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Living History Project

A Collective History of Student Engagement at UC Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara Environmental Organizing

 Santa Barbara Environmental Organizing

Santa Barbara is known as the birthplace of the Modern Environmental Movement. This reputation grew from the publics actions in 1969 when an oil blowout spewed crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel for 10 days spilling 3 million gallons of crude oil in to the Pacific Ocean. The cry to Get Oil Out! rang loud, and the world reacted. Shortly after important environmental legislation was established, and institutions like Earth Day and UCSBs Environmental Studies program sprung up. Forty years later, with a new call for oil drilling and a new understanding of its ramifications, the lessons of the grassroots activism of 1969 are perhaps more pertinent now than ever. The Birth of a Movement looks to share those lessons in order to inspire a new generation of activism.

This four films explore the negative impact and mobilizing role oil spills have played in the birthing of the modern Environmental Movement: 
Santa Barbara's Role in the Birth of the Environmental Movement
The Aftermath the Santa Barbara Oil Spill Had On Santa Barbara: Panel Discussion
Exxon Valdez to GulF Disaster: Changing the End Game. 

Diablo Canyon Protest:  487 people are arrested, including many UCSB students, in one of the largest protests against the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant which was being built in San Luis Obispo County.  Although the protest fails to stop the construction of the 1,100-megawatt reactor, the anti-nuclear power movement as a whole ultimately proves a major success.  There has been no nuclear plant built in the United States since Diablo Canyon.

May 1981 
UC Nuclear Free:  25 people are arrested inside Cheadle Hall at a sit-in to protest the UC’s management of the Los Alamos and Livermore nuclear weapons labs and call attention to the Regent’s upcoming vote on whether to continue managing the labs.  ”There is blood on the hands of the UC Regents and they can’t hide it.”  one protestor said.  Over 100 UCSB and UCLA students subsequently speak out and protest at the June 19 UC Regents meeting at UCLA, despite it being summer, including a group of protestors who approached the Regents table and are swiftly evicted from the room by university police.  The UC Regents nevertheless vote to renew their contract with Los Alamos and Livermore.

Oil Drilling on Campus?: Following three years of negotiations, Mobil Oil abandons its plan to drill for oil at the Cleaview site one mile from UCSB.  UCSB student activists are instrumental in convincing Chancellor Henry T. Yang to oppose the projects.  In addition, a Daily Nexus poll in 1995 reveals that over 60 percent of students oppose the project, with only 8 percent in favor.  The Community Environmental Council is also instrumental in the anti-Mobil campaign, calling into question the corporation’s safety record and raising the possibility of hydrogen sulfide poisoning as a result of the drilling.

April 20, 2010 
Stand in the Sand was a SB community response to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill that flowed unabated for 3 months. Stand in the Sand promised to stand united with the people and communities devastated by the tragic Gulf Coast disaster. and offer solidarity and resources to assist in the long recovery effort.  The images of the present catastrophe stirred painful memories of Santa Barbara’s own spill 40 years ago, confirming that future oil spills are inevitable.

The modern environmental movement was sparked by the anger and commitment borne of the Santa Barbara oil spill. A renewed, expanded movement to unite communities rural and urban, coastal and inland, left and right, to promote a clean, renewable energy future must be the legacy of the Gulf Spill Disaster

June 26, 2010
In the wake of the worst oil spill in the United States history, over 100,000 people throughout 924 global locations held hands for Hands Across The Sand, a united opposition against offshore drilling.  Together, the Surfrider Foundation, its chapters and many other environmental groups and individuals raised awareness through an organized national movement to steer America's energy policy away from is dependence on fossil fuels and towards clean energy.  
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