For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Megan Medeiros. I’m proud to say this is my 6th time welcoming you to this wonderful event as your Executive Director.
It’s energizing to see so many people gathered in one place who care about protecting our region’s natural areas. People get involved in protecting open space for different reasons. I have reflected on this throughout in 2018 and realized that what I love about my work at Committee for Green Foothills is it makes me feel like a superhero. In my role I have the opportunity to right injustice and support others as they do the same. Together we stop people from destroying awe-inspiring landscapes that clean our air and water. And every time we win, it sends a ripple effect across the world.
We have many superheros on staff who made some incredible and seemingly impossible things happen in the past 5 years. Can our advocacy staff please stand up and wave?
- In 2014, Alice Kaufman joined the effort to protect Ulistac, the last 40 acres of undeveloped natural land in the city of Santa Clara. Then she convinced the city to charge developers the price they should be paying for parks.
- Julie Hutcheson, working with community leaders, passed a contentious urban growth boundary initiative in Gilroy protecting thousands of acres of farmland in 2016.
- And Helen Wolter, our newest advocate on staff, saved habitat and nesting sites for the ridgeway rail in 2017 by ensuring Bedwell Bayfront Park in Menlo Park remains a place to enjoy as a natural resource.
- Then there is our long time legislative advocate, who (by the way) has been on staff this year for 40 years, joined our board of directors 50 years ago – the one and only Lennie Roberts, convinced a developer and landowners at Vallemar Bluffs to reduce the size of a project in 2017. In doing so, she saved coastal prairie habitat and four rare plants.
- And earlier this summer, I had a hand in the no on measure b campaign in san jose, mobilizing hundreds of people to stop billionaire developers from rewriting the San Jose General Plan, in turn saving undeveloped foothills and protecting Coyote Valley.
These 5 examples are among several hundred campaigns we have been a part of since I started in 2013. Beauty protected, wildlife have a home, and the bad guys have joined the good side.
We celebrate these victories with other superheroes. With community groups, like Friends of Ulistac, Friends of Bedwell Bayfront Park, and Gilroy Growing Smarter. We celebrate with partner nonprofits like Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Greenbelt Alliance, and Peninsula Open Space Trust and with governmental agencies like the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. We celebrate with developers and elected leaders who work with us.
But most of all, we celebrate these wins with you, our members and supporters, the real superheroes. If you have supported us with your time, talent, or treasure, on behalf of all of us with Committee for Green Foothills: I thank you
One of the most important roles I have is to ensure Committee for Green Foothills can continue to do what we do years to come, because nature needs a voice now more than ever. We haven’t done this before because we haven’t needed to but we are $40,000 short of our goal for this years event. I was daunted to even say this but I said it, $40,000. I know most all of you have already generously given once and I wouldn’t ask you to give again if I didn’t need to. But if everyone made a donation of $50-$150 and, we would hit our goal. There are envelopes on every table, before you leave today, please grab an envelope and make another donation. Thank you for your support.
Back to our regular programing…
Today we are paying tribute to two amazing human beings, Steve Abbors and Rue Mapp.
Steve is a naturalist at heart who believes in people. He reached out to me shortly after I started with CGF and made it clear he believed in me, which meant more to me than he probably knew at the time. He inspired us all when he worked with the Amah Mutsun tribal band to create a cultural conservation easement that grants the tribe rights to the summit of Mount Umunhum in perpetuity. And the importance he places on family and his wife Carlene provides a model to us all.
Then there is Rue Mapp. The example she sets as a strong female executive director is an inspiration for me. For a decade she has grown Outdoor Afro from a blog to a national movement. I’ve met her family at recent events and have been struck by her work being truly a family affair. I just hope my daughter is as proud of me one day as Rue’s children and family are of her.
Steve, Rue, and I come from different types of organizations and it is the relationship between our organizations that I love. Advocacy organizations like CGF are here to give a voice to land, parks, and wildlife if they are threatened. Agencies and nonprofits like Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District are here to buy the land and open it up to the public. And groups like Outdoor Afro closes the loop, bringing entire communities of people to protected lands.
This brings me to my last point before I leave the stage. I want to tell you something a board member, Bryan Beck, recently said: Committee for Green Foothills reminded him of a jazz band. I would argue that the entire movement to protect nature and bring people back outside is one large jazz ensemble. The two qualities that make jazz truly distinctive are improvisation and attention to staying in the present. Each musician has unique style creating something totally personal to them, and their contribution is part of a beautiful harmony. Jazz is hard to play but good players make it look easy.
Whether you see yourself as a member of our band, or if you see yourself as a superhero like I do, I am looking forward to the music and magic we’ll make together this next year. Thank you for being here today and thank you for your support always. You make a huge difference.