Death of a Naturalist: The Damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley


Background Guide Coming in Jan. 2020


John Rider

Welcome to Death of a Naturalist! I’m thrilled to venture with you into the saucy, sordid juncture where mega-infrastructure politicking abuts against environmental preservation: I think you’ll find that the now century-old Hetch Hetchy debate fits cleanly, even presciently, into today’s global political landscape. I hope you’re as fascinated by big ol’ concrete slabs like the O’Shaughnessey Dam as I am, and if you aren’t you definitely will be by the end of committee. My name is John Rider, and I’ll be your head chair running this committee alongside my roommate and good friend Sean Vernon, our CD. I’m coming into my final year here at Cal as a double major in Geography and American Studies, with a particular emphasis on spatial dimensions of race-formation and on finding one’s place in global circuits of culture and capital. By the time committee rolls around I should’ve made decent progress in my major theses, so ask me about them if you’re interested! I was born and raised north of Los Angeles before moving up to Berkeley, so I’m a Californian through and through. I moved out of California for the first time in my entire life to live in Central London and attend LSE for the entirety of this past academic year, to study geography at the very place where the OG maps were schlopped together. I’m happy and proud to be back in my home golden state for one final UCBMUN, and happier still to be able to share California’s rich, tumultuous history with y’all. Sean and I ran a committee together as chair and CD two years ago on the spicy boardroom politics of the Airbnb corporation —eeeeeeeaasily the best committee of UCBMUN XXII— so it’s fitting that our committee now looks at the politicking that made the Silicon Valley’s very existence possible. Outside of MUN, I was the founding Chief Communications Officer for the student political nonprofit BridgeUSA, now present on over twenty college campuses in the United States, and with burgeoning branches in Germany, England, and Liberia. I’m a three year staff writer for the Berkeley Political Review, a big fan of lifting, and a pretty bomb cook too! I’m incredibly excited to meet all of you, and I hope that Sean and I can extend you some of our boundless enthusiasm for this fascinating committee topic over the course of UCBMUN XXIV!

Yours,
John Rider
Head Chair, Death of a Naturalist: The Damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley



Sean Vernon

Hello delegates, and welcome to Death of a Naturalist: The Damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley! My name is Sean Vernon, and I am honored to serve as your Crisis Director for this exciting committee. I have lived in California for my entire life, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this great state, it’s that every inch of land has a story to tell. For years, I grew up next to the Crystal Springs Reservoir, which – unbeknownst to me at the time – is connected directly to Hetch Hetchy hundreds of miles away in the beautiful Yosemite National Park. The reservoir was something I always took for granted; tap opens up, water comes out, you can’t explain that. But as I learned more about the history of California, and the surprisingly intense battles fought over water as we built cities on top of deserts, I began to understand why it was such a big deal over a century ago to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley and provide for the boomtown of San Francisco. This committee is about water and nature, yes, but also about so much more: it’s about greed, it’s about power, and it’s about the early days of the fifth-largest economy in the world. Perfect fodder for a Crisis. About myself – I am a Computer Science major here at Cal, involved in UCBMUN for the soft skills and the travel; outside of this club, I watch football and hockey, go hiking, and work at the Open Computing Facility. I’ve been doing MUN for almost four years, and have been a Crisis Director a few other times, most notably for the Airbnb committee at UCBMUN XXII. I firmly believe in delegate-driven committees with a mix of characters from various professions and backgrounds; you can expect nothing less of Death of a Naturalist. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out, and I look forward to meeting you all come February!

Yours,
Sean Vernon
Crisis Director, Death of a Naturalist: The Damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley