Oral Histories

Interview of Dorothy Green

Founder of Heal the Bay, Unpave LA, and the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council. Involved in California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Founder of Heal the Bay, Unpave LA, and the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council. Involved in California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).
Collings, Jane
Green, Dorothy
Persons Present:
Green and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Green's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.Collings prepared for the interview by reviewing material provided by Dorothy Green about Heal the Bay, the Los Angeles San Gabriel Watershed Council and California Water Impact Network, or C-WIN. Dorothy Green's papers currently reside in the Department of Special Collections and the UCLA Library.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Green was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
12 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.Additional partially processed interviews are available through Library Special Collections.
Family background—Attitudes toward education in the family home—Disappointment with Hamilton High School—Personal goals—Attends university—Studies music—First impressions of Los Angeles—The family moves to Los Angeles—Religious background—Social youth group activities—Develops an appreciation of the outdoors—Meets future husband—The family business—Green and her husband build a hotel in Desert Hot Springs—Moves to West Los Angeles—Green’s son’s special needs—Participation in Jewish community group in Desert Hot Springs—Early participation in politics—More on participation in Jewish community group in Desert Hot Springs—More on Green’s son’s special needs—Green’s interest in government—Runs the greeting card business for The Exceptional Children’s Foundation—Becomes active in the environmental movement.
Women For:—Green’s growing concern about environment—More on Women For:—Performs as a speaker on behalf of Coastal Initiative—Supports work on Assembly Bill 1056 sponsored by Edwin Z’berg—More on Women For: —The role of money in politics—Fran Diamond—Lack of commitment among some members of Women For: —Women For:’s fundraising—The grassroots initiative process in the seventies—The People’s Lobby—Women For:’s work with People’s Lobby on the Clean Environment Act—More on People’s Lobby—The defeat of the Clean Environment Act—Gladys Meade’s efforts to take on the issue of campaign financing—Participants in campaign finance effort—Widespread lack of interest in activist groups in campaign finance reform issue—The People’s Lobby, Common Cause, and Secretary of State Jerry Brown work together on campaign finance reporting—Joins Common Cause board—Works on nuclear issue for Clean Environment Act—The Fair Political Practices Act.
More on participation in environmental issues—More on Women For:—The grassroots participation in the initiative process in the 70s—Media coverage of the Peripheral Canal campaign—The “strange bedfellows” campaign on the Peripheral Canal (Common Cause, Jerry Brown, People’s Lobby) —Ellen Stern Harris—Green’s work with the Planning and Conservation League—Work with the California League of Conservation VotersThe origins of Heal the Bay (HTB)—Early HTB fundraising and publicity—The first HTB office—Early HTB staff and volunteers—The HTB summer promotion at the Santa Monica Place mall.
More on Women For:—Ellen Stern Harris—The Peripheral Canal campaign—The formation of WATER—Dr. Rimmon C. Fay—Howard Bennett—The creative contributions to HTB of Cydney Mandel and Jamie Simons—The formation of a scientific advisory committee for HTB—More on the summer promotion at the Santa Monica Place—The HTB office staff—HTB acquires an aquarium at Santa Monica Pier—HTB linkages with the City of Santa Monica—The HTB logo—The Beach Report Card—Felicia Marcus’s approach to the struggle with the city of L.A. over the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant—The water quality issues in the Playa Vista development design—The struggle against the Ahmanson Ranch development and the fight to save the headwaters of Malibu Creek.
More on the Peripheral Canal Campaign—Green’s philosophy of leadership—Heal the Bay’s original goals—HTB’s Speaker’s Bureau—HTB’s Gutter Patrol—Focus group research for the Gutter Patrol—Mark Gold—HTB involvement in the Playa Vista development project—The HTB opposition to the Ahmanson Ranch development—Unpave L.A. —HTB Speaker’s bureau—The usefulness of the internet as an organizing tool—HTB fundraising—Compensation—Surfboard Art Invitational—Children’s March on the Beach—More on Surfboard Art Invitational.
