A Deeper Focus


Longtime Central Coast activist to speak in SLO June 11

Paul Relis

Central Coast Bioneers kicks off its 2015 Critical Conversation Series with a talk and book signing by Paul Relis, the founding Executive Director of Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council. Relis’ book, Out of the Wasteland, takes readers on a journey of the environmental frontier, starting with the birth of environmentalism in Santa Barbara, into the intricate, obfuscated but all important world of government and policy, to important new environmental technologies that can, indeed, free us from this age of oil. The program begins at 6:30 pm Thursday, June 11 at the Ludwick Center, 864 Santa Rosa St, San Luis Obispo.  KCBX News Director Randol White, who recently interviewed Relis on “Issues and Ideas,” will lead the discussion.

While Relis was a student at UC Santa Barbara, a massive oil spill erupted off the coast of Santa Barbara on January 28, 1969, devastated the coastline, killed much aquatic life, and severely damaged the local economy. The oil spill was a transformative event in the history of the U.S that influenced the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Earth Day and other landmark environmental programs. The oil spill was a life changing event for Relis, who became the first executive director of a newly formed nonprofit, the Community Environmental Council at age 23. The CEC played a critical role in staving off several proposed developments that would have changed Santa Barbara forever. Under Relis’ leadership, the CEC built visionary projects including recycling facilities, urban gardens and an urban farm, green buildings and other programs that, decades ago, presaged the core elements of sustainability today.

Relis’ book will be available for purchase at the program. A $5 donation to cover expenses is requested.


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