steroids buy

Robin Schneider

INTERVIEWEE: Robin Schneider (RS)
DATE: November 8, 2018
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
TRANSCRIBER: Robin Johnson
REEL: 3459

[Please note that the transcript includes numbers, which refer to the time codes for the interview. Also, please know that “misc.” refers to background noise or off-camera conversation that is unrelated to the interview.]

DT: My name is David Todd. I’m here for the Conservation History Association of Texas. It’s November 8, 2018. We’re in Austin, Texas. And we’re at the home of Robin Schneider, and we have the good opportunity to interview her about her life and career to date. Of course, she is Executive Director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment and has been involved in a lot of progressive causes to try to promote environmental protection, as well as other efforts. And I just wanted to take this chance to thank you for spending time with us.

RS: Thank you. Happy to do this.

DT: Great. Well let’s—let’s start maybe in your younger days and I’m curious if there were any childhood experiences that might have led to an interest in—the natural world—maybe parents, friends, teachers, who might have inspired this kind of curiosity and interest passion in you.

RS: Well I think one thing was just being outdoors a lot, having the natural world around, going out and picking berries, you know, in—in the wild. My grandmother had a wonderful backyard and all kinds of apple trees and raspberry bushes, currants, mulberries, grapes, just so many different fruits in her yard. So that was really a treat. She would also send us out to her—I think it was called mushtoven, her compost pile. And they had a big vegetable garden as well. So I spent, you know, time just as a kind in the outdoors but I think what really was somewhat more enriching was when my dad would take us on trips for four different summers.
And we would travel all over the country. We went to all 48—lower 48 states. We went to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, where I came between a mama bear and a baby bear and people were quite alarmed. And luckily, someone got the attention of the mama bear with some food or something so I could get out of this dangerous situation. [laughing] But we went, you know, to Expo ’67 in Montreal. We went, you know, all over the country—San Francisco, of course Disneyland, but just at a young age, starting at like four or five years old, I just got to see so much of this country, some of Canada.
I knew that there was a whole, big, wide world that was beyond, you know, the suburbs where I grew up in New Jersey. So I think that that gave me a sense of adventure, of curiosity, about what all was out there in the world to explore and to see and experience. And it maybe even made me feel like a little superior to my cou—you know, my—my—my peers because I had had, you know, these grand adventures and seen so much that most people didn’t have that opportunity to see because their—their dad wasn’t a maniac who would drive a thousand miles a day by himself. So…

DT: So you’ve mentioned your grandmother’s garden and your dad’s—I imagine it was a station wagon or another…

RS: Usually a station wagon, yes.

DT: Yeah. And—and your—your exposure in those two ways. Was there anybody, maybe a teacher, or—or a peer that—that might have, I don’t know, opened your eyes to something in the outdoors or natural world?

RS: You know, I went to six different elementary schools in six years. So for a while it was with nuns—on and off with nuns. And I can’t really think of anyone in those early years, in terms of teachers. We, for a while, we lived in Maryland for two years and we lived kind of in a rural area. And so it was really just me and my siblings and there were five of us at that time. And, you know, we would build forts, you know, in the woods and go down and visit the fox that was kept in a cage down the lane.
They—in that part of Maryland, they’re really big into doing these big fox hunts with the red jackets and the bugles and the dogs and then they would go through our yard. And—but, you know, I never really kind of was that enthusiastic about it. It was just a spectacle as far as I was concerned. I think more growing up what was influential to me—I—as a—as a Catholic in my younger years, was feeling excluded because, you know, women—girls couldn’t be altar boys and, you know, women couldn’t be priests.
Also, I had just one brother and he got, from my point of view, special treatment. So, for me, really what was very apparent to me was that girls did not have equality with the boys and men with women. I remember the old help wanted ads that were female wanted or male wanted. And so when I was I guess in fifth or sixth grade and the term Ms., you know, the women’s movement introduced this term “Ms.” I immediately adopted that and bought myself a t-shirt down at the Jersey Shore that summer that had just Ms. on it at a young age.
And the funny thing was is that my initials because my first name is really Mary or MRS and so when I was even younger, I always thought oh someday I’ll be MRS, Mrs., and then some other name. And once I heard the term Ms., it was like okay, out with that. I’m Ms. for now and forever. So that really was, you know, so feminism really shaped my—my world view. Wh—when we were—when I was in junior high school, there was a big debate about whether girls should be able to play in little league.
And so we had actually a formal debate and somehow CBS radio from New York City came out and covered our debate at our middle school. And I was kind of the debate team leader for the yes girls should be able to play in little league. And I learned very early on to be careful what you say because I was quoted on CBS radio as saying I knew girls who could play, you know, baseball better than my stepbrothers and my name was mud at home [laughing] because that’s how I was quoted on the New York City radio station.
So—so I was a feminist really, first and foremost, more than kind of considering myself really an environmentalist I would say.

DT: So earlier you mentioned that your father had taken you to all 48 states and that you had also had the opportunity to live in different states growing up, New Jersey and Maryland and—and I understand that when you were in high school though, you actually got to go to Kenya to study there for a year I—I suppose?

RS: Yes, I applied to be an exchange student at my high school and I was very active with the Exchange Student Club and convinced my family to host a student from Brazil. So Giorgio Fedrizzi is my Brazilian AFS brother and he—he came in ’76 and that same school year, I applied to be an exchange student myself and found out that I was going to Kenya and went for the entire year of 1977. And I was at the first high school for African girls. It was started by Irish nuns and I found out years later that Wangari Maathai, the first woman environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize actually was a student there in the fifties.
So—so I went there and it really enriched my world view on—on so many levels. I remember seeing these kind of grayish-green plants on the far side—on these fields—on the far side of the school across the st—the road. And I asked, you know, somebody—I can’t even remember who—which of my classmates—you know, what are those plants, I haven’t really seen them ever before. And they said, oh that’s pyrethrum. It’s a natural pesticide which we export to the United States and to Europe and we import your DDT.
And I knew DDT had been banned but I did not know that it was still perfectly legal to manufacture the DDT and export it, even though we would not al—allow it to be used in our country. So that was a real awakening, in terms of—of corporations continuing to produce dangerous products and exporting them even when they were banned in the United States. You know, over time, it’s become somewhat of the reverse. I mean, there are chemicals that say Mexico has now banned that are being used in the United States.
So we’re not necessarily a leader anymore in that regard but, at the time, you know, we were considered an environmental leader—our country. And I learned, you know, that not anybody could grow pineapples for export. Dole could grow pineapples for export. And so the—living in a developing country, you know, it was fourteen years after independence, it was a—just such an eye-opener for me coming from the States where we had just celebrated our bicentennial, you know, massive economic and political military power.
And to see people in Kenya who talked about Cuba in a very different way than I had ever heard people talk about Cuba and, you know, how they had been able to, you know, resist and overthrow an American-backed government. And so it gave me a lot to think about over that years’ time. And there was just so much as—that I became aware of as how my ideas were shaped by my culture.
We think, as Americans, that we are so independent and, you know, we have so much freedom, that we’re such strong individuals, we just aren’t necessarily as aware of how much our world view is shaped by where we grew up and the culture where we grew up. You know, as a feminist, it was kind of strange to me when one of my close classmates said that, you know, she had two moms, that her dad had two wives.
And later in the year, I actually went and visited her and met, you know, her biological mother, who was older, and then the—the younger wife and they kind of acted like an older sister, younger sister, you know, in terms of cooperation in the household. And so it gave me a lot of pause for reflection, that not to just dismiss, you know, other ways of being, other kinds of cultural norms and made me appreciate and humbled me really, in terms of just strong ideas that I had that I thought were absolutes that were not necessarily absolutes in my mind anymore.
One—the day I left Kenya, it came out that a—really one of the most prominent authors—Kenyan authors—had been detained. And I had just finished reading his book, which was very critical of the existing government—post-independence government. And that also left a big kind of stamp on me as I was leaving, that this—this author who had been producing a play in his own native language right in the area where my school was, that he would—that was shut down by the government—a—a community produced, performed play and that he was detained as a result of this really kind of cultural organizing that he was doing.
I recently actually had the opportunity to meet him. He came for the Texas Book Festival with his latest book and it was about the year he spent in detention in 1978. And I had texted my classmates—we’re on a text loop now—my classmates from Kenya—I let them—let them know that I was going to go here, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, the author. And they said well you’re going to be—one of them wrote in the text loop, oh you’re going to represent all of us, Robin. So when I got that message, I decided to go and introduce myself to him and not just sit in the audience.
And I said can I take my picture with you? I lived in Limuru when your play was going on and I re—learned that you were detained the day I left and it was really—made a big impression on me. And he goes absolutely, you know. So we took our picture and then he actually pointed me out during his talk and—because he has a whole idea about kind of connections that people make. So that was such a profound experience for me.
I mean, I wanted to change the world when I came back from Kenya because I saw how unfair things were, you know, how so many people, you know, spent so much time, you know, going down to the rivers to, you know, get their water and bringing it up and, you know, how the economic system was really rigged against developing countries on so many levels and what the impact of colonialism had been on these countries because I learned African history. I’d never had Af—any African history. I was reading all these novels by African writers.
It just totally transformed my world view. But I didn’t come from a political family. I didn’t really have an—any idea about how to change the world. I just knew I wanted to do it somehow. And I figured, you know, I’d get going in college, you know, somehow and get politically active. But then I saw an ad in the newspaper, you know, help pass the ERA and get paid—the Equal Rights Amendment. And I felt like the goddess had shone her light down on me. And I called them up. I said is it okay that I’m only seventeen, you know, and they said yeah, that’s fine.
And so my last three months of—of high school, I only had classes in the morning, luckily, and—and then at night, I would go and canvass for the ERA and raise money for pro ERA candidates for Women’s Equality in the Constitution.

