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New Climate Control video

We like to yuk it up at The Climate Center. This may seem twisted because we’re so focused on the climate crisis. But laughing makes everything more fun. Plus, humor can be a good tool for communicating when sticking to the facts can be so terrifying and a turnoff to the very people we want to reach.

So we’re always on the lookout for how to bring humor to climate. Some inspiring examples are out there such as the Blue Man Group’s video and Will Ferrell’s spoof on President Bush explaining climate.

A favorite video of mine wasn’t directly about climate, but close. End of the World was one of the first videos to go viral. It’s raunchy, cynical, and hits my funny bone straight on. More than 16 million people have watched it.

Recently I read that the creator of End of the World was making a sequel. Then I read that he lives in Sonoma County. “That’s it! I’ve got to connect with him!” And so I met Jason Windsor, a professional art director and animator. Turns out he was very interested in finding a way to help The Climate Center.

Staff at The Climate Center already had an idea for a video – to joke about the fact that the name of our organization is really, really hard for people to remember. Most people refer to us as “Climate Control.” We thought making a video like this with Jason would be a good way to have fun and to find out if he was a match for us. Particularly we wanted to know if Jason had a talent for getting humor right because it can be very tricky, very easy to get wrong.

One other piece needed to fall into place before we could move forward with Jason – funding. We approached a friend of mine who focuses his philanthropy on art. He gave us an enthusiastic “yes” in response to our proposal. Green light!

Jason produced a script we loved. He told us who he needed to shoot the video, so we gathered staff, board, and selected supporters. Jason shot the video, recorded the narration, and worked his editing and animation magic. We released the final version of the video on June 28. So far it’s had more than 2,000 views on Facebook.

We’re enjoying all the views the video is getting. We’re also enjoying the comments. Here’s one from a former intern of ours: “HE made your guys’ video!!!? I used to watch that in high school with my friends constantly. He is the internet video OG. The new video really is dope by the way.” (If you’re like me, you’re stumped by what OG means. It’s Original Gangster, someone who’s been in the game a while.)

Another colleague, in gushing about the video, mentioned that the narrator’s voice sounded vaguely familiar. (It’s Jason’s.) When I asked if she knew the “End of the World” video, she exclaimed, “Oh my! That’s it!” and starting quoting lines from Jason’s original video that he made when he was 18 years old.

We welcome your feedback on our new video. And if you like it, we hope you’ll share it with others.

Destiny Rodriguez joins the Center as a community organizer

My name is Destiny Rodriguez, and I am an advocate for a stable climate and clean air, water, and soil – and for the environmental protections that are required to achieve those things. I have been an advocate for these things for as long as I can remember – from organizing recycle days and beautification projects in high school to lobbying for clean air bills for the Central Valley in Washington, D.C.

I was not aware I was an “environmentalist” until my college years. While making a presentation about plastics in the ocean and the mass destruction of aquatic life, my peers informed me that I am a tree hugger and an environmentalist. I took both labels with pride and, in fact, felt compelled to do more for the environment. So I began interning for nonprofits.

I became involved with air quality issues in 2006 while interning with National Parks Conservation Association. I was shocked to find out how poor the Central Valley’s air quality rated with other areas of California, and even more shocked to learn that the local air quality was affecting the Giant Sequoia sapling growth and the Rocky Mountain pika population. There was a direct correlation between the air quality and climate, and degradation of the pika’s ecosystem threatened them. I wanted to understand why and how we could fix this problem, which led me to the realization that problems are caused by local pollution.

In 2008, I graduated from California State University of Fresno with a B.S. in Mass Communications Journalism and Chicano Latin American Studies. I am the first one in my family to achieve a college degree.

In 2009, I started lobbying to legislators with the goal of more stringent air quality regulations for the Central Valley. I did this for several years with many different organizations and advocates. While on a bus to Sacramento with my peers, I quickly understood that advocacy was needed to push policies forward in order to make our leaders act. It was on that bus, where I was then labeled as an advocate; another badge I wear with honor. Later I would come to learn that advocacy on a local level was just as essential as to our state representatives.

