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Real Change by Real Visionaries!
March 2009

Del Mar has earned a reputation for extraordinary levels of citizen participation in government and community activism. Our Lagoon Committee set a very high standard some time ago for both participation and activism.
Way back in the 70s, a small band of determined warriors convinced the City Council to formally establish this committee to find ways to reclaim for the San Dieguito Lagoon the natural environment of this rich ecological estuary (often referred to by detractors as an “insect infested swamp”).

Their record of accomplishment over the years is almost beyond belief. These were not shrill voices lamely lamenting various assaults on nature. They went to work researching, informing, educating, persuading, and organizing. They devised practical solutions and strategies for protection, revitalization, and long term development processes. They built a broad base of community support to influence political decision makers. They overcame resistance from the Fair Board as well as other detractors. They became a powerful political force for good. A stroke of genius was to get millions of Southern California Edision funds dedicated to the present lagoon restoration project.

Not only has our lagoon revived (see article on fish revival, and a bird revival article due in next issue) but their vision has mushroomed into a 55 mile river park that has been enthusiastically embraced by the region and is well along the path to fruition.
The Lagoon Committee wisely anticipated the need for an organizational infrastructure that would provide long term legitimacy for their vision. So, today we have the San Dieguito River Valley joint Powers Agency (with elected county and multi-city representation), The Friends of San Dieguito River Valley, and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

If the measure of a life well-lived is leaving the earth a better place than it was when you arrived, these citizen activists have set the bar very high for all of us.
Although their baton has been passed to many more members over the years, let’s express our gratitude to these early visionaries (not all still with us): Nancy Weare, Don Coordt, John Bradshaw, Margaret Porter, Dave Keeling, Joe Lang, Jeannie O’Toole, Jerry Winterer, Herb Turner, Alan Carson and Ed Coughran.


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