It all started in 1982. Todd Miller was a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in planning. He wanted to protect coastal water quality through a massive citizen effort. In April 1982, he organized a planning meeting at the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores.
"It was the kind of meeting where there was a lot of structure," says Bob Hall, an NCCF founding member. "There was a lot of room for freedom to talk, but also some sort of order. We wanted to come out of this with something concrete."
"Todd really intrigued me," says Linda Shaw, who was working as a community economic development specialist at a New Bern public-interest law firm when Todd invited her to the meeting. "He was talking about an environmental organization that was really economic development. It was turning environmental activism on its head. It was saying, 'Protecting the environment is good economic development,' rather than saying, 'You can't have both.'"
According to Todd, "No one had any doubt it was a good idea. The question was whether it was realistic to think we could come up with the funding. I thought it was because I had seen it done elsewhere."
After that initial meeting, attorney Derb Carter filed articles of incorporation for NCCF and the group applied for and received a $20,000 grant from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. NCCF immediately began work.