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Contents Foreword: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, by William Cronon 00 Preface 00 Abbreviations 00 Introduction: Saving Graces 00 1. Out of the Woods: Stirrings of Conservation 00 The Voice of the West The Magic Mountain Cut and Run Bay Area Big and Tall 2. Fields of Gold: Resources at Close Quarters 00 Agricultural Heartland Agribusiness Goes to Town Agrarian Legacies Urban Watersheds The Mine in the Garden 3. Moving Outdoors: Parks for the People 00 Sculpting Nature Woodland Playgrounds The East Is Green Park for the People 4. The Upper West Side: Suburbia and Conservation 00 The Bulldozer in the Countryside Marvelous Marin Spanning the Golden Gate Guardians of the Foothills Protecting the Peninsula 5. The Green and the Blue: Saving the Bay and the Coast 00 Bye-Bye Bay The Soul of a Region A Crabbed Estuary The Greening of the Blue Going Coastal 6. Encounters with the Arch-Modern: Regional Planning and Growth Control 00 Cry California Metro-Topian Visions City Limits Through the Roof Toward a Green Urbanism Greenbelt Alliances 7. Fasten Your Greenbelt: Triumph and Trust Funds 00 Silicon Valley Fever Landscapes without Figures Revolting Times In Land We Trust Hanging Together 8. Sour Grapes: The Fight for the Wine Country 00 Deus Ex Vinifera Holy Terroirs Salve Regiona Sonoma Ascendant 9. Toxic Landscapes: Beyond Open Space 00 Pollution Politics Airing Grievances Cleansing Waters Choose Your Poison 10. Green Justice: Reclaiming the Inner City 00 Brown Environmentalism One Notion, Divided The Urban Habitat Conclusion: City and Country Reconciled? 00 Appendix 00 Notes 00 Bibliography 00 Index 00 Foreword Thinking Globally, Acting Locally William Cronon In 1969, having just been forced to step down as executive director of the Sierra Club after a dispute with the club's board about financial management, the colorful, larger-than- life David Brower founded a new organization called Friends of the Earth that soon became a world-wide leader in environmental politics. As the motto for this new group, Brower offered a prescriptive phrase that has since gone on to become a defining theme of environmental activism: "Think globally, act locally." However broad or systemic environmental problems might be, they almost always express themselves in local places, so that we often encounter them most directly in our own homes. Moreover, Brower was suggesting that effective environmental activism also begins at home, in the seemingly small day-to-day actions within our own communities that when multiplied together by thousands and millions of other people doing similar things, ultimately produce our myriad impacts on the creatures and ecosystems of the planet. The other key insight expressed in this slogan is that people can feel immensely disempowered and dispirited trying to solve the problems of an entire planet. Rather than leading to effective activism, the global perspectives of environmentalism can all too easily yield passivity and despair. By calling for local action, then, Brower was focusing people's attention on places where they could unquestionably make a difference if only they chose to do so: in their own homes and communities and daily lives. Given the widespread acceptance of "think globally, act locally" as a key principle of environmental politics and ethics, it is a bit surprising that relatively few environmental histories have been written in this spirit. Except when dealing with a single local campaign (for instance, the controversy surrounding Love Canal in the late 1970s), academic studies of environmental activism have typically focused on geographical scales well above the local community. More often than not, national legislation and the actions of federal agencies have received disproportionate attention. Certainly this was true of Samuel Hays's classic Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, which arguably launched the modern field of environmental political history, and it was equally true of Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind. Hays's magisterial study of post-World War II environmentalism, Beauty, Health, and Permanence, pays much more attention to local activism and conflicts, but the vast scope of the book prevents any one place from receiving more than a few pages of discussion. Although these books and their successors certainly detail political conflict in particular local places, their larger goal has generally been to attach those places and controversies to a wider national narrative. We do have a few environmental histories of individual states, with William Robbins' two- volume study of Oregon (published by the University of Washington Press in this series) standing as the most distinguished benchmark of the genre. But below the level of the nation or the state, we have essentially no long-term histories of local environmental politics. The reasons for this are many, but can no doubt be attributed partly to environmental history's longstanding interest in the public lands and the federal policies that have shaped places like national parks and national forests. Access to federal records is often a good deal easier and fuller than is true of more local archives, and this too may help account for the national and state-level scale of many environmental histories. Even those scholars who have focused on smaller geographical areas to analyze local environmental politics--here, Andrew Hurley's Environmental Inequalities remains among the most distinguished examples--have tended to focus on a single issue or campaign. For all these reasons, Richard Walker's The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area should be welcomed as a truly pathbreaking work. There is really no book quite like it. Not only does it offer the first comprehensive history of environmental activism in the communities surrounding San Francisco Bay from the nineteenth century to the present, it is in fact the first comprehensive study of local environmental politics that has ever been written for any American city. As such, it offers a model that we can only hope other scholars will emulate. Rarely have the benefits of "thinking globally but acting locally" been more evident than in the pages of this book--making it all the more appropriate that David Brower was himself a prime example of a San Francisco environmentalist engaging in activism internationally, nationally--and locally, all at the same time. Richard Walker is one of the nation's leading economic and historical geographers, but he is also a child of the Bay Area with a deep love of one of America's most stunningly beautiful metropolitan regions. Having served for more than two decades on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, he has been personally involved in many of the political campaigns described in this book and has had first-hand access to individuals who led and contributed to those campaigns. As a result, his narrative of San Francisco environmental politics combines careful research and long-term historical analysis with a strong sense of personal engagement that is unusual in a work of academic scholarship. Like many Bay Area activists, Walker is as deeply committed to social justice as he is to environmental protection, making him an especially passionate chronicler of historical struggles in which Left-Green alliances have probably been more common than in the nation as a whole. Walker's title--The Country in the City--recalls a classic work of environmental scholarship by the British literary critic Raymond Williams