Luke Cole (1962 - 2009)
1962-1969Luke was born in North Adams, Massachusetts on July 15, 1962. His mother, Alex Cole, and father, Skip Cole, moved to Manhattan when Luke was three months old.
He visited Nigeria for the first time at 3 ½ years old. Luke observed a Nigerian child his own age selling BIC pens and toilet paper in the local Enugu market. This experience inspired his ideas of helping others who were not as lucky as himself.
Santa Barbara, 1968, Luke began his education at the local Cold Spring Elementary School when he was six.
1970sHe attended Santa Barbara Junior High, then he spent the 1972–1973 school year in Africa. The first semester was in Ghana and the second semester was in Kenya. In Massachusetts, Luke graduated from the Phillips Academy in Andover, May 1980 when he was 18.
Palo Alto was Luke’s home during his years at Stanford University. Luke collected a wide variety of experiences: student leader of the opposition to the Reagan Library on campus, induction into Delta Upsilon fraternity, entertainment editor of the Daily, and co-sponsor of the South Marin Jellyfish Preservation Society Invitational Croquet Classic with Carol Edgarian. Luke graduated from Stanford with honors in 1984 at age 22.
Washington, D.C., from 1984-1986, Luke worked with Ralph Nader, editing a consumer advice newsletter.
East Africa was the destination for a trip with Doug Jehl, and Luke also spent the summer of 1982 doing art historical fieldwork in Nigeria with his father.
1990sIn February, 1992, Amanda Houston Hamilton introduced Luke Cole to Nancy Shelby. In 1994, Luke, Nancy, and son Zane moved into their Hill Street house in San Francisco. In June 1999, Luke and Nancy were married at Chalone Vineyard, in Soledad, California.
On Safari in 1996, Luke, Nancy, and Zane made their first trip together to Southern Africa, visiting Luke’s brother Tom.
Teaching environmental law in 2000 at UC Hastings was Luke’s first sabbatical from CRPE. He later taught at Stanford Law School and Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley Law School. He oversaw three pivotal dairy siting cases in Kern, Kings, and Tulare Counties that changed the way agriculture is regulated in California.
Prolific writing characterized Luke’s early years of CRPE. He wrote about his work to prevent toxic pollution in poor communities and communities of color in California’s Central Valley and the country. “Environmental Justice and the Three Myths of White Americana,” and “Lawyers, the Law and Environmental Justice: Dangers for the Movement” inspired a new field of legal practice—environmental justice—and a new way of looking at the lawyer-client relationship. He co-published Race, Poverty & the Environment, a journal for the social and environmental justice movements, with Carl Anthony of Urban Habitat.
Luke had a fierce love for his family, parents, and siblings: Peter, Tom, Daryn, and Sarah. He enjoyed their company immensely. His extended family and many friends were also deeply cared for and loved by Luke as well.
2000-2009From the Ground Up was published in 2001, a book co-authored by Luke and Sheila R. Foster, documenting the movement for environmental justice. Also in 2002, Luke and Nancy made their second trip together to Africa, and visited South Africa and Namibia. In 2006, they returned for their third trip to lead a tour group to Madagascar. A critical civil rights case in Camden, New Jersey was co-counseled by Luke and Olga Pomar on behalf of South Camden Citizens in Action. This work led to a district court decision confirming that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting practices created a discriminatory impact.
Kivalina, Alaska was the site of a six year legal battle. Luke settled the case for local clients to stop the largest zinc and lead mine in the world from discharging into their water source and endangering their subsistence way of life.
Buenos Aires, Argentina was the first stop on Luke’s last sabbatical in March 2009. Luke and Nancy also visited Easter Island. Luke traveled by boat from Argentina to Cape Town, South Africa.