LA Focus: Action in the City of Angels

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With elected officials in Washington, D.C. that are not committed to act on climate, the spotlight is shining on action at the local level. In “How Cities Can Stand Up to Climate Change” (Alissa Walker, Curbed LA, February 2017), Los Angeles is spotlighted. The story details LA’s adaptation efforts, from preparing for flooding and power outages to curbing the urban heat island effect. As with all good planning, collaboration is key. “Building resilient infrastructure and planning ahead is not a partisan issue,” said Climate Resolve’s Bryn Lindblad.

Read the complete story.

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2017

P2PLA Members: What Inspires Us to Act on Climate

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We asked Path to Positive: Los Angeles members, What inspires you to take action on climate change solutions in Los Angeles? Here are some of their answers.

John Beynon, United Nations Association and Whittier Area Environment Coalition
“Information coming out of UN Panel on Climate Change.”

Stuart Cooley, Santa Monica College
“Seeing the positive changes to date: cleaner air, electric vehicle uptake, coal company bankruptcies, and seeing the interest among the decision-makers and political leaders.”

David Eisenman, UCLA
“I am inspired by the growing momentum for action across so many sectors and fields!”

Cinzia Fissore, Whittier College
“Understanding the relationship between soils and climate inspires me and motivates me. With my teaching and research work, I am very much invested in the discourse concerning the role of soils in mitigating climate change while continuing to secure food and resources for a growing population. LA, and California more broadly, is a hotspot for carbon consumptions and emissions. While this can be interpreted as a challenge, in reality LA and California have the potential to develop effective strategies to mitigate climate change.”

Todd Flora
“L.A.’s need to capture and use our stormwater in this “new normal” of drought boom or bust (mostly bust) cycles. My other big concern is the urban heat island effect, and cooling measures we can take to create a cooler ground temperature in our dense areas.”

Loraine Lundquist, California State University Northridge
“Protecting my children’s future.”

Daniel Mabe, American Green Zone Alliance
“When setting out to take action on air, land, and noise pollution, I learned how my mission could be a significant contributor to fighting climate change. It is really about preserving the planet for future generations.”

Keith Malone, California Fuel Cell Partnership
“A shared responsibility to my family, community and the world. The idea that I can contribute to reducing the effects of or preventing climate change by my individual actions and my contributions to larger actions.”

John Martinez
“Knowing that younger generations are more aware, educated and active in their lives, actions, lifestyles — and teaching older generations that global warming/climate change is real and needs to be addressed now.”

Ron Milam, Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative
“It’s linked to so many issues I care about — transportation, land use, housing, equity and health.”

Duane Muller, The Playa Group, LLC
“Living in LA, I have great affinity for our region’s breathtaking coastline and magnificent mountains and would like to maintain them for future generations, but I feel like we are running out of time. While I love the cultural vibrancy that comes from megacities, I also recognize the need to balance our population growth with sustainable solutions. For me, LA represents a unique challenge to preserve the region’s natural beauty, while also managing increased population pressures — whether from transportation, housing, energy and/or water use.”

Nancy Pearlman, Trustee, Los Angeles Community College District
“As an environmentalist for over 46 years, I recognize that climate change is a serious problem affecting all other ecological issues. We must deal with overpopulation, wildlife extinction, pollution and toxics in our environment but climate change must be dealt with to create a green, healthy environment and economy.”

Casandra Rauser, UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge
“Los Angeles is an incredibly diverse and vibrant city and I’m inspired by what this region has to offer me and my children so much that I want to ensure its resiliency and sustainability for future generations. I’m inspired by the forward-thinking of our policy makers both statewide and locally, and want to continue the momentum built to create positive change and serve as a model for other cities worldwide in fighting climate change.”

Laura Rosenthal, City of Malibu
“I am trying to preserve a livable earth for my children and all future generations. I am both distressed at the current state of things yet inspired by so many positive initiatives and results that are currently happening.”

David Rosenstein, Intex Solutions
“I love Los Angeles and it is my home. Though I try to be involved in regional, national and international efforts to mitigate climate change, I figure it is worth some time and energy to do the same in my backyard. As things go to ‘hell in a hand-basket,’ as the saying goes, I want to feel I have done as much as I can to prevent or reduce the harm.”

