Climate Leadership in LA: Interview with Kiana Lucero

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Kiana Lucero is the Project Coordinator at the Institute for Sustainability at Cal State University Northridge (CSUN), and a speaker for Climate Day LA.

Tell us about your work on climate change.

Sustainability is one of the seven priorities at CSUN and we have set a goal to achieve net zero emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2040. Steps we have already taken to help meet this goal include: solar panel installations, LED retrofits, use of a fuel cell plant on campus, installing meters on buildings to help monitor energy consumption, and completing a commuting survey of faculty, staff and students. CSUN is a largely commuter school, with more than half of our carbon emissions being a result of individuals driving to campus. In order to reach our carbon neutrality goal, we will be largely increasing our solar production and investment in renewables, striving for all new construction to meet LEED Gold or higher standards, and working to support alternative transportation options such as electric vehicles, bicycling, and public transportation.

What inspired you on your career path? And what or who inspires you now?

My background is in working with exotic, captive animals and teaching the public about issues that their wild counterparts face. A major goal of mine has always been to raise awareness about what humans are doing to natural habitats and what we can do to stop, and even reverse those damages. I began working at CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability because I saw an opportunity to reach students and the public and implement change on a large scale. I am inspired by the students’ eagerness to create positive change in the world, whether it is making small changes in their diet, boycotting plastic items or working toward reversing the effects of climate change and habitat loss.

What are the barriers you face in work — and what could make your job easier?

Getting our message out to a larger audience seems to be our biggest obstacle. Through our sustainability classes, we are able to see the effect that learning about issues such as climate change, waste, and diet choices has on the students. We also host special events related to sustainability topics and post informational signage around campus, but these do not have as large of an impact as direct education in classroom setting. Having a larger captive audience would definitely help us educate more people and spread the message of sustainability!

A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is for anything you want (sky’s the limit!).

I would ask for an immediate switch to renewable energy so that fossil fuels are no longer used as an energy source. My second wish would be for a carbon-sucking devise that removes carbon — not only from the atmosphere, but also reduces the acidity of the oceans so that coral reefs can return to their original splendor. For my third wish, I would love to see a reversal of all animals that are currently headed toward extinction or have already gone extinct due to human activities.

Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Climate Leadership in LA: Interview with Nourbese Flint

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Nourbese Flint is the Policy Director and Manager of Reproductive Justice Programming for Black Women for Wellness and a Climate Day LA speaker.

Tell us about your work on climate change.

On the surface, our work around fracking and our community food desert work, as well as some of our policy work, is our climate change work. However, I think our real work and contribution is bringing an intersectional lens to traditional environmental health and rights organizations about climate change. We link the lived experiences of our community to how we can reimagine what climate change work looks like in a way that is holistic. I know that sounds hippyish and like a true California born-and-raised answer, but it’s true.

What inspired you on your career path? And what or who inspires you now?

I work in reproductive justice, and what keeps me waking up in the morning is that I know I’m on the right side of history… and one day, hopefully not too far in the future, when the first enterprise is hitting “warp speed” (which is more likely hyperdrive), black women and girls will be able to be seen and heard and afforded all the rights and dignity that every other person on that ship has. Who inspires me, I would have to say my mother and my grandmother who worked and continue to work to make my life a little bit easier. Outside of those two, I would say, Eartha Kitt, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and Mae Jemison.

What are the barriers you face in work — and what could make your job easier?

So, this could be a dissertation in itself. But just to keep it simple: racism, patriarchy, sexism and classism. What would my job easier…. solving those issues!

A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is for anything you want (sky’s the limit!).

One wish, the invention of Starfleet. I know sounds crazy, but I do think that it could solve a lot of issues, including climate change. 2: Transporter, because that would so cut down on travel-related carbon in the atmosphere. 3: A way to bend space for human travel throughout the galaxies.

Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Climate Leadership in LA: Interview with Robert Garcia

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Robert Garcia is the Mayor of Long Beach and a speaker at Climate Day LA.

Tell us about your work on climate change.

I’ve made protecting our climate an important part of my agenda as Mayor. Long Beach is a coastal city, therefore more susceptible to the harsh effects of climate change and sea level rise than inland regions. The Port of Long Beach is a vital economic engine but is also one of the largest sources of air pollution. I set a goal to transform our port into a zero-emission goods movement system. I’ve pushed for the planting of 6,000 new trees to rejuvenate our urban forest, converting all streetlights to energy efficient LEDs, adding our first zero-emission buses to our transit service, and a large expansion of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, to name a few.

What inspired you on your career path? And what or who inspires you now?
I was inspired in large part because my family and I came to this country as immigrants from Peru. Becoming a citizen is one of my proudest achievements. This country has given me so much, so many opportunities, that I want to give back. My first career was in education and I continue to teach because it gives me an opportunity to help students reach their goals through education. I am inspired by leaders and teachers who work to improve opportunities for young people.

What are the barriers you face in work — and what could make your job easier?
Currently, our federal government’s retreat on climate change and efforts to increase use of coal and oil are serious threats. California is a progressive state leading the way with statewide and regional targets for emission reductions and other sound green policies. Concerns about the cost of implementing new technologies and loss of business to less restrictive environments is another challenge, but Long Beach is committed to making significant progress to slow climate change.

A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is for anything you want (sky’s the limit!).

My first wish would be to provide zero-emission energy and transportation systems in our region, including goods movements at our Port of Long Beach. My second wish would be to clean our ocean of all the pollution and trash that have accumulated over far too many years. Our long coastal line would benefit greatly from this. My third wish is to fly like Superman.

Posted on Monday, June 12th, 2017
Path To Positive Los Angeles