DT: Were you going door-to-door?

RS: I was—I was going door-to-door raising funds.

DT: Was this the first time you had done that?

RS: Oh yeah. I mean, actually—well I had gone door-to-door selling potholders, you know, maybe Girl Scout cookies. So I wasn’t a complete novice but never for a political issue. And I was just so happy and I was working with college graduates and training college graduates because I became a field manager. I bought my first car so I could take out crews to the—go canvassing. And I was so thrilled to have that opportunity—these four women decided to start this canvas for the ERA and one of them was from New Jersey and wanted to be in New Jersey.
So I was actually the first person they hired. And, you know—you know, we ended up on the ground floor, decided to put off going to college for six months so that I could move to Washington with two other folks and start the office in Washington, D.C., lived there for three months on my own in an apartment with these two other women and it was—it was such a great training ground. It gave me so many skills, plus they allowed me to—sponsored me to go to this community organizing school called the Midwest Academy.
And it was started by a woman named Heather Booth, who is one of my sheroes. She was an organizer in the Civil Rights Movement, in the Anti-War Movement, the early women’s movement. She won a sex discrimination case against the University of Chicago. And with that money, she started this community organizing training school. And I send my staff to it. They actually do training sometimes here in Texas and I often send my staff to that and it just gave me kind of this exposure to these amazing organizers and to this way of kind of strategy building.
You know, who—who are the people that can make the decision? Who’s your target? You know, who are your potential allies? You know, who are your secondary targets that could influence your target? What tactics could move? What tactics w—w—ww—is your constituency comfortable with doing, you know? And it—just a whole theory of social change that I was exposed to at eighteen years old. And I just felt so privileged because I went to college with this background already and this way of thinking about how to do successful campaigning, issue campaigns.
I also had an experience during that year, ’78, of go—they sent me to Florida, luckily, with a very seasoned political organizer to help pass a state-level equal rights amendment in Florida. And so I actually reached out to some of the community groups, including the AFS chapter to do some door-to-door flyering. Unfortunately, we lost that. It was really the beginning of the religious right’s ascendance, where they were tying the ERA to gay rights and flyering all the churches, the right-wing churches, and that contributed to the downfall.
And, in fact the defeat of the ERA in—in ’82 I think was one of the first big victories of the religious right. And…

DT: Can you talk a little bit about the experience especially as a—a very young person going door-to-door and—and encountering perfect strangers and trying to persuade them and maybe having some doors slammed in your face? And, I mean, it—it seems like a pretty brave thing to do. What—what was that experience like?

RS: Well now I ask it to—of people, you know, we ask it of our staff people. So I don’t—I—it—it is a—it’s a great training ground for this work. It is a little scary but you learn not to take the rejection personally, which is a huge, huge lesson. I mean, you don’t know what that person coming to the door—who it is, what they’ve been through in their life, what they’ve been through that day, that last hour, that last minute before they open the door. And so you really learn how to take it—how to—if you’re successful, you have to learn not to take it personally.
But it was—it’s not usually a question of persuading people, whether it’s the ERA or, you know, toxic pollution or single-use bags or, you know, whatever policy it is we’re working on, Texas Campaign for the Environment. It’s—you have to be able to figure out quickly who’s with you and who’s against you and not spend your time trying to persuade people who don’t agree. You want to identify the people who do agree and get them to take action, whether it’s giving you a check or whatever.
And one of the things that I’ve seen over the course of my career is that when this sort of door-to-door canvassing started as a progressive tactic in 1974, it was purely seen as a fundraising tactic. So we opened up the office in Washington, D. C. Our first night we were canvassing in Northern Virginia. Virginia had not ratified the ERA but we weren’t having people contact their legislators and tell them to pass the ERA. We were raising money so we could elect pro-ERA people to the legislature.
Well, over time, canvassing evolved and it became much more of a—a—an organizing tool to get people to take act—other actions not just writing checks or giving you money. And we generate sixty to eighty thousand handwritten letters or hand typed letters, not form letters, every year to our targets. That’s powerful, especially these days when people hardly ever write a letter anymore. If we had—if canvassing had evolved sooner and we were doing that in Northern Virginia and we had started canvas offices in Florida or in Illinois or Missouri, or these other states that never ratified the ERA, we probably could have passed the ERA.
So it’s kind of bittersweet but, for me and for thousands of other people, some of whom I’m still in touch with, that experience of canvassing for the ERA really shaped our lives. And that’s one reason why I se—have been with Texas Campaign for the Environment for so long is because it’s providing other people with the opportunity that I had at seventeen to kind of get the skills to be—to be a good organizer.
So, to me, you know, I got an email just in the last few days from a former field manager of ours, a TCE, who now works for Greenpeace and is organizing people to boycott Carnival Cruises because they won’t agree to seriously consider the demands of people living in the—in the Arctic around pollution issues up there. Another one of our former canvassers at TCE just got elected to the state legislature from Hays County. So these skills are so transferrable to—and such a great foundation for other things to do in life.
I mean, I’ve used those skills in all kinds of situations not having to do with anything with politics, you know, getting a ride across the—the country of Laos, we—some strangers, you know, the—those skills of being able to ask people for what it is you need are really, really incredible.

DT: So I was just asking before we went off camera earlier if—if you might have seen some sort of a introduction to a different way of—of treating strangers and treating the larger community when you were in Kenya, much as you were being taught to learn about it in this community organizing workshop that you took? And I think sort of symbolized by this dark wood figurine that you brought back that, to you, suggested this idea of a whole community that was all wrapped up in a single figure. Is that something that you can see in that or not?

RS: I think that we don’t, as Americans, appreciate the value of community as much as we could and should. The sculpture, it’s called a Makonde sculpture and—and it’s a very typical sculptural tradition in a certain part of Kenya where they have all these figures carved around a base and a head on the top and kind of all of the people at the base who are holding up, you know, the—the one person at the top. And, to me, that’s—we don’t necessarily have the sense that we stand on other people’s shoulders.
And I try and—and give my canvassers that sense because I got it right away when I started as a canvasser. We would sometimes come in and there would be some of the giants of this world, Dave Zwick who started Clean Water Action sometimes would be sitting in the room there, or Steve Max who was one of the early SDS organizers, would be there in the office when we came back. The woman who started the first battered women’s shelter in New Jersey came and briefed our staff. And so I think the—the kind of—we don’t—we’re not such self-made people as we envision ourselves to be.
We stand on many people’s shoulders over the years. And the more we can build appreciation for that and build community so people can see their—their inner connections with others and their dependence on other people, their interdependence, I think it’s really, really important that we kind of avoid the kind of alienation that I think is such a negative part of American culture that leads to all kinds of tragedies.
And so when we are connecting people door-to-door, we’re giving people a spark of how their individual efforts can add up to issue victories in ways that matter to them and that their—their actions make a difference when it’s combined with many other people’s actions. And so when we’re communicating with our supporters, we try and reinforce that because people I think have so little sense of how powerful they can be.
And so we provide , I think, one of the most important things that canvassing does is it provides people with a sense of hope and a—a vision and inspiration for joining together with their neighbors and with people across the state or across the country and, in some ways, we’re part of a—a global movement. One of the ways we express that is in the Break Free From Plastic movement that we are part of.
One of my staffers was just at a three-day workshop with people from around the country that are part of this international movement that is working to deal with, not just plastic waste in the oceans and waterways, but now going upstream from the fracked gas to the—this huge ethane cracker that they want to build in—just north of Corpus Christi in San Patricio County. That would be the largest plant of its kind that would create plastic feedstocks. Those pellets and materials would be shipped overseas for manufacturing that would eventually become plastic waste in all likelihood.
So this international movement is trying to connect all these various parts of the plastic supply chain and waste stream into one international movement. It’s very exciting. And so that’s definitely something that has changed too over the years is this—the—the levels of international connectedness were very limited before we had such easy ways to communicate online and through the web. So it’s—it’s very, very exciting.

DT: A moment ago, you—you—you were talking about how—realizing our connections and the fact that we are—are in a larger community, you know, standing on the shoulders of giants and well it can be very empowering. And—and I—I—I’m reminded that one of your I think interests over the years has been in empowering women in particular and—and—and being a feminist and, you know, from—from when you were a—a young person with Ms. t-shirt to, as I understand it, when you went to UCLA for college and studied political science, but you majored in women’s studies which was a new thing at the time I guess. And—and I’m—I’m curious if that was a formative time for you at—at college?

