Benicia. While federal regulation changes may take years to improve the safety of tanker trains, local action may be the best way to limit the number of oil trains rolling through our communities.

The railways are governed by federal law, but the refineries themselves must abide by local regulations. Last year, the City of Richmond issued an expansion permit to Chevron with greenhouse gas emissions standards limiting the amount of high-sulfur oil it can process, which will limit the amount of dirty crude the Chevron refinery can process. Communities for a Better Environment is also leading a coalition in advocating to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for stricter emissions standards for Bay Area refineries. Stronger regulation of refinery emissions would limit the amount of dirty fuels that could be refined in the Bay Area and ultimately reduce the number of crude oil shipments into the region.

As we’ve understood at Save The Bay for a long time, focusing locally can make a major impact beyond just your local community.  We will continue to keep you up to date on how oil trains impact the Bay Area. Learn more about crude by rail and how to get involved with Communities for a Better Environment.