VIDEO: A conversation with Bob Wenzlau, Terradex CEO and environmental engineer

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Bob Wenzlau, pioneer recycler and compost champion is now focused on what's under our workplaces, schools and homes that is known to be harmful to our health. Through his Palo Alto-based environmental information company, Terradex, Wenzlau developed a web application called What's Down as a kind of "Yelp for the environment."

What's Down gives "regular people" information aggregated into useful maps that interactively show where there is serious ground water and soil pollution, the status of any clean up efforts and what citizens can do about it. It also provides a platform for community dialogue and Q+A directly with Terradex. Their idea is if these issues literally get out the shadows, then perhaps clean up efforts will be accelerated.

A life long protector of "the special spaces around us," Wenzlau seeks to manage urban impact by offering realistic solutions rather being contentious. He learned the hard way when he and other Stanford undergrads were "slapped with a law suit" while trying to change labeling practices at the local food co-op. Wenzlau entered Stanford as a member of the class of 1978 and left with a masters in environmental engineering in 1981.

His entrepreneurial approach to mitigating the negative environmental impacts of cities and their people is inspired by his experience of "the shortcomings of hollering." Greenwashing, Wenzlau cautions, doesn't go far enough, and doesn't address the legacy of Silicon Valley that's left "all this pollution." Struck by the degree to which those less affluent residents come to expect a degraded environment as the norm, he calls for a new form of Silicon Valley leadership that applies the Valley's special set of skills, to clean up "the toxic secrets that lay in the ground." Rather than cover it up, Wenzlau asserts, "we can be a role model."

Host/interview: Lisa Van Dusen

Video: Ciera Pasturel, Veronica Weber

Production manager: Taylor Shoolery


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Posted by PA Enrironmentalist
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

"A life long protector of "the special spaces around us," Wenzlau seeks to manage urban impact by offering realistic solutions rather being contentious."

Oh come on. Give me a break. Wenzlau was a major promoter of the environmentally-regressive campaign to industrialize ten acres of "the special spaces around us" -- our baylands park land -- for a garbage fermenting factory, disguised as a bogus "Gargage to Energy" enterprise.

What he actually accomplished was to turn a vital bayside wildlife corridor into an industrial-grade compost yard.

Environmental Engineer = euphemism for 1950s-era industrializwer.

Weekly, what happened to your newly-found skeptical journalism?.

1 person likes this
Posted by Don't-Pay-Any-Attention-To-The-Man-Behind-The-Screen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:21 am

This is the second time in only a few months that the Weekly has run a story about Wenzlau, and his database of toxic waste sites. However, the Weekly hasn’t managed to provide any real information as to how this database is helping people live safer existences.

We have a number of State, and Federal, agencies dealing with these problems. The fact that there is overlap in the jurisdictions is generally known, but so what? Are there areas where people are dying in the thousands that have not been identified by these agencies? Truth is that there are no such deaths, and even when small clusters of health problems have been identified, the reasons for these problems often proves illusive—so that we don’t really know what the underlying causes are.

Perhaps the Weekly is running this article prior to the upcoming election in order to generate some “good will” among the people who claim to be environmentalists in Palo Alto, so that when it starts endorsing candidates the environmentalists will think that the Weekly is “on their side” and not look too deeply at the flaws in those the Weekly will endorse.

The Weekly’s picks for City and School Board seats has been less than sterling over the years. So, it’s important to question just about everything the Weekly says and does these days.

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