RS: Well we—they didn’t even have a—a women’s studies major. It was only like a minor. If they had had a major, I would have ma—majored in women’s studies. My college experience was very much formed by my canvassing and political experience. I came to college wanting to be an or—a student organizer. And—and then—but the women’s studies was such a new field at the, you know, at the university level. It was so exciting because there was so much new research coming out.
And, I mean, I had other classes that were also pretty stimulating but I remember one of my last classes in college was an eco-feminism course. And I don’t know—it might have been the first ecofeminism course in—in the country. It was a very new concept back then. It was like 1982 probably, ’82-’83. And that was fascinating. You know, you had liberal feminism, socialist feminism, radical feminism, but now there was ecofeminism. So that was a course that I really enjoyed.
I also took classes that looked at how the—how—how did women’s movements appear throughout time. And, you know, in this country, we think about the suffrage movement, you know, then we think about the ERA, pro-choice movements, all of those, but in other—in many respects, the way women organize is actually more around protecting their families and their family’s rights.
And so I did a paper on how women were emerging in terms of fighting toxic waste dumps—Lois Gibbs and Love Canal was in the news and there—the group that I was very active in, which was called the Campaign for Economic Democracy and I was one of the leaders of Students for Economic Democracy had—the CED had a project called the Cancer Project and it was all about toxic chemicals in the environment.
And they were working with a woman named Penny—I can’t remember Penny’s last name now but there were these Stringfellow acid pits and it was just this place in rural area kind of outside east of L.A., far east of L.A. where they would just dump—had been dumping chemicals, you know, into this, you know, kind of at a end of a road somewhere for a long time and this woman, Penny Newman, realized that this was a problem and I think there were some health issues with her family and her neighborhood.
And so I went out and interviewed Penny Newman and kind of equated this to other movements throughout history where women kind of have took charge, not necessarily for their own individual civil rights as kind of we think about the women’s movement mostly in the country, but for—to protect the health and wellbeing of their families. So that was another kind of—it wasn’t for the ecofeminism class I don’t think. It was for a history class but these issues just kept getting woven together for me, you know, whether it was the pyrethrum in Kenya or, you know, the Stringfellow acid pits.
I think one thing that has been a—a downfall of general progressive movements in this country is that we tend to be very single-issue and kind of separated things out rather than seeing how these things are really part of a whole cloth. And luckily the younger generation I think is a lot better than my generation has been about this stuff. When they talk about intersectionality, there’s a whole appreciation for how issues of gender and environment and race and gender identity and all of these things are—are connected. They’re not separate.
You shouldn’t try and tease them out to just, you know, kind of so I—in such an isolated way.

DT: They get together and they support each other and yeah. So did you—did you work on any sort of canvassing and organizing while you were in—in college? And I think you said you’d come back to college to do that kind of—or maybe to learn about it. But…

RS: Well every summer I would pretty much canvas door-to-door. I—it’s in my blood.

DT: And a variety of topics?

RS: Yes, I canvassed for the ERA for a second summer. I went back to Washington, D. C. But after that, I would stay in California and canvas for the Campaign for Economic Democracy on environmental issues, solar issues, rent control issues. But all through—in college, I was building organizations and campaigns on college. And so it was—I was in college I guess it was my second semester when I was invited to attend the first statewide steering committee meeting of Students for Economic Democracy.
And the wise people that started this organization, most of them had come out of the anti-Apartheid Movement, said if your campus is sending two people to this statewide meeting, at least one of them had to be a woman. So the two guys who were kind of in touch with the organizer in Southern California realized they couldn’t both go. So we were living on a hallway—Students for Social Action Hallway—that we kind of applied to live together—it’s people that are interested in this sort of thing.
So they asked me if I wanted to go because I was the only one who had, you know, a pretty solid political background already. And so I went to this meeting and it was actually at the ranch of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda in Santa Barbara above in the mountains. It was beautiful, not far from Reagan’s ranch actually. And, by the end of the weekend, I was the Southern California Co-chair of this new student organization. And we had chapters, you know, and we worked to establish chapters all over the state of California.
And we had a—an organizer, one in each part of the state and, you know, that was a great opportunity to work with these seasoned student activists and within—and I represented the students on the statewide body of the Campaign for Economic Democracy so I would go to these statewide meetings where we had, you know, people—Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda—and lots of people who had been involved with the Farm Workers’ Movement, people, you know, involved with the early movements around toxics and high tech from Silicon Valley, union organizers for public employees, domestic worker organizers.
I mean, I got exposed to these amazing activists from around the state when we would have the [inaudible 00:37:45] steering committee for CED as well. So I just felt like time and time again, I’ve really been, you know, kind of just happened to be in the right place at the right time and have these amazing opportunities, whether it was going to Kenya. That was the first time there was a year-long program to Kenya or this ERA canvas starting very close to where I lived in New Jersey or the student organization starting. So I’ve—I’ve just been very, very lucky.

DT: As you I guess went through college and then came out, I understand that you went to work for a State Assemblyman, Mr. Campbell?

RS: Yes.

DT: Can you talk a little bit about that experience of working in a legislative office?

RS: Sure. A lot of the—it was a very competitive process to become a—a—an assembly fellow. They picked twelve people a year and one of the former supreme court justices on the California Supreme Court had been an assembly fellow and so it had this tradition. It was kind of full of itself but I went not because I wanted to have a career in the legislature but because I wanted to figure out how do people within that realm think, what are their pressures, what are the pressure points, so that when I became a full-time organizer for some group, I didn’t know what ye—at that point, I would be a better, more skilled activist to influence the legislature.
So because of all this exposure through CED and SED, you know, it really helped me in the—in the process because I was exposed to a lot of legislative issues. We’d been fighting student fee hikes was our last campaign that I worked on with Students for Economic Democracy. We had a little tent city on the Capitol grounds because they were trying to really raise the fee. And, I mean, it was quite affordable when I was there and now it’s not necessarily as affordable. But we were able to stave off the first-ever tuitions at community colleges for at least a few more years.
So I was already familiar, a little bit familiar, with this. Tom Hayden had been elected to the st—to the assembly so I had, through that process, you know, had a little bit of exposure. It wasn’t all book learning for me, which it was I think for—and a lot of people just didn’t have the breadth of political experience that I had at that age. Anyway, went to work for Bob Campbell, a wonderful guy who represented Contra Costa County, which is the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, the northern part of that area.
And I can’t remember if I asked him to—if I could work on environmental issues or if he asked me to do that, but I—I was there for ten months I think it was—this fellowship. And I worked on one bill. He was very concerned. I think there had been an accident with some hazardous cargo. And he was very concerned that his constituents could be stranded if certain roads, critical roads were shut down from—because of hazardous materials spills. And so we put in a bill that would allow the Department of Transportation in California to designate certain routes for hazardous cargo.
And that—we introduced that bill and the trucking industry went crazy. We couldn’t possibly do this. This would shut down, you know, the transportation of important materials, right. And so when I go around the state of Texas or wherever and you see hazardous cargo routes these days, I’m like it wasn’t a—we were a little bit ahead of our time and it didn’t pass that session but it eventually passed and has become a common practice. So we were kind of at the forefront really of that issue.
We were also working on a bill that would require pre-treatment of—of water before it was discharged. There were a lot of—of discharges into the San Francisco Bay that were not adequately treated. And this issue was brought to us by a guy named Mike Belliveau who, at the time, was with a group that’s now called Communities for a Better Environment. And he wanted my boss to introduce it so I worked with him on it and we did get that bill passed. And I actually still work with Mike Belliveau on toxics issues to this day.
He doesn’t work with that group anymore but we’ve worked together on toxics issues. So some of these connections that I’ve made during that year—’83-’84—in a—in the house—the California Assembly still are connections that I have, you know, continued to—to have to this day, which is kind of fun. One of my assembly fellow members actually is—is now a congress member who had an interest in electronic waste issues—introduced a bill that I didn’t quite like. I gave him a call. I said, Mike, this is Robin Schneider, remember me?
Said nice to talk to you but I really don’t like your bill. Can we work on this issue in a different way? And eventually he did come around. I got to see him in Washington, D. C. And actually, ironically, I went back to Kenya finally to visit in 2014 and I went to visit my former headmistress, an Irish nun, Sister Mary, and on her—in her office was a picture of her with this same congress member, Mike Thompson, who worked—she was working on—with—on HIV AIDS and he has been helping to get some of these—the funding to developing countries.
So it just—don’t know—these things kind of come—people and things kind of come around again and again. It’s just crazy.

DT: So, Robin, while we were off camera, you—you recalled that there was a interesting program when you were at UCLA against oil well drilling in the area. And I was hoping you could talk about that effort.

RS: Sure. Well I think it was in the Daily Bruin newspaper, the student newspaper, that I saw something that UCLA had done an environmental impact study about drilling for oil on campus. And one of the things—they were going to drill for oil where the childcare center was. And one of the options was just not to have a childcare center. But where the childcare center was was kind of between where the main campus was and the student ghetto and all the fraternities on the other side of the campus.
And so I went to the—they were having a public meeting on this impact statement—so I went to the public meeting and, you know, the childcare center director was there who actually I knew the—family members of hers. There was an older woman there who also lived on the other side of the UCLA campus. Ironically, her family made its money drilling for oil in Bakersfield but she didn’t want this drilling happening right basically across the street from her in this urban environment.
And so the Students for Economic Democracy chapter at UCLA—we decided to get involved in opposing the plan to drill for oil on campus. And so one of the things we did was to go to the student government and ask them, because we were having student government elections, to put like a referendum on the—the ballot, you know, do you approve of oil drilling on campus or not. And it was just, of course, advisory. It didn’t have power but it gave us a way to organize and get students engaged in the issue.
And so to draw even more attention to it, we worked with some of the Theater Department folks to create, to build, a little oil derrick. We did a little guerilla theatre and then we stationed the oil drill—dr—derrick with a little Christmas tree stand and a big pipe and we put like smoke bombs in the bottom so it would be smoking. And we had all of our flyers, you know, vote no on whatever it was—I can’t remember what it was called. But we got like 97 percent of the students to vote against oil drilling.
And it was really a way to build the awareness of people that this was even happening because most people had no clue that it was even being considered. So after we won that, the woman who had gotten all their money from the Bakersfield oil drilling, she was helping us—give us some money so we could take out some ads in the student newspaper to educate people about it that way and to make the point that these students had voted against it.
And I went and confronted the head of the university at—like he was doing kind of visit the dorm night, you know, Q&A with Chuck and, you know, said do—are you—were you aware this was, you know—we voted on this and the students don’t want it, are you going to proceed with this? And—and he actually said no. So, you know, now it’s this huge, you know, Medical Center, Conference Center in that area. I mean, they—they’ve done very well without the oil drilling on the campus.
And we—and, you know, did—aren’t going to expose all these people in that urban environment to, you know, the environmental and health consequences of drilling for oil. So that was a big, big victory. You know, the early eighties were not a great time for student activism. You know, it was the “me” generation and all of that. And we didn’t have a lot of great victories. It was still a gr—I had a great time, you know. I was arrested at the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Laboratories with my mother and fourteen hundred other people.
And, you know, we made a big splash about that and were part of a worldwide anti-nuclear arms issue. So we did a lot of different things but that was our—one of our more successful campaigns.