entitled The Country and the City. In that book, Williams traced the history of pastoral tropes and conventions in English literature, paying particular attention to the ways in which artistic representations of rural nature have tended to suppress the human (and animal) labor that has gone into creating and sustaining that nature. Like Williams, Walker is acutely conscious of the role that social class plays in defining who has access to which landscapes, and what kinds of human uses of the natural world are and are not considered appropriate by different groups of people with different degrees of wealth and power. But rather than follow Williams out into the rural countryside to recount (for instance) the familiar story of how San Franciscans like John Muir and David Brower protected natural areas like Yosemite or Grand Canyon, Walker organizes his narrative around struggles to protect natural areas right within San Francisco's metropolitan district. By focusing on the country within the city, he is able to avoid the environmentalist dichotomy that too often segregates non-human nature from places of human dwelling and labor. Given Walker's longstanding interest in political economy, the result is a book that regularly juxtaposes the forces of urban development and economic growth with the natural areas that lay in the path of those forces. The heroes of his story are the growing numbers of people who sought to defend those beloved places from what Walker sees as the inevitably destructive effects of an expanding capitalist economy. This emphasis on land conservation in the face of capitalist economic growth gives Walker's book both its narrative unity and one of its most important messages for contemporary readers far beyond the Bay Area. Although the focus of public concern might shift from decade to decade--from an emphasis on romantic nature in Olmstedian public parks during the early years to growing concerns about pollution, toxicity, and biodiversity by the late twentieth century--the central riddles of land conservation are perennial. Although the growth of the built environment produces essential amenities for many urban residents--and great wealth and power for a few--it also brings a host of attendant costs and challenges. Among the most important of these have to do with protecting public space against private privilege, and sustaining natural ecosystems and human health against political economic forces that regularly undervalue their importance. Here, Walker offers a contrarian note of hope. Although there are plenty of things to be angry about when contemplating the history of past American abuses of the environment-- and this book is forthright about such anger--there is much to celebrate as well. For Walker, environmental politics in the Bay Area have been characterized by remarkably broad-based citizen coalitions--transcending the divisions of class or race or gender--of people who whatever their other political beliefs were deeply committed to the protection of urban nature as a beloved and defining feature of their communities. Having no patience for those who proclaim the so-called "death of environmentalism," Walker sees the successful struggle to build a powerful public commitment to environmental protection in San Francisco and its neighbors as a bellwether for how such work should be done elsewhere in the future. Only by reaching out at the local level to growing numbers of citizens increasingly aware of their shared interests, he says, can the forces that would otherwise destroy "the country in the city" be defeated. By acting locally against global forces that potentially threaten all landscapes and communities, we defend not just the local nature of places like San Francisco Bay, but all those other local natures that together comprise the nation and the world as well. Preface For me, this book is an attempt to go home again. As a child of the Bay Area, I grew up with the Santa Cruz Mountains as a backdrop, the open foothills behind Stanford as a playground. The orchards of Santa Clara Valley were still in bloom, the redwoods of Big Basin and Memorial Park beckoned, and the beaches of Pescadero, San Gregorio, and Capitola were practically empty. My father took us on long family vacations every year, where we breathed the colors of California and the West on extended car trips. This was well before air-conditioning was introduced in automobiles, and the windows stayed wide open through the heat of the valleys and the cool of the big trees. I loved the lay of the land. As a teenager, I was awakened to environmental politics by the Save the Bay movement and the Sierra Club's campaign to protect the Grand Canyon. Close to home, I heard of strange conflicts over Stanford University's land-use plans--conflicts in which my dad played a big part--while I was still young. Naturally, I ended up on the side opposite my father and the university administration he loved. But he had only himself to blame for taking me out into the mountains. In college I lived in Europe for a time and saw a different kind of landscape than I was used to. I have been back there many times. While California was a much more modern place when I started traveling abroad, something grabbed me about that old land across the Atlantic: not just the ancient monuments and churches, but a landscape so lovingly maintained by the human hand. I got to see it before agricultural modernization erased the livelihood of the villages and turned them into summer homes for urbanites. Upon entering graduate school, I went east to Baltimore, Maryland. Johns Hopkins University had one of the few environmental programs anywhere in the country in the early 1970s. Reds Wolman had put together a wonderful collection of faculty and students in the newly assembled Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. There I learned to think more deeply about things such as water policy and forest change. Perhaps more than anything, the experience impressed me with how extraordinarily different parts of the United States are. I became a regionalist simply by realizing how much of a Californian I am. I recall the shock, for instance, on discovering that the Chesapeake Bay--with a coastline five times as long as California's--has hardly a speck of public access. How could that be? The beaches back home were public. I had never thought about it, but that expectation was in my bones. On returning to the University of California, I taught courses in environment and pollution for several years before being diverted by urban and economic geography. My career as an environmental activist was short but sweet. I produced, along with Michael Storper and Elaine Mariolle, a report on the finances of the state water project, which helped sink the project. Through that experience, I got to know such water activists as Phil Williams, Bill Davoren, and Mark Dubois. Through Ellen Widess, my partner at the time, I was immersed in the world of occupational health, pesticides, and environmental activism. She introduced me to such stalwarts of labor and pollution struggles as Tony Mazzocchi, Nick Arguimbau, and Mike Belliveau and made me understand what it meant to be devoted to--and not just write about--a good cause. It was a great time of life. Over the years, I have crossed paths with many other wonderful people mentioned in this narrative, including Carl Anthony, Greg Karras, and David Brower. Unfortunately, I missed out on meeting some of the key players of Bay Area environmental history, such as Dorothy Erskine, Mel Scott, and Caroline Livermore. Some of the