CGP Community Stories

Carol Malz, November 21, 2017

Title

Carol Malz, November 21, 2017

Subject

Environmental Issues
Recycling
Water
Lawyers
Climate Change
Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA)
Law
Women
Otsego Lake
Environmental Law
Hazardous Waste Day
Women's Bar Association
Cooperstown
Oneonta
Cooperstown Dreams Park

Description

Carol Malz is a lawyer in Oneonta and a past board president of the Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA). Malz treasures our planet’s natural resources. She grew up on Long Island, but through her travels, domestic and abroad, she was exposed to people in many different walks of life and she witnessed the needs they have. These experiences fostered a dedication to helping people less fortunate than she and advocating for their rights. Malz accomplished this goal by practicing law in multiple states. After moving to Oneonta, she continued to practice law and became heavily involved with the OCCA. Her expertise in the law aided that organization in a time when it was especially needed.

During her tenure with the OCCA, the Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball facility located in Otsego County, NY, sought to expand their operations. The OCCA argued that the facility’s impact on nearby bodies of water would be significant. In an attempt to hold the facility’s owners accountable, the OCCA, led by Malz, sued on behalf of their constituents. Although they were unsuccessful in the suit, the OCCA still attempted to combat what they perceived to be negative impacts on the surrounding area of the Dreams Park.

In a time of environmental disruption, champions and protectors of the environment play increasingly important roles in our society. The past thirty years have seen negative effects on many species and habitats, as well as extreme stresses on natural resources. As Malz alludes to in the interview, it is an overwhelming task to reverse and repair the damage humans have done to the Earth. Malz discusses not only environmental issues facing individuals locally, but issues of concern to the entire globe. She details her observations and legal contributions to protect people facing the effects of environmental concerns. Malz notes the individual power one person can demonstrate in turning their lives around and in saving the environment.

I interviewed Malz in her home in Davenport, NY. The sounds of her life permeate the recording, including her cat, the soft hum of traffic passing, and the faint indistinct voices from a nearby television. However, none of these sounds distract in any way from the integrity of the sound quality of the recording. She was careful to mention to me before we began that the OCCA would be the focus of the interview since it is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the OCCA that brought this interview to fruition.

Creator

Karina Kowalski

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2017-11-21

Rights

Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
27.5mB
audio/mpeg
24mB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound

Identifier

17-012

Coverage

Upstate New York
Cooperstown, NY
1962-2017

Interviewer

Karina Kowalski

Interviewee

Carol Malz

Location

15476 State Hwy 23
Davenport Center, NY 13751

Transcription

CM = Carol Malz
KK = Karina Kowalski

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

KK:
This is the 21st of November 2017 interview of Carol Malz by Karina Kowalski for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork course recorded at her home. And so just to begin, can you tell me a little bit about where and when you grew up?

CM:
I grew up on Long Island in Merrick. We lived in the same house, in fact my parents owned the same house until last year when it got sold and they moved upstate to be with us. It’s the suburbs of New York City. When I was growing up there were still farms as through the years all the farms disappeared, and even the smaller houses are gone cause they got knocked down and these big mansions are built. I went to public school in Merrick. It has one of the best school districts on Long Island. I think that helped me a lot because I realized as I traveled around and also went to school in New York City how seeing how much education was lacking through other people’s experiences with whatever schooling they had. So I was just always very proud that New York and where I grew up we had a really good education system.

KK:
Can you tell me a little about your family growing up?

CM:
I’m one of five children. I’m the second oldest. I have three sisters and a brother. My brother is the youngest. My mom was a homemaker. My dad worked for Pan American Airlines until it went belly up in the early 1990’s. Because my dad worked for Pan Am we were able to get free tickets to travel on Pan Am and some other airlines where you could get discounted tickets. Of course they were standby tickets, but back when we started traveling not everybody else was traveling, so standby meant you still got seats, usually. I used that to my advantage.

KK:
Can you tell me a little about some of those travels you went on?

CM:
Well the first trip our dad took us overseas was to Jamaica and that was only for a few days, but it had an impact on me because my dad signed up for a tour van and this gentleman from Jamaica took us around the island and he showed us the contrast between the poor sections and the ultra wealthy and it was quite a contrast. At the same we were staying at this wonderful hotel that had this pool that went on forever and ever and all around the place and we were on the beach. So we saw the fun side of Jamaica, we also saw the poverty that people lived in.

