Jewish Journal


Posted on Oct. 16, 2008 at 12:41 am

Dorothy Green

Dorothy Green

Dorothy Green, Heal the Bay founder, dies at 79

My personal wake up call to the plight of our oceans -- and my introduction to Dorothy Green -- came 22 years ago.

At the time, my wife and I and our baby daughter lived in Santa Monica, just two blocks from the ocean. One day, while dipping baby Phoebe's feet in the water, I noticed a piece of wood on the sand. Looking at it more closely, I made out the words: "Danger: Pollution -- Stay Out of the Water."

At that time Dorothy Green, who died on Oct. 13 at 79, was just starting Heal the Bay. Connecting with her over this issue began a long friendship and years of collaboration and support for each other's work in healing this city's environment.

Heal the Bay began, just as so many of Dorothy's endeavors did, in her Tudor-style living room on the Westside. When Dorothy saw a problem, she jumped in to solve it, starting off by convening people, and often creating an organization in the process. Besides Heal the Bay, Dorothy founded the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, the California Water Impact Network and the California Water Policy Conference. Dorothy helped get these started and then in her gracious way, made room for others to get involved and carry the work forward. In a field where so many projects and programs get going only to disappear, those that Dorothy Green began have been lasting.

This is a woman who was a truly tireless voice in the fight for clean and sustainable water. On Oct. 8, five days before her death, as she was in hospice care, she managed to get one last op-ed piece printed in the Los Angeles Times, appropriately titled, "A Heartfelt Plea for a Sensible Water Policy."

My vivid personal impression of Dorothy has been, even in her last years of fighting a debilitating disease, of a young woman living just under the surface, eager and present, and constantly full of enthusiasm, curiosity and wisdom, and the spirit that there's nothing that can't be done.

What do we owe Dorothy? Well here's just one small example. If you grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960s like I did, you might remember those small colorful shells that were so abundant along the beaches. We used to collect them as kids and put them in glass jars, symbols of the beauty and abundance of the clean waters. For the last couple of decades those shells have disappeared. But just recently during a walk on the beach I saw they have returned. That's the result of Dorothy's fight to clean up Los Angeles' Hyperion Treatment Plant, her vision of restoring the health of our watersheds, of treating water respectfully and returning only clean water to the ocean. These small shells are gifts from a valiant spirit who will be missed.

Dorothy Green is survived by three sons, Joshua, Avrom and Herschel, and three granddaughters, Jessica, Katherine and Tara.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the California Water Impact Network, the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council or Heal the Bay.

-- Andy Lipkis, founder of TreePeople

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