Take a Stand: Be the Change

As a mission-based company, LoaTree takes pride in aligning ourselves with businesses, organizations and individuals that are committed to helping build a better world. Through this website as well as through the various community events LoaTree helps produce, we profile changemakers, build community and inspire action in order to encourage positive social action.

But sometimes, a company is forced to do more – to take a stand.

After the recent Plains All American Pipeline disaster at Refugio beach, we felt compelled to invest time and energy into something bigger.

Stand in the Sand

Created by LoaTree’s founders as a Santa Barbara-based response to British Petroleum’s 2010 Gulf oil spill, Stand in the Sand was born for a very specific purpose: to offer solidarity and support to those impacted by the Gulf Coast disaster and to raise money to aid in recovery efforts. Why? Because Santa Barbara’s own shores had been tainted by a similar disaster in 1969 that sparked the modern day environmental movement. Santa Barbara had skin in the game and was not about to let this catastrophe pass by without us providing assistance.

Nancy Marr and Jean-Michel Cousteau (l to r) with Solei and Talia (front, l to r). Keep our oceans clean and blue. ©Ronen Tivony

Forty-six years later, on May 19, 2015, Santa Barbara fell victim to society’s continued reliance on oil when a black sludge seeped onto our beaches and into our coastal waters – killing wildlife, choking out marine ecosystems, and driving a dagger into the heart of many locals who didn’t think this could happen…to us…again.

Stand in the Sand reactivated, but this time, the game was different. It was our home shores that were blackened, it was our community and our businesses that were impacted, and it was our treasured dolphins and sea lions and pelicans that now suffered. And importantly, LoaTree had a team with which to help shepherd Stand in the Sand – and a community that was behind the effort.

Community, Solidarity, Recovery

©Ronen Tivony

With the support of key environmental nonprofits, in a 10-day organizing spree, Stand in the Sand re-emerged, organizing more than 500 residents at the steps of City Hall to demand change towards a clean energy future. It was as much a demand on elected leaders as it was a call to action that personal steps be taken to reduce our personal dependence on fossil fuels.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau and founder of the Ocean Futures Society, joined members of other local nonprofits to call for an end to our continued reliance on oil, and to switch to clean, alternative technologies.

“If Santa Barbara cannot do it – with all the resources and technologies and know-how that we have – nobody can,” said Mr. Cousteau.

Left to right, Santa Barbara City Council members Cathy Murillo, Greg Hart, Mayor Helene Schneider and Bendy White. ©Ronen Tivony

After a series of speakers including Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, County Board of Supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal and others, hundreds made the mile walk down State St. to West Beach. There, they gathered along the shoreline to link arms, taking a symbolic stand against the rising black tide. It was a festive, yet powerful, moment to see young families, students, elders, kayakers and others gathered as a community to push for a better and cleaner future.

©Ronen Tivony

The Message: Be the Change

LoaTree has always believed that there is great power in leading by example: by being the change you want to see in the world. With the Refugio oil spill, and with frustrations with response efforts running high, there is plenty of blame to go around. The Santa Barbara community has every right to be critical of those at fault and to demand an end to dirty energy. However, LoaTree’s approach, and by default, Stand in the Sand’s approach, is to bring people together to channel frustrations into positive outcomes.

As such, the Stand in the Sand message remains a positive one. Stand’s mission, like LoaTree’s, is to help build community. So too is it Stand’s purpose to establish and exhibit solidarity with the many organizations working on the front lines in response to this most recent disaster. Finally, Stand continues to raise funds for recovery. Funds will be directed at regional wildlife care organizations and will be released soon. You can donate HERE.

Team LoaTree. ©Ronen Tivony

We are extremely grateful to the following organizations who lent their support in the days leading up to the Stand in the Sand Community Rally: 1% for the Planet, Community Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Center, Explore Ecology, Food & Water Watch, Fund for Santa Barbara, Gaviota Coast ConservancyHeal the OceanLucidity, Naples CoalitionOcean ConservancySave the MermaidsSprout Up, World Business AcademyUCSB Environmental Affairs Board and 350.org Santa Barbara. Special thanks to the Sierra Club for their early financial support.

LoaTree is honored to work in and be a part of a community along California’s central coast that honors its past, grounds itself in the present and works toward the future. While we hope and pray that we are never again faced with a tragedy like the one we faced two weeks ago at one of our most treasured beaches, we know that Santa Barbara is ready to unite and respond when needed.

And like the many other businesses and organizations that value a clean environment, strong economy and healthy community, LoaTree is with you – willing and ready to take a stand.

All photos courtesy of Ronen Tivony, freelance photographer, www.15images.com 

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