KK:
And how has that influenced your life today?

CM:
Very concerned about making sure people have the necessities of life. Concern for people who are down on their luck or didn’t have the advantages I had when I was growing up.

KK:
What brought you to upstate New York from Long Island?

CM:
Well, I didn’t come from Long Island, I moved over from Pittsburgh. My introduction to Oneonta and this area was through my older sister Joan, who transferred with the Post Office to Oneonta from Connecticut. So coming for visits that’s how I learned about upstate New York. And I liked it. That’s why I decided in the end to buy a house in Oneonta and move up with my son.

KK:
What did you do when you moved here?

CM:
I was already licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. I was inactive in my license in Louisiana and I could get waived into New York so I did all the paperwork to get waived into New York and while that was pending I was looking at houses in upstate New York and particularly in Oneonta, but some of the other areas and I also looked in the Pocono area of Pennsylvania and I was weighing the pros and cons of all the different areas. And then the house that I eventually bought in Oneonta came up for sale and I just fell in love with it and I put in to buy it even before knowing whether I was getting accepted into the New York State Bar because my thought at the time was well I can keep working for the U.S. Department of Labor at home as an independent contractor. Even if I don’t admitted to the bar because this is such a nice area and such a nice house. But I did get admitted and then the house was perfect because then I had my solo practice in the house in the basement there was an office.

KK:
What was it like being a lawyer in Oneonta?

CM:
It’s funny because you think this not a highly populated area, but when you open the phonebook—and back then you opened the yellow pages, now everyone goes online—but when I moved I moved up in ’99 everyone was still opening up the yellow pages, and you’d see pages of lawyers and you’re like “How can this area support all these lawyers?” But somehow they do. Somehow there’s enough work for the lawyers around here. But you make yourself known, that you are available. I did do some advertising in the beginning, there wasn’t that much into it. My sister Joan being in the Post Office knew a lot of people so she sent people my way in the beginning, you know her friends, and neighbors, anyone she knew who was looking for legal help. What I learned about the Post Office is how they know everything that’s going on if you work in the Post Office. You know one person in one of the small Post Offices, people come in to tell you all their troubles. So that’s how I started. I was fortunate because I had that independent contract work with the U.S. Department of Labor which was work at home and so I had that transition from one to the other, and I also had foster children so that also helped with the transition from one to the other.

KK:
What were you doing with the Department of Labor?

CM:
I had worked for the Department of Labor the maximum time that you could work because they had a two-year limit because they wanted to keep training attorneys to do black lung and longshore work. So I worked for administrative law judges. My first job was in Metairie, which is a suburb of New Orleans. The U.S. Department of Labor had an office there. I worked for Judge McCallgin and after a year my husband was really tired of Louisiana and so there was an opportunity to transfer so I transferred to Pittsburgh and did my second year in Pittsburgh. That’s why I studied for the Pennsylvania bar.

KK:
What were some key issues that you dealt with while being a lawyer?

CM:
The main part of my practice was bankruptcies. So I was dealing with a lot of creditor/debtor issues and how people struggle and helping them to get rid of debt and at the same time understanding how to protect their assets and how to learn to live with cash, because you know you can come out of bankruptcy and get a credit card, but you’re going to pay a high amount of interest. Just get in the mindset that you should work on a cash basis instead of a credit basis.

[TRACK 1, 9:02]

KK:
How did you get involved with the OCCA [Otsego County Conservation Association]?

CM:
When I first moved up in ’99, they had Hazardous Waste Day—I was here in July and they had Hazardous Waste Day in September, and I had to get rid of some paint or something, so at that time they were doing Hazardous Waste Day in Cooperstown and I had registered for it and I was coming up to it. At that time Martha Clarvoe and Theresa Winchester were manning the line going into it, you know getting people’s information and surveying all and Theresa in particular identified who she was and told me about the organization and said you could volunteer sometime. And Theresa’s the one who kept following up with me and we became friends. She’s the one who approached me about becoming a member of the board.

KK:
What made you decide to take Theresa up on her offer to become a member of the board?

CM:
As I recall correctly I was reluctant at first because I was already ex officio member of the City of Oneonta’s Commission on Human Rights, but it was environmental issues and that’s important to me, it should be important to everyone. She was just persuasive. Talked about what they did. I knew OCCA was very active because Theresa was very active. She did all these press releases. OCCA was in the Daily Star almost every day. People were thinking that it was a government agency because it was just in the news all time. She was out there promoting OCCA and she was going to all these town meetings. She was on top of everything. OCCA at that time was impressive because Theresa was impressive. So seeing how hard working she was and what they were working on that was very attractive.

