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David Todd

INTERVIEWER: David Weisman (DW)
DATE: October 10, 2002
LOCATION: Lubbock, Texas
TRANSCRIBERS: Melanie Smith and Robin Johnson
REEL: 2230

Please note that the video includes as much as 60 seconds of color bars and sound tone for technical settings at the outset of the recordings. Numbers correlate with the time codes on the VHS tape copy of the interview. “Misc.” refers to various off-camera conversation or background noise, unrelated to the interview.

DW: Good morning, it’s Thursday, the 10th of October, in the year 2002, and we are here with the Conservation Association of Texas in Lubbock, Texas at the Holiday Inn and we are on the road for the Conservation History Association Texas Legacy Project and we have the director of the project, David Todd, with us here this morning to talk a little bit about what we’ve been doing for about 3 ½ years now. And I’d like to thank you for taking the time to be here.
DT: Thank you.
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DW: Yes, sir.
DT: Good morning.
DW: And I would like to start by asking the question, what is the goal of the Texas Legacy Project and this video voyage and what is it’s intended audience and it’s philosophical purpose?
DT: I don’t think there’s a single goal or purpose but I could—I could certainly list three or four that I think are important. One is simply to recognize and give credit to some of the individuals that have contributed so much to conservation in this state. Often
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they—they get very little fame or fortune, very little coverage and—and I think that they certainly deserve it. Secondly, I think that there is a—a role for the project in—in chronicling the environmental history of Texas. It’s certainly on a par, I think, with—with many other major social movements, whether it’s labor or peace or suffrage or civil rights movements. And—and I—and in that sense, I think, has some value academically to understand who was involved, what happened, when it happened, where it happened. That sort of litany of facts and events. Third thing I—I think is important about the Texas Legacy project and one of its goals would be to—to put together some information about the status and trends of—of ecological conditions in the state. It’s been 40 years,
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roughly, since Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, came out and first alerted many people to the—the problems in environmental protection and ecological conditions and its been about thirty years since many of the major environmental laws, both on the federal level and the state level, were passed and many of the agencies were set up to create—to enforce them. And—and thirdly, its been about a generation since many of the large national environmental groups were set up, whether it was Natural Resource Defense Council or Environmental Defense or many, many others. And I think that the—the fourth goal that I could identify would be—a—a kind of a poll, or survey, to show the diversity and depth of the environmental movement in Texas, which is not the first place you’d probably look for—for that group of people and that kind of campaign.
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And I think often times, environmentalists are—are stereotyped and—and, in a sense, trivialized as being sort of a marginal movement. And I think if nothing else, we’ve been able to show with our interviews of over 150 people that there’s great diversity, both ethnically, we’ve gotten Hispanics, African-Americans, Anglos. Age wise, we’ve got people who are in their mid-nineties, and some who are 40 or 50 years younger than that. We’ve also got people from rural communities and urban areas, we have people who are poor, who are rich, and I think there’s a great diversity and I think it shows that there’s—there’s great credibility because it’s—it’s very hard to say that this is just an isolated concern of—of a small group of people. And so I think that those are the four major goals of—of the project.
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DW: Maybe you could talk a little bit about what your role is on this project and how you came to actually even instigate the idea behind this project. I mean, it didn’t certainly materialize out of nowhere, I don’t know if you were working on it for a long time or if it was a sudden inspiration that made you decide to spend 3 ½ years of your life getting involved in this.
