Last night I attended the SCOCO awards night. Having arranged a large number of events myself, I know how challenging a task it is. It was beautifully arranged with delectable food, like-minded people and a great private auction. Congratulations!

I left, however, feeling disgruntled and have been examining my feelings since then. I am disappointed (as I was last year) to see that SCOCO is not making a point of honoring the amazing people who led the way 20 - 30 years ago when green wasn't a buzz word and living sustainably was over the edge. People like Dennis the owner of Good Nature Grocery in Walnut Creek, Helen and her husband the owners of Harvest House in Concord, the owner of Turnaround (about?) Products in Martinez, the original owner of Natural Life Foods in Pleasant Hill, Rick and Kristie Knoll of Knoll Farms in Brentwood, Jim Ocean the founder of the Off the Couch Movement at the Musician's Coffeehouse in Walnut Creek, Nancy of the American School of Massage in Walnut Creek, the Natural Foods Coop in Walnut Creek, Tai Chi teacher Jan Diepersloot, Diane Valentine of the Yoga and Movement Center, Sylvia Nachlinger - acupressurist, herbalist, shaman, astrologer and more, Unity Center of Walnut Creek and Antioch, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Walnut Creek, the founders of local schools (parent-based cooperative pre-schools, Waldorf, Montessori, Sudbury) based on spirituality, freedom and respect for our children, John F. Kennedy University and all of the holistic professionals who were on the fringe and diligently working one by one to educate people of the profound benefits of this different lifestyle.

These leaders learned early on that they were not a welcome part of the mainstream business engine and continued to quietly do their work. Or after working hard for many years, have been bought out by corporate businesses like Whole Foods (who is controversial in their commitment at best). Having been around all those years ago, I know that it was not possible to be very visible while blazing the trail.  Many of us didn't have good
business skills. Our overwhelming passion and fierce determination kept us alive and flourishing
as we told those few who would listen about our inspired ideas.
Personally, my work was hidden from officials all those years ago and I
found that I had to succeed outside of the political/business arena that
most people used to become successful. It was quite daunting. As a
result many people have had to move on from their passions as their
businesses failed to support them financially.

I know I could nominate these people for the awards night, but I don't think that putting them in competition with current leaders is appropriate. I don't expect these people to show up and receive an award. Rather, I feel that some research needs to be done to identify who these leaders were, how they planted the seeds that are now beginning to grow, and to acknowledge how difficult it was so many years ago to live outside of the mainstream and stay committed to controversial values while modeling to others the inherent value of this unusual way. And to say a meaningful  "THANK YOU" to all of them for leading the way!

I hope I'm not the only one thinking these thoughts. Thank you for listening, I'd love to hear yours.

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I agree with you Amy that it would be wonderful to celebrate and recognize those who have been forging the path to sustainability for a long time in our County. We discussed this in SCOCO committees a few times including very recently and plan to have another celebration to do just that. I hope that you'll participate in making it happen! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the SCOCO Network!
Tina
Amy, this is actully an interesting idea that certainly should be looked at, and if I know this group, they will indeed consider this. Recognizing the past absolutely enriches the future. The big question is how can the event be used to support and foster sustainability in Contra Costa. By recognizing those currently active, you really do motivate them to do more. I think there are a lot of people doing a lot of things right now that could also be credited--Igor from John Muir Association, David Mudge trying to create his community garden in Martinez (using permaculture ideas), Lesley Stiles, etc., etc. We'll get them into the mix, though, be assured.

Working for government, I believe it is crucial to get the politicos onboard. They are the ones that adopt the policies that we so very much need. And their presence meant that they saw the scope of possibility, and the support for, sustainability.

So...did the event meet my own test of success (fostering sustainability)? I have to say yes. To know that so many are so interested, and are doing so much in their own ways--and to bring it all together in one place so that we could see it all--that to me helps build the momentum that sustainability needs. Robin
Hi Amy! Thanks for your kind words about the Awards Gala - indeed, it involved a lot of planning, but we have an enthusiastic and dedicated group and have been fortunate to be encouraged and supported by so many individuals and businesses.

You're absolutely right that the sustainability movement wouldn't be where it is if not for the generations of people who have courageously maintained the forward momentum and we do humbly thank them because their determination has paved the way. I hope that we honor them by continuing to "carry the torch" - by raising awareness of the many facets and benefits of sustainability, motivating people to take action, and educating them about what they can do. I liked what Senator DeSaulnier said about striving to carry on the legacy of the great John Muir. Many great people came before him, and after, that may never be recognized for their efforts or accomplishments, but that in no way lessens the importance of their contributions. They have made a difference - and their legacy lives on. Adding categories to recognize various achievements makes a lot of sense and we would welcome your involvement with this process.

Sustainable Contra Costa is excited to identify and publicly recognize what's currently happening in our county because it has the potential to grow or to be replicated. We worked diligently to reach out to our large county and seek nominations so that we can learn and share with as many people as possible some of the exciting things that are happening. Through the nomination process, we invite everyone in our community to help bring awareness to deserving people and projects they know of. In fact, we rely on the community for this because our small team can't possibly know of everything that is happening in our vast county in the many arenas of sustainability. The Senator also said something about how all of the nominees are winners and it's so true; all of the nominations were displayed there because all of them deserve recognition.