KK:
What are you proud of accomplishing while serving on the board of OCCA?

CM:
At that time, Theresa was transitioning herself. She was believing that we needed to be more involved with having an expert to lend to the towns for planning. So she hired on Erik Miller, but that was something that she promoted. The other thing was [Cooperstown] Dreams Park had applied to have more acreage turned into ball fields and it was a question under the State Environmental Quality Act. The state has a law that deals with when someone wants to undertake a project that involves so much acreage and you’re changing the environment, you’re supposed to do this whole impact, including on the community, like how it affects the community so that all of this is considered before a project is approved. And you’re supposed to tell the town or whatever municipality it is what the whole plan is. You’re not supposed to say, “I’m going to open up this ball park, have four ball fields,” when in the back of your mind you know you own all this acreage and you’re going to do a hundred ball fields. You’re not supposed do it in those sort of steps. You’re supposed to be up front so that people can understand what the real impact is going to be in the long run. The Dreams Park did not do it that way. They said we’re just going to do this and all of a sudden they wanted to do more and it’s getting close to the Susquehanna River, you know their property borders the river and all their neighbors are on wells. So it was an issue of how much water—would the wells be going dry? And where was all the sewage going? Do we need a stoplight? What is this going to do to, with the noise? The light? There’s so much light that comes from there it was affecting people in the Town of Springfield as well [as] in Otsego. A lot of people were upset, so I handled the lawsuit for OCCA. We sued on behalf of our members. But it went before Judge Dowd and one thing you learn in law is that judges are persons too and they have their things that they lean towards. So when there’s discretion in the law they can lean one way or the other. That’s where you get that difference between judges, and Judge Dowd is generally pro business. So we didn’t succeed before Judge Dowd in striking down the town allowing the Dreams Park to expand, and then OCCA decided we would focus on the water issues and help the areas deal with the impact that was coming down. Just keeping OCCA in the forefront, keeping it running, keeping it funded.

KK:
How did you keep it running and funded? What were some of the things you did?

CM:
Well, Theresa did the newsletters. You show your members that you’re active, that you’re doing stuff, and there’s reasons to fund us. I know the members who we sued on behalf of were happy that we at least tried.

KK:
I know that the Lake Festival and Earth Festival were both started while you were president of OCCA. What’s it like seeing these programs grow and develop over the years?

CM:
It’s wonderful! I go to the Earth Festival every year. And I support it financially, minimally, but I do send something every year for it and I love the recycling. It’s just great. I’m glad we have it.

KK:
Can you tell me a little bit about what they’re like?

CM:
It’s held at Milford Central School and it’s usually in April. They have a Styrofoam collection because there’s no place unless it has one through six on the recycling to put it any place. So there’s Styrofoam, they have the paper shredder, which is a great help to many of us. What’s really funny—and I think everyone has this feeling—it takes so long to get the papers together, you think you have all these papers and then they have a garbage can and you just fill it up so little. Like it seems you just did all this work to get rid of all this paper, but it doesn’t really amount to a lot, which I guess in a way is good because they get a lot of paper from everyone. Then they have all the stands, educational stands. One year I worked on the cassettes. People were able to throw out their cassettes and we had to break them apart and put the plastic in one thing and the tape in another and the metal—they had little metal pieces inside—that was in another pile. So people have an opportunity to get rid of a lot of things that they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to recycle. They’d be throwing it out in the trash, so glad we give them that opportunity.

KK:
What was it like seeing the whole community come together to recycle like that?

CM:
When they first started recycling up here people were sort of resistant. But I think it’s now a habit for most people, which is really nice like once you get into it you just know you don’t throw that out in the garbage you put it in that can. So it shows how people can adjust quite easily if they just stop resisting. It does work to have the recycling. It’s a good thing.

KK:
Was there a lot of resistance initially to changes like that?

CM:
Yes, as I recall when Otsego County was mandating the recycling, people were saying “But you use so much water to wash the cans and bottles out.” And then I remember one year they were talking about how Terry Bliss had to follow sneakily. He would just find some garbage trucks and follow them because I think he caught at least one business that after all these people had done all this recycling work was taking the recycling and throwing it in with the regular trash. So they started cracking down on that. Took a while, but I haven’t heard of any scandals so to speak…lately. I think people just understand and they just recycle.

