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Brett D.

Board Chairman
Capistrano Beach, CA, USA


My journey began in 2007. I owned a very successful mortgage company for 20 years. When the great recession began, I thought it might be best to move to Kauai to take a little time to surf and just enjoy life. A friend had recently been married on the island and I took a trip there for the wedding. I discovered the beautiful beaches of the west side and decided I wanted to live next to my favorite; Polihale.
The westside of Kauai is home to a large agriculture area. It was used to grow sugarcane for decades, Drainage ditches were constructed to make fields for the sugarcane. The diches would drain to the ocean. Today, there is no more sugarcane. Instead, it is become home to large chemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta. Since it is dryer and hotter than the north shore, it is perfect to grow corn, sunflowers, and other vegetables year-round. The chemical companies research and develop plants that are genetically modified and resistant to Round-up. They harvest the seeds and sell them as Roundup ready. The fields are drenched in Roundup to make sure the plants will be able to withstand the chemicals. Chemicals run into the ditches and eventually in up in the ocean. There is no respect or protection for the ocean from the chemical companies. Roundup is even sprayed directly on a sea wall and allowed to splash into the ocean.
One day, I was walking my dog early in the morning. There was a guy standing in the back of a pickup truck, in a hazmat suit, holding a firehose that was connected to two 50 gallon drums, spaying a 2-mile-long seawall. My dog wobbled and fell. I picked him up and rushed him back to the house. It took some time before he recovered. A little while after that, I started feeling bad. It started with my back and then my lungs and then my kidneys. It was painful to surf and I was progressively getting worse.
I moved to the north shore hoping to recuperate. But, instead of getting better, I was getting worse. I contracted an antibiotic resistant infection. It affected my lungs, stomach, and kidneys. The doctors didn't know how to help. Then, I met a raw foodist, master herbalist. He took me under his wing. He had me change my diet. I cut out all sugar, bread and starchy foods. He had me inhaling essential oils. I would boil water, add in the oils, put a towel over my head and breathe in and out until there was no more steam. I did this three or four times a day.
Finally, after being sick for years. I started to get better. I left Hawaii and went to West Australia to heal. I wanted hot dry weather. I wasn't completely better, but I was able to surf again. I surfed for few months. When my visa ran out, I came back to San Clemente California.
San Clemente has a beach trail that runs the length of the city. One day I was walking the trail and noticed some gross water was entering the sea from urban runoff. It reminded me of the water from agriculture that ran into the ocean in Kauai. I remembered all the runoff areas in California up and down the coast. I said to myself. I really would like to do something about this. That night, I went to a little party and ran into an old friend. When I asked him what he was doing for work, he said he had a discovery that surfboard foam soaked up oil and he was making a business out of it.
I began reading. I was reading over a hundred pages a day. If I didn't know a word, I googled it. I was simply fascinated with science. I was looking for ways to clean up polluted water. I watched as mothers would drop their kids off for surf class in the mornings. Then, one day it rained. In California, when it finally does rain, the ocean becomes flush with pathogens and it is unsafe to enter the water. I thought back to when I was sick and what I had to do to get better and thought, what if I could make it better. What if my sickness in Kauai and experiences of using natural methods of healing, could inspire others to join together to fight pollution. What if I could bring together brilliant minds to solve pollution problems. I said to myself, what if, by joining together, we could figure out ways to clean up complex pollution problems. My research started to take on new meaning. I read all sorts of articles on electrostatic adhesion, material science, bio-electrochemistry, physics and quantum physics. Then one day, it all came together. I gathered up the nerve and started calling scientists. I saw a video on particle adsorption and thought to myself. Wow, if we can pull bacteria out of water with particles, it could be possible not to add so many chemicals to our drinking water. Global Environmental Legacy Foundation was born.
Brett Danson