2006.09.28: September 28, 2006: Headlines: COS - Thailand: Wildlife: Parks: Awards: Richmond.com: James River Park's Ralph White (RPCV Thailand) receives the Sierra Club's 2006 Distinguished Service Award

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Thailand: Peace Corps Thailand: The Peace Corps in Thailand: 2006.09.28: September 28, 2006: Headlines: COS - Thailand: Wildlife: Parks: Awards: Richmond.com: James River Park's Ralph White (RPCV Thailand) receives the Sierra Club's 2006 Distinguished Service Award

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-250-74-101.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.250.74.101) on Friday, November 17, 2006 - 8:17 am: Edit Post

James River Park's Ralph White (RPCV Thailand) receives the Sierra Club's 2006 Distinguished Service Award

James River Park's Ralph White (RPCV Thailand) receives the Sierra Club's 2006 Distinguished Service Award

White, manager of the James River Park System for Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, traveled to San Francisco where the Sierra Club presented him with the 2006 Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes one member of the national organization for his or her lifelong dedication and service to environmental preservation and activism.

James River Park's Ralph White (RPCV Thailand) receives the Sierra Club's 2006 Distinguished Service Award

A River Runs Through Him

James River Park's Ralph White receives the Sierra Club's 2006 Distinguished Service Award.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ralph White never thought 18 months after he nearly lost his job for protesting new park access regulations that he would be receiving the most renowned award from the Sierra Club, a national environmental organization.

White, manager of the James River Park System for Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, traveled to San Francisco where the Sierra Club presented him with the 2006 Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes one member of the national organization for his or her lifelong dedication and service to environmental preservation and activism.

White received his award in the company of family and friends from his local Sierra Club group, Falls of the James. But of equal importance to him as the award was his opportunity to visit a multitude of environmental sites and study environmental issues native to the California coastline.

"Thanks to much generous congratulatory support, I took this day-long event and turned it into a week in California, touring the most scenic vistas imaginable," White said.

White spent much of his time in California studying the cohabitation of human life and the environment.

"California is amazing," he said. "There is a magnificent panorama of the majesty of nature. They apply common sense there. They have almost 1,000 miles of public coastline - all public, no private. Isn't that wonderful? And they don't allow buildings between the roadway and the shoreline.

"Compare that to the Outer Banks where you can't see the ocean from the roadway because of six or eight tiers of housing developments in the way. Not in California. It encourages people to use the outdoors."

And that is exactly what White wants to bring back to Richmond.

"We are a little pudgy in comparison," he said. "[In California,] it's amazing that you can park your car, walk 30 feet and there's a seal as long as an automobile. It brought mankind and nature together in an accessible way, and that's the goal at the James River Park."

White said he thought that people with property along the river needed a lesson in limiting the human footprint. While it is infeasible to do as California has and eliminate all buildings between the roadways and the James River, he said he wanted people with the homes on the river to simply blend in.

"It certainly was common practice in California to have the houses blend in," he said. "We have to make sure that our houses along our beautiful stretch of river don't dominate the landscape, but become a part of the fall line of Richmond, Va. We should ban white paint, and make everyone paint their homes grey and tan and brown. We can have more houses, but just have them blend."Advertisement
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While some might find White's request for the elimination of white exterior paint a stretch, Charles Price, chairman of the Falls of the James group, described White as an educator who will "surely put to excellent use the lessons he learned in California.

"He's a mentor that's the kind of man he is. His wealth of knowledge, old and new, will definitely be used constructively to continue progressing forward with the James River Park. Against great odds and lacking resources, when he arrived here, he cleaned up the park and got us a lot of deserving public attention."

White received the national award after Diana Parker, newsletter editor and treasurer of the Falls of the James group, spent a year compiling information and a biography, conducting interviews and seeking approval throughout the various levels of leadership within the Sierra Club.

"She made me out to be larger than life," White joked. "I'm forever grateful."

Parker worked closely with White on the topic of conservation.

"From our work together, I knew he would be a great candidate to receive [the award]," Parker said. "His efforts are not unnoticed. I am looking forward to his applying what he learned while in California to our park system."

The James River Park System hired White in January of 1980 from the National Park Service, where he worked as a park ranger. Among the many duties White has been responsible for throughout his tenure include teaching classes, leading nature walks, and maintenance for and management of visitors to the park.

In April 2005, White was the subject of controversy when he protested a decision made to limit the access to nearly 20 James River Park entrances. He was suspended for two weeks without pay after he used heavy chains and a lock only he had the ability to open to lock the gates in the open position. He did this to make the statement that the parks should be freely accessible at all hours of the day.

"I've put the problems of the past far behind," White said. "I am taking the momentum created by receiving this award and my recognition and moving forward for the betterment of the James River Park System."




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Story Source: Richmond.com

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Thailand; Wildlife; Parks; Awards

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