Survey reveals truth to tree-hugging Californian stereotype

It is often said that Californians are unfairly stereotyped as bleeding-heart tree huggers. Turns out it’s not true. The “unfairly” part, that is. A new survey reveals that more than 60 percent of Californians really have hugged trees, some 24 percent have surfed, and 21 percent think mud baths are totally rad. A questionnaire compiled by marketing professor Dennis Tootelian of Cal State, Sacramento, asked 500 folks from five California cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, and San Diego — about their true nature. Kevin Starr, author and former state historian, isn’t surprised by the findings: “I see tree-hugging as an aspect of California’s greenness.” It’s also part of the state’s history, he adds, what with the establishment of Yosemite National Park in the 1860s and the birth of the Sierra Club in Berkeley under John Muir. “Moved by the state’s natural diversity and grandeur,” Starr says, “Californians have largely been protective of their state’s environment.”