Heal the Bay celebrated its 25th anniversary Thursday night with a fundraiser on the beach in Santa Monica. Sandwiched between freaky winter weather, the gala unfolded on a cloudless, balmy evening that afforded us an extraordinary sunset on the Bay.
More than 900 people came out to celebrate Heal the Bay’s long history of coastal protection and to recognize the environmental achievements of honorees Nicolas Cage, Jack Baylis, Luann Laval Williams and the Walt Disney Co. Incredible board members Barry and Jennifer Gribbon really outdid themselves this year, putting on such a fun and inspiring event that captured the spirit of the organization.
Evening highlights included Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and past Assembly Speaker, giving a Dorothy Green award to environmental engineering executive Baylis, and Julia Louis Dreyfus giving a Green award to Laval Williams with board members spelling out Luann in the background in homage to her role as board cheerleader. Jakob Dylan’s soulful performance capped the evening perfectly.
But Senate pro-tem Darrell Steinberg stole the evening. At cocktails people buzzed about the need to pass Assemblywoman Julia Brownley’s AB 1998, a bill that bans single use plastic and paper bags in retail, grocery and drug stores. Table centerpieces made of plastic bags and chandeliers fashioned out of plastic bottles underscored the point. (Our own programs director, Meredith McCarthy, is truly the master of the bandsaw).
Brownley and Sen. Fran Pavley talked to the guests about the need to combat marine debris. Many environmental leaders, including former Cal-EPA Secretary and Cabinet Secretary Terry Tamminen, approached Steinberg to urge him to support 1998.
In a surprise to large audience, Louis-Dreyfus introduced Steinberg and he proceeded to thrill the crowd by announcing his unqualified strong support for the bill. He talked about the problems posed by plastic packaging and the need to tackle the marine debris crisis head on. Needless to say, the crowd gave roaring approval of his announcement.
At the end of the evening, I was so proud of the work that staff and volunteers put in to make our 25th such a successful event. But a few years from now, when California is finally single use bag free, I’ll remember the leadership that Steinberg showed on a beautiful evening by the Bay.