elders--Sylvia McLaughlin, Bill Kortum, Florence LaRiviere--were still around to interview, but the ranks of those born before World War II have grown thin. On the other hand, I am happy to have made the acquaintance of a number of younger people now involved in environmental work, such as Mateo Nube, Robin Grossinger, and Vivian Chang. My early political education was as a New Deal Democrat, thanks to my parents. But it has been good to discover all the old liberal Republicans lurking in the greenbelt story, because I still remember a day when Republican did not equate to George W. Bush and his Horsemen of the Apocalypse. By the end of the sixties, I had become much more radical than my folks, much to my father's chagrin, but I am still full of that good old-time religion of the New Deal. I have never made a very good revolutionary. Nevertheless, I discovered Karl Marx by reading Capital with David Harvey at Johns Hopkins. I still do Marxist economics in my day job, but it has never altered what I came to believe deeply in my youth: that protecting the earth--the land, the beasts of the field, the fish of sea, and, along with them, the health and good sense of the human species--is an absolute. I absorbed the lessons of Rachel Carson, Barry Commoner, and John Muir before I ever saw the light of political economy, and it has stuck with me. It was from environmental activists, not Leninists, that I first learned the virtue of a radical militancy in defense of things precious. It feels good to get back on the green bandwagon after years in the wilds of global political economy. It's not as though everyone got the message that to be red, one should be green, and vice versa. There have been too many leftists who missed the boat on the environment and too many environmentalists who refused to grasp the nettle of capitalism. But there were many great thinkers around Berkeley and the Bay Area who did, and I could safely swim in this pond of fellow travelers. In the vast mainstream of American ideology, Berkeley-bred ideas are anathema, but I will defend our local political culture to the end. We have a bad habit of being right in the end, if a little crazy along the way. And this is why I champion so fervently the special place that is the Bay Area. Most of all, this is a book for everyone in the Bay Area. It is meant to help those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area appreciate what they have and what they have done. They can use this book as an exercise in collective memory. Anyone who has walked the trails of Mount Diablo, picnicked in Tilden Park, surfed the Sonoma coast, or simply taken in the open vistas of the Golden Gate might want to know how the wonders they enjoy came to be. It is a civic duty to pay tribute to all those who made the greensward possible, and it should be a pleasure for those who enjoy our parks, streams, and bay to celebrate what we have. The tale I have to tell is by no means dispassionate, but it is no less objective and worth reading for that. I have tried to tell it as honestly and thoroughly as possible. My red side tells me I should have been more critical of everything and everyone, but my green side wants this to be an upbeat lesson in the art of the possible (which we sorely need in these dire times). I have tried to be comprehensive, but it is impossible to be exhaustive within the covers of one book--especially if it is to be readable for the wider public. There are scores of green groups, hundreds of key fights, thousands of activists, and a million acres of open space and water in the Green City--this is only some of their stories. I have expressly downplayed the national and international sides of Bay Area environmentalism, which are better known, in order to show that even the big fish, including Muir and Brower, had to swim in the local pond. @XS @TXI am happy to acknowledge some terrific help on this project. A trio of friends who keep the red-green flame burning are Gray Brechin, Matt Williams, and Marty Bennett, and all provided inspiration and assistance, including reading various chapters. I want to thank those busy activists who gave of their valuable time to be interviewed, and special thanks to those who read individual chapters and answered further questions: Ted Smith, Caryl Hart, Larry Orman, John Woodbury, Briggs Nisbet, and Robin Grossinger. Hal Rothman very kindly read chapter 4. Bill Cronon read the entire manuscript and provided a gentle guiding hand, as well as the kind of encouragement that keeps one going when book production becomes a slog. I have learned so much from students over the years of teaching and advising that it is hard to thank them all individually. Many of them know more about environmental history and practice than I, and I have made good use of this fact. Some, including Joan Cardellino, Briggs Nisbet, and Monica Moore, became practitioners. Some, such as James McCarthy, Jake Kosek, and Julie Guthman, became professors. Some, including Jen Sokolove, Greig Guthey, and Shana Cohen, have just completed their doctorates. And some, such as Sarah Thomas, Juan DeLara, and Carmen Rojas, are still in graduate school. I have been ably assisted by many people along the way to finishing this book. Peter Cohen, Sona Chilingaryan, and Juan DeLara have done great work as my research assistants. Librarians at History San Jose, San Mateo History, Marin Library's California Room, and the Bancroft Library, especially Ann Lage of the Regional Oral History Office, have given fully of their time. Julidta Tarver of University of Washington Press saw the potential in my early scribblings and brought my little ship into port; Marilyn Trueblood of the press ably oversaw the production of the book; and Kris Fulsaas did an admirable job of "municipal housekeeping" on the manuscript. All of them know that I don't use the term "scribbling" in a purely metaphorical sense. And thanks most of all to Annie for her ineffable enthusiasm, indispensable support, and, best of all, her love. Abbreviations @TXAAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science AAG American Association of Geographers ABAG Association of Bay Area Governments AEC Atomic Energy Commission APEN Asian Pacific Islander Environmental Network BAAQMD Bay Area Air Quality Management District BCDC Bay Conservation and Development Commission CALFED California-Federal Water Agreement CalTrans California Department of Transportation CBE Citizens (now Communities) for a Better Environment COAAST Californians Organized to Acquire Access to State Tidelands CRLA California Rural Legal Assistance EBMUD East Bay Municipal Utility District EDF Environmental Defense Fund EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency FOE Friends of the Earth GGNRA Golden Gate National Recreation Area IGS Institute of Governmental Studies L.A. Los Angeles MALT Marin Agricultural Land Trust MROSD Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District MTBE methyl tributyl ethylene MTC Metropolitan Transportation Commission NRDC Natural Resources Defense Council OPR Governor's Office of Planning and Research PCL Planning and Conservation League PG&E Pacific Gas and Electric Company PODER People Organized to Defend Economic and Environmental Rights POS People for Open Space POST Peninsula Open Space Trust PUEBLO People United for a Better Oakland RFF Resources for the Future SLUG San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners SPUR San Francisco Planning and Urban Renewal Association SVTC Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition TALC Transportation and Land-use Coalition TNC