Georgia Environmental Oral History ProjectGeorgia Environmental Oral History Project

Georgia Environmental Oral History Project

Descriptive Summary

Title: Georgia Environmental Oral History Project
Creator: Bean, Betsy
Creator: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.
Dates: 2013-2015
Extent: 22.0 interviews
Collection Number: RBRL/345/GEOH
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The Georgia Environmental Oral History Project was started in 2013 via a partnership between the Russell Library and Betsy Bean. The project documents the forces that have shaped and are currently shaping the Georgia landscape, including such topics as environmental activism (with a focus on grassroots activism), legislation related to environmental issues, the environmental history of the Georgia coast, the interplay between conservation, industry, and tourism, the politics of "sustainability," and the relationship between environmental issues and public safety. Early interviews focus on Brunswick and Glynn County including numerous Superfund sites, the development issues surrounding St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, and the challenges of protecting coastal marshlands.

Collection Description

Historical note

The Georgia Environmental Oral History Project was started in 2013 via a partnership between the Russell Library and Betsy Bean.

The first eight interviews (GEOH-001--GEOH-008) were recorded over a two day trip to Brunswick, Ga. in September 2013, by Russell Oral History and Media Archivists Callie Holmes and Christian Lopez. Interviews were recorded in a classroom space at the College of Coastal Georgia, except for GEOH-001, which was recorded in Ms. Poleszak's home on Jekyll Island. Betsy Bean is the primary interviewer, though occassionally Holmes and Lopez pose questions to the interviewees.

Scope and Content

The Georgia Environmental Oral History project documents the forces that have shaped and are currently shaping the Georgia landscape, including such topics as environmental activism (with a focus on grassroots activism), legislation related to environmental issues, the environmental history of the Georgia coast, the interplay between conservation, industry, and tourism, the politics of "sustainability," and the relationship between environmental issues and public safety.

Early interviews focus on Brunswick and Glynn County including numerous Superfund sites, the development issues surrounding St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, and the challenges of protecting coastal marshlands.

Organization and Arrangement

Interviews are arranged chronologically by interview number (ex. GEOH-001, GEOH-002, etc.).


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Preferred citation

Georgia Environmental Oral History Project, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Processing Information note

Original and transfer media formats for this collection include 96 khZ/24-bit WAV files that were recorded using a Sound Devices 552 audio recorder. Digital jpeg photographs also exist for this collection.

Copyright Information

Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2013.


Related Materials

Access Points

Audiovisual.
Beach renourishment
Birds
Environmental policy--Georgia.
Environmental protection
Glynn County (Ga.)
Glynn Environmental Coalition
Hazardous wastes--United States
Jekyll Island (Ga.)
Oral histories.
Saint Simons Island (Ga.)
Salt marshes
Superfund sites
Tourism--Georgia.
Water quality management--Georgia.
Water resources development--Georgia.
Water--Law and legislation--Georgia.
Watershed management--Georgia.
Wetland conservation--Georgia.
Wetlands--Law and legislation.

Related Collections in this Repository

First Person Project, FPP-0017, Hans Neuhauser and Betsy Bean

Reid Harris Papers Related to the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 103 Reid Harris