KK:
What is your approach to educating the public about environmental issues?

CM:
Environmental issues can be really complex. There are a lot things even I can’t understand. You need to be a scientist. But basically if someone says something to me and it’s illogical, so then on a personal level I try to say something that shows that they’re not thinking something through. Climate change is the big thing right now. People think because you can have cold weather that the Earth isn’t warming. The Earth warming is the whole Earth, the temperature of the Earth, not the temperature of your little area. Analogize it to the human body, like you have a headache, or the temperature of your body versus a hot head. Just to put it on a level that they can understand. The problem with something like global warming is we all contribute to it in different degrees, and we’re all going to suffer from it. We all impact each other and I feel sorry for the islands in the Pacific that are going under, but there’s so much that’s going on that affects—you know the Zika virus. Those birth defects are horrible. It hit Miami and then look at the expense Miami had with using all those chemicals to kill the mosquitos and it’s just this never ending [cycle], things that are going one, dominoes that are going to fall because of things we can’t even change anymore. We have a lot of water here, we need to protect the water we have and make sure it’s always drinkable. We need to really appreciate the resources we have around here. I’m very happy to know how much land the Otsego Land Trust has been able to have people put aside with conservation easements or purchases they’ve made. We have something that’s really worth saving around here.

KK:
How have you contributed to helping the environment in your own life and home?

CM:
Just generally what other people do, recycling, making sure the house is insulated, keeping the thermostat down at night. We haven’t gotten solar yet. I’ve always felt that the solar farms would be the way to go and the wind farms. Having people doing it on an individual basis on their houses always seemed to me to be out of reach for most people. We have always relied on energy as a municipality or community basis and I think that’s the way it will be in the future. Even though there’s always the prospect of going off the grid, for people who want to be off the grid, but when you think of the way energy has been in this country, it’s very hard to go off the grid, particularly if you have to teach people the technology that’s being used, like how to fix a solar panel. It’s probably going to be more common to be able to call a handyman who knows solar stuff, but when it was starting it wasn’t that common. I know someone who had solar who would change the positioning of the panels throughout the day. It takes people who have time and the ability to learn if they want to go off the grid. Not everybody can do that. They work full time jobs, they have kids, they have parents, they have lots of obligations. But for me, so far we’ve just—and I’m selling my house in Oneonta so I didn’t put anything else into that— just the basic things that we already know how to do.

KK:
What were some challenges serving as board president for the OCCA?

CM:
We all had different backgrounds and strengths. My challenge was it’s in Cooperstown so most of the board members were from the Cooperstown area and were very focused on Otsego Lake. And here I was from Oneonta and Otsego Lake is nice, but it’s not my backyard and it’s not the thing that’s on my mind all the time. So in a way I felt it was very much centered on Cooperstown, and we have Goodyear Lake and other lakes around, and the rivers and streams are all important. And Theresa too tried to with newsletters and her going around to different towns as executive director was trying to balance it somehow so that everyone in the county could feel that OCCA was working on their behalf, not just for Otsego Lake. And you know the Lake Festival does focus on Otsego Lake, it’s held on Otsego Lake. It’s a beautiful lake and all, but not everyone lives up there. And our drinking water comes from elsewhere.

KK:
Where does the drinking water here come from?

CM:
Here in Davenport in Delaware County we have a very small water district here, forty houses or buildings. We actually have water from a reservoir that’s up on the hill somewhere, but other people there’d be the private wells. Oneonta has a reservoir and I was one of the houses in the Town of Oneonta who had city water and that all came from a reservoir. But if you don’t have a water district you’re digging a well on your property and having it pumped up.

KK:
What efforts did the OCCA do to maintain that good well water?

CM:
Well, the issue that came up with us was the Dreams Park, so we filed the lawsuit. People did complain about dry wells because Dreams Park was using a lot of water and they were using well water. They were using the same aquifer as any other property in that area. I don’t know how it is now, I didn’t follow up on how they’re doing. Erik Miller was going around, so I don’t know what the end result of that was.

KK:
How did your gender play a role in your actions while in a position of power on the OCCA Board?

CM:
I’m one of the fortunate people who have not felt any difference because of my gender on any board I’ve served on.

