The Utah environment oral history project is part of the Everett L. Cooley oral history collection, ACCN 0814.
- Jessi Carrier
Salt Lake-born Jessi Carrier was raised half in Utah and half in New Hampshire. An environmental activist and member of Peaceful Uprising, she describes her youth, schooling, and gradual awakening to her own environmental activism. A camp counselor in New Hampshire, she also volunteered at SUWA and Save Our Canyons before getting involved in her current work. She lobbied once at the Utah Congressional delegation’s offices in Washington, D. C., and while there participated in a rally against a coal-fired power plant. She discusses her worldview at some length and, unfolding what she calls her ecological view of the world and society, describes her sense that environmental activism and issues are bound up in all movements. For her own approach she emphasizes interconnectedness, cooperation, and nonviolent direct action.
- Carrol Firmage
Firmage camped throughout Utah as a child with her family. She married Ed Firmage whose educational pursuits took them to Berkeley, California, and then to Israel on an Albright Fellowship. When they returned to Salt Lake City, they began to take weekend trips to the Escalante-Boulder area in southern Utah. Inspired by the scenery, they became interested in landscape photography. Ed’s father was an activist who opposed the MX plan to put nuclear weapons in the West Desert. Ed and Carrol followed in his footsteps and became active in the Divine Strake project when the government talked about doing more testing in the West. They were also involved in issues over water rights in Utah involving Las Vegas. Her Master’s Thesis at the University of Utah studies historic farming practices in Utah and modern urban gardening in an effort to increase sustainability by growing more food locally.
- Andrea Heidinger
Andrea was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but spent her childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. In high school she was aware of the poor air quality in the valley and started to bike to school, “Inversions are natural, but what the inversions trapped, the smog and pollution, was not.” Her classes and teachers at Judge Memorial High School were instrumental in her environmental mindset. She has worked for both the Parks Service and the Forest Service at the Grand Canyon. Andrea is very knowledgeable about multiuse issues and working with various shareholders in public lands. She went to graduate school for art at the University of Idaho and decided then that she is a post-consumer artifacts artist, meaning nothing was thrown away. She believes that art should be assessable and benign to the environment, there’s a lot of waste that comes out of art. She started teaching environmental education at Red Butte Garden and has been incorporating that into her art. Andrea and her husband also started the Eat Local Challenge here in Utah. Currently she is working at the Green Building Center, the host of a lot of workshops for the layperson on green living.
- Cindy King
King talks about joining the Sierra Club with her husband in 1986, after having discussions with her daughter about the environment. She also started a committee for Water, Air and Hazardous, and Radioactive Waste. In 1987, King participated in a lawsuit for attainment for particulate matter with the Clean Air coalition of Utah County. She talks about working with companies like Geneva and Kennecott. King then worked on problems related to hazardous waste and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, particularly a move to build an incinerator. She lobbied with the Sierra Club in Washington DC for the next six years. She describes working to improve emergency response kits related to hazardous waste events. In 1996 she was part of the Chemical Weapons Working Group that filed suit against the chemical weapons facility in relation to the waste incinerator in Utah, and then again in Arkansas and Oregon. She also discusses working with Envirocare on the hazardous release. In 2000, she was sued by Envirocare for sixty million dollars. Between 2003 and 2006, she was looking into an incinerator in North Salt Lake run by a company called Stericycle.
- Pam Miller
Pam was born in Lovell, Wyoming. She is the oldest of 5 children. Her parents' struggle because of their lack of education provided her incentive to pursue higher education. She remembers visiting her grandmother at work at the library and always reading many books. Her grandmother would also give her cast off books which she read. Her father died in an accident when she was in high school and the family struggled. Her high school counselor helped her to apply for enough grants and scholarships to attend Ricks College. She transferred to BYU where she became interested in archeology. She remembers the archeology fieldwork she did without sunscreen and not too worried about drinking from streams. Her and her husband Blaine have spent a part of the life working to protect and preserve the Nine Mile Canyon.
- Rachel Mathey
Mathey grew up at the base of the Wind River Mountains in Green River, Wyoming. Her parents took the family camping and she spent a lot of time in the outdoors when she was young. She credits those experiences camping with her family as the most influential factor in developing her passion for environmental issues. Her parents encouraged her to develop her spiritual side by connecting with nature. Rachel also took part in the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) when she was young. During her first summer with the school, she had an epiphany, and knew that she was connected to nature and that she wanted to do something to help preserve the environment. She moved to Salt Lake City to go to school because she had family there, and studied at Westminster College. She took all the courses they provided for geology and then all the courses with environmental as a prefix. For one of her courses it was required that the students volunteer for a local organization. She volunteered for SUWA and developed an interest in keeping wild areas wild throughout the country. Her volunteer work at SUWA provided her with the opportunity for an internship at Save Our Canyons, which led to a job at Utah Environmental Congress, where she works doing the same thing she did at Save Our Canyons. Rachel discusses the differences between the two organizations: each organization has a different member base and works on different issues.