The Nature Conservancy TPL Trust for Public Land UC University of California U.S. United States WPA Works Progress Administration Introduction Saving Graces The San Francisco Bay Area is more greensward than asphalt jungle, more open space than hardscape. Like the universe, it is mostly empty space. But what looks empty at first glance is not; it is a different kind of matter than the cityscape of bright lights and buildings. It is filled with a jumble of fields, woods, farms, and grasslands, of mines, marinas, creeks, and bays. This open space is sometimes called the urban greenbelt, but it is really a coat of many colors besides green--yellow, brown, blue, and gold--and less a belt than a quilt of countryside tucked into the folds of the metropolis. In the nine-county San Francisco region , 3.75 million of 4.5 million acres are greenbelt and open water, and less than 750,000 acres lie beneath buildings and pavements. Almost 900,000 acres are in publicly owned open spaces, what advocates call secure greenbelt. The Bay Area has the most extensive such greensward in the country, a patchwork of more than 200 protected areas within 40 miles of San Francisco covering an area larger than Yosemite National Park. At the heart of the metropolitan region is the bay itself, another 725,000 acres of water and wetlands guarded by government regulation. Agriculture occupies the largest swath of unpaved surface: 1.8 million acres. This is the country in the city. Cities like the Bay Area are involuted throughout their length and breadth with elements, traces, and re-creations of the countryside, including farms, ranches, parks, watersheds, wildlife reserves, trails, creeks, beaches, restored wetlands, and more. These are as much as part of the geography of urbanism as offices, roads, airports, apartments, and shopping malls. Our green and pleasant lands are not something apart from the city, something left over from nature's beneficence. They are part and parcel of the city--that most profoundly unnatural of human artifacts. The greenbelt, the open bay, and the clear breezes of the Bay Area are ours to enjoy because of intense human activity. This book lays out the jigsaw geography of those places, the nonurban urban realm, and tries to arrange the pieces into a coherent narrative. The making of the Bay Area's civic greensward has been a long and arduous process, built up over decades and fought over acre by acre. Every park, reserve, and trail required money, mobilization, lobbying, and electoral pressure. Every farm and watershed was developed through investment, hard work, and sacrifice. Every place not paved meant holding back developers and highway builders with local ordinances, regional commissions, and greenbelt alliances. Every mile of bay not reeking of sewage and garbage dumps is due to regulations, legal maneuvering, and political will. In short, the greenbelt is not a natural product of social progress and dawning enlightenment, but something that has been won through decades of effort. This book tells the story of how the Bay Area got its green groove. It begins with the stirrings of conservation in the time of John Muir and the Sempervirens Club. It then lays out the agricultural and mining legacy of the region and their ongoing mark on the geography of the city. Next, it turns to origins of the recreational park system, "pleasure grounds" such as San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and the East Bay's Tilden Park. For the postWorld War II era, it jumps north to the astonishing success of Marin County and south to the San Francisco Peninsula in stopping the suburban bulldozers and setting aside their beautiful backyards as nature preserves. After that comes the all-important fight to save San Francisco Bay--the blue-green heart of the region. Subsequently, the narrative expounds on the battles all around the Bay Area to control urban growth rates, as well as the utopian movement for a regional plan. Following that, it turns to the use of open-space districts and land trusts in the wake of declining government funding. The story next moves farther north to the Wine Country in Napa and Sonoma counties and the lively fight for the greenbelt at the fast-growing urban fringe. The final two chapters look deep within the built-up city at the battle against pollution and toxic chemicals, in the neighborhoods of the working class and the dark-hued poor. @XS--- @TXEvery city produces its own antithesis: a working, living, vibrant countryside. This is true in a double sense of an urbanized countryside and a ruralized city. We need to take account of both senses of the country in the city. On the one hand, the economic process of urbanization necessarily demands a countryside to service urban needs: farms, quarries, reservoirs, dumps, and the rest. The urban periphery is, in an important sense, a huge backyard of the city, and one that is fiercely exploited. That is the urbanized countryside. On the other hand, the first kind of countryside disappears as the city expands; it is platted, bulldozed, paved, and built upon. But there is a counterflow to urban advance, one that leads to setting aside open spaces, reserves, and other naturalized areas and that reworks nature into parks and other recreational spaces. It includes individual backyards that capture a bit of personal space and greenery. This is the ruralized city. It is born of a reaction to the bulldozers of urban development leveling the countryside and the desire to have something of the rural and the wild near at hand. It even reaches out into the working countryside to salvage the land from exploitation by the supply lines of the city. This is not the ordinary view of the city and the country. Conventionally, the city is the built-up area and the country is a thing apart where nature reigns. As the city grows, it obliterates everything that came before. Environmentalists refer to this advance as "the wall of sprawl"; Adam Rome speaks of "the bulldozer in the countryside"; and Edward Soja calls it the "postmodern city," in which history is erased from the landscape. Such imagery is powerful and by no means altogether wrong, but it is nonetheless misleading. The city and country coevolve. One cannot say that the rural came first and the city later intruded upon it. George Henderson has rightly said of California that "city and countryside developed in tandem." There was no settled countryside that preexisted the urban; the Gold Rush of 1849 created "instant cities," and California quickly became one of the most urbanized places on earth. If we persist in seeing cities as latecomers invading pristine rural landscapes, we are complicit with the profound American amnesia regarding history and geography. The countryside has always depended on the city, coexisted within the urban realm, and left its mark on urban forms. This mingling of country and city complicates the social geography of environmental sentiment. Raymond Williams' pathbreaking work, The Country and the City, can help us sort this out. Williams shows how deeply intertwined the urban and rural social orders of England have been and how this gave rise to a particular upper-class "structure of feeling" about the English landscape. Americans are no different. Their views about conservation and the land were born out of the encounter of the city and the county; by moving back and forth between the rural and urban; and out of their dreams of remembered youth in the country and out of their urban nightmares. Even more, these movements emerged out of struggles over the nearby countryside, where the