DT: The—the project started because I’d—some of these goals that I mentioned before occurred to me as—as being important ones. I think that there are also some personal connections. Many of the people that I’ve worked with are—are clearly mortal,
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they’re clearly finite, and I think very valuable people to me, individually. And—and one person, in particular, comes to mind. A fellow named Ned Fritz, who is a—an environmental attorney in the state and has been a champion for the public interest in many different regards, whether it was fighting for—for forest protection in east Texas, or against dams in many parts of the state or playing a role in creating the Dallas Audubon Society or the Texas Nature Conservancy and many other projects that he’s contributed to. And—and as I’ve gotten into it, I’ve realized that he is only one of—of many, many people and they’re all kind of connected by this sort of daisy chain of
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common concerns and—and friendships that have made up this—this whole environmental constituency, I guess you might say, in Texas. My role in trying to—to compile some of this stuff is—is, I think, maybe most as a—as a kind of—of glue or a cog in trying to keep a lot of very talented people and—and committee people involved in their project and some of them would just be the—the trustees of the Conservation History Association of Texas, which has been sponsoring this—this effort. And they include Ted Siff, who’s our treasurer, and Susan Peterson, who’s our chair. We’ve also had other trustees, John Hamilton, Janice Bezanson, Beth Hudson, Helen Thorpe is
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another, and—and each of them have contributed a great deal to—to guiding the project and—and giving encouragement for it. And we also have an advisory board who contributed a lot of very s—special and valuable technical advise for us. There’s Steve Kleinberg, Louis Marchiafava, Marty Melosi, Char Miller, Paul Steckler and—and we value their contributions as well. A—another part of the project that I’ve tried to pull in is—is money. This won’t work without money. And we’ve had wonderful funding from the Houston Endowment, Meadows Foundation, Summerlee Foundation, Vaughan Foundation, Magnolia Trust, Wray Trust, and a number of individuals as well. We’ve also
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been fortunate to have some partners that have—have contributed a—a lot in terms, not so much money, but—but—but talent and time. One would be the Center for American History at the University of Texas, which acts as our archive for all the tangible materials that we collect, whether it’s the logs or the transcripts, or the VHS tapes. They provide a permanent storage site that’s cataloged, indexed and available to the public. Another partner that—that’s a little bit more recent, but—but I think they’ve been a wonderful help and that’s the, formerly called the School of Library and Information Sciences, I
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understand it’s going to be called the School of Information soon, and they’ve been helping us with the—the digital part of this archive, which has been key in trying to get outreach to provide streaming audio, video and text on a website, a website that’s called And I—I think that the key people, though, the people who spent the most time are—are Gary Spalding, who’s provided all sorts of technical support on—on lighting and sound and—and has also been a soundboard for us bouncing off ideas about how we should approach the project. And then, David Weisman, who has been our cameraman and director and—and has done a lot of work on editing our films and—and logging the tapes that have been made. And again, has—has contributed a lot to how we
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we can see how we can best flush out the project and make this the best product we can. And finally, I, you know, this wouldn’t work and it wouldn’t exist without the 150 odd narrators, they’re not odd, strange, but they’re roughly 150 people. They have come from a hundred and—oh, I would say, probably close to 60 communities now across the state now, nine ecosystems represented, and they—they have an enormous variety of—of backgrounds, whether they’re—some are from politics, some are from law, some are from the ministry, some are commercial fishermen, some are organic farmers, some
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are—are conscientious ranchers, it’s a—it’s a great variety and diversity of people and we really value their contributions as well. So that’s kind of my job is to try and hold some of these people together and—and I—I really feel lucky to have been in that role.
DW: If you could speak on what you have learned from this project so far. Now that’s a pretty broad question, I mean, I would say it as what have you learned about the media and the role of the media? What have you learned about the state, having taken a look at it now, not the same as going around it as a vacationer or a camper or as a businessman? What have you learned about the role of media in this? And, from the information that we’ve gleaned, what have you learned about the state of the Texas environment and where you think it would be heading? You’ve now spoken to hundreds of people, more than most reporters, pollsters, or analysts, so if anyone asks for the pulse of Texas’s environment today, I don’t think anyone would have any more information. So looking at those three things, what would you say you’ve learned from this experience or watching back on the tapes?
