Living the Pledge: A Community's Legacy

Arcata, CA, May 25, 2007 --( Humboldt County is known by millions of people for its iconic symbols of nature: old growth redwoods, wild salmon, picturesque dairy farms, and rugged beaches. The county is also home to one of the most environmentally active colleges in the country.

Arcata’s Humboldt State University ( was the first to invite graduates to take the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. This student-devised oath has since won the allegiance of youth from coast to coast and as far away as Asia.

More than 100 colleges and universities, including Stanford and MIT, have adopted the pledge, which states “I ________, pledge to thoroughly investigate and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job opportunity that I consider.” It is a simple idea based on action: “Walk the talk.”

Arcata, a city of 16,000 people, has a number of successful entrepreneurs (mostly HSU alumni) gaining an international following through niche manufacturing while pledging to protect the planet’s resources.

One such example is Holly Yashi (, a jewelry design company that creates colorful niobium and crystal jewelry in its naturally-lit, environmentally-friendly design studio. It was founded 25 years ago by HSU graduates, Holly Hosterman and Paul “Yashi” Lubitz.

In February, Jacqueline Lee, HSU student coordinator of the graduation pledge, asked Holly Yashi to create 1,000 pins to mark the 20th anniversary of the pledge. Lee said she specifically approached Holly Yashi to design and produce the commemorative pin “not only because it is an environmentally conscious or ‘green’ company, but also because it supports the local community economically—all jewelry production takes place just a short walk from HSU.”

The value of the donation was about $20,000, not counting the staff time required to create the pins, so an idea was proposed. Holly Yashi would donate the material if the staff would donate their own time to craft the pins. It was an unconventional suggestion, but it was met with enthusiasm. On lunch breaks, weekends and early morning shifts, employees worked diligently to create pins just in time for HSU’s May commencement.

In the end, 1,000 students received a pin to help remind them of their pledge to better the world and Holly Yashi got a chance to give back to a university that has helped inspire the values of tens of thousands and the culture of an entire community.

Holly Yashi, Inc.
Becky Mosgofian