city gave way to the suburbs. The impulse continues right down to environmental justice advocates wrestling with the meaning of a wholesome and livable environment in the central city. The environment most urbanites care about is not primarily wilderness and nature far from where they live. The wilderness obsession was made the mantra of environmental history by Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind. Students would do better to start with Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden and Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land, because they portray the effort by Americans to come to grips with modernity in the countryside and the loss of the rural past as seen from the city. Urban historians such as Kenneth Jackson, in The Crabgrass Frontier, and Peter Schmitt, in Back to Nature, are also clear about the mingling of the country in the city. But environmental historians have only just begun to break with the wilderness tradition and get back to the cities. This unity of country and city is evident in the San Francisco Bay Area. People here have commonly been immersed in the city and in love with the country, notably Tahoe, Yosemite, and Big Sur. Elites could bridge the geographic gap by owning both city homes and forest hideaways or by taking the railroad to Del Monte Hotel on the Monterey Peninsula. Even John Muir lived on the edge of the city when he wasn't tramping around the mountains. The middle classes made their forays into the countryside by car and on limited vacation time but enjoyed their campgrounds, fishing holes, and beaches. A common source of affection for the countryside is the memory of childhood excursions to the mountains or the coast. The most cherished environments of the Bay Area have often been ones nearest the city, because they have been the most accessible, the most visible, and the most threatened. There are sainted venues like Muir Woods, the Napa Valley, and Point Reyes, but just as important are the more everyday places, glanced at out the window, such as Angel Island, Mission Peak, or the Carquinez Straits. These have been the sites of some of the fiercest and most defining battles over the fate of nature and of urban society in this region, and they are the ones that make up the story recounted here. For a city of its size--seven million people, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States--the San Francisco Bay Area is remarkably blessed with breathing room. The watery expanse of the bay is the centerpiece and the region's trademark. The surrounding rings of mountains and hills provide a topographic counterpoint to the bay and plains. The central Coast Ranges are rich with wooded canyons, open ridges, chaparral-coated hillsides, and oak-studded savanna. The place is blessed with great vistas and dramatic fog banks, thanks to the fresh breezes blowing off the Pacific Ocean, and combines an abundance of bright sunshine and rainfall in the same climatic package. It is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, many say, and no doubt nature has been kind to those of us who live here. Nevertheless, one old myth of Bay Area exceptionalism needs to be put to rest. Its political stance did not spring from nature, despite the fact that this has been an article of faith among local greens. Dorothy Erskine, founder of People for Open Space, once declared that "our surroundings are so dramatic that I think that it has generated a certain emotional drive that led to victory in the battle for the Bay, and advanced our region farther than other parts of the United States in consciousness about the environment." Regional planner Jack Kent felt the same way: "What distinguishes the San Francisco Bay Area from its metropolitan peers is the remarkable way a dramatic geographic setting has had a decisive influence in shaping a Bay Area 'way of life'." All this would carry more weight if Los Angeles--so often disparaged by San Franciscans--were not so clearly more spectacular in its topography and more idyllic for human habitation. Looked at with some dispassion, the Bay Area is notoriously foggy, its mountains the lowest in the Coast Ranges, its hills mostly bare and dry in summer, its ocean front bitterly cold, its bay muddy, its creeks puny. What Los Angeles has lacked is not natural beauty but failure of imagination about saving its natural blessings. No, nature did not grant us all that we see. It did not give us parks and playgrounds, open space reserves and vineyards, piers and sailboats with which to enjoy the bay. And it certainly did not carry an insurance policy that assured the bay would never be filled, the mudflats fouled, and the rivers made to run uphill or that the hills would not be dug up for minerals, cut down for housing tracts, or lain to rest beneath freeways. It didn't give us trees in the right places, enough picnic tables and trails, or sufficient water for such a huge population. It is all, in an important sense, art and artifice. A friend from New York declaimed many years ago on a visit to lush Golden Gate Park that "It's amazing to think that the Bay Area once all looked like this!" Amazing, indeed, since the previous sand dunes were pretty barren until made into a great horticultural garden by the park builders. Nor are the lovely vineyards of the Napa Valley any less a product of the human hand. Even in places as wild looking as Point Reyes, there is a profound imprint of two centuries of cattle grazing. The whole of the greensward is an act of social engineering. So let's clear our eyes about the blessings of nature, and see them through the prescription glasses of human action. The greensward is the Bay Area's saving grace. But not because it naturalizes the metropolis. Rather, open spaces humanize the city. To say a city is made more humane by nature is no paradox. After all, the green lands are as much human- as nature-made, and therein lies their secret pleasure. This is a living landscape redolent with meaning for those who love both city and country and who realize how hard it is to reconcile the two. Open spaces close at hand are no passive backdrop to the city or leafy stage setting. No, every inch of the greenbelt, even the air we breath and the water we drink, vibrates with history and politics. @XS--- @TXWho, then, had a hand in making the Bay Area's greensward? Who fought to humanize the city, protect its bay, hold on to its fresh air? The primary role of women in this vibrant history is striking. Women are everywhere in the story told here. They have served as leaders, innovators, and minions, and they came from every direction, as housewives, mothers, lawyers, and scientists. There's just no getting around the sheer number of women. Indeed, women such as Dorothy Erskine, Caroline Livermore, Amy Meyer, Janet Adams, and Pam Tau Lee are the real heroes of this story. They have done it all. Yet women are all but invisible in traditional environmental history. Rachel Carson always appears, but there is no comprehensive study of women in American conservation. Gottlieb tries to even up the balance sheet by including health and sanitation work done by progressives such as Alice Hamilton, but the women disappear after that. Glenda Riley has assembled a remarkable collection of women writers and scientists coming to terms with nature in the far West, but hers is a strictly intellectual history. Environmentalism as a political movement has not been just a man's world, and by getting down to the local level we get beyond the upper crust of male leadership, men's tendency to push themselves to the