DT: Look, it’s interesting—you were I guess barely twenty and you’d already done door-to-door canvassing and leafletting and flyering and guerilla theatre and, you know, erecting derricks of [inaudible] smoke bombs. So you have all these tools at your—at, you know, your fingertips and—and I understand that after you worked for Mr. Campbell, you went to join a—a lobbying group, if I understood it—the California Abortion Rights Action League. And I was wondering how you pulled some of these pieces of your tool kit together to—to work there on those efforts?

RS: Well I took a little break in there after the—I actually worked in the ’84 elections, ran a voter registration drive. We registered seventeen thousand people to vote. The, unfortunately, the candidate lost. That was in ’84, Reagan reelection effort but then I went off to India for three months and had a great time. But when I came back, a friend of mine from my student organizing days already had a job at CARAL, which was the af—the state affiliate of National Abortion Rights Action League, NARAL.
And they had gotten some extra money because there was talk that the anti-choice folks were going to do a statewide initiative. And so they got some money and hired me. It was a pretty low salary so I supplemented it with some extra canvassing on the side for renters’ rights. And the initiative never materialized but there was an—an effort that succeeded in a bill passing the legislature to require parental consent or a judge—judicial consent for a teen to get an abortion. That luckily was later thrown out in the California courts.
But the first four years that I worked for CARAL, because it became a fulltime position, people thought, you know, I felt like I was Chicken Little, like, you know, the sky is falling and everybody’s like, no Robin, we have Roe v Wade. Don’t worry. We’re—we’re fine. And then in January of 1989, a few things happened. There was a—a state abortion rights case that came up through the courts that went to the Supreme Court and we’d had a bunch of battles around Judge Bork and Clarence Thomas right before that.
And so the court was very much changing from the 7-2 that upheld Roe. A lot of those seven in the majority had left. The other thing that happened was the Operation Rescue folks started blockading clinics. And they repeatedly came to Southern California I think because of the good weather [laughing] throughout the year. So it felt like overnight this social movement popped up out of nowhere to defend abortion rights in Southern California, and to confront the social movement that was against us.
And the first time the—the other thing that was going on at that same time is that Jerry Brown had been the governor. He had left politics. He decided to run for state party chair but he had spent some time with Mother Teresa and started talking about being anti-choice. And so we mobilized people within the Democratic Party, the delegates to the convention, to withhold support from any candidate for state party chair who was anti-choice, really meaning Jerry Brown. We got a meeting with him and he was still a little squishy.
Kept the pressure on him and finally, I think the day before or the day of the convention in Sacramento, he came around. And so I went to the women’s caucus of the party and it was hundreds of people in the room and this was—this was the big controversy pre—you know, of the convention—and I—I—they let me get up and speak and say I want to let everybody know that when the people lead, the leaders will follow. And all of the candidates running for state party chair are now committed to being pro-choice.
And then Jerry Brown got up shortly after I gave that speech. Unfortunately, that was the same day as when Operation Rescue was first blockading clinics in L.A. So I wasn’t there for the Operation Rescue confrontation—the very first one. But Daryl Gates was the chief of police and he basically let those people blockade a clinic on the west side of L.A. and refused to haul them out of the way. So the women who came for services were denied their services that day. Well we went to City Hall and said—and got the City Council to pass a resolution that we will enforce the trespass laws.
And so Gates was forced to have his cops get rid of the demonstrators the next time they—they tried to blockade a clinic in L.A., which angered the anti-choice people against Daryl Gates because he was hauling their people away because the City Council told him to do his job. Years later, Daryl Gates invited me to be on his radio program after he left the police department. And during one of the breaks, I said to Daryl, I said you know one of the best things about my career at CARAL has been, you know, the pressure that we put on you to enforce the law and the backlash that that got you from anti-choice people.
And he just kind of fumed. But, you know, we—we use whatever pressure points we can figure out, you know, to protect our rights, to advance our issues. And so those last four years were quite incredible, to be at the center of this social movement. I had daytime soap opera stars approach me and say Robin, you know, a woman called me—I’m so and so—I can’t even remember her name now—I know a bunch of daytime soap opera stars. We want to know how we can help.
And so I went and talked to these soap opera stars and got them involved in different ways. And I—it was so funny. We had them in a film about how we won this particular election. And it was so funny. Somebody in the group would say I know that person from the soap opera. We had women advertising come and talk, you know, say what can we do to help. And they put together this amazing ad campaign. We ran these ads in the L.A. Times, we’re afraid, we’re afraid for our daughters, you know, we’re afraid for our friends.
We had Betty Ford signing them, Cybill Shepherd, Leonard Nimoy, I mean, all these people signed these ads and then we asked people to collect more names. We want a million names. We could use a mil—million bucks. Help how you can. And we—these things just poured into our offices and our membership soared. And of—our visibility soared. And, in 1989, the legislature cut Family Planning funding, even though we had Democrats in charge of both houses, by two-thirds saying that these clinics are providing abortion services.
And so we don’t want to—them to get family planning money like what has happened in Texas. But this was in 1989 in California. Well so we ha—a state legislator passed away in ru—in San Diego County, which was very Republican—the fifth most Republican district in the state. So there was going to be a special election on August 6th. Then the Supreme Court issued their decision and rolled back abortion rights, giving more—more room to the states to regulate abortion. We did a 24-hour vigil outside the—the head of the state senate, who was a Catholic anti-choice Democrat, David Roberti.
It was right around the same time as the whole ch—Tiananmen Square was going on so we had a liberty statue—Lady Liberty statue. And coming right off of that 24-hour demonstration, we started organizing because we had found that one of the nine Republican candidates was a nurse who had been active with the California Nurses Association and she was pro-choice. She was not considered a frontrunner.
We put ten lines—extra, new phone lines, into our office in Santa Monica, California to call voters between 25 and 55 years old, any party, to ask if, you know, with the Supreme Court decision, would they su—change par—sw—switch over if they needed to to vote for a pro-choice candidate. We identified five thousand pro-choice voters. We had a political action committee. We mailed our endorsements. We phoned our endorsements, encouraged people to come out and vote on like August 6th for Tricia Hunter.
And she wound up winning by 197 votes. It was national news. And it was one of the very first elections after that Supreme Court decision came down. And so we had the soap opera stars come in and do some of the phone banking and filmed them. And we had a 20/20 news producer who—who said she wanted to help. I said can you please film this work we’re doing for this candidate, Tricia Hunter. And she goes—so she had this great footage. Tricia Hunter needed money so I called some of our people in Hollywood who were supporters of ours.
I called Polly Bergen, the actress, and I said Polly Bergen, you don’t know me but I’m Robin Schneider. We need money to this pro-choice candidate. I’ve heard you talk about your illegal abortion. Would you please help out? Well she raised like six thousand dollars from Henry Mancini and, you know, all these celebrity people. Tricia Hunter didn’t want to cash the checks because they had signature of these people she admired but she did and—and she won. And—and when she went to the legislature in September, the first thing they did was to restore all that Family Planning money.
They had been pa—being—passing restrictions on abortion funding that the California Supreme Court kept knocking down. They never passed those restrictions again. The other thing that happened is that another—a seat wo—opened up in the fall in San Diego. It was a senate seat. We have two State Assembly women running against each other, and anti-choice Republican woman, and a pro-choice Democratic woman. The pro-choice Democratic woman was a Catholic. Her bishop told her she was not welcome to mass because of her pro-choice stand.
This became, again, national news. We did the same thing—identifying pro-choice voters, turning out pro-choice voters for this—this Democratic woman in that case. She wound up winning in a seat that tilted Republican. So we had these two—a pro-choice Democrat, a pro-choice Republican, both out of these re—re—very or leaning Republican seats who were winning elections. Just the year before, the candidate that we considered the top priority in the November 1988 elections was a—a pro-choice Democrat in Orange County, when Orange County was still highly Republican.
We gave him a check for 2,500 dollars; it was our largest political action committee check. The Democratic leadership of the State Assembly forced him to return the check be—because they didn’t want to have a pro-choice group listed on his campaign statements because everyone assume that the only people who voted on the basis of abortion were the people who were against it. Well after these two victories, that completely shifted. We had a prominent Republican senator say I’m actually pro-choice.
We had other Republicans come out, I want to run, Democrats, you know, I’m pro-choice and it really shifted the politics of the state. We had people, you know, we did—we—then we started doing mass mailers statewide where the candidates would buy into our slate card and we could—would mail to hundreds of thousands. We identified hundreds of thousands—five hundred thousand—pro-choice voters across California that we would send our political action committee endorsements to because the candidates would pay us so that we could send this mailer out.
So we really changed the politics of abortion with those two critical races in 1989. And in 1992, we won races that we didn’t even think we had a chance of winning. And that’s for—because of the governor took the—left the senate when he became the governor. We had both senate seats open, both and re—with no incumbents and that’s the year that both Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein won. And after—after these—these victories, there has not been an anti-choice Republican elected at a high level statewide in California since.
The only Republican governor elected was Arnold Schwarzenegger who said he was pro-choice and the only way he could get in was because he won during a recall election because you can’t make it through a Republican primary if you’re pro-choice and you can’t win in the general if you—if you are pro-choice unless you’re pro-choice. So the politics really changed and it was very exciting to be a part of that. And four years—it was very, very intense. And after those four years, I just—I needed a break. That’s when I went off to teach English in Thailand for two years.

