Carol Moss

Heritage and Stewardship

Recorded: April 22, 2014

Carol Moss, a resident of Malibu California, speaks about her love of nature and the importance of the natural environment for those that live in the city.  She explains some lessons that she has learned about stewardship from the Tibetan people and how their way of living could be helpful in caring for our resources.

Carol Moss grew up in the city of Chicago and was nourished by her family’s excursions to the Lake Michigan waterfront and surrounding forest preserves. For Carol, this experience forged a lifelong affinity for nature and preservation. Ms. Moss became a lawyer; however, she focused on raising her family for many years. Starting in the 1980s, she found a number of ways to be involved in California politics, especially key environmental issues arising during the first Jerry Brown administration. A resident of Malibu, California, she has fought battles against nuclear energy, massive developments, as well as sewer and highway projects. She continues to fight for land preservation projects along the California coast.

Huey Johnson:   Carol Moss, welcome.

Carol Moss:   Glad to be here.

Huey Johnson:   We had some great times together I remember, back in Sacramento and elsewhere.

Carol Moss:   Those were wonderful days.

Huey Johnson:   Tell me about your origins of interest in environment? What events in your life do you remember that caused you to develop an interest?

Carol Moss:   I think growing up in the city of Chicago, being a total city kid. I was nurtured by the parks and the rocky lakefront and the ocean–and the lake, excuse me. It was all developed by the WPA [Works Progress Administration] and it was wonderful. I was there every day, I sustained myself, and occasionally we would go out to some kind of forest preserve. These were just absolutely essential growing up in the city. And so we got a lot of feeling–now that I live in a pristine area–or trying to keep it that way–I have a lot of feeling for the legacy of this for people in the city and in the future times, saving it because people need it to nourish their bodies and their spirits.

Huey Johnson:   Assisting people from Tibet or Nepal, can you describe that?

Carol Moss:   Yeah, I’m very involved with Tibetans. And one of the great things about Tibetans was their environmental awareness. They would not remove–and I was told this– they would not remove anything from the ground unless it was a little bit of gold for Buddha statues–only for religious purposes. And so, what we do is just–and the thought of cutting off trees, and the fact–oh, it was fascinating that they, hearing that they had–the idea of waste didn’t exist because everything was used. There’s no separation between the contour of the land and the contour of the spirit of an amazing culture.

Huey Johnson:   I remember one of the first projects that I knew you was over a marsh near Malibu.

Carol Moss:   Malibu is a very fragile area and it’s such a resource. It’s to be preserved as a resource, but of course, I think the peoples’ slogan would be, “There’s gold in them there hills.” The developers come in and they want to do this. We fought down a nuclear plant. We fought down a causeway. We fought down a freeway. We fought down a sewer plant, which is why we became a city. But now we’re getting the sewers and that means development and it’s a dinosaur–a carbon, you know, carbon footprint. It’s just awful, but we may have lost this one to the State.

Huey Johnson:   I did some work studying the British and other European countries once, and I remembered the British National Trust for instance. And the general attitude in England toward a piece of land that had been saved, either by gift or purchase, or whatever, was nobody–not the wildest developer–would ever think of building once that commitment had been made. The heritage was the key issue that they thrive on. They may not be as affluent as some other places or whatever else, but boy they’re rich in heritage and memories and values other than dollar ones.

Carol Moss:   That could really be helpful to me in Malibu. I never thought of approaching people who lived there as and suggesting that they’re here to be stewards of this fragile area. That’s the language that isn’t used, but it’s true.

Huey Johnson:   In your lifetime of experiences, what lessons have you come up with that could be helpful to future generations?

Carol Moss:   Drop your opinions. Drop your opinions. Drop your concepts. Be open. Bear witness to whatever is happening, and then you’ll know how to move. And it’s–that separated me from my colleagues because they were all angry and I just wanted to be open. Maybe you make better decisions and you survive without burning out. We just had a big battle that culminated a year or two ago in the–I would say the destruction of the lagoon. They took out an old lagoon and put in a new lagoon, and with huge loss of ecosystem lands and it–horrendous loss. And I guess to be patient about the things to renew, they do come back. And maybe not to be–not to be caught up in winning.  You go crazy if you get caught up in winning. And to see a long term view of stewardship.

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