KK:
That’s great. What were things that environmentalists or conservationists were concerned with ten, twenty years ago and how are they different today that you see?

CM:
Climate change and global warming have really come more and more into focus. As years go by, it becomes the overriding issue. It is. It’s the thing that has to be addressed and prepared for and slowed. I don’t think any environmental group today can say any issue is more important than that because it affects everything. It’s going to affect our health. It’s going to affect where people can live. It’s going to affect migration, more refugees. Civil unrest. Unraveling of governments. It all comes to environment. People are going to need water to drink.

[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]

Ten years ago they thought the end of oil was coming, that the reserves were all being used up and of course we know Saudi Arabia found a whole new thing and they’re up in Canada stripping the land for oil up there and causing extreme damage. But back then we thought peak oil, I don’t know if you knew the term peak oil…

KK:
No.

CM:
That’d be ten, maybe fifteen years ago, the term was peak oil, that we’ve reached the peak of the oil reserves and everything’s going to go down so you have to prepare for not having oil around. People knew about the carbon footprint and that there were problems with the warming of the earth but it wasn’t so overwhelming. You could still talk about oil going away and preparing for something else and that’s really when gas came up because people thought oil was going away, natural gas is the new energy source. I guess you could say back then you still had the luxury of having projects and thinking these local projects were the thing to focus on and the thing you could handle, not realizing that there was this background issue that was just going to overtake everything. Because you can’t solve problems without addressing what’s going on with the whole Earth.

KK:
What are your thoughts on the recent Paris Climate Agreement?

CM:
I think [President Donald J.] Trump made a mistake. Especially since it’s voluntary, I mean why do you have to walk away from talking with people. I’m glad the rest of the world, almost the rest of the world, has the wherewithal to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement. It’s like people who are so against the United Nations because they think the United Nations is going to take over the world. That the whole world can come together and agree on something is—how can you walk away from that? Germany’s done a lot to change its energy. I think it sets a great example for the rest of the world. And you hear about what Holland and the Netherlands have to do with the flooding and all the dikes they have to build, what England’s been building, and when you see our president worried about a wall between us and Mexico when that money should be spent elsewhere, because it’s definitely needed elsewhere for what’s coming, what’s already here. I mean in the news, I should look it up, what happened to the Keys, but it’s surprising that we’re not hearing anything on the news any more about those hurricanes and the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys, even Puerto Rico’s pretty much not talked about any more and it’s a shame because it needs to be in people’s faces. It’s here.

KK:
Can you talk me through a little bit about your process learning about environmental issues around the world?

CM:
Just got to read. Just read. We get the newspaper. The New Yorker has articles once in a while. Once in a while I come across a New York magazine. And then online, you’ll see something and one thing leads to the other. That’s just what’s wonderful about the Internet is you can keep clicking and learn more and more. And just read. Know your sources. That’s really important, knowing your sources. That they are reliable. That they actually do good research and it’s just not hyperbole.

KK:
And I think we’ve kind of touched on it a little bit, but why should people care about environmental issues?

[TRACK 2, 5:22]

CM:
Because it affects everything. It affects every necessity of their life. So I’m co-chair of the Environmental Committee of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York and so why should the Women’s Bar focus on environmental issues? It impacts children the most. It also impacts women, and of course men. It affects the whole family, but it has a great impact on children who are growing when they are exposed to toxins and if they don’t have clean water, if they don’t have enough water. There’s long-term effects of not having enough water in your diet, even as adults you need water, clean water. It’s the diseases. Zika. Who is Zika affecting? Women and children. Women overall have had lower incomes so they have less money to work with to address these problems. Migration. We can talk about moving with children and relocating, and you can see the refugee crisis in the Middle East into Europe, how long those people have to walk. Everything. Where you can live. What you breathe. Children breathing that air, they’re going to have asthma. They’re going to have long-term lung problems. Adults sometimes can live in a place and be exposed and then leave and their bodies will clean it out, but when you’re growing up and it’s becoming an integral part of your body, your cells, it’s going to [have] long-term affects.

KK:
Can you tell me a little more about your activities with the Women’s Bar Association in New York?

