2014 has been a challenging year. On December 20, 2013, Rose Braz—Wild Equity’s Chairperson, my wife, and the person I call “the greatest human I’ve ever met” without reservation—had a seizure. That Christmas Eve she was diagnosed with an invasive and aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
It was the scariest moment we’ve ever faced.
Too many days were spent like this in 2014.
Our lives have been transformed. Rose has since had two brain surgeries and endured radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Much of my time has been dedicated to Rose’s care, and searching the literature for treatments that may fight this disease.
Wild Equity Institute Staff Attorney Laura Horton ended a year-long project with the Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship program on August 8, 2014. Laura received a grant from the TTG program in September, 2013, and created a project that brought together high school students and teachers, government land managers, and environmental advocates in an effort to save the highly endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. The project centered around the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, and Laura facilitated a two-part restoration program with Antioch High School students.
During the spring, Laura brought sixty students from Antioch High School to the Refuge to engage in native plant restoration and invasive removal. During the summer, Three students, Daja Miller, Adeeb Nazam, and Emily Hendricks, were awarded a summer internship with the Fish and Wildlife Service. The summer program included intensive hands-on training in land and wildlife management as well as a behind the scenes look at the California Academy of Sciences.
From L to R: Liz Reynolds, Adeeb Nazam, Emily Hendricks, Daja Miller, Louis Terrazas, Laura Horton.
On Friday, August 8th, the summer participants gathered at the Fish and Wildlife field office in Petaluma with friends and family to celebrate the successful program. Also in attendance were Laura and Fish and Wildlife employees including biotech Liz Reynolds and Wildlife Refuge Specialist Louis Terrazas, who acted as Refuge supervisors to the students.
On November 6th, 6pm, at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics Wild Equity will be proudly celebrating our five year anniversary! That’s right, it’s already been Five Years Fighting, and we’ve decided to throw you, the people who’ve made Wild Equity possible, a party!
Please join us for food, drinks, games, goodies, and most importantly good company! We’ll have live music by singer/songwriter Kristin Plater, as well as an outdoor gear raffle and vintage endangered species artwork up for auction at this celebratory end-of-year fundraiser. We’ll also showcase what we’ve accomplished to date, and, of course, show how we intend to keep Wild Equity’s momentum growing!
Thursday, July 10, 7:30pm, at the Randall Museum: San Francisco has 32 pockets of undeveloped land set aside for the preservation of the natural world. These pockets hold the last remnants of wildness once found across the lands where we now live, but do we have room in our parks and our hearts for nature in this city?
The San Francisco Natural History Lecture Series hosted by the San Francisco Naturalist Society welcomes Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute, for a photographic exploration of the remaining wild areas in San Francisco. Brent went on a three day quest to see each of these natural areas for himself, understand what’s proposed for these lands, and identify a plan to save these areas from the City’s mismanagement. Join Brent for a slideshow of his quest, add your thoughts to the conversation, and discover how we can help these areas thrive.
Wild Equity is hiring a Staff Attorney to manage and prosecute environmental cases in state and federal courts. This full-time position is based in Wild Equity’s San Francisco office, and offers an extraordinary opportunity to join a growing organization and shape its future.
To apply for this position, please submit a resume, two recent samples of your own writing, list of references, law school transcript, and a cover letter describing your interest in our work to email@example.com. The position will start on August 1, 2014.
Under the direction of the Executive Director and in collaboration with outside counsel, the Staff Attorney will:
Share your love of San Francisco’s wildlife everywhere you go with Wild Equity’s exclusive “I ‘Bird’ SF” T-shirt! Made in the U.S.A. out of 100% organic cotton, the shirt features a silhouette of our City’s favorite puffball of feathers, the Western Snowy Plover. Wild Equity logo on the left sleeve too: to show your pride in our work! Comes in S, M, L, and XL in Unisex and Ladies Half-scoop designs. Specify your design and size choices by clicking on the corresponding buttons below.
“What do you get out of it? Why do you keep trying?”
The reporter’s questions caught me off-guard. I had been expecting to discuss Wild Equity’s role protecting the Franciscan Manzanita—a gorgeous plant presumed extinct in the wild for decades, but now on the verge of reintroduction throughout the City. I hadn’t anticipated the need to defend my life’s purpose.
