The Hancock Park Garden Club honored three individuals for their leadership in conservation and horticulture at its meeting this month in Windsor Square. As part of the Garden Club of America, a national network of more than 200 garden clubs across the country, the Hancock Park Garden Club presented commendations to developer and Hancock Park resident Wayne Ratkovich and Windsor Square resident and Chair of the California Air Resources Board Mary Nichols for Conservation. They presented a Horticulture commendation to Theodore Payne Foundation Executive Director Kitty Connolly.
HPGC Award Chairman Carolyn Bennett presented the Club Historic Preservation Commendation to Wayne Ratkovich, saying:
“Wayne is a developer…a developer with a heart and a passion and a drive. For 30+ years his company, The Ratkovich Company, has been leading the charge to revitalize Los Angeles’ urban landscape. His record of reclamation and restoration is astounding. TRC has re-developed nearly 18 million square feet of commercial space in Los Angeles County, including the Oviatt Building, the iconic Pellisier and its Wiltern Theater, Terminal Annex, Macy’s Plaza Downtown, Chapman Market, The Alhambra (a 45 acre mixed use urban community in the city of Alhambra), The San Pedro Public Market (formerly Ports O’Call Village) and The Bloc, a 1.8 million square foot, mixed-use property at the heart of downtown Los Angeles that will become the premier urban retail, office and hospitality destination.”
Honored with many awards, Ratkovich’s company continues to live by its philosophy to do “good” and do “well.” He believes that profit should be a natural consequence of good work. In Ratkovich’s words, “When we enhance and preserve a building that has long been part of a city’s fabric, we become a contributing member of the community…we are in the business of recreating buildings to serve the market and cater to the needs of the community.”
The company’s goal is to apply a developer’s skills and imagination to projects which will create livable urban neighborhoods…focusing on urban infill and rehabilitation projects which make more efficient use of the land and the buildings. Growth for the sake of growth does not encourage quality of life.
As he says, “We’re in the business of producing environments that make people happy.”
Ratkovich said this was the most local award he had received and he was quite honored to be recognized by his friends and neighbors.
Next, Bennett presented the 2017 Club Horticulture Commendation Award to Kitty Connolly, Executive Director of the Theodore Payne Foundation:
In recognition of their stated mission:
- To promote, preserve and restore California landscapes, and habitats
- To propagate and make available California native plants and wildflowers
- To educate and acquire knowledge about California flora and natural history
the Theodore Payne Foundation has been instrumental in informing our State’s residents of the benefits and beauty of our native plants for more than 40 years.
Named for Theodore Payne, a transplanted Englishman who arrived in California in 1893 and began a life long passion in the promotion of the use of California Natives in personal landscapes, this foundation has survived fires, floods, relocation and financial challenges. Today it employs a dedicated staff, provides ongoing educational outreach, maintains a native plant nursery and hosts a yearly native plant garden tour. In addition, more than 250 volunteers contribute nearly 4700 hours of annual service to the Foundation.
As California faces the ravages of ongoing drought, the Theodore Payne Foundation has become the “go to” source for information on using natives in private gardens. A 2011 $930,000 grant from the State of California has allowed it to construct new nature education facilities. And their website offers illustrated information on more than 1000 species of natives.
Climate change will mean that the influence of the Theodore Payne Foundation will be essential as we work to protect plant diversity, keep our land healthy and offer alternatives to inappropriate plants for our gardens.
The Citation read: In gratitude for the Theodore Payne Foundation’s continuing and dedicated promotion and love of California Native Plants and the preservation of the California landscape, both public and private.
Finally, Bennett presented the 2017 Club Conservation Commendation to Mary D. Nichols.
A devoted conservationist, Mary has spent her entire career focusing on the environment and public health. Since 2007 she has served as the Chair of the California Air Resources Board, a post she also held from 1979 – 1983. With an operating budget of $860, million she manages a staff whose primary responsibility is to move ahead the state’s landmark climate change program. After receiving her BA from Cornell University and her JD from Yale, Mary worked as an attorney for the Center for Law in the Public Interest, where she brought the first litigation under the then-recently-passed Clean Air Act. She was a founding attorney for the Los Angeles office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, was Assistant Administrator of Air and Radiation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, headed the Environment Now Foundation and is a Professor-in-Residence at UCLA School of Law. Mary is a frequent also a contributor to media forums on the environment, and a popular speaker on natural resources and the subject of many climate profiles. In 2009 she was awarded the Attorney of the Year award from California Lawyer Magazine.
The citation read: “In recognition of her career-long work in the public sector to keep our air clean and her ongoing personal commitment to maintaining a healthy planet.”
Following the presentation of commendations, Ms. Nichols spoke to the club about recent efforts by the California Air Resources Board to continue to move forward with pioneering programs that reduce carbon emissions and stimulate clean energy solutions for the state. Prior to coming to the meeting, Nichols was on a conference call with her boss, California Governor Jerry Brown, crafting a response to the executive order issued earlier that morning by the Trump administration, which rolls back the Clean Power Plan that mandates electricity companies reduce their emissions. Brown responded in a tweet shortly after the announcement Tuesday, “Gutting CPP is a colossal mistake and defies science itself. Erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump’s mind, but nowhere else.”
Nichols said that while it is very disheartening and frustrating to see all the work of the Obama administration being targeted for destruction, we live in a city and a state that has really seen the benefits of policies that protect the environment both in air quality and in economic development.
“We have been good stewards here,” said Nichols. “It’s important to think globally, but act locally and we are having an impact.”
California has been working since the early 2000s to put into place a set of policies and programs that show it’s possible to made a difference in effort to reduce global warming and still be very beneficial to industry and the public. She cited the Los Angeles effort to have cool roofs as an example of local rules that are part of a mosaic of efforts.
Nichols is convinced that the activity at the local and state level will not stop because of the action of the Trump Whitehouse. She urged her audience to continue to demand better products and hold politicians accountable no matter what party they represent.