CM:
Well, I’m a member of the Mid-York chapter—I’m treasurer also of the Mid-York chapter—and I’m an associate member of the Del-Chen-O chapter that just formed a couple years ago. The committee that I’m active with is the Environmental Committee, so we look at legislation that’s proposed in New York State and give opinions on it and then we ask the Legislative Committee of the Bar to review it, what we feel about it, what they recommend, and then we ask the whole Bar Association to vote on the position the Women’s Bar will take on the legislation. The Women’s Bar Association has it’s own lobbyist and she goes to the [New York State] Assembly and the Senate and promotes things that the Women’s Bar is in favor of. There are many committees, there’s reproductive rights. There’s a Women’s International Committee. There’s several of them, but everything in the end goes through the Legislative Committee and then goes to the whole Bar.

KK:
What are some of the positions that the Environmental Committee has taken on some issues?

CM:
So we’ve been in favor of the legislation that would outlaw the micro beads. You know what they are? [KK nods in affirmation]. We haven’t done anything really yet on the issue, but we have started looking into it, of the playgrounds with shredded tire because of all the things that can be in that shredded tire. There was a whole outcry on Long Island that they believed certain cancers—kids were getting it because they were playing in it. It wasn’t just the playgrounds they had shredded tire made into mats and the soccer, the goalies, because they hit the ground with their knees a lot and scraping them, and several of them came down with a particular cancer. So it’s possible that’s the cause and one of our members was looking into that, to get more information. But it takes years for a lot of these things. What you learn about in the environmental area is that a lot of things are done with no knowledge of the long-term effects. I mean maybe that’s human nature, but in retrospect you think shouldn’t they have looked into that before they did that? But that’s what you do with a lot of environmental law.

KK:
How long have you been involved with the Environmental Committee?

CM:
I joined the Women’s Bar in 2009 and I think maybe I’ve been co-chair for three or four years. Might have been 2013 or 2014, I became co-chair, I don’t know. I don’t remember. I don’t keep track of these things.

KK:
How did your experiences with OCCA translate to the Women’s Bar and the Environmental committee?

CM:
It’s just a continuum. It’s just environmental issues. You do it here, you do it there. Certainly with the Women’s Bar you’re addressing it on the whole of New York State where OCCA is more localized.

KK:
How was the difference going from a local to state looking at environmental issues?

CM:
It’s like being a lawyer. Go from one case to the next case. You just deal with whatever’s before you.

[TRACK 2, 12:20]

KK:
And we’ve kind of talked about in a global sense, but why is the OCCA itself important to Otsego County?

CM:
Because it addresses concerns that the county board does not even look at. It’s OCCA and the county board together that bring about the Hazardous Waste Day collection every year so that people don’t throw paint into the garbage and they don’t throw batteries into the garbage. They have places to bring those. Though now I see Lowe’s and even Home Depot collect fluorescent light bulbs. Before you didn’t have that. People were putting them into the trash. And OCCA can bring things to the attention of the population and then your representatives are going to respond because their constituents become aware of something. And they give opinions. You want someplace where you can trust the opinion they come down with because there’s learning behind it.

KK:
You started out as a lawyer, how did you educate yourself or get involved with environmental concerns?

CM:
It’s like learning anything. You just keep reading and talking and learning about something. Like how anyone else learns.

KK:
Did it start at an early age? Or were you always interested in environmental concerns?

CM:
I never thought much about it. When I was younger I loved Greenpeace, like the stories of saving the whales. Those types of issues they’re still important, but again I’ll say again it was a luxury to not worry about this massive environmental issue that’s changing the whole world. We could think about should Native Alaskans have the right to harvest so many whales from the ocean because that’s their tradition. What are we going to do about Japan? Japan keeps hunting these whales and there was another country, I think it might have been Norway. You know it seemed manageable. They were issues you could really wrap yourself around because you had the ability to learn the whole thing, right? It was small in comparison to what we are dealing with today. So I grew up supporting Greenpeace, Sierra Club I always knew, I loved being out in nature, but I never really thought about working on environmental issues. Though I had a friend in law school who was very much involved with environmental issues around Lake Pontchartrain and she dealt with those environmental issues, so I was aware of what she was working on and what those issues were. And I was aware of the dredging issue in the Hudson River. You know the spills and grow up reading the paper so you know about the brownfields and the Superfund and Love Canal and what happened. But those are localized, they seemed manageable like science could deal with it, there was a cleanup. Of course we knew nuclear power. I remember in college the protest against Shoreham to keep Shoreham from ever coming into being the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. So yes, environmental issues have always been apart of life. It’s just lately they’ve grown to be monumental.

