It's hard to imagine the Los Angeles County coastline without Heal the Bay, defender of marine life and official housecleaner for our world-famous beaches/waters since 1985.
And it's hard to imagine Heal the Bay without Mark Gold, its head and heart for the last 23 years.
Though he'll remain on the organization's board of directors, Gold has decided to abandon his longtime post as Heal the Bay president for an administrative position at UCLA's Institute of Environment and Sustainability. Needless to say, his alma mater is ecstatic:
"Mark has a genius for translating science so that it can be useful to local and state government agencies," Glen MacDonald, the director of the institute, says in today's announcement. "Gold's 23 years of experience at Heal the Bay give him a breadth and depth unmatched by anyone in Southern California."
High praise, even for a UCLA presser. We can relate: The LA Weekly family has a particular fondness for this environmentalist, as well.
Gold's brother happens to be our own Jonathan Gold, often described as the only food writer to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. Unlike Mark, Jonathan falls on the more cynical side of the PR-journalism machine -- he can make a killer case for or against any kitchen, and argue Los Angeles to the top of any city cuisine ranking. But their worlds overlapped in J. Gold's now-famous op-ed for the Los Angeles Times last summer, in which he argued -- a personal first -- that we sacrifice something scrumptious in favor of the healing of the bay. One touching excerpt:
"That soup 15 years ago? Delicious, although I remember the sweetness of the fresh crab in the bowl far better than I do the slippery tendrils of the main ingredient. But as much as you may love conpoy, dried flotation bladders, crab eggs, braised fish cheeks and the other esoterica of Cantonese seafood cooking, it is hard to work up an appetite for the bitter taste of extinction."
Hard to imagine there weren't some family ties running through that one.
Together, the Golds make us proud to live in Los Angeles. (Cheesy, but true.) Mark's departure from Heal the Bay is bittersweet on that front -- like we said, we can't really imagine the president's office without him, but in the end, he'll only be moving a few miles down the 10, from Heal the Bay's Santa Monica headquarters to the UCLA campus in Westwood.
Heal the Bay spokesman Matthew King says via email that "it really is business as usual," despite Gold's departure:
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"The board of directors will be meeting shortly to finalize the management structure of Heal the Bay moving forward. Longtime executive director Karin Hall and associate director Alix Hobbs, who have been here more than 10 years, will provide day to day management and organizational supervision."
And UCLA's MacDonald feels the bond between two of L.A.'s leading environmental forces will only be strengthened by the move: "We are delighted that he will stay on in an advisory capacity with them, because we really value our relationship with Heal the Bay."
As for the rest of you. In the dogged spirit of Heal the Bay's constant nagging (in the most friendly, paternal way possible) under Gold's leadership: Don't drop your crap in the storm drains. We've got a planet to preserve here.