forefront, and bias toward charismatic figures. Too much ink has been spilt over the famously male yearnings for wilderness, a land ethic, and deep ecology in accounts of American environmental history. There is a hidden history of women's conservation efforts that turns on the network of civic and garden clubs. In an era when women were still known by their husband's names, they were already having a significant impact on conservation projects and the spread of its principles, and a few were emerging as professionals and scientists. In the postwar era, women had an even greater public role in environmentalism; there were more college graduates than ever, and more were pursuing such callings as botany, landscape architecture, and engineering. But most were still housewives, looking for outlets for their energy and intelligence. Times have changed, and today's women environmentalists are usually in the workforce, and many are professionals. They are numerous in the nonprofit sector. And they are very present in pollution control and antitoxics struggles, but by no means exclusively. As one veteran of the postwar generation notes, with good humor, "I was a typical 'do-gooder'; we're all gone now. Now good works are all done by executive directors." Why are women so prominent in conservation and toxics battles? Most likely it derives from women's age-old role as the prime caregivers and nurturers of children, family, and the domestic sphere. This was hardly invented by bourgeois society, though it was certainly amped up in the nineteenth century. And while women have steadily emerged into the workforce and public life, this intense involvement with domestic concerns and familial well-being has not passed away. It would be a mistake, however, to confuse the "domestic" with the private sphere; women's concerns have repeatedly been taken into public forums, from the "municipal housekeeping" reformers of Progressive-era Chicago to postwar suburban women mobilizing the political right in Orange County. In being thus engaged, women come up against problems that can only be called "environmental": Are my children safe? Where can they play? How are my friends' and family's health and well-being? How fares my community, and who gets to decide? If women develop a strong green bent, it has usually arisen from such things as the loss of nearby woods where children play, the contamination of local drinking water, or the stench arising from a nearby factory. One hears such reasons repeatedly in interviews with green activists or environmental-justice advocates, along with the more generic reflections on the local sources of their love of nature, including days at the beach, walks in the redwoods, or sailing on the bay. Leading male conservationists, such as John Muir and David Brower, have been more inclined to be high romantics, who slip easily into lofty abstractions about spiritual reunification between a transcendental nature and the interior self, and the like. Women environmentalists are more likely to be realists grounded in the local, communal, and ecological, who take their cue from pragmatic lessons of maintaining a home, building a support network, or protecting living things. This is not to claim that all men are one way and all women another or that it is always in their natures to be thus; indeed, there has been considerable convergence in perspectives in recent years. But when the dust settles after we argue over statistics and essences, the difference in outlook remains too widespread to ignore. @XS--- @TXThe Bay Area environmental story bears witness to the importance of the elite in land conservation and nature protection. Greens are typically upper class and white, from the businessmen conservationists of the Progressive era to the Stanford- or Harvard-trained lawyers of today's national organizations such as EarthJustice. And the San Francisco region is wealthier than any other city in the United States, with a disproportionately large number of capitalists, managers, and professionals. But what compels the well-to-do to take the path of conservation? In the era of George W. Bush, it ought to be plain that environmentalism is not the inevitable calling of the national bourgeoisie and satraps of the American empire--quite the contrary, one might say. So why is the green band in the spectrum of elite ideas so wide in the Bay Area? Certainly, it begins with the experience of the beautiful places around northern California, from the sea to the Sierra, and with a capacious sense of a collective "backyard" on Mount Tamalpais or along the San Mateo coast. The upper classes are prodigious consumers of space and nature, with large properties, large houses, and a large sense of command of the landscape. They are also keenly aware of the relation between a comely environment and land values. So they might be expected to try to create great swaths of desirable space near to where they live, in the name of conservation. They are, in short, great consumers of the landscape. But there's a rub. All is not class harmony when the forces of capital storm the gates of landscape consumption. Many times the redoubts of the rich have been threatened by urban expansion, and many times the privileged have had to take on developers head to head. This contradiction has been prominent in the Bay Area, from freeway revolts to stopping bay fill. It leads people to oppose their own class interest in fighting off developers, industry, and investors and amounts, in the larger sense, to biting the hand that feeds. Conservationists usually call this "opposition to blind progress," but the howls of protest from business against these class traitors say that it is opposition to blind profit. More often than not, it has been men on the side of "the city profitable," and women on the side of "the city livable," as Maureen Flanagan shows for the urban reformers of Chicago during the Progressive era. Nor is greenbelt protection reducible to elite consumption spaces and their defense against developers. Bay Area greens have held to a remarkably broad notion of public interest and public space. This has its roots in Frederick Law Olmsted's ideas about public pleasure grounds and Progressive notions of the public good; it expanded with the coming of New Deal social liberation and public works and reached utopian heights among some Modernist regional planners after World War II; and, finally, it got a huge shot in the arm from the New Left radicalism of the 1960s and its aftershocks. A key difference between the conservative conservation of Westchester County, New York, as documented by Jim and Nancy Duncan in Landscapes of Privilege, and the socially liberal conservation of the Bay Area is that the vast majority of open space set aside here is pulbic land for public use. From Point Reyes to Alcatraz, from Mount Diablo to the Bay Trail, the people--of all classes and kinds--are welcome and even encouraged to partake of their place in the greensward. Nor has environmentalism been the exclusive province of the upper classes or white people, even in the wealthy Bay Area. The bumper sticker made famous by Richard White, "Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living?" paints a double-yellow line between classes, a line that really ought to be dotted. We should not be too quick to dismiss the mass of ordinary people as advocates of environmental protection. As Andrew Hurley shows so well in the case of Gary, Indiana, it is always a question of the kind of environment each class and race confronts in a city. The environmental struggles of different sides have