DT: Well let’s take a break there and—so, Robin, you’ve told us a little bit about your work with the California Abortion Rights Action League and—and as—I think as you were trailing off on that story, you mentioned that you took a break and you went to Thailand, as I understood and became a teacher there for a couple years. And I was hoping you might be able to talk about what sort of experiences you might have had there and what you learned.

RS: Well I went with a group called WorldTeach. All you needed was a bachelor’s degree. You didn’t need experience teaching. And I taught at a teacher’s college in the northeast in a province that bordered both Laos and Cambodia. And it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. I had never really spent any time in Thailand. I’d been to India and other places but I was teaching mostly English majors. So they really had an interest in the language, although some of my students had never really met a foreigner before.
And in Thailand, while they might teach, have English classes in high school; a lot of the time they’re learning about English rather than kind of learning how to speak it. And so having a native speaker was considered a big plus for the teacher’s college so they were interested in having native speakers there so people could get their listening and—and verbal skills up to speed. So that’s mostly what I did which was fun. The thing I love about Thailand is a huge value is having fun and what they call sanuk.
And so the—people will ask you a lot sanuk mai, sanuk mai—was that fun? And in Eng—and they’ll use the wo—the English word “serious” for the opposite. So—so people really value having fun and so I had a lot of freedom also in my classes. I didn’t have a set curriculum. So we would—I would teach them songs and just to ha—have a lot of fun with it. And I try and do that with—with my political work as well is make it fun. It’s not really worth doing if there’s no fun involved in my book. So that suited me very well.
Th—I also, you know, tried to challenge—challenge them in some ways. For instance, one—there was a Peace Corps teacher—a Peace Corps worker in my community in—and the town was called Ubon Ratchathani. And so I invited her to do an AIDS education session with my students in English. And there was a lot of AIDS education in Thailand. But, again, it was more kind of about it rather than anything experiential. So I went to the market and bought a bunch of bananas and my friend brought a bunch of condoms and I had them pair up and practice putting a condom on a banana.

Well in Thailand, whatever your teacher tells you to do, you must do. But they just screeched as—because this particular class was mostly females. They just like were—were screeching as they were doing this they were so uncomfortable handling the condoms.

DT: Was this sanuk or not?

RS: Yeah, it was sanuk. They—but it was just a very unusual experience for them. But I remember at least one teacher kind of walking by the outside of my classroom—a Thai teacher—like looking in like what the heck is she doing now with these people, with her students. I had—I would throw parties at my house and invite, you know, my—my students and other—other friends of mine—Thai and—and ex pat friends of mine. And my students would often come early to help me get set up.
And so I asked some of my male students to go and wash some of the dishes and the water spigot was outside in the back. And some of my female students came and saw the guys washing dishes and they were like so surprised that these guys were washing dishes but they had to do what I asked them to do but normally it would fall to the females to do that sort of thing. So I gave them a lesson in feminism definitely as I went. But it was really a time for me to unwind. I had a beautiful spot amongst the more agricultural lands of the college and could ride a bicycle. Ev—that’s what I had.
I called it my Mercedes and I could ride it all around town and just had a—had a great time traveling. I had seven months off during the two years where I lived there so I went all over Thailand. I went to Cambodia. I was—went to Vietnam twice. I went to Bali and Malaysia and—and just had a really great break from the intense political work. I’d been doing fifteen years of political work, you know, since I go—had gotten back from—from Kenya. And so was—it was a much needed kind of clearing of the decks and I was not allowed to be political specifically.
That was part of the contract. And, you know, but I want—I was—I would go to the library because they got the English language newspaper at the library. So I would frequently go to the library at—when I had free time at the college and read up. And I remember reading up on the O.J. Simpson chase and the Tanya Harding, the woman who, you know, with the knee or whatever it was, you know, the assault of the Olympic athletes and I was like what the heck is going on in the United States?
Then I—I came back to the United States in the midst of the O. J. Simpson trial to L. A. and people are talking about these cast of characters involved in that case and I’m just like this country—this town especially has just gone berserk. And it was just kind of the celebrity obsessed culture that we live in. And that’s actually one of the things I did not like about doing politics in Los Angeles was just a lot of—a lot of celebrity ob—obsession. I mean, there were some people who really mostly were involved in a cause because they wanted to have some contact with celebrities and that was not my thing.
And so, you know, we—I did it to the extent we had to and to the extent it benefitted the organization but as a—personally, it was not my speed. I mean, I had great relationships with Holly Hunter. She was a board member, some really wonderful people but that’s a—that’s kind of a weird thing and it got weirder with the O. J. Simpson trial I must say. But I had these—these great adventures in Thailand and in these various countries that I went to. And I really came to appreciate the way the Thais, you know, appreciate their own culture.
They were a country that was not colonized, one of the few in that—that part of the world that was not colonized by the French or the British and they had a real appreciation for their own culture and pride in their own culture. It’s a pretty homogenous culture. They have some regional differences but thing—change—changes can happen very fast. One of the things that I was always uncomfortable with is when I would take an overnight train to Bangkok, they had all these blankets wrapped up in plastics and they would just throw these plastic bags out the window of the train.
And I was just like, oh my God; I can’t believe they’re doing this. So you could see it, you know, up and down the train tracks. But when I came back a few years later, they had put in place a fine for littering. And so many people I knew said, Robin, you cannot throw anything on the ground anymore, you know, and they stopped doing that on the train, throwing all the plastic bags out the window because if the King issued that as an edict and it went through with the—a national media, it was like everybody heard about it, you know, pretty much at once and the messages were reinforced.
So it’s interesting to see how quickly things could change in a country that’s very homogenous and that has, you know, figureheads that, you know, people really li—listen to and, for the most part, respect it. So that was a time in Thai history when there was a lot less strife. You know, Thai politics became much more contentious later between the reds and the yellow peop—red shirts and the yellow shirts. This was kind of before that time. But it’s a—a country that I—I have a lot of ties to still.
I actually did a little bit of importing of Thai crafts from cooperatives for a little while and learned that I’m not a business person, that I’m really much better at being a—an organizer than a business person. But got a little bit of money to those—those communities. Some of them were refugee communities, Burmese refugees or Laotian refugees. And I have a love of craft and they have beautiful things there.

DT: I can see some of those things in your home. After those two years there in—in Thailand, you—you came back to the states and as I understood, got involved in the—a class action suit against Denny’s on the basic civil rights violations there. Can you talk a little bit about that?

RS: Sure, there had been a number of—of lawsuits filed against Denny’s by—I think it was all African American customers who felt discriminated against by the Denny’s staff. And so Denny’s decided to settle the lawsuit and set up an independent civil rights monitor. These were—it was an attorney and a team of attorneys and to educate their staff and to provide a—a 1-800 complaint information and big posters that were at the Denny’s—if you feel you’ve been discriminated against on the basis of race, call this number.
So shortly after I got back from Thailand, I was looking for temporary work, trying to figure out what I was going to do next, deciding I was going to move out of L.A. but trying to figure out where to go. And so a friend of mine told me that this public interest oriented, private investigator was looking for people to help investigate complaints of racial discrimination. And so I gave the guy a call and he hired me. And so I went all over the country interviewing, usually first the customers about their experience and then going in and eating a meal at the Denny’s that was under investigation.
After observing just kind of the operations, I would reveal myself to the manager and get all the information about who was working, what the customer counts were, and all—whatever we could find—personnel files. I had complete access to ev—anything I wanted at the store. And then I would go and interview as many of the people that worked that shift as possible. There’s a heavy turnover at Denny’s. So I was often knocking on doors again, trying to find Denny’s employees to interview them. Had way too many Denny’s meals.
But it was very interesting because the first case I did was actually in Claremont where ha—I had started in college—at a Denny’s in Claremont where an—an African American employee of one of the colleges went to a Denny’s, alleged that he had heard a—an—a racial epithet and none of the staff would corroborate this. And he seemed pretty credible. I didn’t have to make a determination. I just had to gather the information, write it up, and send it in to the monitor’s office.
The last case I did was a case where actually an employee called in on another employee—similar situation—except that the employees were really taking responsibility for the behavior of their coworkers. So all the employees had to go through training. That was another part of the settlement. And so, I mean, I don’t know how mu—how it is at a Denny’s now but I did investigate the Denny’s that is right—like less than a mile from my house. But it was—it was really interesting to talk to these customers, some of—of whom seemed very credible, some of whom did not, most of whom though seemed credible.
They didn’t necessarily know everything that was going on but they had their experience and it was—it was—I learned that actually the working class people that work at Denny’s, they—there was a lot more interracial relationships than people that I knew in my social circles and I came away thinking that someone really needs to come in and organize these Denny’s employees. They are really underpaid. And yeah, some of them are bad eggs but it was not an easy job and—and most people were not making much money.
And so it was an interesting way to see the country. I went to, I don’t know, twenty, thirty states around the country to do these investigations. But it allowed me to move to Austin. I could live wherever I wanted because I was being sent all over the country. So I moved to Austin. I had a job. And I—I could just pick wherever I wanted to live in the country and I picked Austin. I had been here actually in 1988 as a volunteer on the Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign. Thirty some people from California came to Texas to help before Super Tuesday.
And I helped organize a press conference with Sissy Farenthold at the old Women’s Peace Center where she announced her endorsement of Jesse Jackson. And we got two of the three cand—TV stations here in Austin to cover it. And I met Glen Maxey before he was a state representative and, you know, had a great six days. I didn’t really contemplate moving here at that time but, you know, wanted to live in a place that had nice, warm nights like in Thailand, tropical nights and interesting culture and politics. And there weren’t too many places.
So I asked my—my private eye boss, “If you get some cases in Austin, you know, can you send me there because I’m checking it out as a place to live?” And so he—he gave me a couple of cases in San Antonio and Austin. I came here, checked it out, decided, yeah, I think, you know. Went to the La Zona Rosa and heard Flaco Jimenez and saw the music scene. I was like this is great. That’s how I got to Austin. I could ride a bike. That’s another thing. I wanted to be able to ride a bike like I had in Thailand as a form of transportation. So that’s how I wound up in Austin.