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DT: I—I’ve certainly been lucky to get exposed to a lot of smart people and—and committed people and I hope I can pass on some of the things that I’ve learned from them. They were good teachers; I don’t know how good a student I am. There are—there are probably four things that I would point to that I think I’ve learned from the project. The first would be about natural resources, the second about pollution in the state, the third about certain information in media, and the fourth about—about people. I—I’ll try and take them in order. As far as natural resources go, I think often Texas is considered as being, or Texans consider themselves to be part of the frontier, part of the
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wild west, but—but the more I travel around, the—the more I realized how small the state is becoming, how limited the resources are here, how finite they are. On the other hand, I think that there are possibilities for recovery and restoration, and I’ll try and go through some of the—the thoughts I have there. As far as the limits to it, we’ve—we’ve learned that about less than 1% of tall grass prairies are left of what was here in—in a virgin state, less than 1% of long leaf pines are left as—as what the—the first settlers saw. All the major rivers in Texas are over appropriated, the Rio Grande ran dry at its mouth last year. Half of the springs in Texas, probably over 500 springs, have gone dry
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in—in this state. The Ogallala Aquifer has dropped dramatically, and they—they think will probably be drained, effectively, within 50 years. We’ve seen an invasion of mesquite, salt cedar, tallow trees, juniper trees because of overgrazing problems and cultivation in places that probably never should have been farmed. We’ve seen the sprawl of—of cities. If you follow Interstate 35 there are very, very few breaks between south of San Antonio all the way to east of Dallas, over 250 miles, I believe. Another thought that I might have as far as sprawl, as an example, I—I grew up in Houston and
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it’s now over 50 miles across in any dimension that you might choose. So it’s—and—and another sort of personal thought is when I was born there were about 9 million people lived in Texas. Now there are over 20 million people. Despite all these pressures and problems, there—there’s still some really encouraging sights that I’ve seen in natural resources and from what we’ve heard from people. There’s the recovery of some endangered species, where there’s alligators, whooping cranes, aplomado falcons. There’s the restoration of prairies, you’ve seen people who are trying to rebuild prairies from scratch. Some who are trying to restore long leaf pines. Others who are trying to
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reseed the south Texas brush lands. We’ve also ran into people who’ve talked about how marginal croplands have been taken out of cultivation and reseeded to—to native grasses. And we’ve also talked to people—have talked about their farming operations and how they are taking a trashy approach, where they leave a lot of the organic material on top of the soil and—and use no-till or low-till technology to prevent the kind of soil erosion and—and dust storms that were seen in the 30’s and even in the 70’s. So I think those are some of the good news and the bad news in terms of natural resources from what I’ve—
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I’ve heard. Another topic would be pollution in the state. I—I’m concerned about some things that I’ve heard. One is that there’s sort of a shell game that goes on between the different media—that being air, and water and solid waste. And we’ve talked to people who discuss air pollution scrubbers and—and, basically, what often happens is that the scrubber waster gets thrown into a landfill, so you’re basically taking your pollution out of the air and putting it into a landfill somewhere. We’ve also seen a—a municipal sludge from wastewaters as far away as New York ending up in waste sites out in west
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Texas as solid waste. And it also goes the other way, we’ve talked to people who are familiar with solid waste, and some liquid waste, that are put in incinerators and then put up into the air. So there’s this—it’s not clear that we’re resolving the pollution problem; we may just be shifting it to another media. I also have found that there are—there are too many euphemisms and too much whitewashing that goes on when we’re talking about pollution. You know, to give some examples, people discuss low-level nuclear waste, low-level radioactive waste, which is highly toxic, has a very long life, and in
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most respects, is not low-level. Another kind of a euphemism would be the cement kilns in—in Midlothian, Texas, that take hazardous waste, use it as fuel, and—and, in the course of burning in these kilns create all sorts of dioxins and—and other pollutants that are highly toxic and yet, this process is called recycling. And—and I don’t see that as really an appropriate term. Another example would be that we’ve talked to people in—in Pasadena, south of—of Houston, who work in the petrol-chemical industry and they have
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noted their continual routine upsets and excursions which are not isolated, they’re—they’re—they’re not unpredictable, they are something that should be included in the permit and considered a major form of pollution and yet, they are sort of sidelined as being something that’s a—an unusual event. Another thought about pollution is that—and maybe a sad thought is that—that, increasingly, it seems that there are sacrifice zones, there are parts of the state that are effectively being red-lined in, what I think, is a—a pretty environmentally unjust way. There are parts of the state that—that are poor,