their own integrity, even if inflected by class and race prerogatives or injustices. Environmentalism is a movement made up of a remarkable mixture of people and projects. It is in no way reducible to the national conservation organizations, such as the Wilderness Society and National Wildlife Federation. This is particularly true of the Bay Area. No place in the country has witnessed more outbreaks of green activism. In fact, it was here that modern environmentalism first became a mass political movement in the 1960s with the sudden ballooning of the Sierra Club and the Save San Francisco Bay Association. And they are only two among dozens of local green organizations. The big groups stand out like downtown skyscrapers--monumental, symbolic, and dominating--but they are far from the sum total of the landscape of urban environmentalism. The Bay Area's greenbelt has had considerable working-class support for decades. Workers have not been oblivious to the need for parks, recreational areas, and fishing habitat. Common folk and unions have lent support to conservationists back at least to the formation of the East Bay Regional Parks in the 1930s, and that continued through the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the 1970s and resurfaced in such campaigns as putting urban growth boundaries around the cities of Sonoma County in the 1990s. Surveys show a rock-solid support for parks and open space among people of color, especially Latinos, both as users of public space and as voters for parklands. In the Bay Area, environmentalism has steadily broadened its appeal, particularly in the domain of pollution control. Over the last generation, a host of environmental-justice groups dealing with brownfield issues in the inner city have raised new and troubling concerns about toxic environments. While their demands are not the same as those of mainstream greens seeking suburban open space, it is perverse to define such groups out of the environmental camp altogether. If anything, they have a deeper and more encompassing notion of what constitutes the urban environment and what it takes to make it livable. And their views have altered those of the larger conservation community. @XS--- @TXEnvironmentalism is more than the sum of class, gender, and race positions or interests. It has an irreducible life of its own. The green tendency has been a pillar of Bay Area life and politics for more than a century, and it inflects every other social movement to some degree. It has been as significant a marker of the place as the Gold Rush, Silicon Valley, or the Beat movement. Raymond Williams would have called this local tradition of politics and opposition a "militant particularism." We can call it, simply, a green political culture. Places are not just where things happen. They develop a character all their own that builds up over time, feeds upon itself, and affects all who pass through its bracing atmosphere. It is not given by nature or the mystic past; it has to be reproduced, like anything else. Harvard University has a distinctive culture; so does the Pentagon; so does as large and ill-defined a place as Hollywood. We make reference to these cultures all the time, but when it comes to whole cities or regions, we balk at making the same assertions. A city seems too big, people too flighty, the world too intrusive in this globalized era. And certainly one cannot argue by assertion. This book is a sustained case for calling the Bay Area green. Politics is not just elections and candidates, winning and losing. Politics is a system of parties, nonprofit organizations, civic groups, popular movements, business associations, and legal rules. At the same time, political life implies a public sphere, public debate, and public conflicts. These are the social cauldrons in which ideas grow, movements are born, and political hegemony is sustained. That is, politics is organized action, with an institutional fabric that must be built up and kept up to be effective. That, in turn, takes financial resources, social solidarity, and able leadership. Bay Area environmentalists have constructed an exceptionally effective network of organizations, from the Marin Conservation League to Save Mount Diablo, which has continued to grow healthy new branches over the years. The public sphere has a language and conventions that must be employed and appealed to in order to sway others to one's cause. This politic syntax takes on a particular slant depending on the time and the place. Consider the divergent public discourse of the United States and Europe about global warming in the early 2000s; the two hardly seemed to inhabit the same planet. At a smaller scale, in the Bay Area, ideas such as climate change, habitat loss, and disappearing species are much more common currency in the local media and classrooms than in, say, Houston. Professors, pundits, and politicians must all make reference to green causes from time to time to be taken seriously. Culture, whether we're speaking of politics, religion, or nation, is a social order, greater than any one person for the most part. It is the sea in which human beings swim, the air we breath. It helps define who we are and where we belong. To grow up, live, and work in the Bay Area is to partake of its green culture. At the same time, culture is not a structure that determines what we do and how we think. It is more than ruling ideology, repeated habits, and the rules of the game. It is an ethical universe in which we operate, a workaday grammar of good behavior that must be deployed by each and every person and can be reworked to deal with new situations as they arise. And being a system of moral sentiments, it is about "doing the right thing." In a green moral order, protecting nature is both good in itself and the road to the good life for the people of the city. In this sense of political culture, the Bay Area is not just a place full of green spaces, green projects, and green organizations. It is a place where green enthusiasms, like open space, are built into the fabric of urban life. It is a city whose identity is wrapped up in the local environment and its protection. Kenneth Olwig refers to this kind of affection for place as the "invisible fellowship of the landscape," and it is partly symbolic, partly material, and thorough communal. Of course, no place in the modern world stands alone, least of all a city at the crossroads of global technology, finance, and commerce like the San Francisco Bay Area. There is an intense traffic in people and ideas between different places. John Muir was born in Scotland, raised in Wisconsin, and toured Central America before coming to California. Frederick Law Olmsted only passed through California for a few years. Judi Bari moved to the redwood country from New York, Mike Belliveau from New England, and Caroline Livermore from Texas. None of this is unusual; many heroes of this story were born elsewhere. One can also point to reverse migrations, such as Petra Kelly and Jose Bové, both of whom spent part of their youth in Berkeley before going back to Germany and France, respectively, to raise green hell. The Bay Area's environmental culture has always been a fertile mixture of intensely local struggles informed by larger visions of nature, planning, government, law, and health. @XS--- @TXNothing about the green cast of local political culture is inevitable. Nor is there anything preventing environmental causes from taking a rightward course. For example, population control, a perennial undercurrent of American environmentalism, has at its root eugenics and