DT: So, Robin, you were telling us about working on the Denny’s suit and—and then the discrimination investigations and—and I think you mentioned that you had somehow finagled a way to sample different towns and that Austin seemed like a good place and that you I guess eventually arrived here in 1997 and went to work as a volunteer at Texas Campaign for the Environment. Is that [overlapping conversation]?

RS: Yeah, I actually moved here in July of 1996 and then I was just kind of not that involved in—a few demonstrations here and there. But I got involved in a City Council campaign when Willie Lewis ran against Eric Mitchell, who was a big homophobe. And so Willie Lewis—I walked precincts with him, door-to-door, back to the same old door-to-door thing, found out that he’d actually served in Thai—in Thailand during the Vietnam War. So we started talking a little in Thai. It was really fun.
Anyway, Todd Main was the campaign manager of Willie Lewis’ campaign. And Todd was in the process of kind of restarting Texas Campaign for the Environment with a canvas operation in Austin. And, in its early incarnation, it had canvases in Dallas and Houston. So he asked me at the end of that campaign if I would consider volunteering fo—with Texas Campaign for the Environment. He had just started a 501(c)3 partner organization called Public Research Works at the time. He had just formed it. And so he actually sent me to a grant writing program.
I hadn’t really had a lot of experience doing that. So I had a—went through a five-day course on that and was writing grants and, you know, doing things for what was then PRW, which is now TCE Fund. We raised some money and, at that time, a lot of groups including Texas Campaign for the Environment were working to close the grandfather loophole in the Texas Clean Air Act. When they passed the law in 1971, industry said well we shouldn’t require all the existing air polluters to get permits because eventually they’ll upgrade their facilities and then they’ll get permits.
Well that didn’t actually happen. And, at the same time, Alcoa was looking to strip mine more areas of Bastrop and Lee Counties to feed a grandfathered power plant that they had to provide power for their smelter in Rockdale. So we were helping the newly-formed community group, Neighbors for Neighbors, by generating pressure on Alcoa and this strip mine and the air pollution—the grandfathered air pollution from that plant. So a lot of the environmental groups were working together.
Todd was helping to map all the schools that were within a mile of all the grandfathered air polluting facilities around the state and put out a report about that. And eventually I started doing research—a research project that I think the Magnolia Trust funded—was when our fi—I think maybe our very first grant that we received to research the campaign contributions of the companies that had benefited from the grandfathered loophole. The report came out—I think it was in February—February, January of 1999. I had a bunch of help from lots of people.
I didn’t do it all myself. In fact, it was a joint effort of Texans for Public Justice. And we found millions of dollars of campaign contributions. And, unfortunately, a lot of this was on paper. It wasn’t computerized so we had to do a lot of this by hand. I spent a lot of time at the Texas Ethics Commission, made a lot of copies of things. And it was—we created a searchable database out of it.
Now right around that time in the very beginning of March, George Bush—W. Bush—announced that he was running for president and we had all this data of how much money he had taken and the legislators had taken from these grandfathered air polluters. And so he had to report his presidential contributions at the end of March. So it was like 28 days of fundraising and there was a huge amount of money from the grandfathered air polluters and all this also included their lobbyists.
So this was a lot of Texas Capitol lobbyists who were working for all these major industrial companies—electric companies, refineries, you know, various companies. And it was hundreds of thousands of dollars—I think three hundred thousand dollars in less than thirty days that he got. This actually made national news. And so we started—kept—kept updating it as he made his reports. And the—the original report actually got the attention of Molly Ivins. She wrote a column about it.
It also got the attention of some activists who decided to go and get arrested at the Governor’s Mansion over his ties to these polluters. You know, Time magazine wrote about it, the New York Times wrote about it, the L.A. Times wrote about it. I was interviewed by Wade Goodwin of NPR. This was our first big report. I mean, it was just—struck gold. It was just the right thing at the right time. And that, you know, I didn’t really, you know, know the environmental community that well.
You know, I mean, it was kind of my—my big foray really into kind of environmental politics in Texas I would say. Started paying attention in ’99 to—doing a little bl—bit of work at the legislature. And then Todd went off to actually work for the Nader campaign later that year and he left me in charge and never came back. And that’s how I became the executive director. I was on staff. I was getting paid a little bit I think in ’98 and ’99. I wasn’t a volunteer through all those three years but I was part-time, you know, for a while and then I became fulltime and the fulltime executive director. And it’s been a wild ride ever since.

DT: Well, this might be a interesting thing to hear about—this wild ride. I mean, I know you—you’ve worked on, of course, the air pollution exemptions and—and grandfathering issue and I was curious if you could talk about some of the other campaigns—the Texas Campaign for the Environment has—has worked on?

