Reflections on Refugio

If you don’t want to read this long piece please sign these two petitions!

1. Santa Barbara City Council: Divest Now.

2. Governor Brown: Ban Fracking Now.


The oil spill happened, but you already knew that! We’re mad and sad and we’re organizing. What did you expect!

Why We Exist As 350 Santa Barbara

Part of our goal 2 ½ years ago in forming this group was to bring more fire to the community with a particular emphasis on climate justice.

Becca had read Bill McKibben’s Terrifying New Math article, and Colin and I had just got back from an intensive direct action training with Tar Sands Blockade in Houston, Texas. We each agreed that the environmental community here was much too sleepy for how serious the climate crisis is. We wanted to wake people up by bringing some grassroots take-it-to-the-streets energy, so we did!

Admittedly, we came off at times as as needlessly oppositional. I showed up to a county planner’s commission meeting dressed up as Darth Vader, pretending to be in support of an extraction project because it was “evil.” On my speaking slip I wrote that my name was “Darth Fracker.” Silly I know, but the point was to “rock the boat” of the “don’t rock the boat” culture here through humor and creativity.


We brought a lot of energy to a lot of events, such as the Climate Rally on July 27, 2013 and the Draw The Line rally we had on September 21, 2013. This is where our now famous 90 foot pipeline was born, which has been featured in the New York Times, and has been used at multiple rallies in California.

Santa Barbara Draws the Line with a 90' Pipeline!

Santa Barbara Draws the Line with a 90′ Pipeline!

SB Pipeline 2

We attempted to educate the community about climate change being a social justice issue that impacts some people more than others on the global scale.


And of course, we helped form a coalition called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, which took on Big Oil directly through a ballot initiative that tried to ban extreme oil extraction in our county.


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Chevron and their buddies spent over $8 million to defeat the fracking ban, outspending Water Guardians 20-1, resulting in a pretty bad loss. Alas, the most carbon intensive form of oil extraction in the world lives on in Santa Barbara County (cyclic steam injection, AKA steam fracking).

But the war on extreme extraction in California has really just begun. In February we helped get 2 buses full of people from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to Oakland to demand Governor Brown ban fracking. That was the biggest climate march California has ever seen, and it was led by our indigenous brothers and sisters at the frontlines of this global crisis. We were 8,000 people strong, and we had a great time up there.





Governor Brown will cave in to our demands eventually, and every signature on this petition helps — so please sign.  

In between then and now, Becca was hired by Food and Water Watch to continue efforts to ban the most extreme forms of energy extraction. She was even hired as a consultant with the World Business Academy to bring 100% energy solutions to the community. Colin has been working on GIS mapping projects linking the spatial and racial relationships between oil and gas development sites and proximity to schools. I’ve been mostly working on my graduate program to become a mental health professional and working two jobs, so I haven’t had as much time available to dedicate to this work…

But then…

The Horrible, Horrible Oil Spill


You probably know the details by now…

Over 105,000 barrels of crude oil mixed with Benzene and other dangerous chemicals ruptured out of a pipeline owned by Plains All American on May 19, 2015. It has been killing marine life daily, from SB to LA.


Some people in the community got out to the Gaviota coast in a totally volunteer, DIY capacity and started cleaning up. Some of them, who did work to stop the gang injunction in Santa Barbara last year, started their own new group called End Oil Now. They got national news!  

Some who were impacted by the 2010 BP spill in Louisiana wrote this open letter to them to warn them of the health effects of handling oil.  

Divestment activists in the Bay Area then brought to my attention the fact that the retirement funds our city relies on have over $100,000,000 invested directly in Plains All American! In total, the state retirement funds CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Pension System have over $500 billion invested in dirty energy companies. So I decided to replace the time I had been spending ocean swimming (giving that up for a while) to rekindle the city divestment conversation.  

So city council members… can you pass a resolution urging the state retirement funds our city relies on to divest? (Sign the petition here.)

Thanks if you came out to the ultra-positive #standinthesand rally last Sunday and, lots of respect if you instead chose the American Indian Movement healing ceremony at the Mission denouncing Junipero Serra at the same time. It’s too bad when important events conflict like that…

And……….. as always…………….. onward!!


350 Santa Barbara

50 UCSB Faculty Call on SB Mayor To Support Fossil-Fuel Divestment

Another article by Noozhawk, this time in the form of a Letter to the Editor.


[Note: The following is a letter sent May 15 from UCSB faculty members to the office of Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.]

Dear Mayor Helene Schneider,

We are a group of UCSB faculty in support of the fossil fuel divestment campaigns sweeping universities, cities, churches and other institutions right now.

There have been resolutions passed by both the UCSB and SBCC student senates to have their campuses divest from the fossil fuel industry, and there is a campaign now among faculty at UCSB to call on our faculty Legislature to do the same.

Some of us have been in contact with organizers from the group 350 Santa Barbara, who say they have been in communication with you about fossil fuel divestment.

