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ASU event highlights diverse stories and ongoing projects in climate justice

Nonprofit newsroom The 19* held the event in the Walton Center for Planetary Health to showcase women and POC-led efforts against climate change


The 19th News Climate Stories and Sustainable Solutions speakers (from left to right) Jessica Kutz, Rosanne Albright, Selena La Rue Hatch and Amanda Hensen, at the Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health in Tempe on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

The 19th*, a nonprofit news organization, held its Climate Stories and Sustainable Solutions event at ASU on Nov. 13, highlighting diverse perspectives and personal responsibility in the fight against the climate crisis. 

The 19th* specializes in the intersection of diversity and climate news, with their stated mission being to empower women and LGBTQ+ people through the news. The event was co-sponsored by Wasserman, a talent and brand management company, and the Associated Press. It was held at the Rob and Melani Walton Center For Planetary Health.

Teresa de Miguel was the event's first speaker and is the climate and environment video editor for the AP. She spoke about the need to connect the news about climate change to a person's real story. 

"The audience doesn't really relate too much with terms like 1.5 (degrees) or greenhouse gas emissions," de Miguel said. "But people do relate to other people's troubles. They do relate to stories."

One of the video stories that de Miguel showed tied the record-breaking temperature of this past summer in Phoenix to the lived experience of an unhoused man, highlighting the vulnerability of unhoused people as the city continues to feel the effects of climate change.

Following her was a panel with three government officials from across the Southwest. They spoke about their passion for government work and how state governments are currently fighting climate change. 

On the panel was Rosanne Albright, an environmental programs coordinator for the City of Phoenix. She spoke about the current government programs in Phoenix to mitigate climate change, such as incentives for energy efficiency in homes and businesses and xeriscaping, which is the use of native plants in landscaping to cut down on water use.

She also spoke about the Office of Homeless Solutions and their controversial clearing of unhoused people from The Zone by November 4th.

"I know there's a lot of controversy over The Zone and people moving from that area," Albright said. "(We are) getting folks into housing and getting them the resources that they need."

Albright also called out the limitations within the government and encouraged voting to combat this. 

"We have a challenge with climate deniers in Arizona. We actually have legislation on the books that prevent state agencies from working on climate," said Albright. "That's how far to the right we are, so we need to change. We need all of you to come out and vote."

The event also featured three storytellers, who spoke about their unique paths into climate advocacy outside traditional news media and the government.

Michelle Chubb, better known as Indigenous Baddie on TikTok, spoke about her path from sharing her culture to advocating for justice on social media. 

"There are Indigenous communities that struggle (against) environmental racism when fighting with big companies to keep their land safe from oil, gas and even water," Chubb said. 

T’Essence Minnitee spoke as the director of partnerships for Black Girl Environmentalist, an organization creating pathways for Black women in climate justice. 

"We are helping to reshape what an environmentalist looks like because if people don't see themselves in the conversation, why do they feel like they need to show up?" Minnitee said. 

Director of partnerships, Black Girl Environmentalist, T’Essence Minnitee, speaks at The 19th News Climate Stories and Sustainable Solutions event at Rob & Melani Walton Center For Planetary Health in Tempe on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

Cliff Kapono, a professional surfer and marine conservation scientist, spoke about his Hawaiian heritage and how it led to combining his passions. 

"The world is changing," Kapono said. "You can’t be just a singular sort of discipline. You can't just be a professor or a lawyer, or a business person, or a chef or a fisher. We're going to need to do multiple things."

Next was an interview with Maggie Thomas, special assistant to President Biden for climate. She spoke about pioneering the White House Climate Policy Office and the large-scale projects they have in the works. 

"The president helped (pass) the largest investment in our nation's history in climate action," said Thomas. "It's almost 370 billion dollars, and we are actively working on shaping those programs right now. Dollars are already flowing from this."

She spoke about opportunities for young people in the American Climate Corps, which would invest in a new generation of climate-related jobs. 

"The president has announced that he is going to put 20,000 young people to work by next summer in the jobs around clean energy and climate resilience and climate mitigation," Thomas said. "(We are) providing training opportunities to put all these young people on a pathway to good paying union jobs in the clean energy economy."

After the series of presentations was a tabling event, where attendees could speak one-on-one with the panelists, networking and elaborating on their presentations. 

Cassie Lee, co-founder and CEO of Sound Future, was also in the tabling group. Sound Future works with touring artists to improve sustainability at live events. She spoke about using monetary incentives to encourage sustainability and meet businesses where they are.

The 19th*'s Climate Stories and Sustainable Solutions event showcased the diversity within climate justice and active projects to slow the effects of climate change. 

Edited by River Graziano, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

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