PA History Program on Local Environmental Movement History

The Palo Alto Historical Association is hosting its December program, “A Climate of Unrest Gave Rise to the Environmental Movement,” in-person this Sunday from 2pm-4pm at the Mitchell Park Community Center.

The 1960s and ’70s were among the most tumultuous decades with the war in Vietnam, civil rights, and political assassinations creating headlines and activism. There was also a growing awakening that pollution was having major effects on the planet, prominently on display by rivers repeatedly catching fire in Ohio.

Human activities were cited as the cause of pollution as well as other environmental harm to the planet as clearly described by Rachel Carson in her 1962 publication Silent Spring. The book is largely credited with starting the modern environmental movement.

In response to the rise of planetary concerns, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Act in 1970. Nixon also signed the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1972.

Locally, the environmental movement was taking hold in major ways. Individuals were inspired to take initiative and form organizations to focus their energies on some of the most threatened and threatening of actions that had previously gone largely unchecked.

At the December PAHA Vignettes program, we will hear from some of these local organizations, each of them celebrating a significant anniversary in the year 2022: Green Foothills, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Environmental Volunteers, and Canopy.

Why and how were these organizations formed and by whom? How has their work changed since formation and what has been accomplished? What do they see as major challenges ahead for the environment and their work? Please join us for a lively discussion about their missions, their work, their successes, and challenges to make this a better place that, for some, literally means a livable place.