Voices of Save Mount Diablo: Our 50th Anniversary Oral History Project

SMD Kitchen Table Board Meeting c 1989-1990
Humble beginnings: a Save Mount Diablo kitchen table Board meeting c. 1989–1990. Left to right: Sue Watson, Mary Bowerman, Bill Sattler, Pat Moran, Bob Walker, Dann McCright, Chris Valle-Riestra, Genevieve Sattler.

How Do You Inspire the Future?

Mary Bowerman and Art Bonwell

Save Mount Diablo’s co-founders, Mary Bowerman and Art Bonwell. Photo: Sandra Hoover and Saul Bromberger

When Save Mount Diablo was co-founded 50 years ago by Art Bonwell and Mary Bowerman, they gave a voice to the mountain at a critical time. Development was creeping up Mount Diablo and threatening the natural landscape.

Since 1971, our organization has nurtured strong voices speaking on behalf of the mountain, informing the public of its unique natural features and the need for conservation.

Today, Save Mount Diablo is recognized as both an exceptional example of local land conservation efforts, as well as representative of national and international environmental activism that extends beyond our region.

As part of our 50th anniversary celebration, which we are celebrating for a full year, we’ve been working with UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library. Over the past several years, their team has been working to record some of the empowering individuals who helped create Save Mount Diablo in a series of oral histories.

Voices of Our Past and Present  

Jeanne Thomas

Jeanne Thomas, one of Save Mount Diablo’s long-time supporters. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Thomas

You can view Save Mount Diablo’s 50-year oral history digital collection from the Bancroft Library here. The diverse list of people interviewed includes some of our current leaders, long-serving Board and staff members, and key supporters, plus a few of our important public agency partners.

Each of these individuals shares a unique role in our organization’s history and offers an insightful perspective to our organization’s history and the inner workings that help make us successful.

Those interviewed include the following.

Each interview starts with a discussion on each individual’s background history, their family and career. Their story describes how they became involved with Save Mount Diablo, as well as their roles inside the organization.

Many of the oral histories end with the interviewees discussing the future as the climate crisis and the need for conservation continues. They speculate about some of the challenges Save Mount Diablo may face, but also how the organization may be more important than ever.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Bob Doyle with Mary Bowerman at Save Mount Diablo 25th Anniversary celebration in 1996

Bob Doyle with Mary Bowerman at Save Mount Diablo’s 25th anniversary. Photo: Susan Kraughto

By honoring and recording the past, we aim to inspire the future of land conservation, not just on a local scale, but everywhere.

These stories do not just reveal how Save Mount Diablo grew to become a successful conservation force, but how anyone can make a positive noticeable change in the environment and help create a healthy community.

We hope that this collection of voices from Save Mount Diablo will help document, inform, and celebrate our organization’s amazing history.

Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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