It is our understanding that you told them the City of Santa Barbara divested long ago. We think it would make a strong statement to publicly state that the city has already divested and will not invest in any fossil fuel companies in the future, that you support these recent campus divestment initiatives and that you hope other local institutions will consider divesting as well.

It is in the interest of the economy, the public’s health and general welfare, and our globally shared environment that we support these divestment initiatives wherever they may continue cropping up.

Great changes start with small steps. Please join us in taking those steps now. The whole world is waiting.


John Foran, Sociology
Elisabeth Weber, German
Harold Marcuse, History
Ruth Hellier-Tinoco, Music
Paul Spickard, Asian-American Studies
Aranye Fradenburg, English
David Lopez-Carr, Geography
Lisa Parks, Film and Media Studies
Greg Mohr, Environmental Studies
Marc McGinnes, Environmental Studies
Casey Walsh, Anthropology
Raymond Clemençon, Global and International Studies
David Cleveland, Environmental Studies
Catherine Gautier, Geography
Aashish Mehta, Global and International Studies
Veronica Castillo-Munoz, History
Celia Alario, Environmental Studies
Rita Raley, English
Chris Newfield, English
Sharon Farmer, History
Stephanie LeMenager, English
Jeffrey Hoelle, Anthropology
Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Sociology
Aranye Fradenburg, English
Leila Rupp, Feminist Studies
Stephanie LeMenager, English
Richard Appelbaum, Global and International Studies
Patricia Clancy, Linguistics
Nancy Gallagher, History
Claudio Fogu, Italian
ann-elise Lewallen, East Asian Languages
Eileen Boris, Feminist Studies
Maria Charles, Sociology
Howard Winant, Sociology
Bruce Bimber, Political Science
Celia Alario, Environmental Studies
Barbara Harthorn, Feminist Studies Arturo Keller, BREN School
Catherine Nesci, French
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, Chicano Studies
Bodo Bookhagen, Geography Julie Carlson, English
Mary Hancock, Anthropology
Mayfair Yang, Religious Studies
Diane Fujino, Asian-American Studies
Tim Cooley, Music
Grace Chang, Feminist Studies
Roberto Strongman, Black Studies
Kum-Kum Bhavnani, Sociology

UCSB Faculty Senate Passes Fossil-Fuel Divestment Resolution

The noozhawk published an article about the UCSB Faculty Senate passing a fossil-fuel divestment resolution.  Awesome.


The faculty legislature at UC Santa Barbara has taken what it hopes will be a pointed step toward influencing system-wide change by passing a resolution in favor of eliminating university investment in fossil-fuel companies.

UCSB’s Academic Senate became the first faculty organization in the 10-campus University of California system to advocate for putting an end to investing millions of dollars in fossil fuel and oil companies last week, with a vote of 11 in favor, seven against and three abstentions.

Faculty are attempting to take the lead in what so far has been mostly a student-pushed change on the statewide and national levels, commonly referred to as the “Fossil Free” campaign.

The eco-minded movement, which is active on more than 350 campuses nationwide, is a response to what it says are increasing threats of climate change and social exploitation as consequences of dependency on a fossil-fuel economy.

UCSB Associated Students was the first in the UC system — along with UC Berkeley — to pass a resolution in favor of divestment back in February after working on the issue since last fall.

Students at five other universities have passed similar resolutions.

In a nutshell, faculty and students are asking the UC system to freeze all new investments in the 200 publicly traded fossil-fuel companies with the largest carbon reserves, while agreeing to develop a plan to remove all investments in these companies over the next five years.

“It is basically immoral for us, as university intellectual institutions, to be pushing forward climate and sustainability” when we invest in oil companies, said Emily Williams, a fourth-year student environmental studies major who has coordinated the local movement. “Our goal is not to get UCSB as a campus to divest. What we want to go after is the UC Regents. The political climate is such that we can’t get any sort of legislation passed. The point of it is to hurt the industry’s reputation.”

UCSB sociology professor John Foran called the faculty action the “very first hurdle in a long line of hurdles” toward effecting change, which he guessed would take until December 2014 or so. He estimated that $200 million of the UC system’s $6 billion endowment is invested in fossil fuels.

Foran, who teaches on climate change and climate justice movements, said more UC system faculty must get involved for the issue to come before the regents for any official approval.

“The way the faculty can do that is to request of the regents,” he told Noozhawk.

In the past, the regents have moved to divest from corporations involved with apartheid South Africa and, more recently, those involved in the sale/distribution of firearms, said Dianne Klein, a regents spokeswoman.

“Investment strategy is based on returns and what’s best for the university, and what’s best for students,” Klein said. “This is a big, complicated area.”

She said “probably a lot of dots” would have to be connected for the regents to hear a motion, especially since some votes — like the one at UCSB — are not cast by all faculty.

So far, only a handful of private, liberal-arts colleges have taken action to divest.

Regardless of the outcome, Foran said the faculty vote has sparked discussion and awareness on a campus that is typically lauded for “green” achievements.

“We want it to be debated,” he said, noting a need to sell and reinvest funds in clean energy. “We want to have a general discussion about sustainability. This is an issue that affects all humanity and generations to come.”