A Letter from David Saltman
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
My journey from environmental activist to cleantech entrepreneur began three decades ago. My father, a biochemist and avid water man, suggested that I do some volunteer work for the Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the world’s oceans and beaches. I eventually became its executive director and, in 1990, we won the largest Clean Water Act lawsuit in US history.
Directly following this euphoric victory came a sobering realization: The environment was too important to be a charity. So, I left a career in the entertainment industry to pursue purpose-driven business ventures that could achieve financial success while benefiting the environment. What followed were a succession of companies that created everything from building-integrated solar tiles, to natural fiber composites for the auto industry, to bio-based foams used in everything from buildings to boat hulls, wind turbine blades to Hollywood movie sets.
When Camille and I made the decision to migrate to Canada, we chose the Okanagan Valley for its natural beauty, but also because we believe it is uniquely positioned to be climate-change resilient. Nestled in a protective mountain range, with plenty of hydroelectric power, fresh water, and fertile land for food and wine production, it had the resources required to maintain a vital economy. Couple this with a great airport, a world class university and colleges, a state-of-the-art hospital, and a progressive business community, and the choice was obvious.
But change is coming, and it is happening faster than anyone anticipated. While national politicians dither and debate it will fall upon cities and regions to implement policies that will make our communities economically and environmentally sustainable for the generations to come. Incorporating sound science, best management practices, and traditional ecological knowledge, the OSLC intends to play a leadership role in envisioning projects that will protect and enhance our regional future.
Nature wastes nothing — why should we? Let’s turn what we currently discard or burn into resources for soils, building materials and renewable energy. Nature utilizes forests, streams and grasslands to mitigate climate fluctuations. We can restore these areas and in so doing bring back the salmon, replenish our aquifers, create recreational opportunities and wildlife habitats, and protect property owners from flooding. Let’s build smarter cities and stronger communities that are resource efficient, connected and inclusive.
I want to personally thank all of you who have participated in the formation of this Council and welcome those of you with ideas and initiatives of your own to participate in the organization. There is plenty of work to do but together we can create a spectacular tomorrow.