RS: Sure. After we got the grandfather loophole closed finally on both power plants and other facilities—that was in 2001—we started working on diesel pollution from the Texas TxDOT vehicles, which is the largest diesel fl—fleet of any state agency and also on the school busses for the Austin Independent School District. And so we sent our canvassers into northeast Travis County talk about air pollution issues—into the neighborhoods around the big landfills—one operated by Waste Management and the other, at the time, run—run—run by Waste Ma—by BFI, which is now owned by Republic.
And our canvassers went in there that night and they got an earful from the neighbors. They were like you want to talk about air pollution; we can’t go outside our house a lot of the time because the stench of these landfills is so bad. And so one of my canvassers talked to one of the neighborhood leaders—Trek English was her name—woman from France or of French origin. And so I called her up the next day, you know, one of my canvassers suggested I give you a call. What’s happening? She had been working on those issues in the neighborhood for quite a while.
And so we started to get, you know, figure out well how can we help these folks. We were also working, at that time, we had worked around the Tex—the—the sunset of the environmental agency in the—the year or two before that and so I was pretty conversant at that point—I’d done a big report on the complaint process and how the state environmental agency mishandled complaints.
So I had had, you know, just a lot of interest in this—this whole process and we got that reformed a little bit as well and created an online database of the complaints that we examined and analyzed and then basically forced the state environmental agency to set up a comp—put the complaints online. So—so this was of interest to me.
And around—a couple months later, I saw a story in the Austin American Statesman about how electronics that were being sent for recycling were actually being shipped overseas, in particular, to China where they were being treated in very primitive ways that were really severely polluting the environment and impacting people’s health in China. And I cut that out of the paper. I’d heard a little bit about electronics recycling from a local environment—recycling pioneer, J. D. Porter, who was interested in the issue but we couldn’t really figure out how to get—going around a campaign around it, what would be the strategy.
But so I—my interest had been piqued like the year before about electronics recycling and then I saw this article about how so much of it was polluting the third world, you know, which really kind of was an echo from the—my time in Kenya about exporting our problems, our environmental problems, to other countries.
And then a few weeks after I saw that article, I got a call from a guy with a group, at the time it was called the Grassroots Recycling Network, that groups were—around the country—were working to get the United States to adopt the policy that had just been adopted in Europe, which is that the producers of electronics should be responsible for the proper recycling of their products at end of life—Producer Take-Back Recycling, formerly known as Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR—and did—they were—had decided and targeted Dell as a corporate target.
HP did have some recycling going on of electronics. Dell did not. And they wanted a group in Dell’s hometown to take on the company and put pressure in their hometown and would we want to join in the effort. And I said oh, I saw the article about what was going on. Let me take this to the board. So the board said yes. And so we joined in this corporate campaign against Dell. So we were working on the problems of trash facilities, problem trash facilities and this policy solution that was very far reaching and cutting edge. And we continued to do that for years.
I like to say that TCE became Dell’s worst nightmare—Michael Dell’s worst nightmare—because we just kept dogging him and the company wherever they went. We were at the shareholder meeting raising questions to the extent that some of the shareholders started booing us because we kept raising questions about electronic waste recycling at the Austin Convention Center where they used to hold their annual shareholder meetings. They had a very easy policy. Any shareholder could kind of give you their piece of paper so you could get in so we could id—we got—you know, asked around who—who’s a shareholder of Dell.
Of course, there are a lot of them in Central Texas. We got a bunch of people inside. We had people outside, you know, made a scene there. We found out that Dell was speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show for the first time in Vegas in 2013, January 2013. We sent—a bunch of our canvassers went out there and held a little demonstration. At that time, Dell’s first response to our campaign—one of their underlings signed this contract with federal prison industries and they told people, ship your computer to this address and it will get recycled.
They didn’t tell you it was going up the river to a prison. And plus most people, at that time, you had de—most people had desktops—they weren’t going to spend, you know, the fifty, sixty, seventy dollars to ship it anywhere. It was a ridiculous solution. Ha—and people in prisons don’t have worker health and safety. They don’t have the right technology. They’re using hammers, you know, to hammer a screen. So we were against this on so many levels. So—so our organizers—we had prison uniforms and we might have gotten them from Lucy in Disguise on Congress Avenue.
And we had a big—we got a big pile of Dell equipment I think from the Goodwill in Las Vegas. And someone—one of my canvassers on the spot made up a chant about, you know, “lost my job, robbed a store, went to jail, got my job back”. And they had signs that said Dell’s high tech chain gang and they were—did this little demonstration. The photograph of their demonstration was in newspapers and online across the globe. The Statesman’s picture appeared at least seven times over the course of the next couple years.
And you could—someone—one of my folks had a video camera and had a video of the Dell PR people kind of off to the side pulling their hair out. Those people lost their jobs. Then they went inside to Michael Dell’s talk and—and during the Q&A session there, said you’ve gotten hundreds of letters from Texans about recycling your products. When is Dell going to take back and recycle their products? And Michael Dell was like, what are you talking about? And luckily, we had sent hundreds of letters with us too so we had these big, huge bags of letters that we deposited on the stage to prove that we weren’t making this up.
And finally, Michael Dell kind of asked some people like what the heck is going on here? And we also had a fashion show outside, at the time, Susan Dell, his spouse, had a dress store—she’s a fashion designer—in West Austin. And we found out she was having a fa—kind of a preview of her fall fashions a few months lat—after this Las Vegas action. And so I got some glue guns and some—some computer parts and we had our own electronic waste fashion show outside her store when she was there. She was, of course, furious.
It was the first and so far the only time one of the demonstrations I helped organize is in fashion pages of the paper. But that really got their attention too. And she’s a major shareholder of Dell as well. She’s making money off of their operations. Fair game as far as I’m concerned. I have my li—lines that I draw but she was fair game. And, you know, they finally hired someone who had—had had experience in Europe who understood what the Europe—laws were in Europe. That’s what we kept bringing up.
It’s like here you’re giving your European customers recycling services but you’re not giving them to Americans, what’s up with that? That resonates very well. So Dell came around and decided to offer recycling services that were responsible recycling services for free for consumers. And then eventually they stopped opposing the legislation that we got introduced at the Texas legislature and actually they came up with a bill that they would support that did get passed in—in 2007 that got passed.
It’s a little bit too weak and we told them from the beginning that they were doing much more than they were going to require of their competitors and wouldn’t it be better to create an even playing field. I’m still, to this day; don’t know why except for kind of a general kind of feeling against government requirements. I mean, they were willing to pass a law but not a law that really would do the job, which was very unfortunate. I mean, it still has resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds of recycling of electronics but it could have been and should be much better than it is.
But, you know, we—we do inside strategies like legislative strategies and then we do the outside strategies. Some groups will limit themselves to one or the other, you know, just do legislative strategies or just do kind of demonstrations and direct action. We’ll do both as the need arises. But, in Texas, if you want to get something done, it really is—can be very important to get industry—some industry—on your side. If you’re going to the Capitol and all the industry is united against you, it’s really hard.
But the bill that Dell supported and that HP supported, actually the Texas Association of Manufacturing supported it; Texas Association of Business supported it. It passed unanimously out of both houses. The previous year—two years—when the bill was introduced, we got hearings but the bills never made it out of committee. So it was kind of the outside pressure on these companies that neutralized their opposition and then we could get legislation through. So that is a winning formula if you can figure out how to at least split the industry and—and—and—if you want to get something through.
And at—even at the local level, when you’re passing local ordinances, we really look for unusual allies. How can we get some business or some kind of person or entity on our side that makes people look—think—think about it, raise their eyebrows, look to—look a second time, do—do a double take and that’s really a very important thing to find the strange bedfellow.

DT: So see if I can summarize a little bit. You—you’ve talked about everything from the landfills to citizen complaints, how they’re handled at—at the State Environmental Agency, to I know this electronic recycling’s been a huge and very long effort for you. I rec—recently read about something called Missing the Mark about cleanup standards and maybe you can talk a little bit about that and the approach you took to—to try and to make some headway there.

RS: Sure. So, for many years, we have been focused on waste and recycling issues and zero waste strategies around municipal solid waste and not only what comes out of people’s homes but what comes out of—of, you know, the apartments, at condos, and businesses. But we opened an office in Dallas in 2004 and in Houston in 2008, just in time to be wiped out by Ike for—displaced by Ike for a while. But, you know, Houston—that is a—an environmental—has so many environmental challenges.
So we are the only group with a fulltime door-to-door presence in those other cities. And it’s a very valuable tool. And so a woman, Jackie Young, who had been organizing against the San Jacinto River waste pits in the eastern part of Harris County—she herself had suffered a lot of environ—of—of health issues and, as many in her community have because of the—the waste from International Paper that were buried by a subsidiary of Waste Management and then subsidence put this in—a lot of it—the waste actually in the San Jacinto River.
And Waste Management International Paper have not wanted to pay for a real solution. They’ve just wanted to cover it up with a tarp and with rocks that keep getting washed away. Well so we’ve been ha—we’ve been helping Jackie with doing door-to-door organizing when she needed turnout and to get the word out to commun—the community in a comprehensive way for a couple of years. And then Hurricane Harvey struck and that whole area was flooded and many parts of Houston were flooded, many toxic waste sites were flooded.
Of course, there were a lot of environmental impacts from the wastewater treatment plants failing all over the ri—you know, Gulf Coast and, you know, of extreme air pollution and everything. But we deci—we were really struck in terms of the—the toxic waste sites, how many of them were not being dealt with and what the impacts of that are, in terms of not—the surrounding communities and downstream communities. And so we decided that we would get more involved with toxic waste issues which, back in the early days of TCE, actually they had been involved with toxic waste issues.
So we—Trump was soon elected and talking about cutting the EPA dramatically. So we decided to mobilize Texans to defend funding for the EPA as we worked to develop a campaign—more comprehensive campaign—around toxic waste issues. So eventually we did protect the federal funding. And it turned out that the Trump Administration believed that dealing with toxic waste sites was actually an appropriate focus for the EPA. So he actually—Pruitt—was actually an—an advocate for dealing with toxic waste sites. We’ll take allies where we can get them.
And so we generated thousands of letters to the EPA about restoring the funding for toxic waste cleanup, which is a long term battle. The original Superfund of the Superfund Toxic Waste Program—the funding ran out after fifteen years in 1995 and has never been reauthorized by congress. So the billions of dollars that were in the Superfund that came from fees on companies that produced toxic materials had built up and—but then was spent out. And so there—if you don’t have a responsible party that is still in business and identifiable, it is—there’s like no money to clean up these toxic waste sites or very little.
So that’s a long term battle we have ahead of us. We eventually kind of decided—heard from people who’d been working on toxic waste issues in Texas that a big problem is that the toxic waste sites that are under the jurisdiction of the State of Texas—now we’re talking about at least 5,500 sites that have been identified in Texas, there’s like 150 or 60 that are—from Texas that are on the federal list but many, many, many more that are under the state jurisdiction that have it we—haven’t made it to the federal Superfund list and probably never will.
And we heard from people who dealt with these sites in Texas that one of the huge problems is the way the state evaluates toxic waste sites and decides whether—whether they’re to—too toxic or not. And if they are—do need cleanup, to what level they need to be cleaned up. So we issued this report in Oc—October I guess it was of 2018, this year, that analyzed in the nitty gritty of how to—what are the—the formulas that they’ve used to evaluate toxic waste sites in Texas. And we found that, off the bat, Texas allows ten times the cancer risk compared to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, from toxic waste sites.
They assume that Texas children eat less dirt so they have less exposure to the soil. They assume that Texans have less skin exposure because we’re slimmer than other people. We don’t know why—how that would come to be, that we drink less water—all these ways that they kind of rig the formulas to underestimate the exposure that Texans have to the toxic chemicals in these toxic waste sites so that it’s so bad es—especially for car—cancer-causing chemicals that a site Texas says is okay for residential development or a daycare or a school, is too toxic for a factory in Louisiana and Mississippi.
That’s one thing to be compared to California. It’s another to be compared to Louisiana and Mississippi. So we are in the midst of a campaign. We’ve generated tens of thousands of letters to the State Environmental Agency and we are generating letters to the Tex—Texas legislators to rectify this situation and protect Texans from toxic waste because what happens is that the state environmental agency goes out there, they use these funky formulas, and they say no further action is needed. So they just let it sit there for years and decades because it’s not toxic enough.
It’s okay. So we’re looking at specific examples and getting into kind of concrete, you know, this is a site in your district, Legislator A, that you should be concerned about, that the TCEQ or State Environmental Agency doesn’t seem concerned about, doesn’t think any action is necessary. In fact, there were two sites this year that the Trump EPA put on the federal Superfund list that the TCQ said no further action were needed.