racial purification. The German Nazis claimed to have learned a great deal from California in their programs of racial cleansing, and they put great stock in environmental purity, as well. The Sierra Club still has a large contingent that would like to make border closure a plank of the club's policy. The comparison with Orange County or San Diego should remind us that the direction politics takes rests on local political culture; we are lucky that it took the green path in the Bay Area. A staple of environmentalist faith in the Bay Area, as elsewhere, has been the belief in a beautiful, elegant, and virtuous nature. In this view, nature has its own logics of ecosystems, topography, and hydrology apart from those of humankind, even when significantly altered by human action, and those natural systems must be respected, admired, and, where degraded, restored to something like their previous vitality. Is this just a fantasy about untouched nature and the forest primeval? Not at all, though there are naive adherents to any set of beliefs. At root, the environmental ethic has a sound basis in science and a reasonable grasp of the human imprint on an urbanized countryside. Nonetheless, it has inged on the denizens of the city a necessary critique of the fetishes of market value, anthropocentricism, and theology. For this, a sense of nature outside and beyond human affairs is not an idle dream but an essential point of leverage for rethinking the way we inhabit the earth. At the same time, environmentalism in the Bay Area took a distinctly left turn along the way. Local conservationists are much more militant and socially committed than those most anywhere else in the country. Thanks to the uncompromising stance of John Muir, the Sierra Club ended up more progressive than its contemporaries, the Audubon Society or the Boone and Crockett Club. In the mid-twentieth century, the Bay Area kept on turning left (or at least down a road less traveled) behind the likes of Dave Brower, Martin Litton, Dorothy Erskine, and Sylvia McLaughlin, as Bay Area greens turned against such mainstream ideas as nuclear power, hydroelectricity, and clear-cutting. But is this enough? On the left, it has often been said that bourgeois environmentalists are not radical because they don't understand the grip of capitalism on the earth. No doubt, it is true that the grasp of most activists on the dynamics of capital accumulation is shaky. Yet, on the metric of militancy in opposition to capital's unchecked ambitions, the greens often rate high. Environmentalists have regularly put up some of the fiercest battles against the prerogatives of property and money of any movement in America. This has been especially true in the Bay Area, where our militant particularists have refused to give in to housing developers, freeway builders, and electronics makers. A similar criticism is made from the racial left these days. Upper-class white environmentalists are not radical enough because they don't grasp the oppression of the class system and the racial order. Again, this is true to a considerable extent. But even without that understanding, greens have commonly been the fiercest opponents of the production system that so glibly poisons the earth (and people of color in its wake), of the highway network that spews pollution over urban neighborhoods, and suburban sprawl that starves inner cities of their vitality. A fairer comparison is not to the ideals of the far left, however meritorious, but with other major opposition movements to the untrammeled power of business and industry in America. Consider the role of labor unions, for example. It is no less true that unions are a place where radicalism, reformism, and complicity with capital have always mixed uneasily. The labor movement has brought clear benefits to working people, despite its failure to live up to socialist hopes, but it has all too often been weak, craven, and corrupt as well. That failure does not make unions any less necessary to any project of ameliorating American capitalism in all its ferocity. It is not easy to pin down the ideological coloration of the Bay Area's progressive environmentalism. It has drawn on many intellectual currents critical of the prevailing order. For some, this includes classic socialism, for others anarchism, for others antimodernism, and for yet others religious faith. One encounters such ideological cross-dressing all the time. Gary Snyder, an inspirational writer of deep green persuasion, combines Zen, bioregionalism, and Wobbly sentiments in a seamless whole. Kenneth Rexroth, whose bohemian soirees launched the Beat movement in San Francisco, loved backpacking in the Sierra as much as he loved anarchism and Chinese poetry. But, in the end, green is one of the primary colors in the flag of the Left Coast, where politics and culture have long been out of step with the rest of America. @XS--- @TXStandard histories of American environmentalism are remarkably placeless--a fatal inattention to geography. Even though they inevitably make reference to the special role of the far West as the frontier of American conquest and of nature in the national imaginary, they forget that San Francisco is part of the West and that it dominated the West for a century. It should not surprise us, then, that the Bay Area had a significant role in the national nature play. In fact, the San Francisco Bay Area deserves special credit in the history of conservation and environmentalism. It was the birthplace of wildlands preservation with Muir and the Sierra Club in the 1890s. It gestated the National Park Service and the recreational parks under Stephen Mather and Horace Albright in the 1910s. It became the first place to organize mass movements for environmental protection under the Sierra Club and Save San Francisco Bay Association in the 1960s. And it led the way in the fight for clean air, clean water, and a nontoxic environment behind Citizens for a Better Environment and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition in the 1980s. One example should indicate the problem of inattention to place. In Bob Gottlieb's fine history of modern environmentalism, he credits Gary Snyder with coining the phrase "earth household" without placing Snyder in Northern California; he puts Denis Hayes, the organizer of Earth Day, at Harvard Law School while missing the fact that he was Stanford student body president; and he cites Peoples Park as "especially suggestive of how environmental themes emerged in [the 1960s]" but never links this to the qualities of Berkeley. The point is not to generate a list of "firsts" by Bay Area greens in the national accounts, however. Paying attention to place is not the same as civic hagiography. It is an essential part of the larger project of environmental history. Ideas and practices may reverberate nationally, but that doesn't mean they come out of nowhere. Whatever their larger compass, they still must be based in everyday life and landscape, in personal and collective geographies. The Bay Area's larger achievements are grounded in a place uniquely saturated with a green public culture. And that has redounded to the benefit of a larger national, and international, movement.
Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:
Urban landscape architecture -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
Urban renewal -- Environmental aspects -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
Landscape ecology -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
Environmental protection -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.