Cheers to 10 Years – A Post about Pauline

This week, I Love A Clean San Diego recognizes our Executive Director, Pauline Martinson, as she celebrates her 10 year anniversary with the organization. In celebration of this milestone, we sat down with Pauline to get a better sense of what the last decade at ILACSD has meant to her.

Pauline joined I Love A Clean San Diego on August 22, 2005, after learning about an opening for an Environmental Educator position. She had a background in the environment with her degree from UC Santa Cruz, and had spent years honing her teaching skills as a Dive Instructor. As a kid growing up in Orange County, Pauline spent countless hours in the ocean. In fact, she still recalls an experience as a child where she dove under a wave and everything went black – her face had been covered by a black plastic bag. It was in that moment that she decided it was time to dedicate herself to preventing pollution and putting a stop to marine debris.

Pauline's other passion besides working at ILACSD is scuba diving in tropical waters and traveling to exotic destinations.
Pauline’s other passion besides working at ILACSD is scuba diving in tropical waters and traveling to exotic destinations.

Instead of becoming an Educator with ILACSD, she was offered the position of Project Manager, and thus began her journey here. After less than a year in that role, the organization’s Executive Director moved on, and Pauline was tapped as his replacement. She still recalls the initial shock of stepping into role as Executive Director.

“It was Coastal Cleanup Day in 2006 and as Interim Executive Director, I was responsible for speaking during the press conference kick off. I remember stepping up to the podium and looking out into a huge crowd of people. I was scared and nervous to be in front of such a large group as the center of attention, but I was also humbled that so many people were there to lend a helping hand in support of our efforts”.

Here's Pauline, giving her first speech as Executive Director of ILACSD in September 2006.
Here’s Pauline, giving her first speech as Executive Director of ILACSD in September 2006.

The shock didn’t end there. Back in 2006, the organization’s finances weren’t in the great shape that they are today, and taking over responsibility for getting the organization out of debt wasn’t a very glamorous undertaking. But, Pauline stepped up to the challenge, and has grown the organization’s total assets to more than $700,000.

Growth has been a consistent theme for the organization under Pauline’s tenure. Under her leadership, ILACSD has grown from 5 staff to 17 staff, which meant an office move back in 2010 to Liberty Station! While everyone was very excited about moving to a location with so many lunch options, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to our neighbors down the hall, San Diego River Park Foundation, and our beloved office cats.

The office cats in all their glory.

That’s right…cats. The old office was somewhat of a magnet for feral cats and their litters of kittens. Staff meetings always ended with strategy sessions on how to catch, spay/neuter, and potentially adopt these cute little furballs. One of her funniest memories at ILACSD went something like this…

“There were five kittens that would play and sleep right under one of our staff members office window (see pic below). One day, she couldn’t take it anymore and decided that she was going to pick one of the kittens up and bring it in the office for a little visit. It didn’t go well, and the kitten immediately jumped out of her arms and ran through the office until it found a little corner to hide in. I was nominated to go in and get it, wearing work gloves. Eventually, poor little Junior was taken back outside, and no one in the office ever tried that again.”

From attending cleanups to dealing with rowdy cats, ILACSD is glad to have Pauline Martinson as the leader of our organization. Cheers to another decade of her leadership and enthusiasm to keeping San Diego clean!

Thanks Pauline for keeping SD clean for ten years and counting!
Thanks, Pauline for keeping SD clean for ten years and counting!

ILACSD volunteer spotlight

For today’s blog, we’d like to turn the spotlight towards one of ILACSD’s past volunteers, Lauren. Although Lauren has since moved to the east coast, she hasn’t forgotten her roots here in San Diego, where she first developed her love for the ocean. Read on to learn more about her perspective as a volunteer and how her experience developed into being so much more than a school assignment. 

Lauren - guest blogSo you’re from San Diego… That generally implies that you have a large collection of bathing suits and flip-flops and an inherent love of the ocean. As a San Diegan myself I cannot disagree with those thoughts. I do, in fact, own a few too many bikinis, a number of flip-flops, and I have a great love for the ocean. No matter if I am tanning, swimming or paddle boarding, I enjoy spending my free time on the coast. At times, however, when the shores are littered with trash and debris, it can be hard to truly enjoy and appreciate the beauty of San Diego’s beaches. Enter, I Love a Clean San Diego, a local non-profit organization that not only promotes clean coastlines, but also involves the entire County of San Diego community in its efforts.

My volunteer efforts with ILACSD began as a high school assignment; in order to graduate, I was required to complete 12 hours of service work during each of my four years. To ensure that volunteer efforts were being evenly distributed throughout the community, the school also required students to volunteer with a different organization each year. Senior year, I decided to dedicate my time to environmental issues and participated in multiple beach clean ups with ILACSD. I partook in my first clean up alone and later invited my mother to participate in others with me. Working as a team not only helped my mother and I bond, but increased our ability to clean the given beach. I have benefitted from my beach clean up experiences in other ways as well; I now have a greater love for the San Diego community and appreciation for our beaches. Witnessing the great things a group of San Diegans can accomplish by donating a few hours of their time to cleaning the coast makes me proud to be from America’s Finest City.
guest blog - mt. soledad
The  beach cleanups organized by ILACSD provide all San Diegans with an opportunity to demonstrate the pride they have in their city and beaches and get involved in local efforts to maintain safe and clean beaches for all. A schedule of upcoming beach cleanups can be found on the ILACSD website.

Written by Lauren Van Abel, paddle board enthusiast and marketing specialist.

We’re Storming the Drains! Storm Drain Stenciling Day, Nov 16

November 16 is Storm Drain Stenciling Day! You can help to prevent storm drain pollution in the City of San Diego through storm drain stenciling, a great program we offer sponsored by Think Blue. By marking the drains with a pollution prevention message, you are educating the public that no oil, soap, or debris should go down the drains.  We’ll have a big event on November 16th at Polaris Breen Park in Mira Mesa, but check out our website for how you can sign up any day. You may be wondering why we’re running around with stencils and buckets of paint, and what a storm drain even is. Read on for some quick facts and how you can get involved (you can also check out this brief video about the program)! Think-Blue-Stencil-9-2009reduced So why is storm drain stenciling important? Urban storm-water runoff is considered the biggest contributor to coastal marine pollution.   Both human forces (irrigation runoff and illegal dumping) and natural forces (wind and rain) move trash and other pollutants into our natural waterways, storm drains, and flood control channels.  By stenciling the drains with the pollution prevention message, we remind people that oil, soap, gum, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and chip bags don’t belong in the storm drains.

Here’s how a storm drain works

Umm, what IS a storm drain? The storm drain system is designed to prevent flooding by carrying rainwater from city streets to the ocean.  Yet, chemicals, trash, and oil that have been spilled between rains can also enter the storm drain system.  From here they enter pipelines that are not connected to the sewer system, and the water from the storm drains eventually flows, untreated, into the ocean, causing large amounts of pollution.

A storm drain (that needs stenciling!)

Why should I participate? It takes the help of our volunteers to get these storm drains stenciled; without you, this project cannot succeed!  The few minutes it takes to stencil a storm drain provides years of reminders to our neighbors that they must be careful about what goes into the drains.  I Love A Clean San Diego encourages you to think green and Think Blue!This sounds great!! How do I sign up? You can check out our website for all the details.  For more information about this program, or to schedule your own stenciling project, please email