The Board of Directors is very pleased to welcome Russell Sydney as the new Executive Director of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition.
“I’ve worked on things with Deborah (Pendrey) and the Green Coalition for a number of years,” says Russell admiringly. “When this opportunity came up to become Director, I saw the Coalition as having the potential to develop the Ojai Valley into a model community - to show how it is done and inspire others. There is such a wealth of people with awareness, an attitude, and consciousness that can see the need to create the kind of world we want to live in.”
Russell has traveled a crooked road to Ojai, like many of us. Born in England, he was educated in northern California. Holding a BA in Biology and a Masters in International Development, Russell began using his education to “create small town viability” in the rural areas surrounding his university. Working with local farmers and the local food movement in the Eureka area, Russell helped organize one of the first twenty California certified farmers markets - something many take for granted today was a novel idea back then. While growing the farmers’ market movement in California, Russell also worked to establish the first state-wide farmers’ market association in California.
It was at this point in Russell’s life that he realized focusing on transportation was the “single most important thing” he could do to improve the environment. So moving from Northern California he began work in Santa Monica to establish the Sustainable Transport Club. The Club included veteran electric vehicle (EV) users, advocates, manufacturers, and government and industry insiders working to develop a framework for the EV movement. An electric vehicle user for over a decade, Russell has driven, imported, tested and promoted them since 2004. During his time with the Sustainable Transport Club, Russell helped coordinate and create the Alt Expo, several EV ordinances, and helped revise the City of Santa Monica’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).
More recently, Russell has worked in the Ventura County electric vehicle field, helping launch the recent National Plug-in Day in Oxnard. He comes to the Valley directly from Santa Paula, where he has lived for the past 5 years.
Russell says there has been so much change in the climate and people over the last 100 years that the old ways can’t work. He sees the OVGC continuing to “create positive actions” in our neighborhoods, in our transport, in our watershed.
“We have so many great people involved at the OVGC already,” says Russell. “I’m hoping I can encourage more people in Ojai to come forward and support the work ahead.”
Editor’s Note: Past executive director Deborah Pendrey has moved into the newly developed Program Director position made possible through the City of Ojai's support.