Claremonter honored for environmental work in the city

Freeman Allen has spent more than 60 years working to improve the environment and the lives of Claremonters, and the city paid tribute to him Monday evening.

The retired Pomona College professor, co-founder of Sustainable Claremont and Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project (CHERP) and tireless advocate of sustainability had the honor of getting the former Sustainability Resource Center at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden named after him. The honor was presented to him during Sustainable Claremont’s annual meeting at the Padua Hills Theater.

“The people here in Claremont, the whole atmosphere in Claremont is so overwhelming that it’s just a joy to do it, and I hope to be at this for a number of years to come,” he said. “Thank you.”

During the ceremony, Mr. Allen was honored with tributes from Sustainable Claremont Chair Steve Sabicer, Claremont Principal Planner Chris Veirs and Councilmember Joe Lyons, all of whom worked with Mr. Allen over the years to decrease the carbon footprint in the city.

“If we had a tenth of Freeman Allen in our board and volunteers, Claremont would be extraordinary,” Mr. Sabicer said. “We’re so lucky Freeman chose Claremont.”

Mr. Allen came to Claremont in 1954, accepting a position at Pomona College in the chemistry department. Originally from Berkeley, Mr. Allen was entranced by the outdoors and especially loved being so close to Mt. Baldy.

When Mr. Allen came to southern California, he was dismayed by the amount of smog in the area. He teamed up with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), where he served on the citizen’s council advisory from 1977 to 1987.

“To this day, we continue to benefit from his work,” Mr. Veirs said.

Mr. Allen was also heavily involved in the Sierra Club, moving from head of the Mt. Baldy chapter to national Vice President. His collaborative nature, Mr. Veirs noted, helped unify what was at the time a fractured Sierra Club board.

Mr. Veirs first met Mr. Allen when he was tasked by the city to create a new sustainability plan. “I was immediately impressed with his extensive knowledge, his willingness to learn and his positive attitude,” he said.

Mr. Lyons credited his standing on the Claremont City Council to Mr. Allen, and praised him for his “tireless and persistent efforts to inform Claremonters” about sustainability practices.

“I cannot think of a more deserving individual or a more fitting story to use to inspire future generations than to honor Freeman Allen,” Mr. Lyons said.

Mr. Allen’s collaborative nature was displayed when Claremont school board member Nancy Treser Osgood honored him for sustainability efforts in the schools.

“I can’t help but say this is a great example of the people of Claremont coming together,” Mr. Allen said. “It wasn’t me; it was Ron Mittino doing all these great things in the schools. He’s just one of the number of people in Sustainable Claremont who worked together to move this forward. Thank you, Ron.”

After honoring Mr. Allen, Mr. Sabicer also announced a number of other awards as a part of Sustainable Claremont’s annual meeting. The Lifetime Achievement in Sustainability Award went to seasoned Claremonter Marilee Scaff.

Ms. Scaff could not make it to the ceremony, so Mr. Allen accepted the award on her behalf.

“I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’s been to work with Marilee over the years,” Mr. Allen said of Ms. Scaff, whom he worked with to draft the Claremont League of Women Voters’ 2005 water report, laying the foundation for the passage of Measure W and the current effort to take over the water system.

During his tribute to Mr. Allen, Mr. Sabicer told a story of how he first came to Claremont as a young Pomona College freshman, and wasn’t aware the city was adjacent to a massive mountain range due to the overwhelming smog.

“Now I can see those mountains every single day,” he said. “My children can see those mountains. They have no idea the work Freeman Allen has done so they can see those mountains.”

—Matthew Bramlett



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