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they’re generally minority communities, they’re often rural, and they don’t have the political clout or the—the economic resources to fight dirty industries or hazardous waste sites from coming into their—their neighborhoods. So I think this often results in—in many of us thinking that all these pollutants and—and industries are sort of out of sight and—and out of mind, but of course, they exist and they’re disproportionately impacting just, you know, a small part of our population. That seems very unfair to me. I guess the fourth thing I’ve—I’ve seen in pollution from people’s discussions in the Texas Legacy Project would be some of these new kinds of pollutants that are maybe not getting the kind of coverage and—and attention that they deserve. I would think one of the major ones would be carbon dioxide. You know, we—our federal government has elected to
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step aside from the Kyoto Protocol Process and to denigrate claims about there being real climate change risks. And—and I think that that’s unfortunate. Other people have talked to us about the role of some of these hydrocarbons in—in emulating our hormones and possibly causing mutagenic and teratogenic problems in our—in our offspring. And in—in our own biology. Another issue that probably isn’t getting the kind of attention in the pollution realm that I hope it would is—is genetic engineering and genetic pollution, biologic pollution. Because unlike chemical pollution or—or radioactive pollution which
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we’re maybe more familiar with—those degrade. Biologic pollution, because it—it’s a living life form, it’s a it is a life form, it reproduces and expands and—and actually can become more severe and more mobile with time. I guess another thought would be how there are these long range transport problems and I think, for many years we thought that we could isolate our pollution problems in—in one part of the—of our community or our state and I think that’s becoming less and less the case. And—and an example comes to mind would be carbon one and two, which are—are—are large coal fire plants south of
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Del Rio in Mexico. And we’re seeing long-range transport of the pollution from those plants all the way out to Big Bend causing significant visibility problems. Where you used to be able to see 100 miles out there on a clear day, now you may be able to see maybe only 10 miles or 5 miles. It’s very traumatic. One last thought is that we’re often familiar with—with acid rain and—and I think we’ve made a lot of progress in trying to solve acid rains connected with sulfur emissions, but in Houston and some of the other communities, we’re starting to see acid rain that—that’s connected with nitrates. And—
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And auto pollution rather than say, coal fire plants. So it seems like, you know, you solve one problem and—and there are a whole slew of new ones coming up and I think we have to remain open to the fact that—that the environment is changing, you know, these problems are dynamic and we have to keep working on the new ones. I don’t—I don’t want to give the sense that everything is bad or that the news is so terribly dismal and—there are some—some encouraging things. I re—I remember that we talked to a
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Senator named Don Kennard, and he talked about how difficult it was to get controls on DDT or even to get a—a—a kind of civil discussion about it. And 30 years later now, though, I think we can say that DDT has been effectively banned although it’s—it’s very persistent, it still appears in tissues here and—and in economies abroad. But still, there’s some progress made there. Similarly, CFC’s have been—have been banned and I think that over the long haul that’ll be good for the ozone layer. And then there have been a number of superfund sites that—that are in the process of being cleaned up, although
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there’s probably not the kind of resources in money and attention that—that they need. But still, I think there’s a great deal more recognition to the kinds of problems that Rachel Carson identified 30—40 years ago now about Silent Spring. And—and that there can be a lot of unintended consequences from the chemicals and—and pollutants that we put out there that can come back to haunt us. The third part of—of what I’ve learned has to do with information and media. And I—I—I think this is very valuable, at least it has been for me. I guess the basic thing—message I gotten is that there’s too little
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coverage of environmental stories. You know, this is a topic that affects us all, it affects our children and grandchildren, it—it may be the major topic that—that’s being faced right now. Some people believe that it—it has a major role in—in—in war and peace. The access to energy, a—access to water, it may be something that’s already challenging us in—in Iraq and Afghanistan and it’s also our biological legacy. You know, if we contaminate our bodies or our soils, it can greatly limit the—the choices that our progeny might have. And I—and I—so the question I—I come up with is—and—and one that
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I’ve gotten a lot of help from David Weisman and Gary Spalding and also the people we’ve talked to is why the coverage is so meager? And—and a couple of things come to mind. One is it that it may be just too sad. You know, there’s a—a lot of newspapers trying—and—and TV try to give upbeat news and—and sometimes it—it is just not the kind of cheery information that you want to hear. Another maybe is just it’s complex and it takes a long time to explain it and—and to show the different aspects of an environmental problem and—and maybe the sound clips of today are just not adequate to