Robert Lindsay Thomas Papers

Williamson S. Stuckey Papers, Series III: Legislative

Georgia Council for Environmental Quality Records

Related Collections in Other Repositories

Altamaha: a River and Its Keeper

Altamaha Riverkeeper Collection


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

GEOH-001 Jean Poleszak interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 41 minutes
Scope and Content: Jean Poleszak interviewed by Betsy Bean. Jean Poleszak discusses how she and her husband first became acquainted with Jekyll Island after stopping over on their drive down to vacation in Florida from their home in Kenmore, N.Y. After moving full time to Jekyll, Poleszak became a nature guide for the state park service. She discusses her first involvement with political and environmental issues on the island when there were plans to build a new golf course on the island that led to bulldozing a large swath of land. She discusses become involved with the Initiative to Save Jekyll Island and demonstrating at the state capitol when Zell Miller was governor.
Poleszak provides a Jekyll Island resident's perspective on many of the issues facing the island. She talks about the 65/35 clause of the law that mandates that the developed portion of Jekyll Island cannot exceed 35% of the land, and she discusses the controversy surrounding this issue. Poleszak talks about Jekyll Island issues such as building the water park, golf courses on the island, and the evolution towards Jekyll becoming more of a resort island. She discusses the migration of many Northerners to Jekyll Island and how this affects the demographics of the island, and she also talks about the different types of tourists who visit Jekyll. Poleszak expresses her frustration at those who consider Jekyll Island to be "Melvin Thompson's Folly" and talks about her belief that Georgia should continue to protect the unspoiled salt marsh and the sea islands.
Biographical Note: Jean Poleszak was born in 1928 in Buffalo, N.Y. She and her husband purchased a house on Jekyll Island in the mid-1970s, and she has been a resident of Jekyll for over three decades. Poleszak was a nature guide on Jekyll before becoming involved with with the non-profit group, the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.
GEOH-001 Jean Poleszak audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-001 Jean Poleszak audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-002 Lydia Thompson interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 52 minutes
Scope and Content: Lydia Thompson interviewed by Betsy Bean. Lydia Thompson discusses her early life in Natchez, Miss., and her father's influence on her dedication to birds and the environment. Thompson discusses Operation Plover Patrol, which she founded to educate and raise awareness for Wilson's Plovers. She discusses various studies and tracking programs that she has been involved with, including Seaturtle.org, the College of William & Mary's whimbrel tracking, and banding birds.
Thompson discusses the filming of the major motion picture Glory on Jekyll Island in 1988 and the environmental implications of that process. She discusses the monetizing of conservation movements and the public's reception to her education and outreach efforts. Thompson talks about cleaning up the Andrew's Island Causeway with the Audobon Society, the dwinding bird populations on the south end of Jekyll Island, how dogs on the beach affect migratory birds, and the importance of empathetic communication in environmental outreach. Thompson also discusses the conservation plan for Jekyll and the implications of the 65/35 clause. She talks about getting the Georgia coast recognized as a birdwatching destination in the late 1990s and efforts to make the beach more accessible to those with disabilities.
Biographical note: Lydia Thompson is a naturalist and artist. She was born in Natchez, MS, and moved to the Georgia coast in 1985. Thompson currently lives on St. Simons Island is a columnist for the Jekyll Golden Islander. Thompson's primary focus is on the preservation and conservation of bird habitats, and she has been very involved with education and outreach programs such as Operation Plover Patrol and the Jekyll Island Environmental Education committee. She was a consultant for the development for the Conservation Plan for Jekyll Island and has been involved with various conservation and environmental organizations and initiatives such as the Audobon Society, Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Colonial Coastal Birding Trail.
GEOH-002 Lydia Thompson audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-002 Lydia Thompson audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-003 Woody Woodside interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 64 minutes
Scope and Content: Woody Woodside interviewed by Betsy Bean. Woody Woodside discusses his early life in North Carolina and working on environmental issues with U.S. Congressman Bo Ginn. He talks about Superfund sites in Glynn County such as the Hercules site and his work with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the EPD (Georgia Environmental Protection Division). He also discsusses they Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC).
Woodside discusses the work of the Chamber of Commerce as a pro-business organization and the Chamber's policy towards environmental issues, and he talks about changes in Glynn County such as population growth, changes in flood insurance regulations, and the deepening of the Brunswick harbor. Woodside discusses the public-private partnership that resulted in the renovation of the convention center on Jekyll Island. He also discusses the 65/35 clause regarding development on Jekyll Island. Woodside talks about controversial issues such as beach renourishment and predicts that the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water & Sewer Commission will be a key player in future development in the area because of infrastructure issues. Woodside discusses the Chamber of Commerce's efforts to stay ahead of legislation. He also discusses the perception of Jekyll Island held by the rest of Georgia and the Georgia legislature.
Biographical note: A resident of Brunswick and Glynn County since 1973, M. H. “Woody” Woodside has served as president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce since 1985. He previously spent 11 years on the congressional staff of “Bo” Ginn and 3 years with former Congressman Lindsay Thomas in coastal Georgia where he worked closely with numerous issues related to economic development.
Woodside is a native of Clinton, N.C., and attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia. He graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., in 1970. Woodside is a graduate of Institute for Organizational Management of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Southeast Georgia Chambers and Developers Council, and twice served on the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Executives Association. He also served as chairman of CEDO Region 11 of the Governor’s Development Council. The Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives presented Woody the Kent Lawrence Professional of the Year Award in 2000. Woody Woodside is a retired officer having served twenty-three years in the ranks of the Georgia Army National Guard. He is married to the former Ellen Quinlan Gould of San Diego, California, and together they raised two children, Mary Gould and Jay. They have two grandchildren, James Woodside (“Woods”) and Mary Bremmer Moorhead.