While working for Central California Asthma Collaborative, I focused on public health concerns regarding children and the elderly. Asthma attacks can be caused by unhealthy air quality and are directly responsible for the majority of emergency room visits among children in the Central Valley. One in five children within the Valley is afflicted with asthma, having the highest levels of asthma in the state. I worked with school districts and administrative staff to develop health policies to protect students from exposure on extremely hazardous air days, which are very common in the Valley. On these days, simply breathing without any strenuous activity can cause lung tissue to scar. As an environmentalist and an advocate, I was able to successfully engage over 1,300 schools in a four-year period to check air quality and make necessary adjustments prior to sports and outdoor play for students. These schools spanned from Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Kern, Merced, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus counties. It was not an easy task to get schools involved, but having everyone at the table – including county superintendents, school superintendents, district nurses, physical education directors, wellness directors, principals, PTAs, and student groups – made these changes easier to put into action.

Poor air quality is directly responsible for many of the health and environmental problems in the Valley. Humans created these problems and we are responsible for finding solutions to them. My goal is to bring positive change to California and more specifically to my community. I believe that in order for change to occur, we need everyone at the table. I have been actively involved in this effort for over ten years and I’m just getting started.

I am proud to be an environmentalist and an advocate and I look forward to working with the Center to bring all stakeholders to the table to collaborate on solutions that benefit everyone.

 

 

 

Jodi Seward joins the Center as Ann Hancock’s Executive Assistant

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.

Meet Max Meredith, our data intern

Hi! My name is Max Meredith and I am a summer intern for the ECO2school program. I am currently finishing up my Bachelors of Arts degree in Sustainability with a minor in Statistics from San Diego State University and I am joining the ECO2school Program team to assist with data collection and analysis.

I became passionate about protecting the environment when I moved to San Diego and saw environmental degradation first hand. People are advised never to drink tap water, and you can’t go in the ocean after it rains because of toxic runoff into the ocean. I was shocked. I started to research environmental issues worldwide and connect the dots between some of the big problems facing our planet.

My research led to a major focus in water management. Addressing the question: how is the world going to adapt to increasing population and decreasing rainfall due to climate change? In Cape Town, South Africa residents are fined if they use more than 13 gallons of water a day.  By comparison, the average American uses 17.2 gallons of water in one shower. Clearly there is work to be done.

In many countries around the world, and even some places here in the U.S, people are drinking tainted water and getting sick. Clean water is a valuable commodity. Last summer I went to China and there you can only drink bottled water due to water pollution. While there I researched river water health, and strategies for removing nitrogen from rivers before it gets to the ocean causing hypoxic dead zones.

Environmental education is at the core of climate solutions. I wish that I had learned more about these issues when I was younger. This is why I came to intern with The Climate Center’s ECO2school Program.

As a part of the ECO2school team I am working to educate high school students on how their behavior is impacting the environment, and encouraging them to live in ways that are healthier for themselves and the planet. This summer I am analyzing data on student transportation habits. I hope to motivate students to get to school in more ecofriendly ways by showing them the impact they can have by walking, biking, carpooling, and taking the bus to school.

 

 

 

Mike Turgeon, on behalf of the Friends of the Santa Rosa Climate Action Plan

A city council do-over vote translates to a vote for a climate action study

by Mike Turgeon, Climate Action Fellow, The Climate Center

Not often in politics do the people get a do-over vote. That is precisely what occurred on Tuesday, May 15, at the Santa Rosa City Council meeting.

The topic of the vote was whether the City would hold a study session on an “all-electric ready“ building ordinance as well as on the status report of its 6-year old Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP is the City’s guide toward a climate friendly, sustainable future. If ever that is necessary, it is now as we rise from the ashes of our horrific firestorms.

The CAP was developed and approved in 2012 when Santa Rosa was known for taking action on the climate crisis. For a variety of reasons, the CAP has been largely ignored. For example, the staff CAP implementation team meets only quarterly, does not meet in public, has not met since the fires, and provides reports to the City Council only annually.

A nascent group, Friends of the Climate Action Plan, was formed to support the City in taking climate action. As part of this, the group asked the Santa Rosa City Council on May 15 for a study session on the possibility of requiring all new construction to be “all-electric ready” as well as an update on the progress on the City’s Climate Action Plan.

The first vote of the Council on the study session was taken with one member, Chris Rogers, absent for a few minutes. The vote was 3 to 3, so the motion didn’t pass. However, at the end of the Council session, Chris Rogers asked if another vote could be taken since he was not present for the first one. The city attorney affirmed that a second vote could be taken, an unusual turn of events. The second vote was 4 in favor and 3 opposed, and the motion to set a study session for these two items carried.

It has been a pleasure to interact with our policymakers and find that we have a dedicated, caring Council who are clearly striving to make Santa Rosa into a vibrant, resilient city not just for those of us here now but for future residents and the environment in which we live.