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cover that. A third thought to why there isn’t enough coverage, maybe that it’s just too controversial. The—the editors, publishers, copywriters may feel that this is going to offend advertisers and that they can’t give coverage to—to environmental problems like this. Another thought may be that there—with the mergers and acquisitions that we’ve seen, that there’s great concentration now and that the companies that own and control media then. You know, you look at AOL-Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, they
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control many different outlets in different markets and different media and—and so it—it may create conflicts of interest for these companies which have many diverse kind of investments and, you know, I’ll give the example of General Electric, which simultaneously owns a—a broadcast network and is a major investor in the nuclear utility industry. And so, the fact that there’s very little coverage of the—the short term and long term problems with Comanche Peak or with the South Texas Nuclear Project may be because one of the major outlet for news is—is owned by the same company that owns
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the—some of the—the companies that make the turbines and so on for these nuclear plants. Despite those drawbacks, I think that there’s some encouraging news again. One thing is that the—the—the tools for creating information and spreading it to other people are much more powerful, much more inexpensive and—and much more user-friendly than they were even ten years ago and certainly twenty or thirty years ago. And some of the tools I’m thinking about are—are a camera just like this which has very high resolution and—and cheap tapes that we can use. It’s—it’s easily leased and—and
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relatively easily operated, although I—I wouldn’t hope to do it. Also, there—there are editing machines now that are computer based and enormously powerful and flexible. And again, their prices have—have come down by factors of ten over the last ten years. And we’ve been able to edit a number of these interviews into short manageable clips because of this—this new technology. Another part of—of the media scene, I think, is—is the ways you can distribute this information. The Internet is enormously powerful.
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We’ve been able to put streaming audios, streaming video up on the website. We have interactive databases that are on the web. And—and I think that there are wonderful opportunities there. David Weisman, our—our cameraman and editor, has been involved with some community access, cable TV, and that’s a whole other outlet for getting the word out. So I think that there’s—there’s some worrisome issues in information and media, but there’s some really encouraging opportunities, too. The last think I wanted to talk about—of the things that I’ve learned, at least, has to do with the people that we’ve
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Met and—and gotten to know, and—and I think, gotten to love in a way. I mean, these are wonderful, wonderful people, very—have sacrificed a great deal. Many of them are isolated, marginalized in their communities. They’re challenging, often, the—the major employers, whether they’re challenging the oil and gas industry in—in Midland, Texas or whether they’re challenging the—the forest industry in east Texas or if they’re challenging a major utility in—in a small community like Glen Rose, that, you know, would be planning a—a large nuclear utility there. And often times, after they bring up
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their concerns, they’re—they’re bullied and—and marginalized and—and—and called names and, you know, sort of childish things, but—but sometimes the harassment raised to the level of death threat. And we’ve—we’ve probably talked to half a dozen people who’ve had their—their lives threatened. So, you know, their efforts are by no means trivial and the kinds of obstacles that they’ve—they’ve tried to clear are—are not minor at all. And some of the things that they—they’ve often been charged with, these
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environmentalists is that they don’t understand. You know, and maybe, they don’t understand the technical problems, that the science is—is too complex, and—and I think that that’s—that’s just demeaning, it—it’s not true. The—the science is—is available for, you know, almost anybody who—who puts their mind to it, and we’ve seen that with a number of people who—who haven’t had higher education in technical fields, but they’ve become experts on the pollution issues that—or the natural resource issues that threaten their communities. I think where’s the will, you know, they’ll find a way to—to
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understand these problems. They’re often told that they—they don’t appreciate what the—the general public needs, what—what’s good for—for the, sort of, the larger public, the—the greater welfare and—and that they must make it a sacrifice of their community so that others can benefit. And I—I think that that kind of—of argument really doesn’t—doesn’t sit well with me and I think that these people that I’ve met have made very persuasive arguments that if one community has to make a sacrifice, then—then others should, too. And if others did as well, then I think we would have a much larger debate
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about whether these sacrifices are really worth the benefits. I’d like to sort of finish with one encouraging thing that I’ve—I’ve learned is that—that despite the challenges that these people face, they are persistent, they’re creative, they’re entrepreneurial, and they’re everywhere. And, you know, small communities, large communities, African-
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American ones, Hispanics ones, Anglo ones, wealthy ones, poor ones, there are conservationists everywhere and—and they’re doing very good work. That’s about all I had to say.
