By Della Watson
Grilled | Eco-Heros
Invading the Privacy of the People Who Make the Club Tick
Photo by Mitch Tobias
Member of the Sierra Club's San Francisco Group Conservation Committee
YOU PRIMARILY USE A BIKE FOR YOUR GREEN LANDSCAPING BUSINESS. HOW DO CLIENTS REACT WHEN YOU SHOW UP ON TWO WHEELS? When I first started, it wasn't positive--they wondered how I was going to do my job--so I didn't advertise it. Now it gets people pretty excited. They see it as a benefit to hire an environmentally responsible business.
WHAT TURNED YOU ON TO CYCLING? I had a teacher in middle school who rode his bike to school. [Back then] it wasn't cool to ride a bike except for the really fringe element, you know, the punk rockers.
WERE YOU EVER MISTAKEN FOR A BIKE MESSENGER? All the time. I'd show up for an appointment, and people would say, "Where do I sign?"
YOU SPECIALIZE IN NATIVE-HABITAT GARDENS. IS THERE ROOM FOR COMPROMISE? I'll plant non-natives if a client makes a specific request, but eventually I'll get the native plants in there. I'm thinking 20 years out, not two months. That's a good thing when you're trying to change the world; things change and you're pleasantly surprised.
SOUNDS LIKE YOU PREFER A SUBTLE APPROACH. Definitely. I think I've lost jobs in the past by being too up-front. I used to have these long dreadlocks. Clients thought I was Super Hippie. I could see them thinking, "He's going to go smoke a bong, and I'll never see him again."
YOU'VE BEEN ON SAN FRANCISCO'S BICYCLE ADVISORY COMMITTEE SINCE 1998. WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU'VE SEEN? Ten years ago, people were still asking, "Do we need bikes on the road?" Now it's a given that bicycles should be integrated into our transportation networks. There are bike facilities and bike lanes everywhere I go.
DO YOU EVER WANT TO LIVE SOMEWHERE LESS DEVELOPED?
I was born and raised here. Cities are a part of my nature.
—interview by Wendy Becktold
The Sierra Club Pays Tribute to this Year's Eco-Heroes
They explored, they enjoyed, they protected. These environmental heroes took top honors at the Club's annual award ceremonies in September in San Francisco and Oakland.
- ANSEL ADAMS AWARD use of photography to further a conservation cause: Ian Shive
- Communication AWARD use of print or electronic communications: Ivy Main & the Virginia Chapter
- David R. Brower AWARD environmental reporting: Elizabeth Kolbert
- Distinguished Achievement AWARD conservation act by a public official: Roderick Bremby
- Distinguished Service AWARD commitment to conservation by a public official: Congressman Keith Ellison (Minn.)
- Earthcare AWARD unique contribution to international conservation: Maude Barlow
- Edgar Wayburn AWARD outstanding environmental service by a government official: Congressman Edward Markey (Mass.)
- Environmental Alliance AWARD forging partnerships to achieve environmental goals: Carol Adams-Davis
- Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering AWARD contributions to mountaineering: Royal Robbins
- John Muir Award the Club's highest AWARD for outstanding conservation achievement: Bill McKibben
- Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund AWARD environmental service by those younger than 30: Victoria Pan
- Madelyn Pyeatt Award working with youths: Anne Monnelly Carroll
- Oliver Kehrlein Award Outings program service: Marjorie Richman
- Raymond J. Sherwin International Award volunteer service toward international conservation: Michael Gregory
- Special Achievement Award single act of conservation or Club service: Clayton Daughenbaugh, Lonnie Morris & Charles Price
- Special Service Award strong and consistent commitment to conservation: Ken Brame, Jane Clark & Rev. Robert F. Murphy
- Susan E. Miller Award administrative contributions to Club chapters and groups: Chapter Treasurer Assistance Support team, Steve Kulick & Marian Ryan
- Walter A. Starr Award continuing service to the Club by a former member of the Board of Directors: Glen Dawson
- William E. Colby Award Club leadership, dedication, and service: Edwina Allen
- William O. Douglas Award outstanding use of the legal/judicial process to achieve environmental goals: Sharon E. Duggan