DT: Well, Robin, when we left off, you were talking about the—the—Missing the Mark program that you’ve recently been working on. And—and earlier you’ve been talking about things that—that gosh you’ve been involved in such as electronics recycling that goes back a decade or more. Can you talk a little bit about how you choose these topics? You know, what is it that appeals to you and makes it seem like this is a feasible thing to make some—some progress on? You know, do you have some sort of a secret algorithm for choosing them?

RS: There is no algorithm for choosing an issue. You know, part of my training as a community organizer—there are, you know, whole lists of questions that you ask, you know. For one, is it winnable? Is it deeply felt? Is it widely felt? Is there an economic angle to it? You know, the—for us, is it—it—can you explain it door-to-door and you’d be surprised—you can explain a lot of things door-to-door that you wouldn’t think otherwise. But so we have a—a number of criteria. I think also it’s—part of what kind of being winnable is, you know, who is on your side, who’s against you, who could you possibly move?
And so we’re somewhat ob—opportunistic, you know. If something surfaces like the electronics takeback, you know, a national, you know, formation coalition calls you and, you know, they have a—a good strategy, they’ve done a lot of research already, you know, we can say yes. We’re a state-based group. We have our own board of directors. We have a lot of freedom. We don’t have to report to anyone at the national level and have lots of levels of bureaucracy. We do al—because we don’t have a—a—a presence in Washington, D. C., we don’t do that many national issues because we can have a better impact at the state and local level.
And with what’s going on in the State of Texas, a lot of—a lot of times you have more success at a local level. Unfortunately, sometimes they preempt you like the Texas Supreme Court did with all the single-use bag ordinances, some of which we had a hand in passing. So, you know, sometimes you think it’s winnable and it turns out not to be winnable. We don’t win every campaign but I th—we took on Walmart trying to get them to be like Best Buy and take back electronics.
Went to their shareholder meetings, did lots of fun demonstrations and in-store flash actions and to different songs and got people involved across the country. But it, in the end, even though they said they were going to do it, they never did. So we don’t win every campaign ma—and sometimes we bit off more than we can chew. But we win a lot of them.

DT: Yeah. I guess you—you raise consciousness in the course of trying to change policy. Maybe a related question. You talked a little bit about how you choose these topics. How do you choose or perhaps it’s self-selecting, the canvassers who work for you, who are your representatives going door-to-door?

RS: Well I don’t do the hiring but the canvas directors who do the hiring in our three offices—we’re looking for someone who has a strong commitment to the environment and good communication skills. And you’d be surprised at how many really shy people turn out to be excellent canvassers. It’s—it’s really hard to—to know. And so we have them go out with a canvasser, a—you know, a leadership person for four hours and then they get a chance to do it for an hour themselves and it’s not for everybody. And we do a lot of training.
It’s something you—most people aren’t born to ask strangers to get involved, make a contribution, ma—write a letter, do whatever. These days we are doing it with tablets rather than clipboards and pen and paper, which is very exciting. And it’s something that took us years but we finally raised money. We jus—worked with app developer to develop a custom app that does exactly what it is we want to do and makes it easy for people to give credit card. We get all these address—email addresses; we get people to opt in for text messages.
We don’t have to do all this data entry on handwritten pieces of paper. It’s very exciting, very—to see this is really a dream come true for me to see, you know, forty years after I started canvassing, we are—have made the switch finally. So…

DT: Well and—and you mentioned this, you know, the progress over forty years. Is there something you could say for forty years down the pike that would have meaning to you now maybe meaning, you know, in a generation like that, some sort of a message with what you’ve learned that would be valuable to…

RS: Well especially in this time and who knows what it’ll be like forty years from now. I ss—think that person-to-person contact, one-on-one contact with someone about crucial issues of the day is really important and we’ve seen political campaigns kind of come back around to that. It’s not just enough to do mail and phones anymore, a lot of campaigns are using person-to-person communication for good reason. I think that’s it really important to have fun. I think it’s really important to be strategic and to try and figure out—to surround the decision maker that you’re targeting on as many different levels as possible.
For instance, with Michael Dell to get a rabbi engaged in sending a message to Michael Dell who’s such a big community figure in the Jewish community or, you know, to get a former legislator who has connections that we don’t have, who can talk to other Republicans that were former colleagues. And, you know, wherever you can find, you know, people who have a different angle. We had a—self-described Tea Party City Council member from Fort Stockton come to the state legislature to the Environmental Regulation Committee and speak against preempting local bag ordinances.
He—he, you know, the—that—standing with these, you know, wacko environmentalists from Austin who support the bag ordinance. You have that diversity of opinion. We picked up two of the Republicans on that committee and kept that bill bottled up in committee. So that’s—that’s really important. But I think something I haven’t really talked about that much today that I want to stress is that progressive communities need to be really aware of the racism and to take a stand—active, strong stance against racism, kind of the internalized, really subconscious white supremacy, white superiority that we have in what has largely been a white environmental movement over the years.
It’s so deep and it’s very corrosive and it limits our effectiveness. And I think that something over the last couple of years that I’ve gotten very involved with—for to undo racism and fight racism and wh—and white supremacy. And I think as an environmental community, there are many racist strands from the very beginning of the—the original conservationists were also—sometimes also involved in the eugenics movement.
And the whole population control movement that I have fought against, whether I was in pro-choice or in the environmental community, you know, we need to empower women with education and income and they will choose the family size that works for them. And the reduction in birth rates, as you’ve seen efforts go into that, have been tremendous. But I—I think that we have—our growth is stunted as a movement, our power is stunted as a movement and—and people’s lives are being ruined because the environmental movement has not taken into account the lives of people most effected by pollution enough.
We’ve had far too much emphasis in the environmental community about being a—like the most virtuous, environmental individual and not enough about creating a movement that is going to empower people to fight pollution and change the systems that need changing. And, you know, I’ve—I’ve gone to meetings of environmental Democrats where people will get up and say well I want to know what kind of car you drive as a candidate.
To me, that is the absolute wrong question to ask but I was heartened recently when a candidate said I drive my car—I drive an old car because driving a car for as long as you can possibly drive a car is, for me, the best environmental thing is to use something as long as you can use it. But these people, they—the, you know, they thought they were being good environmental advocates by asking what kind of car a candidate drives. The point is not to be like the best model as an individual.
The point is to change the policies so that we can make it easy to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing. And I—I, as an environmental community, we’ve gotten way too hung up on individual decision-making and we need to be much more concerned about building the movements and challenging power and changing policy, whether it’s government or corporate policy.

DT: Maybe this would be a good time to—to wrap it up. I—I—you’ve said so much, you’ve taught us a lot. But one last question I often ask is—is about something which—it can be very personal and—and I was wondering if you had anything to offer in this area where there might be a—a special spot that you like to visit that brings you serenity, solace, comfort, that’s fun maybe?

RS: In the last year, year and a half, I’ve become something I never thought I would become which is a morning swimmer at Barton Springs. Traditionally I’m much more of a hot springs person than a cold springs person. But I finally got myself a good snorkeling mask that didn’t leak. And started swimming at my neighborhood pool and it’s like why do I want to look at hairballs on the bottom of the swimming pool. And in—so I said well, let’s go to Barton Springs where there is actually fish and other things to see.
So most mornings when it’s at least above fifty degrees and I don’t have to be anywhere at an early morning meeting, I go and swim at Barton Springs with my snorkel and mask. And I’ve become part of a community there, which I wasn’t really expecting. I was expecting to like go and snorkel and it is wonderful and I feel like I’m on vacation because traditionally I only snorkeled when I was on vacation in some tropical reef somewhere. I’ve gotten, you know, to see the fish and the turtles and the plants and the cr—crawdads but I’ve also met the people that swim there.
And it is become a big attraction as well—the octogenarians of Barton Springs. I’ve met some of them and people from all over the world. And you never know what you’re going to see when you go there. And that was one thing I loved about living in—especially in Thailand—you never knew what the day was going to bring. You know, photo shoots with models in the water, baptisms, you know, by Baptists I guess, you know, in the Barton are—in Barton Springs. I had a duck like dive into the water next to me one day.
You—it’s just a—a fascinating place to be and it’s so beautiful year round and it’s such a different feel year round. And it’s really a treasure and it also brings me back to all the people that have—the history of that place. You know, it has been an oasis for many people for thousands of years. And then the most recent history of people in say Barton Creek Association, Save Our Springs Alliance, you know, who have worked to protect that for, you know, people like me who came to the city after the big vote on SOS or the, you know, the—the subdivision, the all night, you know, City Council hearing and that whole history.
I feel so thankful and grateful to them for doing what they could to preserve that space and—and, of course, I’m a monthly donor to SOS to continue their efforts. But it’s such a special place. I bring my out of town guests there. Some appreciate it and others don’t but it—it’s really, I mean, where else do you have a treasure anything like that, this huge spring fed swimming pool where you can see the skyline of the city for—as you’re swimming in the water. It’s just a—a place I’ve just come to love.
I used to just go there when it was over a hundred degrees and now I just—I miss it if I don’t go in the morning.

DT: It’s a good routine. Makes me want to go swimming. Well thank you so much. If there’s anything you have to add, please do.

RS: Well I want to thank this project for capturing the history of the environmental movement in Texas for the future and for the present. It’s really valuable to be able to le—learn the lessons. I’ve been to the website myself and it’s really an honor to be a part of it.

DT: Thank you. It’s nice to have you and appreciate it.

[End of Interview with Robin Schneider – November 8, 2018]