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Activist profile: Sandy Lejeune and Save Gaviota

February 04 2013 | Beach access, Victories, Coastal development, Chapters, Campaigns, Activism, Surfing,

You may have seen the recent Kickstarter success tied to the Save Gaviota campaign. I wanted to know a bit more about it. I also wanted to know the others that were fighting to preserve this area.

I reached out to Sandy LeJune, one of the mavens behind this effort. I started off by asking for a list of the names of people connected to the fight.

Jim: Hey Sandy, I have a few quick questions for you regarding the Save Gaviota campaign. Before I jump in can you share the names of the larger team behind this effort?

Sandy: The Santa Barbara Chapter has had preservation of the Gaviota Coast at the center of its work for twenty years, and all of our core activists have had a hand in this effort.  Our founders, Rob Puddicombe and Anna Bass, soon drew in others, including Keith Zandona, Bob Keats, Mark Morey, Megan Montgomery Birney, Mike and Pat Allen, Tom Phillips, Kahlia Rork, Kevin Mallen, Kim Taylor, Larry Flor, and Christopher Galbraith.  These early stalwarts were followed by  Nathan Post, Ken Palley, Deane Plaister, Scott Bull, Cary Penniman, Laura Erickson, Dan Weiner, Kara Kemmler, Jill Stein, Eric Friedman, Everett Lipman, Nathan Camp, Matt Wallace, Andrea Labbe, Kalyn Noe, Jon Heffner, and James Smallwood.

J: Ok, great. Now in a few words. What does success look like for the Save Gaviota fight?

S: Our goal in this struggle has always been to save every bit of this sacred place.  Just a little more than 60 years ago, much of the southern California coast was undeveloped, unspoiled and beautiful, and all but 20 miles of it has been lost to relentless development or is off-limits to the public.  When you view the Gaviota Coast in this context, its extraordinary biodiversity and unparalleled natural beauty are literally priceless.  So success for us means nothing less than permanent preservation - period.

J: Your crew has gained some great momentum, you raised funds on Kickstarter to make a film about this fight. Killer job on that. When does that come out and how will you use it in the larger campaign?

S: We are very, very grateful for the tremendous support of Surfrider Global and our project backers that made our Kickstarter project successful.  It means everything to us that over 1100 people contributed financially, and thousands more were made aware of the significance of the Gaviota Coast and our struggle to preserve it.  Our goal is to complete the film by summer 2013, and we're on track to achieve this.  Once completed, the film will be the centerpiece of our effort to raise awareness and funds for permanent preservation of the Gaviota Coast.

J: Cool and lastly… a detail I love is the context around this fight. Share with us how long members of this core team have been focused on this campaign.

S: Our chapter has been focused on preserving the Gaviota Coast for over twenty years. The depth of our passion for preservation of our Coast  comes from, in some cases, a life-long love affair that we have with this place.  We all hear about how the earth loves us, and the Gaviota Coast is one of the places where you can actually feel the earth's love emanating from the ground.  By fighting for its preservation we are merely returning the love we have already been given, have already felt. It's why even after all this time, our spirits remain strong, our commitment remains steadfast; and our love for each other and for the Gaviota Coast grows deeper with every battle we fight for its preservation.

J: Great and thanks for that update. Any closing thoughts?

S: No one struggling anywhere to defend what they love should ever underestimate the power of their thoughts and actions.  I know for certain that people standing together in love for their cherished places can make the difference between destruction or preservation. When we stand together as a community for the greater good we are destined for success - our love guarantees it.

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