As my mind considered the questions, I realized that only my heart could answer them. “I get a chance to make the world more equitable, more beautiful,” I replied. “I know the odds are long, but thousands of people have trusted in our ability to make this vision reality. When I’m toiling away late at night, pouring over thousands of pages of government documents or pounding away at another legal brief, I reflect on how grateful I am for their support, and it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.”
When the SF Weekly article finally came out, it emphasized Wild Equity’s work protecting this miracle plant, and noted that we’ve won “a number of other high-profile lawsuits in the name of conservation, including this summer’s triumph over Sharp Park Golf Course for killing endangered red-legged frogs and garter snakes.”
But it failed to note that these conservation victories aren’t ours alone. Your contributions—your commitment to our vision, your trust in our staff, your donations to our programs—make each victory possible.
Wild Equity always recommends shopping locally and supporting businesses in your community. But sometimes that isn’t possible: for example, where else will you find an original portrait of the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose?
Maryrose Wampler’s Portrait of the
Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, circa 1979.
When you do shop at amazon.com, now you can simultaneously donate to Wild Equity: at no extra charge! All you need to do is shop through AmazonSmile using your existing amazon.com account, and a portion of your sale will automatically be donated to Wild Equity. It’s as simple as that!
Prestigious National Award and $10,000 Grant
Furthers Efforts of Local Environmental Leader
SANFRANCISCO, Calif.— Toyota and the National Audubon Society today announced that a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship will be awarded to a San Francisco-based environmental attorney. After a competitive nationwide selection process, Wild Equity’s Laura Horton was selected for the year-long fellowship program and a $10,000 grant.
The wild Coho Salmon population found in Marin is about to vanish. In order to prevent this amazing fish from going extinct, we must restore riparian habitat and prevent destructive development. On Oct 29, the Marin Board of Supervisors ignored the plight of the salmon and passed an ordinance that will end a building ban in the San Geronimo Valley. Read more about this “unusual hearing” in the the Marin Independent Journal.
A coalition of conservation and community advocates led by the Wild Equity Institute created a new $2 million grants fund at Rose Foundation dedicated to mitigating pollution in low-income communities in Antioch and Oakley, as well as to mitigating harm to endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the last home of the critically imperiled Lange’s Metalmark butterfly.
Part-Time Project Coordinator Position
2014 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year
Wild Equity Institute is seeking a Part-Time Project Coordinator for the 2014 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year competition. The Project Coordinator will be responsible for reviewing participant evaluations and project partner feedback from previous iterations of the project; revising the event structure and prize schedule for the project; and scheduling events that will implement the project throughout 2014.
The Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year (a new project title is under discussion) is a race against time to observe each of the endangered and threatened species found within the Golden Gate National Parks, while taking discrete conservation recovery actions that will prevent these species from going extinct. It is a competitive event: the person who sees and helps the most species during the year will win the competition.
The project enables participants to explore the diverse habitats of the GGNP while helping each of the endangered and threatened species that call the Park home. In the process, we hope participants will discover the humility, compassion, and hope embodied in the legal protections for this land and our imperiled neighbors.
Major Duties and Responsibilities.
Review feedback from previous iterations of the project. Consult with project partners and supporters to clarify feedback as needed.
Propose structural changes to the event and prize structure of the project for 2014 for adoption by Wild Equity’s Board of Directors.
Coordinate project logistics including field outings and other events, prizes, and some fundraising.
Communicate with the public about the project through press releases and events, writing newsletters and social media content, and collaborating with organizing staff and volunteers.
Track participation and evaluate project events.
An undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies or related field.
The face of the Presidio is changing and our input is needed. The Presidio Trust is acting on long-term plans to create a cultural space at the historic site of the former Commissary. As Sports Basement transitions elsewhere in the Presidio, the new space promises to be a cornerstone of the park going forward. We have the opportunity to see that the changes both embody and strengthen the mission of the National Park Service. The Trust is currently considering three proposals for the Presidio’s former Commissary site, now occupied by Sports Basement: the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, the Bridge/Sustainability Institute, and the Presidio Exchange.
The Wild Equity Institute believes that the Presidio Exchange (PX) creates the greatest sense of place by focusing on the beautiful and distinctive Presidio park space, while also housing a cultural and historical center. The proposed Lucas Cultural Arts Museum simply does not embody the spirit of the Presidio or the National Park System. While the Bridge/Sustainability Institute proposal attempts to incorporate the unique setting that is the Presidio, the plans come across as interchangeable with any other sustainable business building complex.
Crissy Field Marsh and Lagoon restoration could benefit from a good design for the Commissary.