Development in the area of electric vehicles—Big agriculture’s successes in obtaining waivers to the Clean Water Act—Water ranching—Problems with selenium and boron leaching from Westlands Water District water table—The probable end of cotton production in California—Ellen Stern Harris convenes a group to discuss the Metropolitan Water District—The Southern California aqueduct systems—Green’s family’s water business—The climate of political activism in the seventies—Green’s belief that campaign finance reform is a crucial issue—Green’s work on Proposition 15—Monthly meetings on environmental issues organized by Ellen Stern Harris—The arts focus of early HTB events—The importance of having science advisors in environmental organizations—Green’s leadership style—The Peripheral Canal campaign inspires Green’s continued interest in statewide water policy—Works for the contra Costa Water Agency—Dearth of environmental coverage in the L.A. Times—More on working for the Contra Costa County Water Agency—Discussions about corporate sponsorship at HTB—Organizational stress caused by the Surfboard Art Invitational.
The HTB annual dinner—Green’s philosophy of activism—The diversity of participants in the environmental movement—Another Mother for Peace—Creative Initiative—Organizational dynamics of activist groups—More on Creative Initiative—Green’s experiences working with women in the environmental movement—The professionalization of the environmental movement—Corporate sponsorship of HTB—The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council—Unpave L.A—Proposed solutions for capturing urban runoff—The formation of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council—The watershed council logo and mission statement—An example of the watershed council’s problem-solving function—Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR)—The watershed council’s focus on groundwater quality—The TreePeople project to retrofit a house for capturing runoff—The County Public Works project in Sun Valley to capture runoff—The watershed council’s interest in the area of evapo-transpiration—The problems involved in transitioning to native plants in California—The watershed council’s “waterwise” campaign—The watershed council’s Compton Creek project—The watershed council’s cartography project—The watershed council’s publication, Stormwater: Asset not Liability—Changing laws on the stormwater question—The Wetlands Recovery Project—The watershed council’s publication on the Clean Water Act—The challenge of finding new leadership for the watershed council.
Green’s work in community education on native plants—Progress on the native plants issue in the legislative arena—The preponderance of women in environmental activism—The founding and goals of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN)—Green’s book on California water policy —C-WIN’s board—Carolee Krieger’s participation in water policy issues—More on the founding and goals of C-WIN—The water industry’s policy of not discussing land use—C-WINs fight against the privatization of water—C-WINs push to examine land use policy—Legislative action on water policy—The dwindling groundwater reserve in Southern California—The drawbacks of desalinization—The effectiveness of tertiary water treatment—City bureaucracy with regard to water—Water re-use—More on the founding and goals of C-WIN—The problems with the water in the Delta—Green’s upcoming book on water—Green’s first book: Stormwater: asset not liability—Dramatic rise in the percentage of rainwater runoff—TreePeople’s projects to reclaim stormwater runoff and recharge groundwater.
Green’s position on the Contra Costa Water Agency—The three main interest groups in water policy in CA—A weekend retreat to assemble water and agriculture representatives held at Green’s home—An annual conference to educate Southern Californians on water policy—Genesis of organization Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform (POWER)—Mike Gage’s appointment to the Department of Water and Power (DWP) commission—Mayor Tom Bradley’s promise to Gage that he could have several environmentalists on the commission—Attitude of LA DWP commissioners toward Gage and Green—The “engineering mentality” at the LA DWP—Environmental community’s resistance to desalinization —Green’s participation in construction of the Tillman Water Reclamation project in the East Valley—Resistance to tertiary wastewater reclamation—Bradley’s LA DWP commissioners replaced by the Riordan administration—Green’s efforts to coach engineers in communication with public—Project to re-line Owens Valley tunnels—DWP publicity—Formation of CalFed—Collusion of large agriculture interests to control state’s water—The three-way process: Big agriculture, urban water managers, environmental community—More on collusion of large agricultural interests to control state’s water—State of current water supply situation as compared to thirty years ago—Intransigency of California legislature with regard to environmental matters—POWER conference—Participates on Planning and Conservation League—More on collusion of large agricultural interests to control state’s water.