J. Marc McGinnes is an environmental leader, lawyer and educator. After the 1969 Santa Barbara oil blowout and subsequent oil spill, Rep. Pete McCloskey urged McGinnes, who was then practicing law in San Francisco, to go to Santa Barbara to assist in that community’s response. McGinnes served as chair of the January 28, 1970 Environmental Rights Day national conference, a precursor of Earth Day observances later that year. He became a public interest environmental lawyer and led the founding of the Community Environmental Council (1970) and the Environmental Defense Center (1977).
In 1971 he became a member of the faculty of the Environmental Studies Program of the University of California, Santa Barbara, one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the United States. In 1983 he began full-time there, developing courses for both the Environmental Studies and Law and Society programs. He also served in various campus advisory and administrative positions. Since 2005 he has served in an emeritus capacity. The Environmental Studies Program awards each year the McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy scholarship to an outstanding graduating senior. In 2016 he donated his research papers, teaching and practice papers and materials to the UCSB Library. In 2017 he developed and convened a seminar titled Hope That Works.
His books include Principles of Environmental Law (Rainbow Bridge, 1980) and Rise Up! A Stilter’s Adventures in Higher Consciousness (Mercury Press, 2017). His most recent book, In Love With Earth: Testimonies and heartsongs from an environmental elder (Mercury Press, 2018) is part memoir, part love letter, part call to action.