It's exciting that you know so much about the local sustainable movement and community, and we invite you to share your knowledge and, yes, to nominate them. I don't know most of the people you mentioned, but would welcome a chance to learn more about them. SCOCO is fortunate to have been introduced to some you mention like Jim Ocean, who performed at the Awards Gala, and Kristie Knoll, who kindly donated delicious produce from her Brentwood farm. We're honored to have had the opportunity to meet many inspirational people like Mary Lou Laubscher, Tom Powers, and Igor Skaredoff. There are so many individuals that deserve recognition: I can literally think of dozens of people - like Debi Tidd and Patrice Hanlon, who have long practiced and promoted sustainable gardening and landscaping, open space advocates like Bill Hunt and Brian Murphy, health and nutrition champions like Cindy Gershen and Allison Negrin, and many more. What an honor it was to see many of these people at the Awards Gala! I hope we are all inspiring each other with our various passions. Together we can nurture the seeds that have been planted and help sustainability continue to grow.

I'll see you Wednesday at the Green Business Lunch at Nibbler's, as usual!

Sheila
Robin,
Yes, I agree that it is important to acknowledge the current players and the political element is very important for moving forward at this point. All I'm looking for is a feeling of acknowledgment of what came before. As in any "movement" there are those who have the "initial" inspiration and others who follow with their own ideas. I think that the SCOCO gala is on the right track in general. Hope to see more past leaders honored in the future as we pull in the corporations and politicians.


Robin Bedell-Waite said:
Amy, this is actully an interesting idea that certainly should be looked at, and if I know this group, they will indeed consider this. Recognizing the past absolutely enriches the future. The big question is how can the event be used to support and foster sustainability in Contra Costa. By recognizing those currently active, you really do motivate them to do more. I think there are a lot of people doing a lot of things right now that could also be credited--Igor from John Muir Association, David Mudge trying to create his community garden in Martinez (using permaculture ideas), Lesley Stiles, etc., etc. We'll get them into the mix, though, be assured.

Working for government, I believe it is crucial to get the politicos onboard. They are the ones that adopt the policies that we so very much need. And their presence meant that they saw the scope of possibility, and the support for, sustainability.

So...did the event meet my own test of success (fostering sustainability)? I have to say yes. To know that so many are so interested, and are doing so much in their own ways--and to bring it all together in one place so that we could see it all--that to me helps build the momentum that sustainability needs. Robin
Sheila and Tina,
Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I'm glad that you have a dedicated group to move the sustainability movement forward in our wonderful county. I look forward to seeing what other events you come up with to keep spreading the word!


Sheila Hill said:
Hi Amy! Thanks for your kind words about the Awards Gala - indeed, it involved a lot of planning, but we have an enthusiastic and dedicated group and have been fortunate to be encouraged and supported by so many individuals and businesses.

You're absolutely right that the sustainability movement wouldn't be where it is if not for the generations of people who have courageously maintained the forward momentum and we do humbly thank them because their determination has paved the way. I hope that we honor them by continuing to "carry the torch" - by raising awareness of the many facets and benefits of sustainability, motivating people to take action, and educating them about what they can do. I liked what Senator DeSaulnier said about striving to carry on the legacy of the great John Muir. Many great people came before him, and after, that may never be recognized for their efforts or accomplishments, but that in no way lessens the importance of their contributions. They have made a difference - and their legacy lives on. Adding categories to recognize various achievements makes a lot of sense and we would welcome your involvement with this process.

Sustainable Contra Costa is excited to identify and publicly recognize what's currently happening in our county because it has the potential to grow or to be replicated. We worked diligently to reach out to our large county and seek nominations so that we can learn and share with as many people as possible some of the exciting things that are happening. Through the nomination process, we invite everyone in our community to help bring awareness to deserving people and projects they know of. In fact, we rely on the community for this because our small team can't possibly know of everything that is happening in our vast county in the many arenas of sustainability. The Senator also said something about how all of the nominees are winners and it's so true; all of the nominations were displayed there because all of them deserve recognition.

It's exciting that you know so much about the local sustainable movement and community, and we invite you to share your knowledge and, yes, to nominate them. I don't know most of the people you mentioned, but would welcome a chance to learn more about them. SCOCO is fortunate to have been introduced to some you mention like Jim Ocean, who performed at the Awards Gala, and Kristie Knoll, who kindly donated delicious produce from her Brentwood farm. We're honored to have had the opportunity to meet many inspirational people like Mary Lou Laubscher, Tom Powers, and Igor Skaredoff. There are so many individuals that deserve recognition: I can literally think of dozens of people - like Debi Tidd and Patrice Hanlon, who have long practiced and promoted sustainable gardening and landscaping, open space advocates like Bill Hunt and Brian Murphy, health and nutrition champions like Cindy Gershen and Allison Negrin, and many more. What an honor it was to see many of these people at the Awards Gala! I hope we are all inspiring each other with our various passions. Together we can nurture the seeds that have been planted and help sustainability continue to grow.

I'll see you Wednesday at the Green Business Lunch at Nibbler's, as usual!

Sheila

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