I’m Jodi Seward, and I come to the fight against climate change from a very personal place. Where petroleum products are concerned…especially exhaust emissions, I am a canary in a coal mine. I moved to Santa Rosa in 1989 because my home in Redwood City sat between the 101 and 280 freeways and my struggle to breathe was constant. I had attended San Francisco State University on 19th Avenue where traffic congestion further aggravated my lungs. Without understanding the cause, I had been battling asthma, sinus infections, pneumonia, and a general sense of exhaustion for years. Now I know that I was drowning in car exhaust.
My aha moment was a vacation to Montana. In that brilliant clear air I could breathe without wheezing. I had energy. I could hike and enjoy spending time with my son. It was glorious! I needed cleaner air, or my quality of life was going to continue to decline. The move to Santa Rosa and away from the smog of the Peninsula changed and possibly saved my life. I wasn’t ill – I was being poisoned. I went from taking 18 series of antibiotics in one year to having a relatively antibiotic-free life.
My first experience with The Climate Center was an email inviting me to an open house in June of 2015. I had just read an alarming report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and was feeling depressed and overwhelmed by the fact that climate change was being ignored and denied by so many of our legislators and corporations. I could write letters, sign petitions, recycle, bike, and conserve, but it felt like throwing a glass of water at a conflagration. I decided to attend the open house and find out exactly what The Climate Center was about. I remember feeling a surge of hope…maybe I had found an effective way to help.
The open house was a wonderfully welcoming event, attended by likeminded folks. The excellent food and wine didn’t discourage me either. I decided right then and there that if any of the skills I had developed over my 30-year career in administrative work could be of use to The Climate Center, I wanted to help. I was thrilled when Laurie-Ann Barbour called me to let me know I would be a welcome addition to the team of volunteers. That was three years ago.
I have wanted to be a part of this fabulous team of dedicated climate protectors, and I have been a valued contributor as a volunteer. Now I’m in deeper, as I’ve joined the staff at The Climate Center as Ann Hancock’s Executive Assistant. It feels good to be daily working to protect the climate and end the use of fossil fuels that so adversely affected my life almost 30 years ago. I know that our work will make a difference for those still living in the crosshairs of poor air quality, as well as for all life affected by our changing climate. Now I’m part of a commitment to doing this at speed and scale, and if you are reading this, you are too. I look forward to working together.