However, the Sustainability Institute proposal does contain one element that should be explored and potentially adopted by the PX proposal: expanding Crissy Field Marsh and Lagoon into the Commissary property. Due to a variety of constraints, the restoration of Crissy Field Marsh and Lagoon several years ago was limited to a smaller zone than is needed for the lagoon to fulfill its intended ecological functions. The PX proposal should review the sustainability institute’s proposal to expand the lagoon and incorporate that element into its project to the maximum extent possible.
In a new book on animals in America, Wild Ones, Jon Mooallem dedicates nearly 100 pages to the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. He describes the storied history and destruction of their habitat in the Antioch Dunes, no longer actual sand dunes due to extensive sand removal and industry. He also describes some of the famous lepidopterists, or butterfly scientists, who have loved the land and the Lange’s over the decades since it was first discovered by William Harry Lange in 1933.
Cover of Mooallem’s new book featuring Wild Equity.
On one of his jaunts to Antioch, Mooallem found himself counting butterflies alongside our own Brent Plater. The author describes Wild Equity’s case against the proposed new power plants near the wildlife refuge, which are poised to harm the butterfly through habitat destruction due to increased nitrogen deposited on the land. He muses over a conversation he had with Brent out at the dunes, and paraphrasing Brent’s words, he states, “the balance is so out of whack that every battle is now a battle of principle that can’t be forfeited.” Mooallem portrays the goal of a settlement, which could provide a comprehensive habitat restoration for the Langes Metalmark, as “yet another freak turning point” in the “chaos” the little butterfly has had to endure but to re-establish habitat rather than continue the destruction (191).
Tatzoo fellow Matt Switzer’s Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly tattoo.
In front of a packed audience last month, Wild Equity Institute Executive Director Brent Plater discussed communicating science to the public with Azibuike Akaba, an Environmental Policy Analyst at Public Health Institute, and Rose Aguilar, a journalist and radio host of Your Call on San Francisco’s KALW.
Listen to the audio archive of the entire presentation.
Azibuike discussed the framing and language of scientists and engineers. He defined resilience as a community that takes care of each other, and suggested focussing on the experience in nature. He claimed it’s not true that scientists define our experience of nature, although we often allow them to. He reminded the group that science is funded by someone who is class-interest based, and suggested scrutinizing scientific claims to ensure that science isn’t wielded simply to perpetuate existing biases.
After Azibuike spoke, Brent invoked the meme of the Anthropocene, a term that suggests humans are now as impactful on the earth as a glacial period or asteroid strike—catastrophic events that have been used to define biologic and geologic time. He critiqued Peter Kareiva, the Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, who suggests our massive impacts on Earth means the environmental movement is a failure, and should be transformed into a industry-friendly movement. Brent criticized Kareiva not for his suggestion that the environmental movement needs work, but because Kareiva suggests we should cede our demands to the movement’s opponents. Instead, Brent argued we should tell the public about our beliefs, which are widely shared, and not just what we know.
Join a challenging conversation some have dubbed “environmental communications in the Anthropocene” to discuss the problems with presenting complex ecological information publicly. Rose Aguilar from KALW’s Your Call radio, Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute, and environmental scientist and climate change activist Azibuike Akaba discuss and debate issues of scientific literacy, critical thinking, basic education, attention spans, buzzwords, guest selection, framing and definition of scientific issues, overcoming simplistic jargon, and much more!
I’m writing to let you know about a unique clean energy investment opportunity we recently learned about. Mosaic is an online platform that enables individuals to invest in solar projects being developed across the country. Warren Buffett has invested $4 billion in solar energy and now, with a minimum investment of $25, you too can do well by doing good. Click here to begin investing in a clean energy future.
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In late October of 2012, Wild Equity Institute Executive Director Brent Plater was invited to a weekend workshop to discuss the future of the conservation movement with luminaries in several environmental fields. The following essay is one of several products we’ve produced based on that workshop.
Back row, L-R: Michael Kellett, Brooke Williams, Michael Matz, George Wuerthner, Holmes Rolston, III, Phil Cafaro, Noah Greenwald, Dominick DellaSala. Front row, L-R: John Terborgh, David Johns, Michael Soule, Terry Tempest Williams, Ronni Egan, Brent Plater, Kieran Suckling, Brock Evans. Not pictured: Don Weeden, Helen Robertson, Charmayne Palomba, Eileen Crist, Andy Kerr, Tom Butler, Dan Doak, Jordan Fisher Smith, Gary Tabor.
