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Articles by Gregory Dicum

Gregory Dicum is the author of Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air. He writes a biweekly column for SFGate, the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, and has written for the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Mother Jones, and others.

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Mary Brune looked worried. “I don’t know what the problem is,” she said, peering at the generator in the grass. Attached to it was a blower that was, in turn, attached to a puddle of yellow nylon. The next morning, that puddle was supposed to inflate to become a giant rubber ducky, the centerpiece of a protest Brune was leading at a Target store near her home in the San Francisco Bay area.

Mary Brune speaks up for concerned mothers everywhere.

Photos: Gregory Dicum

For Brune, the golden ducky represented much more than a call to remove PVC from Target’s shelves. It was her official coming out as an environmental activist.

Eighteen months earlier, Brune was home nursing her newborn daughter and watching the news when a story came on about perchlorate, describing how this toxic component of rocket fuel had been found in human breast milk. “I didn’t have any idea what perchlorate was,” Brune says, “but I was really scared. Then I was outraged.” By the time her husband got home from work, she had made up her mind: “We’ve got to do something about th... Read more

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