DW: It seems that there could hardly be a person having listened to this who would not assume you have massed a great deal of information about everything that’s right or wrong with the environment in Texas. Knowing what you do, it’s either got to be paralyzingly frustrating, or actively energizing. How does this information filter into your own life? What do you do differently now because you know all this than you would’ve done four years ago?
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DW: How it has changed your life and that you do something different now because of what you’ve heard or seen?
DT: I think that—that it is frustrating and it is daunting, because you realize that there are six billion people on the planet and a ten trillion dollar economy in—in the United States and hundreds of millions of acres just in the United States alone and it—it’s very
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hard to think that anything that one person could do would make a hill of beans of difference. But by the same token, I think you realize that—that being an individual, you have a lot of leverage because you don’t have to ask other people’s permission to do things. You don’t have to get a—a great bureaucracy to join in or whether it’s a state agency or environmental federal agency or a large nonprofit or a large corporation, so I think that that latitude that you have as an individual is—is a—a very empowering thing. Secondly, I think that there are a lot of new tools. I mean, in—in this case, you know,
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we’ve been able to do a lot because of the new technology. The new understanding of—of how you can get the message out. And then in my personal life, I’ve been fortunate to have the kind of training and financial backing where I’ve had opportunities that—that not everybody has and, I mean, I went to architecture school and so I was able to go and teach sustainable building at—at Rice University and taught that for about two years and—and managed to get it within the—the curriculum for Rice. It’s only one school, it’s only one department, it’s only one class but it reaches 30 people a year and—and
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presumably, those architects would go out into their fields and into their communities and maybe will pass on some of the ideas that I was able to share with them. I’ve also, you know, gone to law school and—and was able to practice law at a state agency, the Texas Air Control Board, and prosecuted about 100 cases and, you know, maybe in some small measure, made the air quality safer or better for people. My family is also—operates a—a cattle operation and we’ve been trying to go to a more sustainable direction towards grass-fed, towards organic beef. We’ve done a lot of cross fencing, a lot of fencing off of vulnerable areas to try and keep riparian areas from eroding. We’ve tried to—to lower our stocking levels to try and make sure we’re within the carrying capacities of the land
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that we have. We’ve gone out and do a—done a lot of surveys of bats and birds and—and different kinds of plants. And I hope that we’re going in the right direction, I think that—that—it’s been a very humbling experience. Being in the cattle industry which is very low margin, often not a very profitable business and you realize that you don’t have a lot of latitude of what you can do. So instead of trying to bring in more inputs, you have to use your mind and—and try and be creative with the—the way that you manage the land rather than what you put on the land. My family’s also been able to have two
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foundations, one called the Wray Trust and one called the Magnolia Trust. And over the last sixteen years, we’ve given away about six million dollars towards environmental projects in Texas for about 100 different nonprofit groups that are in small communities and large communities for water pollution, air pollution, natural resources, wildlife. One interesting thing that may not seem related but campaign finance reform has been an interest of ours, to try and reduce the—the kind of dissonance you’ve got between what the public feels, which polls have shown 70, 80% support for environmental protection
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even in Texas, which is not considered a hotbed for that sort of thing. And our legislature and our—our executive branch which have been pretty consistently hostile towards those kinds of concerns. I—I guess a—another thing that I’ve been interested in—helped form a group called the Foundation Partnership for Corporate Responsibility with six or seven other foundations. And thinking that—that our—our gifts to nonprofit groups use about 5-7% of our assets. But what if we could use 100% of our assets to put leverage on the companies that we invest in, that are often the—the very opponents that our nonprofit
