UNIVERSITY NEWS | Environmental philanthropists Susan and Dan Gottlieb were honored with a proclamation from the city of Los Angeles mayor’s office on Feb. 28, 2019, as nearly 100 people gathered in the Von der Ahe Suite in the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University. The appreciative gathering of hikers, birders, artists, academics and friends represented the wide range of the Gottliebs’ interests and involvements with 70 organizations.
“They are passionate participants in making our Earth more liveable,” said Eric Strauss, President’s Professor of Biology and director of the Center for Urban Resilience at LMU, who introduced the Gottliebs and lauded their work. “The Gottliebs are not traditional participants: They are a critically necessary and rare of resources – they are accelerators.” The city’s proclamation highlighted their lasting contributions and dedication to native plants and the environment in Los Angeles.
The Gottliebs have funded several environmental projects specific to the Center for Urban Resilience, or CURes. They also founded the Gottlieb Native Garden Green Earth Film Festival, hosted by the LMU School of Film and Television and CURes, to which students submit documentaries on pressing environmental issues. The festival takes place at LMU’s Playa Vista Campus that houses the graduate film and television programs.
Their primary project, the Gottlieb Native Garden, is a flourishing California native plant ecosystem located just miles from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. It was created out of their passion to re-wild with California native plants and resulted in Susan’s book, “The Gottlieb Native Garden: A California Love Story,” which captures Susan’s mission to restore native plants all over Southern California.
“We could save the world if we all understood the power of native plants,” Susan has written.
The Gottliebs have supported a number of initiatives offered by CURes to inform and instruct the general public and students about urban ecology in the garden setting. Native and edible garden curricula, both formal and informal, is being implemented in school gardens and parks throughout Southern California, using an interdisciplinary model to engage colleges and departments in science, technology, restorative justice, engineering, and math. Live cameras have been installed to observe hummingbirds at feeders across the country and around the world. An osprey pole will soon be installed on the LMU campus that may result in ospreys successfully breeding in the Ballona Watershed for the first time in decades.
Strauss closed the presentation with a quote from Aldo Leopold, considered by many to be one of the founding forces conservation biology: “We shall never achieve harmony with the land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.”
Reporter Victoria Afchine is a senior English major; writer/editor John Kissell contributed to this report.