KK:
What do you see the future of environmental issues being?

CM:
If we are able to keep our societies together, despite all the changes that are about to come, we’ll have to focus on clean water for everyone. If there’s a breakdown in our societies, the unfortunate part is it could be every man for himself. You think the United States is safe, but it’s happened elsewhere. You just don’t know what the future holds. That’s why the Paris Agreement was so important. It’s the world saying we’re going to work on this and structure it somehow and deal with it, voluntarily. We’re going to strive for this because they know what’s at stake; I mean do you want to live in a place like Syria or Yemen? What if more of the United States becomes desert and don’t think most people realize how much of the United States is already desert, unless you’ve travelled out west. The greenery we have is not out there. You look at Wyoming, the beautiful pictures of Wyoming you walk up to it, it’s not grass. It looks like grass from a distance, but it’s not, it’s sand with brush. It’s very dry. Water is the most precious resource.

KK:
And I think to wrap it all up, considering the 50th anniversary of the OCCA, what is something you would want to tell future generation of the OCCA?

CM:
That there was this organization that worked on environmental issues and tried to preserve our beautiful resources for the future. A lot of the focus was on Otsego Lake, but efforts were made in other parts of the county and that we hope we succeeded. There were two other organizations the OCCA worked closely with, and that’s the Otsego Land Trust and Otsego 2000 and I think the three together do a lot. They all have different angles, but together the three do a lot to protect, the natural resources of Otsego County and to the future. Just hope it worked.

KK:
What’s some advice you might have for them in five, ten years?

CM:
Water is your most precious resource. Forget about all the material things. Everybody needs water. They need clean air. Have a good sewage system, or a good way of dealing with it. Make as little garbage as possible. Recycle. Compost. Live the way your great-great grandparents did. They didn’t use that many resources. That’s what we need to get back to, few resources. Use less so everyone has, the future has.

KK:
What are some methods of doing that?

CM:
As Martha Clarvoe told me, she had the chart, she said the number one thing people could do to reduce their use of energy in the home was to make sure the house was well insulated. She said that over everything else—getting those houses insulated—would save a lot of energy. So there are things you can do on a personal level. We were threatened with fracking [hydraulic fracturing]. Hopefully we’ve fought that one back for good. It’s only the current administration that’s banned it, I hope it doesn’t come to New York. There are a lot of threats out there. You fight one battle and there’s another one that pops up. But in a way that’s life. You get up every day and there’s something to do.

KK:
Well, I think we are just about out of time, did you have any other things you wanted to address more? Any last minute contributions that we didn’t touch on?

CM:
I would again point out what an incredible resource, incredible executive director Theresa Winchester was. She started in the 1990’s, maybe even earlier, and she came from a background of teaching French at the universities and she had no environmental background and she learned on the job. She was so well known, as my partner Mike [Empey] will tell—because he went to a lot of the town meetings when he was dealing [with] an issue, that she was always well prepared, thorough—so I like to have a little tribute for Theresa Winchester there. The other thing is, because I wasn’t concerned about Otsego Lake since it wasn’t in my backyard so much, I probably dropped the ball in a way in not learning about Otsego Lake and I probably should have learned more and probably still should learn more about Otsego Lake because it is an important lake, and it is the water source for Cooperstown. I’ve become more aware of the fisheries and the importance of the people who like to hunt and fish and that angle. And when we did black lung we were always taught the canary in the coalmine, that’s the warning. Canary’s dead, you get out of there because you’re about to die if you don’t. And what I’ve learned from the fishermen, if the trout ain’t there, your stream and river isn’t healthy at all. I think I will be learning more about it and helping Mike [Empey] on that issue. But I didn’t know back then that that was something that would be really important. I was focused on something else.

KK:
Can’t focus on it all.

CM:
Then you have this overriding big issue out there. But the trout need the cooler water and that’s one of the things with global warming too.

KK:
Well, thank you so much sharing. It’s been absolutely wonderful.

CM:
Well, thank you for doing this

Duration

30:00-Track 1
26:09- Track 2

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Time Summary

Track 1: 9:02- Otsego County Conservation Association
Track 2: 5:22-Women's Bar Association
Track 2: 12:20- Why OCCA is important

Files

Citation

Karina Kowalski, “Carol Malz, November 21, 2017,” CGP Community Stories, accessed July 19, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/313.