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groups are fighting. You know, it—often times the—although we own a very small proportion of these companies, if you speak out through the proxy resolution process there, sometimes you can get them to listen and sometimes you can change their policies from the inside rather than trying to sue them or—or do protest from the outside. So I think that’s—that’s been a productive thing. The—the last thing that I think I’ve recently been trying to work on is realizing that there are limits to what you can do through the political process and through the economic realm and—and so we, just this summer,
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made a grant to buy a—a native prairie, it’s a tall grass prairie. And we often ask interviewees in this project what their favorite place is and this might be one favorite place and I—I’d like to describe what it looks like. It’s about 31 acres and it’s part of—of the, what they call sand hill prairie. It’s tall grass prairie, it’s got mostly little blue stem, but it also has about 130 other species of plant within its 31 acres. And when I went out there about a month ago, it—the grass was up to my head, it was almost six feet tall. And it was an amazing sight. I mean, not only did we hear the rustle of these
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grasses and—and sort of dive through them as we were walking, but when we came out we had the—the—the little blue stem seeds all in our hair, all over our clothes. And they—we were—we were being one with nature, it—I mean, it was a—a very wonderful experience. And when you think that this thirty acres is part of maybe 3000, maybe 4000 acres that’s left of this particular kind of ecosystem. There was once 12 million acres of it. It’s less than 1/10 of a percent that’s left, so many people have never even seen this.
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And—and, you know, my hope is that we can get lots of people out there and be able to share that same experience that I had and that same sort of joy about how rich the natural world is. That’s responsive.
DW: You said, we went and we were covered. Who’s the “we” who was covered with seed when you went there?
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DT: I’ve gone with a number of people out there. Bill Carr is a—a botanist with the Nature Conservancy of Texas. Another fellow was Jason Singhurst, who’s a botanist with Parks and Wildlife, the state agency here. Another was David Bezanson, who runs a—a nonprofit group called the Natural Area Preservation Association, which actually has title to the place now, we gave the grant to that group and they’re going to be in cahoots with a group called the Native Prairie Association of Texas and managing it for the future.
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DW: I know you have a couple of nice little daughters, and have you taken them out there to experience this and then would be my question is, what would you pass on to the next generation? Now you’re someone who has this knowledge, you have this prairie and you have two kids. Where are they going to fall in developing an aesthetic and an appreciation and a care for that? Are you doing anything to that effect?
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DT: I don’t know. I do have two daughters. One is six, one’s three and a half. It’s hard to know what they think at this point. The older daughter, Hannah, has a very strong sense of what’s fair. And—and I—I’ve seen this in a lot of kids and—that—that—it’s just a very ingrained kind of sense of what’s just and what’s not—not just and you see this on the playground and at home. And—and terrible protests and upset when—when somebody isn’t being treated right. And I think that—that that kind of feeling is a real encouraging one because when we’ve talked about the environment, it’s really about
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treating the next generation, and the seventh generation, fairly. And making sure that what we take doesn’t infringe on what they can have. Or look at it in a different way, we’re one of—of is it, 12 million species on the planet, is it 20 million species on the planet? But I understand now that we are taking something like 30-40% of the photosynthetic productivity of the planet. Is it fair that, you know, 1/1000 of a percent of the—the species diversity on the planet should have such a large share? It’s probably not fair and I think that Hannah’s feeling of—of—of what’s just and what’s not will carry her
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well. And I don’t know if she’ll be interested in environmental things but I think that she’ll be sympathetic. Margaret is 3 ½; I—I’m not sure what she feels about this. I think that—that she, like a lot of other kids, enjoys digging in the dirt and—and I—I think that she relishes in that kind of connection with the planet. We talked to a—a bishop recently who is probably as educated and—and thoughtful as—as you could meet and—and he—he recounted this wonderful story about going back to his family’s farm and lying down
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on freshly plowed dirt and smelling that dirt and feeling that dirt and walking through it in his bare feet and I think that that’s something that goes back to a 3 ½ year old who has that same sort of innate connection with Mother Earth, and—and so I think that even a child of her age has—has a good foundation there.
DW: Thank you very much.
[End of Reel 2230]
[End of Interview with David Todd]