GEOH-003 Woody Woodside audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-003 Woody Woodside audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-004 Ben Slade interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 47 minutes
Scope and Content: Ben Slade interviewed by Betsy Bean. Ben Slade discusses getting involved with environmental issues and his friendship with Georgia representative Reid Harris. He discusses Harris's efforts to pass legislation to protect marshlands during Lester Maddox's administration. He talks about Kerr-McGee's plan to strip-mine the marshes and the development of a community coalition to protect the salt marshes. Slade discusses the attitude of the South towards government intervention and the difficulty of balancing community interests with marshland protection.
Slade discusses his efforts to repurpose the Naval Air Station at Glynco and to attract businesses other than heavy water users. Slade also discusses Superfund sites such as the Hercules Manufacturing plant (and its Toxaphene pollution and contamination). He also talks about Escambia Wood Treatment facility that used creasote to treat logs to be made into telephone poles.Slade discusses the development of the St. Simons Land Trust and the work of the organization, including the John Gilbert nature trail. He mentions the importance of utilities to development on the coast. Slade also talks about St. Simons' "greenprint" and the land trust's goal of keeping 15-20% of the land in public form. He talks about sites on St. Simons Island such as Cannon's Point (which was preserved by the trust) and the African American population of St. Simons, including the Harrington School House (which may be a Rosenwald school). Slade also discusses efforts to link green spaces and the issue of beach renourishment.
Biographical note: Ben Slade was born in Savannah, Georgia, and lived in several coastal towns during his childhood. He graduated from North Fulton High School in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University. He returned to St. Simons in 1961 and began a 36 year career at First Federal Savings Bank. At the time of his retirement from banking, Ben served as Chairman and CEO. He is currently Executive Director of the St. Simons Land Trust.
Ben is past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and many other civic organizations. He was the founding President of Habitat for Humanity of Glynn and the St. Simons Land Trust. Ben also chaired the Glynco Naval Air Station reuse committee in the 1970s, the results of which received national recognition from the Department of Defense and other organizations.
GEOH-004 Ben Slade audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-004 Ben Slade audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-005 Nancy Thomason interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 50 minutes
Scope and Content: Nancy Thomason interviewed by Betsy Bean. Nancy Thomason discusses how the issue of beach renourishment in the late 1980s galvanized her interest in environmental issues. She discusses various aspects of the anti-beach renourishment campaign, including organizing at a grassroots level, traveling to Atlanta to speak to legislators and the Toll Committee, participating in radio talk shows, putting ads in the local paper, and the challenges of working with the media to get your message out.
Thomason also discusses becoming president of RUPA (Residents United for Planning and Action) and her work to protect marsh hammocks. Specifically, she discusses the proposed Man Head Marina on Man Head Island and how the permit to build on this marsh hammock was ultimately revoked. She discusses tactics used by RUPA and other grassroots organizations and being added to the state committee to study marsh hammocks.Thomason talks about protecting the right whale population off the Georgia Coast and the controversy surrounding the right whale sculpture on St. Simons Island. She discusses the challenges and rewards of grassroots advocacy and the difficulties of keeping a citizens civic group active and involved over a longer period of time.
Biographical note: Born in New York, Nancy Thomason is the proprietor of Beachview Books on St. Simons Island. Thomason first opened a bookstore on the island in 1976. Since moving to the Georgia coast, Thomason has been involved with various grassroots efforts to protect the marshes and beaches. She was very active in the anti-beach renourishment campaign in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Thomason was elected president of Residents United for Planning and Action (RUPA) and led efforts to protect marsh hammocks.
GEOH-005 Nancy Thomason audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-005 Nancy Thomason audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-006 David Kyler interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 86 minutes
Scope and Content: David Kyler interviewed by Betsy Bean. David Kyler discusses his work as a regional development planner for the Area Planning and Development Commission and the use of the market-based approach to water management. He talks about the pressures put on planning commissions by business interests.
Kyler discusses the connection between natural systems of the coast and economic value. He discusses the Coastal Management Program of the 1970s and his work with the Georgia Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy. Kyler also talks about off-shore drilling, the Sea Island Company (including the conflict over bike paths), and the difficulty of maintaining cordial relationships with business interests as an environmental activist.Kyler discusses the founding of the Center for a Sustainable Coast in 1997, including the support of the Sapelo Foundation and the goals of the organization. He discusses efforts at outreach and education for the public through public forums. He also discusses various lawsuits filed by the Center for a Sustainable Coast, including a lawsuit about the development of marsh hammocks. Kyler talks about the support and the resources of the Southern Environmental Law Center.Kyler discusses the evolution of non-profits on the Georgia Coast and the support of the Dobbs Foundation. He talks about the role of the Center for a Sustainable Coast in establishing Riverkeeper organizations for watersheds affecting the coast. He discusses producing the Citizens Guide to Coastal Development with the goal of making the public more aware of the laws concerning environmental issues and development. Kyler also touches on issues such as the 65/35 clause governing the development of Jekyll Island, global warming, and harbor deepening and dredging.