Allen Schuman, Green Business Council of Southern California
“As a native Angeleno, I have seen how Los Angeles has grown over the years with little or no control regarding our growth, the lack of use of public transportation system, our electrical grid, etc. I strongly feel that through our everyday actions we are all having a direct impact on climate change here in Los Angeles. No man is an island onto himself.”

Jim Stewart, PhD Sierra Club, Ocean Foresters
“Climate catastrophe.”

Sr. Mary Joseph Suter, Daughters of Charity
“I have been reading Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, and Pope Francis on the environment.”

Janet Valenzuela, USFS
“What inspires me to take action is having an upbringing in an urban city with parents with an agricultural background who have raised me to be concerned with all the changes that are happening in our climate and the systems that depend on it.”

Stephanie Williams
“I’ve always been concerned about the environment, but I recently watched an episode of Chelsea Handler’s show on Netflix about climate change and it downright terrified me. I had no idea America was running out of resources as quickly as it is and, at the rate we’re going, several cities will be under water by 2030. That is less that 15 years away, and I had no idea about it. Which leads me to believe that a lot of people have no idea about some of these things. Thus I felt compelled to join a movement and get the word out and advocate for change.”

Thomas Wong, President, San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
“Knowing that our actions, or inaction, today will have impacts on the world and community we live in 30, 40, 50 years down the line.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

My Small Community’s Big Commitment to Climate Action

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Community Garden: Church of the Brethern, La Verne

A version of this post was originally published on the Path to Positive blog.

This year has been a tumultuous one for climate change. While progress was made, international agreements were put into place, and cities, states and countries have sprung into action — the political commitment to climate action at the federal and global stage seems uncertain at best. However, 2016 also showed us that action on climate begins at the local level. It is the mayors and community leaders who are closest to the people that are developing, implementing and reaping the benefits of climate-wise programs.

Action on climate can be found in cities and neighborhoods across the country, but what’s often most inspiring is how much can be done with so little. Over the past year, Path to Positive Communities has highlighted many examples of these local success stories, and even in the small city where I live, bold action can be found. These are some of the simple solutions that are already underway:

  • Invest: Through a bond measure, residents in the local school district sent the message that they were eager to invest in clean energy. The plan was simple: utilize open spaces at every school in the district to erect robust solar panels. Covering parking lots, lining rooftops, and providing shaded areas on school campuses, the solar investments are now paying off through reduced energy bills for the city and school district.
  • Inspire: Sometimes even simple solutions can go a long way. The University of La Verne has this year made efforts to encourage students to cycle, carpool, and even ditch their cars in favor of using on-campus car-sharing programs like Zipcar. By upgrading bike racks, providing a station with bike tools and pumps, and even simply encouraging cyclists, the campus has reinforced a commitment to pedal power. These actions have reverberated throughout the community. Students are cycling and walking more in the adjacent downtown, which has helped to decrease local congestion and has cut air and noise pollution.
  • Grow: One of the first steps that any community leader can take is to simply provide open spaces for developing community gardens. These can be located within church grounds, school campuses, vacant lots, or even land acquired through private-public partnerships. Community gardens improve the lives of residents by providing local, often organic, and reasonably priced fresh produce to families and restaurants. They have been linked to higher educational outcomes for children, and increased rates of science literacy. They are also good for the climate. Local food has fewer carbon miles than produce purchased in grocery stores. Additionally, increased green spaces can help dampen urban heat-island effects, thereby decreasing A/C use.

The City of La Verne has no sustainability department. There is no sustainability director, analyst, or coordinator. Climate has nearly no presence in council meetings or statements by the Mayor. However, what the community does have is a handful of committed leaders who recognize that they can improve the lives of residents through cycling, lower energy bills, less congested city streets, decreased air and noise pollution, and access to fresh produce from community gardens—and that these have the added benefit of being climate positive.

These commitments represent low-cost actions that offer significant climate impacts, yet have little or no costs. All that is required is leadership. And becoming a climate leader is easier than ever. Access the latest communications tools and research guides at ecoAmerica, join with committed leaders and begin to take your journey with Path to Positive: Los Angeles.

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
Path To Positive Los Angeles