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

Climate Leadership in LA: Interview with Rachelle Reyes Wenger

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Rachelle Wenger is the Director of Public Policy & Community Advocacy of Dignity Health and a scheduled speaker for Climate Day LA 2017.

Tell us about your work on climate change.

Our climate and sustainability goals include reducing waste, evaluating what we purchase, making facilities more energy-efficient, and promoting better food choices. We’ve also set targets for 2020 to reduce our GHG emissions by 40% and increase sourcing of renewable energy to 35%. We’re especially proud of our shareholder and legislative advocacy work: Our new investment policy integrates environmental sustainability into our investment goals, and we have advocated for landmark climate legislation in California, including SB 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act.

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

As a five-year-old immigrant to this country, life’s journey has led to many paths — all of which pulled for something greater in me, of me. The environment — all of it, people, nature, our interactions — is both so informing and inspiring. It tells you when you’re home, how your voice is needed, what door to walk through, why it’s so important to stand up for the little guys and those in need. It’s quite a luxury (and, to be honest, uncomfortable) to think about what I do now as a career. It makes sense to me to think of work more as a calling. I love being about a healing mission that’s doing its part to care for human health and the environment and striving each and every day to be guided by values that squarely look at how to further dignity, justice, collaboration, stewardship and excellence. Our patients and the communities we serve inspire me; our Sponsors who entrust us with the ministry inspire me; the many men and women who commit day in and day out to the work of healthcare inspire me; the many organizations, business and community leaders who toil to improve the quality of life inspire me; and above all, those who have no voice and live in the margins of society, yet call out to us, move me most.

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

The greatest challenge to work seems to be how we humans approach change and how to harness the power of diversity. I come across fear disguised in so many ways. I think we forget we’re on the same team, that there’s a common good to unearth. It would be great if we understood at the outset that work is about creating the possibilities for change — that we’re the changemakers to human kindness in the world. Misunderstanding, suffering, isolation, destruction — these are so palpable today. What are ways we can build from the cultural assets we have to sustain communities and lift us up as a whole? There is no one answer, but I bet it would help to be open to finding out.

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!).

The first wish is for climate change to mean something personal — in the way that we’d want to give our all, our best thinking, our best way of caring, our best way of doing things together. The second is to fall in love with Earth. I guess that’s another way of saying my first wish. Lastly, since sky’s the limit, I’d like to be that wish-granting genie that can transport herself from place to place in a blink. How cool is that?! Just imagine all the GHGs from jet fuel I’d prevent not having to fly. So much of Earth to see, delight and relish in wonder. Make room for me, Barbara Eden — there’s another genie in town.

Posted on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
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