Biographical note: David Kyler is the executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a non-profit membership organization he co-founded in 1997. The Center works to protect, preserve, and sustain the vital natural, cultural, and economic resources of coastal Georgia. Kyler's mission is to use environmental research, information, and education to improve decisions affecting the sustainability of natural systems. Through his work with the Center, Kyler works to redefine economic self-interest by incorporating the principles of sustainability in public policies governing both economic development and environmental protection.
Kyler is the author of numerous articles, reports, and opinion commentaries on issues related to coastal Georgia’s development, economy, and environment. His opinion columns on issues related to coastal development and natural resources policies are frequently published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Savannah Morning News. Kyler holds degrees from Lehigh University (BS, Industrial Engineering) and Southern Illinois University (MS, Design Science), and has completed advanced studies in Resource Management and Policy at the State University of New York at Syracuse. Kyler has worked in environmental policy analysis, regional planning, and public interest advocacy for 35 years. He’s been a resident of Saint Simons Island since 1977 and lived his first 17 years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
GEOH-006 David Kyler audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-006 David Kyler audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-007 Daniel Parshley interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 84 minutes
Scope and Content: Daniel Parshley interviewed by Betsy Bean. Parshley discusses his early life in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and moving to Brunwick and working as a commercial fisherman and marine researcher. Parshley talks about the inception of the Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) in 1989 and early concerns about air quality and Earth Day projects. Parshley talks extensively about GEC, including its stuctrual organization, charter members, and the evolution toward becoming a more politically active organization.
Parshley talks about Superfund sites in Glynn County, including numerous Hercules pollution sites, LCP Chemicals, and chlorine gas at Brunswick High School. Parshley talks about managing the EPA Technical Assistance Grant Program. He discusses the tenor of community meetings and the reaction of the business community to GEC's work. Parshley discusses instances of corruption within the manufacturing plants and the government organizations, as well as the effect of environmental and public health initiatives on jobs and the local economy. He talks about intimidation tactics and the fear of retaliation.Parshley also discusses the effects of pollution on the African American community and outreach efforts by GEC to the African American community, including education about contaminated seafood for substinence fishermen. He talks about Mad Hatter syndrome and effect of race on the response to pollution and public health concerns. Parshley talks about working with other citizens groups and the reputation of the Glynn Environmental Coalition over time.
Biographical note: Daniel Parshley was born in Niagara Falls, New York, as the son of an aeronautical engineer. His childhood was spent in California and Connecticut where he graduated from high school and attended college. Brunswick, Georgia, has been Parshley's home since 1973.
Parshley's first environmental work and education was in wastewater treatment soon after arriving in Georgia. When the Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) formed in 1990, Daniel helped write the first of four EPA Technical Assistance Grants for the Superfund Sites in Glynn County and has managed the grants since that time. Soon after graduating from Brunswick College in 1994 he started working in marine research.Currently, Daniel is the President of Parshley Research and Management, manages EPA Grants and daily operations for the GEC, and is involved in three marine research projects. He is also a registered mediator in Georgia.
GEOH-007 Daniel Parshley audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-007 Daniel Parshley audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-008 James Holland interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 69 minutes
Scope and Content: James Holland interviewed by Betsy Bean. James Holland discusses his early life, his service in the military, and moving to Brunswick in 1978. He talks about his commercial blue crab fishing operation and the evolution of the crabbing industry. Holland talks about how the declining crab population affected his personal finances and how this inspired him to become involved in environmental efforts. Holland discusses the increasing salinity of fresh waters and various diseases and organisms that affect the crab population.
Holland discusses the gender divide in the environmental movement and forming alliances with various organizations. He discusses the forming of the Altamaha Riverkeeper organization in 1998-99 and lawsuits filed by the organization. Holland discusses the role of the Riverkeeper and the work he did investigating reports in the field during his time as Riverkeeper. He talks about the State River Basin Management Plan and the Soil and Water Conservation Service.Holland also discusses the reputation of the Riverkeeper (and other environmental groups) among other fisherman. He talks about problems with local permit issuing authorities and possible corruption in government agencies. He talks about his relationship with scientists and various specific local environmental issues such as marsh buffers and fresh water impoundment on Little St. Simons Island.
Biographical note: James Holland is the retired Altamaha Riverkeeper. Holland grew up in Cochran, Georgia, where he first began hunting and fishing. Holland enlisted in the armed forces and became a Marine at age 17. After his service he moved to Brunswick and worked in the food service profession.
In 1977 Holland became a commercial blue crab fisherman. Due to a dwindling crab population, in 1994 a group of crabbers banded together and got the Georgia Legislature to approve a Blue Crab Management Program limiting the number of crabbers and the number of crab traps that could be in the fishery. Holland continued to investigate the causes of the decline in the crab population by talking with scientists, biologists, professors, and fishermen about marine life and the environment in which they lived. He learned everything he could through personal research in the biology of fish, crab, and shrimp.In 1999, James Holland and others concerned about the health of the rivers formed the Altamaha Riverkeeper to address the statewide water quality problem. The organization works to restore and preserve the habitat, water, and flow of the Altamaha River from its headwaters in North Georgia to its terminus at the Atlantic Coast.
GEOH-008 James Holland audio in SoundCloud Access Online
GEOH-008 James Holland audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-009 John Littles interviewed by Alexander Stephens and Christopher Lawton

