Those of us who attend the grassroots meetings, make the phone calls, and fill the officer slots often look around and realize, hey, it’s mostly women. Mostly older women.d

Party politics is like this too. Realize that, of course, I acknowledge the impressive men, the idealistic young ones and the seasoned older–and old ones–who blaze trails.

Women past child rearing years, with more or less settled careers, and not yet caring for aging parents have more time to do the things in the community they see that need doing. They’re the ones that know that Kern County government in all its forms isn’t going to provide basic services unless we pay for it, or agitate their comfortable chairs until we make them do it.

Linda Mackay in her own words: “It took me a really long time to face it, admit it to myself. I’m too shy, I’m too bashful. I’m an unassuming nobody. But finally I have to admit it I, Linda MacKay, am a community activist, and I am the President of the TriCounty Watchdogs.”

Not just the Watchdogs, but the Boys and Girls Club of Frazier Park as well. Years of work in Valley Air Quality groups gave her strength and experience. She names Luke Cole of the Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment as her mentor.

Linda pushed and pushed in her quiet way for an air monitor to measure the level of ozone pollution in the air kids were breathing near the El Tejon Middle School. It’s way, way too high.

The school sits near the summit of the Grapevine Pass, which increasingly is looking like a conduit funneling San Joaquin Valley smog right past the school and up into what is thought of as the pristine mountain communities.

Are you thinking that county and state government is watching out for you by monitoring air quality in the Mountain Communities? Don’t hold your breath. Mackay’s quiet persistence is what it takes to force government to do what it’s supposed to be doing.

The Tri-County Watchdogs will soon begin volunteer training in operating the air monitors that will sample what we’re breathing. Most of the $25,000 grant will be spent on lab analysis of the samples collected. The quality of the data is equal to that collected by state and local air quality departments.

In any group photo Linda would put herself in the back row and wave off any suggestion she towers among us as a community hero. Linda Mackay is short and small, but she cannot be overlooked.