50 Years Building Resilience

From the Santa Barbara Oil Spill to fires and mudslides, California Central Coast communities have been connecting valuable, replicable support networks

The tragic 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill has inspired, over five decades, Earth Day and the modern environmental movement that led to regulatory agencies, legislation and organizations to protect the natural environment and people who live there. These organizations now provide resources, support and resilience in the face of climate change and other challenges including increasingly-frequent wildfires. The 2015 Refugio Oil Spill blackened Santa Barbara beaches again. The Thomas Fire, California's largest-ever-recorded wildfire, burned hundreds of homes with two fatalities. It was soon followed, on January 9, 2018, in the first strong rain after a sixth year of drought, by the Montecito Mudslides that swept more than one neighborhood away in the mud, with 23 people killed and over a hundred homes destroyed. The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade sprang from these strong community roots. Organizations born of the oil spill years earlier leapt into action. 

May this story serve other communities to forge tight bonds for support, strength and flowering

This is our love letter



Community town hall meetings about the Oil Spill evolved into non-profit organizations, academic studies, disciplines, and the policies that form the basis and foundation of modern environmental law.

Regulatory and legislative foundations created include:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

California Environmental Protection Agency

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

the Clean Water Act

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

California Coastal Commission


Organizations and Support Structures created include:

Get Oil Out! (GOO)

The Community Environmental Council

The Environmental Defense Center

Environmental Sciences (ES), first taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Gaviota Coast Conservancy

Naples Coalition

Land Trust for SB County

Lands conserved: Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Wilcox Property, Carpinteria Bluffs, and Cojo-Jalama (Bixby Ranch)

Heal The Ocean


Direct Relief


Interviews include:

Bud Bottoms, Get Oil Out! (GOO)

Selma Rubin, co-founder of some 40 SB nonprofits, including chapters of Sierra Club and ACLU, as well as Community Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Center, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, and more 

Rod Nash, UCSB Professor Emeritus, author of the Declaration of Environmental Rights

Marc McGinnes, teacher, lawyer, activist, co-founder, Community Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Center

Paul Relis, co-founder, Community Environmental Council

Kathi King, Community Environmental Council

Linda Krop, lead counsel, Environmental Defense Center

Abe Powell, founder of the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade


From Wikipedia: 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill

"The Santa Barbara Oil Spill occurred in January and February 1969 in the Santa Barbara Channel, near the city of Santa Barbara in Southern California. It was the largest oil spill in United States waters by that time, and now ranks third after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon and 1989 Exxon Valdez spills. It remains the largest oil spill to have occurred in the waters off California.

The spill had a significant impact on marine life in the Channel, killing an estimated 3,500 sea birds, as well as marine animals such as dolphins, elephant seals, and sea lions. The public outrage engendered by the spill, which received prominent media coverage in the United States, resulted in numerous pieces of environmental legislation within the next several years, legislation that forms the legal and regulatory framework for the modern environmental movement in the US."

You're invited to contribute and participate in bringing this story to light. Thank you

1. Amount


2. Your information

Contributions are not tax deductible.

3. Payment information

Please select an amount