- Ashley Patterson
Patterson grew up in Yakima, Washington. Her parents were from the midwest, but they moved west and took advantage of the resources for outdoor amusement. Ashley grew up knowing the benefits of the outdoors. Her parents were also very environmentally conscious and passed that along to their daughter. She feels a strong connection to the west. She went to college in the east and took an environmental history course and decided she wanted to be involved with environmental issues in her career. After a brief stint in the book fair business, she decided to put her environmental studies background to use. She took a class on solar panels and discovered a love of building green homes and shelters. While visiting friends in Portland, she came across a green building supply business and decided that was what she wanted to do in Salt Lake, so she started the Green Building Center. Ashley describes becoming a green business owner and navigating the local business scene as well as the local environmentalist scene. Mostly, she does things her own way, though, and doesn't participate very often in business organizations or green events. Her concerns as a business owner are not only to be green, but to also be conscious of social justice issues behind the products she buys and sells. It's important to her to know where the products are coming from, what's in the products, and who's making them. She talks about opening a second store in Park City, and the difference between customers there compared to customers in Salt Lake City, who seem to be on more of a budget. Ashley also discusses her involvement with Wasatch Community Gardens. She took a class there, saw a class being taught for children, and realized how important the work they're doing is.
- Vanessa Pierce (1st interview)
Pierce (b. 1980) grew up in Colorado Springs. She attended Grinell College in Iowa. Following graduation she went into the Green Corps, a program of training and hands-on experience in how to run an environmental campaign. After training, she came to Utah to take a job with HEAL Utah - the Health Environment Alliance of Utah. This organization was instrumental in stopping the Fernald nuclear waste from being sent to Utah. Vanessa discusses the methods used, particularly the work they did with the Utah legislature. Other topics covered include the relationship between the legislature and the L.D.S. church, plans proposed by Energy Solutions to bring more nuclear waste to Utah, and the proposed nuclear waste dump on the Goshute reservation.
- Vanessa Pierce (2nd interview)
- Susan Schoer
Schroer was born and raised in Missouri and majored in journalism and psychology at Drury University. She discovered how rewarding it was to work with disabled children during a college internship. After college she did an AmeriCorps position with Splore, a nonprofit organization in Salt Lake City that provides outdoor recreation opportunities for people with disabilities. She is still working there. Splore takes kids and adults out into nature on an adventure, expanding their experience and fostering a sense of empowerment. The programs include rafting, indoor and outdoor rock climbing, canoeing, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, dog sledding, camping, and hiking. Splore works with all different types of disabilities and underwrites about eighty percent of the costs so that anyone can participate.
- Bridget Stuchly
Stuchly (b. 1978) describes growing up in Riverside, a suburb of Chicago. Her parents were fostered a love of the outdoors and a connection with the environment. An advanced biology class in high school about "biology on the level of ecosystems, different organisms and their place in the environment” really opened her eyes. She enrolled at Loyola University, majoring in environmental studies, later transferring to the University of Colorado at Boulder. Thinking she had come to an environmental Mecca, she was suprised at all the superfund sites around Boulder. Currently Bridget is working as regional manager for ReDirect Guide, a guide to resources and information about living sustainably. She is also involved with the Utah Clean Air Alliance.
- Kathy Vandame
Vandame is a retired nurse who has dedicated her life to air quality in the Salt Lake Valley after reading a Wasatch Clean Air Coalition newsletter in 1997. She would go to Utah Air Quality board meetings and attended the Western Regional Air Partnership, which was the successor organization to the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission, and that organization became the seed of the Western Climate Initiative. She works newsletters and talks to legislators about air quality and is affiliated with HEAL, League of Women Voters, and Luther Carbon Free Nuclear Free Freedom. Kathy also thinks that our society has a disconnect in our lives, especially when it comes to food, class, and sexuality.
- Savannah Wake
Wake (b. 1979) grew up in Utah, California, and Virginia. She was introduced to the outdoors by her father on camping trips. A chance meeting while on vacation at Denali National Park led to the founding of the Student Conservation Association (SCA). Wake spent some time doing seasonal work for the National Park Service and attended the University of Utah, graduating with a B.S. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Currently, she works for the Swaner Nature Preserve at Kimball Junction, near Park City, Utah.