In a recent issue of Around the Campfire, Dave Foreman—a co-founder of Earth First! & the Wildlands Project and author of Confessions of an Eco-Warrior—wrote a provocative essay titled The Myth of the Environmental Movement. In it he suggests that the conservation movement and the environmental movement are two distinct—and very different—movements.
The Wild Equity Institute believes Dave’s article is on to something—it’s true that our use of the words ‘conservation’ and ‘environment’ has become sloppy, and they can often mean conflicting things to different people.
We’re excited to announce that Laura Horton, a long-time volunteer and law clerk, has joined Wild Equity as a Staff Attorney. She will be working with Executive Director Brent Plater and our amazing volunteers to help us unite grassroots conservation and justice movements to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all.
Laura Horton, Wild Equity Institute Staff Attorney.
Laura has been passionate about environmental issues for as long as she can remember. Over the years she has worked for various environmental organizations, including a legal internship at Wild Equity, and has been active in social justice issues. During law school Laura was a student leader in the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU, and was the Managing Editor of the Environmental Law Journal. She has published articles on a number of issues including energy, immigration and disaster law, and eco-consumerism, and also currently serves as a volunteer writer/editor for both the National Lawyers Guild Review and the American Society of Legal Scholars.
Prior to joining Wild Equity, Laura received a fellowship to work with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she helped empower rural mining communities in asserting their environmental and economic rights. Laura holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a J.D. from Golden Gate Law. She says she is beyond thrilled to return to Wild Equity as a staff attorney, and we’re honored to have her on board as well. Welcome Laura!
3/24, 11:00 am - Search for Twain's Frog and the Beautiful Serpent
In a reality grantmaking panel with $1,000 on the line, program officers from the Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund, the Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund, and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment evaluated grant proposals from Wild Equity and five other groups live in front of over 100 grassroots environmentalists.
And each program officer reached the same conclusion: Wild Equity’s proposal was the best of the bunch!
Check out this clip from the panel and see why so many are finding inspiration in our work:
Wild Equity Institute is receiving its first branded products soon, and the buzz is building. For example, a focus group participant at San Francisco State University had this to say about our new “I Bird San Francisco” T-shirt:
“This shirt has value far more important than its price. How much is it worth to promote environmental protection in your community? How much is it worth to use organic clothes? The shirt is worth our entire future as a civilization.”
I Bird SF 100% organic cotton T-shirt. Comes in natural color, sizes S, M, L, & XL.
Recently I returned from a weekend workshop where I discussed the future of the conservation movement with giants in our field—people like Dr. Michael Soulé, the founder of the field of conservation biology; Dr. Holmes Ralston III, a luminary in the field of environmental ethics; and Terry Tempest Williams, one of our great contemporary environmental writers.
It was an honor to simply be in a room with these incredible people. But as the meeting progressed, I was humbled to see that they found inspiration in the Wild Equity Institute’s work, and are incorporating our theory of change into a new era of environmental protection and conservation.
You don’t want to miss this coming Third Thursday Film Night with SF Environment! We will be showing the moving documentary, Pale Male, the story of a notorious red-tailed hawk who made his home above a 5th Avenue apartment building in New York City. A sensational movement transpired when the building’s co-op board ordered Pale Male’s nest to be removed.
The Pale Male Petition:
On July 24, 2012, the Wild Equity Institute filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") urging it to change its migratory bird nest policy. The policy encourages destruction of migratory bird nests, which is prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MTBA). The Service’s policy has led to the destruction of countless bird nests since it was enacted, including one of a famous New York red-tailed hawk.
We’ve lead a trip or two to see this cute little puff of feathers within the GGNRA, but now it’s time for participants to conduct the Conservation Action Item for this bird: reduce harassment of the Snowy Plover by leashing your dog in plover areas and/or asking others to do the same.
Off leash dogs are the biggest recreational threat to the Western Snowy Plover at the Golden Gate National Parks. Not because dogs are mean, but because unleashed dogs are much more effective at chasing and disturbing this tiny shorebird than anyone or thing you can find on San Francisco’s beaches. Help this endangered species by leashing your dog in sensitive Snowy Plover habitats and asking other people to do the same.
To claim your prize be sure to sign-up for the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year and record your action items and sightings at our website. If you don’t record it, it didn’t happen, and it doesn’t count!