You are part of a planet that is your one and only home shared by many forms of life. Seek to help all life flourish and you will flourish as well.Laurence Doxsey
Carla Marshall’s husband, Laurence Doxsey, believes strongly in restoring us to a healthier and more nurturing relationship to our environment, and has likewise dedicated his life’s work to caring for the environment. He worked to set up the City of Austin’s Green Building Program, and served as the director at the San Antonio Office of Environmental Policy (now the Office of Sustainability).
But he has also worked in the Becker Green Classroom, spent time mentoring Bobcats, and even helped bring in volunteers through his City of Austin contacts. And he was a steadfast supporter of his wife’s efforts at Becker in as many ways as we can count. We are grateful that he answered our questions about the early days at the Becker Green Classroom, his wife, and his work in central Texas.
Becker Green Classroom: How did you first learn about your wife’s plans for the Green Classroom at Becker?
Laurence Doxsey: We had many conversations about how this could be done. By balancing our shared love of gardening and nature coupled with a concern for the future due to society’s abuse of the environment; applied learning around gardening made sense.
BGC: What was your reaction?
LD: This was a “natural” for Carla.
BGC: Could you share any memories you have of being in the garden yourself, or working in the Green Classroom?
LD: I was a happy “grunt” helping on physical work that needed to be done at the beginning. Once the program was off and running, I helped bring in volunteers and connections through my City of Austin contacts. (I was working to set up the Green Building Program as a job at the time.)
I have a strong memory of working with the students on one of several teams that were conducting a tree survey in the neighborhood. As a mentor, I had to learn the techniques myself from the City arborist and share them with the students. I learned a lot and had a good time.
BGC: Do any stories your wife brought home stay with you?
LD: Some of the students had a rough home scene. I got to know about one in particular named Eddie from Carla. I don’t remember the details of the interactions with Eddie other than the fact that Carla was extra engaged in working with him and had great success in helping him control his emotions and become a leader.
BGC: Working to create a healthier planet seems to us to be so much more than a job for you and Carla. Could you tell us about your inspiration, and what gives you hope? What are the greatest challenges you have faced?
LD: A strong catalyst for us was the turbulent times in our younger years when we and many others questioned all assumptions about how the world worked and how one was supposed to live in it. We both traveled extensively before we found each other and learned self reliance and resilience as well as an appreciation for the many facets of life and how people work to deal with them.
The concept of “right livelihood” worked well for us as a basis for our relationship with society. It is hopeful that many people are similarly finding what works for them in order to find personal meaning and fulfillment that can benefit other people at the same time.
For me, the biggest challenge is one that faces me now as my life partner has gone. We always found comfort and solace in our relationship and now I have to adjust to a new reality. In our years together, there were many challenges of all types but we were fortunate by being able to avoid a defeatist attitude and respond in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.
BGC: I know you served as San Antonio Office of Environmental Policy Director, and I was wondering if you could share with us some highlights from your work towards green project funding.
LD: There is quite a large list of actions that I was able to implement in San Antonio thanks to being able to secure millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds provided in response to the Great Recession. The office was renamed Office of Sustainability shortly before I left and continues to do good work.
Here is a shopping list of some actions during my time as director starting with a sustainability plan that emphasized green economic development as the future direction for the City. This resulted in large solar and solar hardware firms setting up in San Antonio as well as a policy shift in business recruitment.
On the ground real world actions included a small business lighting retrofit program, large solar installations at the airport and a community center, a low income weatherization program (still maintained by the electric utility), energy retrofit of City facilities through a revolving fund that also continues to the present, creation and development of a large bike share program, electric vehicle charging stations at City facilities such as the airport and libraries, acquisition of hybrid electric vehicles and conversion of the City sedan fleet to hybrids, establishment of a car share program. My office also developed a fleet acquisition policy that incorporated a life cycle costing approach adopted by the City Council and a Telework Program.
Prior to working with the City of San Antonio, I used my experience establishing Austin’s Green Building Program to initiate a San Antonio green building program and solar energy non profit now rolled into one organization called Build San Antonio Green.
BGC: Is there a message you’d like to share with Becker students who are learning to care for the planet today?
LD: You are part of a planet that is your one and only home shared by many forms of life. Seek to help all life flourish and you will flourish as well.