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Central Coast Bioneers to Host Talk, Book Signing with Author and CEC Founder Paul Relis

Central Coast Bioneers will kick 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’s 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 p.m. Thursday, June 11 at the Ludwick Center, 864 Santa Rosa St. in 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 Jan. 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 United States that influenced the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day and other landmark environmental programs.

The oil spill was a life-changing event for Relis, who at age 23 became the first executive director of a newly formed nonprofit, the Community Environmental Council. 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, green buildings, urban gardens and an urban farm, that, decades ago, presaged the core elements of sustainability today.

“We are delighted to bring an inspirational person like Paul Relis here, who became instrumental in the environmental movement at such a young age,” Ecologistics chairman Michael Jencks said. “His stories and successes will encourage our local youth to get mad and then get involved.”

In his executive position with the California EPA, Relis helped forge the state’s nation-leading recycling programs. From 1996-2013, Relis taught in the Environmental Studies Department of UC Santa Barbara. He is a board member emeritus of the Community Environmental Council and sits on the boards of the American Biogas Council and the Bioenergy Association of California.

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

— Stacey Hunt represents Central Coast Bioneers.

 

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