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 96 minutes
GEOH-009 John Littles audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 9 Access Online
GEOH-009 John Littles audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-010 Mary Moran interviewed by Wilson Moran

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 43 minutes
GEOH-010 Mary Moran audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 10 Access Online
GEOH-010 Mary Moran audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-011 Wilson Moran interviewed by Christopher Lawton

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 88 minutes
GEOH-011 Wilson Moran audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 10 Access Online
GEOH-011 Wilson Moran audio and interview index in OHMS Access Online
 

GEOH-012 Bob Killian interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 41 minutes
GEOH-012 Bob Killian audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 20 Access Online
 

GEOH-013 Duane Harris interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 88 minutes
GEOH-013 Duane Harris audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 20 Access Online
 

GEOH-014 Daniel Parshley interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 47 minutes
GEOH-014 Daniel Parshley audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 23 Access Online
 

GEOH-015 Virginia Gunn interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 58 minutes
GEOH-015 Virginia Gunn audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 23 Access Online
 

GEOH-016 Nancy Thomason interviewed by Betsy Bean

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 6 minutes
GEOH-016 Nancy Thomason audio in SoundCloud, 2015 March 23 Access Online
 

GEOH-017 Craig Barrow interviewed by Christian Lopez

Extent: 1.0 moving image 118 minutes
GEOH-017 Craig Barrow video on Kaltura, 2015 May 13 Access Online
GEOH-017 Craig Barrow audio on SoundCloud Access Online
 

GEOH-018 Sarah Ross interviewed by Christian Lopez

Extent: 1.0 moving image 52 minutes
GEOH-018 Sarah Ross video on Kaltura, 2015 May 14 Access Online
GEOH-018 Sarah Ross audio on SoundCloud Access Online
 

GEOH-019 Mallory Pierce interviewed by Christian Lopez

Extent: 1.0 moving image
 

GEOH-020 Sarah Ross interviewed by Christian Lopez

Extent: 1.0 moving image 73 minutes
GEOH-020 Sarah Ross video on Kaltura Access Online
GEOH-020 Sarah Ross audio on SoundCloud Access Online
 

GEOH-021 Bob Lord interviewed by Mike Lord

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 98 minutes
GEOH-021 Bob Lord audio on Kaltura Access Online
GEOH-021 Bob Lord audio on SoundCloud Access Online
 

GEOH-022 Dorinda Dallmeyer interviewed by Mike Lord

Extent: 1.0 sound recording 73 minutes
GEOH-022 Dorinda Dallmeyer audio on Kaltura Access Online
GEOH-022 Dorinda Dallmeyer audio on SoundCloud Access Online